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I was recently asked to setup AV equipment the following morning by my line manager as I was leaving the office. I expressed that I had no access to this building, but was informed that it would be open. The following morning it was locked! In-fact the building was opened by the requester, which therefore was late. I was not impressed that I was there ready to set up the equipment and had no access. Two days later I received a key, one month later I'm put up for a formal warning for being late and disrespectful to the AV requester. I feel my line manager is to blame for this whole experience. But I'm the one with the warning! Have I been unfairly treated?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Philipp, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Steve-O, sf02 Mar 14 at 19:54

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    "I'm put up for a formal warning for being late and disrespectful" - Were you disrespectful? What did you say to the line manager after he was late? – David K Mar 14 at 12:29
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    "Have I been unfairly treated?" is a very opinion-charged question, which is difficult for us to answer with any authority. After all, we only have one side of the story. Perhaps refocus the question on a more objective goal, such as "how can I avoid being put in this situation again?" or "how can I appeal the formal warning?" (although that latter might fall into company-specific policy, not sure.) – Steve-O Mar 14 at 13:18
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Yes. Go to your HR rep. If you don't have a Human Resources rep, go to your boss. If your boss doesn't fix it, go to his/her boss. A formal written warning that stays on the record for something you were truly unable to avoid is wrong and can have negative career effects.

Having said that, we have your side of the story, and I don't mean to imply anything, but make sure you have your facts straight, and that you are not to blame for it in any way before you take it up the ladder.

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Sorry to break this to you, you're in this position because it's partially your fault.

I expressed that I had no access to this building, but was informed that it would be open.

You were correct to mention about the access scenario, however, you accepted the "information" assuring you it will be available for you to access. That's where the problem starts. You are not suppose to "tailgate" whatever the reason might be (except in danger situation, which usually voids all other policies).. You could have told to make that "assurance" in writing (in a way that do not come off as harsh, rather, something like - "so that I can show that time to my boss that I worked" sort of argument).


If the exact reason in mentioned in the complain letter (being late on that day for that occasion), you're in luck. You can write a letter to HR / manager mentioning

  • The last moment request you received
  • The early arrival (if you've got any CCTV footage / punch-in time record, you can use that, if possible)
  • The dates when you were assigned access (later).

This will at least clear the scenario for you that you were not late. Once that is there, you can take this forward and mention that

  • you can only be late for something if you've been assigned something
  • and, you did not have access at "that" time, so the whole theory of "being late" does not hold.
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    Your tailgating argument doesn't make sense. My understanding is that the OP didn't have the ability to unlock the building first thing in the morning, not about regular entry access. – David K Mar 14 at 12:30
  • @DavidK OK, you maybe right... Let me change. – Sourav Ghosh Mar 14 at 12:32
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    I don't see the OP's fault. Requiring your manager to put everything they request of you in writing is inefficient and very likely will foster frustration in your manager. It can lead to your manager feeling you mistrust him/her and create an adversarial relationship with one of the people you should least want to have that with. – John Spiegel Mar 14 at 14:22
  • @JohnSpiegel OK, my bad, I thought "line manager" is sort of "supervisor" and not direct manager. That said, I'm not asking to ask for an email for "everything". Only cases where things may go wrong, and/or something which is beyond the normal working territory. – Sourav Ghosh Mar 14 at 14:23
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As Keith mentions, we only know your story, but given what you've said, you were treated unfairly. This reads like the requester was frustrated, you didn’t respond in a fashion that made them happier--and perhaps there was nothing you could have said/done--and in that frustration they reported the situation. It went up and came back down uncomfortably on your boss. At this point, it reads as though your boss assigned the blame to you rather than supporting his team.

To the underlying issue, this is a huge red flag. Your boss is more concerned with making him(?)self look good than advocating for his team. Your boss gave you false information that put you in a bad situation then let you take the blame. You are right to raise it to your boss, but you have to assess if the same boss who appears to have made you the scapegoat is going to take this as a challenge or do the right thing. HR is an option, but it will likely come back to the boss.

Also, I’d suggest your replay the scenario and audit yourself. How did you respond to the requester when the situation occurred? I imagine you were both frustrated. Did that show through in your actions? That might have been why the write up happened. But it should not have included access you were told to expect.

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