I was told that the reason for the warning was that on a certain production day, a product error was committed. I am the lead supervisor and the personnel involved told me what happened and how they planned on correcting the problem. They offered to redo the product to make it better, however, overtime would be needed.

During the conversation the employees offered to work the overtime without payment. I discussed this issue with Administration and Owner and all agreed that it was ok. Two days later I got called from Human Resources telling me that I had made a mistake by letting the personnel work overtime without pay and that I would get a written warning for it because some employees called in saying that it was not fair to not get that overtime pay.

I agreed on certain aspects of the warning, however I also don't think its fair that I received this warning, as I notified Administration and business owner of the situation when it happened and they failed to say that it is incorrect and should not be done. Human resources is blaming me, the supervisor, for that day when I think that I, along with administration, and owner should get it because we all failed to stop production or to say that employees would get paid for their worked overtime. Administration is now saying that I obligated the employees to stay without pay, when I clearly told administration and owner that the employees themselves offered to work to fix that day's production.

Am I the only one who deserves a written warning? I am confused as to why I'm receiving the blame when I informed administration and owner and no one stopped this from happening.

Who is right and what can I do?

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    Where did this happen? In many areas of the world, it is actually illegal to allow some workers to do unpaid overtime. Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 16:55
  • 5
    "What can I do?" Accept that you're being made the scapegoat or falsely accused here and either take further steps to protect yourself in future (get stuff in writing, talk to more people) or find a new job at a company that doesn't consist of people who need scapegoats or false accusations. Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 17:13
  • 1
    When you notified admin and business owner, do you have it in writing or was it by phone call?
    – Isaiah3015
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 20:11
  • I discussed this issue with Administration and Owner and all agreed that it was ok Do you have a written proof of that ?
    – Walfrat
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 9:17

3 Answers 3


Who is right

You are in the wrong, you should not have taken that responsibility on yourself, but made sure you got it signed off in writing by someone above you.

and what can I do?

Take the warning and keep your head down and learn from it, but do NOT admit culpability in writing.

In future make sure you're not in the firing line and always get a paper trail to support anything unusual.


The problem here is that you are the one who allowed it and apparently organized the effort. What you did would have violated the law had the company not chosen to pay the workers(based on the context of having to pay overtime). I have seen people terminated for that on a first offense.

If you were directed to do this by management then yes it is probably the right action. You still have an obligation to the company to not enable or assist other managers and supervisors from breaking the law, and violating your worker's rights.

It is also possible that others are receiving the warning or some other disciplinary action that you are just not aware of. That is quite common for disciplinary actions taken against others, that not your reports, be done privately and not announced to the rest of management or staff.

  • 3
    By law overtime must be paid, no one can authorize not paying it. As a supervisor, you should have been aware of that.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 18:10
  • @HLGEM: location and job specific, and the OP doesn't say, but assuming the US and the workers are programmers it might not be illegal.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 1:25
  • 1
    @jmoreno - From the context of the question it is not the case here. Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 1:36
  • 1
    I should have said overtime must be paid to those tho are eligible for overtime. I thought it was obvious from the context of the question that these employees were eligible,
    – HLGEM
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 14:34
  • @nvoight - I dont know a location where slavery is legal... So far as I know anywhere that has overtime laws(noted in the question) has laws requiring that workers be paid for all the hours that they work. If you have a location where that does not apply please enlighten. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 16:42

Since you are the first line supervisors of these people who worked overtime without pay, unfortunately buck stops at you, unless you have a written document or an email that shows, people higher up than you, agreeing to what was going to happen.

If the blame can not be shifted legally to someone higher than you are, take the written warning as a punch in the gut and recover from it by keeping quiet and following every inch of law to the last dot for the foreseeable future.

As an addition, do not sign any document as it is written and put in front of you. If you are asked to sign it, put your account of events in writing on the paper and then sign it. So that someone will see what actually happened later in time. If your higher ups are not taking the blame but when everything goes okay, they take the prizes, they most probably will engage in this activity again, probably with a different peon than you and your writing will help the next case and may be clear your name as well. If they do not agree that you putting your account of events, refuse to sign the paper. Do not believe if someone says nothing will happen out of this. It is just a formality and will blow over in 6 months or so, DO NOT BELIEVE A SINGLE WORD OF THESE.

In the future, near future that is, if they want to get rid of you for any reason, they may find a minor flaw in your work, which normally gets overlooked as way of doing business and bringing this up as a second strike and can let you go with cause, which will open a whole new can of worms for you.

  • Time to search a new job? Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 2:11

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