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Summary: I work in that company for 8 years. I want to transfer to another department because my current management has done illegal things that I've documented in emails to them. I think they prevent transfer as retaliation for recording illegal activities. How to professionally navigate that situation? I want to work in the company, but change departments.


New and anonymous account for obvious reasons. I could really use some sound advice from an outside perspective. I'm going to try to limit specifics as much as possible to avoid identifying myself.

I've been working at this company for 8 years. I started as a tech, and worked my way up to engineer. I'm smart and highly motivated. I do good work. I work on the manufacturing side. I don't care for my direct boss, or my boss' boss. They are both extremely controlling individuals. I'm talking manipulative sociopaths. For quite some time, I've wanted to move from manufacturing to engineering (R&D). The management there is better, and I can learn more from coworkers there. Since about 2 years ago, the management of manufacturing discovered my desire to transfer to R+D engineering. They have been actively preventing this from happening (they know I do good work and want to keep me). Due to the controlling nature of said management, they have crossed boundaries that are illegal to cross. That is, they have done things that certainly violate HIPAA laws, as well as general EOC laws. I have this documented via email. Management knows this, and is afraid I will start a lawsuit against them. As a result, their strategy has been to try to make me "afraid" of losing my job. That is, they have been trying to induce fear in me to keep me from documenting behavior, or attempting a lawsuit. They have turned all my coworkers against me, and are actively surveilling me every moment I'm at work. They are trying to set me up for fireable offenses to get "ammo" against me in a lawsuit. I don't like this, its an uncomfortable work environment. They want me to think I'm in danger of being fired. They take actions which attempt to intimidate me, but that are difficult to prove. Perhaps they are trying to get me to quit. If they do fire me, I definitely have a lawsuit against them.

Really what I want is to work for engineering though. I don't want to sue anybody. I cant keep working for the manufacturing management however. What manufacturing has done to me in the past is definitely wrong, I cant continue to work for them. I've exhausted options with HR. Should I approach the CEO and explain my predicament? Should I threaten a lawsuit if I'm not transferred to R+D? Should I start the proceedings for a lawsuit in hopes management will improve their behavior? The evidence I have, is definitely worth millions in damages. I'm confused, miserable, and don't know what to do. Also, I'm on the spectrum and don't know the preferred way to reach a solution in a situation like this.

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    @Gustav, You said "I've exhausted options with HR." Would you please share some details if possible ? What did you say to HR ? and what is their response ? Jun 20 at 5:17
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    @Gustav, Have you considered applying for an engineering job at other companies ? With 8 years of experiences, you may be a good candidate in the job market for either R&D or manufacturing. Jun 20 at 5:27
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    I assume you are in the US, so you don't need approval from the job you leave you only need approval from the job you take. What exactly is keeping you from applying to your companies R&D?
    – nvoigt
    Jun 20 at 5:28
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    After all this, you still want to work in a different part of the same company? Jun 20 at 13:49
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    There are several points that I'm not clear on. For one thing, the absence of mention of the possibility of another job other than in another department in the same company makes it seem that you don't feel that is an option. Is that the case? Also, are the HIPAA violations against you? If you are aware of violations against other people, you can't sue on their behalf, and holding off on reporting those violations so you have blackmail material is questionable behavior at best. Jun 21 at 2:39
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They are trying to set me up for firable offenses to get "ammo" against me in a lawsuit.

So which is it?

I thought you said they didn't want to lose you to a different department because you did such good work. If you've become such a problem to them, why don't they allow you to move that other department?

Should I approach the CEO and explain my predicament? Should I threaten a lawsuit if I'm not transferred to R+D? Should I start the proceedings for a lawsuit in hopes mgmt will improve their behavior? The evidence I have, is definitely worth millions in damages.

Millions in damages? I'm sorry, but that sounds very unlikely. If you have such a great case, why don't you find a lawyer. If you can't convince a lawyer to take your case on commission, then no, you do not have a great case.

In which case, look for a job elsewhere. It's infinitely easier to find a job elsewhere when you're still employed. And it's definitely not healthy for you to stay with an employer that doesn't want you there.

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  • Braczyk - I understand that you find it unlikely. However This isnt a value I came up with. Its a number my doctor advised me of, who has seen similar cases, of said HIPAA violations
    – Gustav
    Jun 20 at 5:47
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    HIPAA violations are fines, not damages - i.e. you don't get the money. Jun 20 at 6:43
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    @Gustav, It looks like you have a deadline too. "Be filed within 180 days of when you knew that the act or omission complained of occurred. OCR may extend the 180-day period if you can show "good cause" HIPAA Prohibits." [...] "Retaliation. Under HIPAA an entity cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint. You should notify OCR immediately in the event of any retaliatory action." hhs.gov/hipaa/filing-a-complaint/complaint-process/index.html Jun 20 at 7:09
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    @gustav: a doctor gave you that number? If so, it isn't a reliable value since determining monetary penalties is not within a physician's field of expertise. For reference, I am a physician who also heads the HIPAA compliance committee of a large multi-specialty medical practice. As others have also stated, HIPAA penalties do not go to the patient. This doesn't pass the "smell test" I'm afraid Jun 21 at 16:35
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    @HovercraftFullOfEels It was probably an offhand remark along the lines of "that sounds like a HIPAA violation, that could cost millions" - could not will, plus the implied "if true" - that was misinterpreted by someone taking stuff too literally. Jun 22 at 8:27
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They have been actively preventing this from happening (they know I do good work and want to keep me). Due to the controlling nature of said management, they have crossed boundaries that are illegal to cross. That is, they have done things that certainly violate HIPAA laws, as well as general EOC laws. I have this documented via email.

Make an appointment with a labor lawyer. Today. If your lawyer agrees you do have a strong case against management, then the handle of the dagger is in your hand and you can negotiate a deal with your employer.

But at this late stage, the work environment is toxic, you feel victimised and you are continuously on your guard, this situation is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.

See an employment lawyer in your state/area to know exactly what your rights are. That person will best advise you on your next move.

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    This. Even if the lawyer tells you you can try to ride it out, at least they are the expert, they have seen dozens of such cases and they know what they are talking about. Do not take decisions such as yours without a lawyer. Jun 20 at 12:55
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Life is very short, do not spend it working for manipulative sociopaths who violate HIPAA laws and EOC laws in hope of moving to a better position eventually, this will never make you happy. In business the truth is bound to come out, its just a matter of time, you sure don't want to be implicated in the scandal when it eventually happens.

Do not link your desires to be in R+D with the ammo you have against them, this is just lowering yourself to blackmailing them and is not at all honourable.

Live your life with honour and courage, gather and record information, first try presenting it to leaders of the company or board members, if that does not create a favourable change, then (with discretion) pass that information to agencies responsible for enforcing HIPAA laws and EOC laws.

The good managers in this world seek employees that uphold truth and justice and have the courage to act with honour. The bad managers don't want their employees to have these skills because they are manipulative sociopaths who are no fun to work for.

In short - A good company should be good company.

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    Indeed, will do. I never suggested I would or condone blackmail. I believe in honest communication. Sadly, it has been lacking or manipulative in the people I have been dealing with. Hopefully I will see some efforts on their part to bridge the communication gap and treat me better, and ideally transfer to a department more in alignment with the people Id like to be around
    – Gustav
    Jun 20 at 23:14
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    "The good managers in this world seek employees that uphold truth and justice and have the courage to act with honour. " That sounds a little naive, I mean they are managers, not knights in a holy order dedicated to fighting some evil. Jun 21 at 18:17
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Talk to the R&D manager and ask him if he has a job for you, or if he would consider you next time he is recruiting. Your experience with the company should make you an attractive candidate but if he doesn't have the budget to increase the size of his team you may have to wait.

It's also possible that there's some reason they wouldn't consider you, possibly a qualification they require, or maybe your boss has been spreading lies about you or otherwise preventing the R&D team from accepting you. If that's the case, you need to know as soon as possible.

You should also be looking at R&D jobs outside the company, so you have a realistic idea of the skills they require and the salary you could expect.

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    Exactly this. My company also encourages applying internally for open positions in other divisions whenever we want. After all, it is about keeping good employees onboard instead of seeing them to go elsewhere. Gustav may also have an advantage of product knowledge etc. so he may be more valuable compared to other applicants. The company may also save fees they would pay to job agencies.
    – miroxlav
    Jun 21 at 12:05
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Due to the controlling nature of said management, they have crossed boundaries that are illegal to cross. That is, they have done things that certainly violate HIPAA laws, as well as general EOC laws. I have this documented via email.

I work in another - much less regulated - industry, however getting to know such law violations, my first action would be to report them.

In my company we've compliance department for these issues, in case you don't have or don't trust them, report directly to authorities.

If you're aware of such violations and don't report them, you are guilty too (at least in Europe, I suppose it similar also in USA), not reporting it so far could show to management you aren't clear with law / you can be influenced. Neither of them help in your situation.

In any conditions based on your description I would not want to stay in that company.

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    Our company has an anonymous reporting tip line that's handled by an outside 3rd party for just such situations.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 21 at 15:42

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