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There has been conflicts between me and a new coworker. The manager called me today. She wants us not to work together but this means I would have my hours reduced. I would be happy not to work with him but not sure about getting my hours reduced. Should I follow up with an email stating "before I can make a decision about reducing my hours to avoid the new coworker, how many hours would I still be getting exactly?"

Since he is still on probation I asked the manager if she was considering terminating him. She said no because he complained about me to head office so it's out of her hands. I asked what the complaint was exactly and she said she didn't know because they are keeping it confidential. Should I contact head office to find out what's going on? Why would a manager be hesitant to terminate someone who is still in probation?

While I did find him annoying I was willing to be professional and work with him. It was him who said he refuses to work with me (he told me this in those words). I don't really think it's fair that my hours are reduced, and there hasn't been any formal interviews or attempts to figure out what's going on. To be clear, I find very much he's the aggressor in this situation, but of course he would say the same about me.

Also the new manager almost never comes to the shop and likely doesn't know how productive people are being.

Conclusion:

This had an interesting end. The manager called me to say that this coworker had sent her rude text messages accusing her of not doing her job and that he threatened to walk out. She wanted him to stay because she didn't have a replacement (yet). So today I worked with him and the COO talked to us individually. I spoke based on the answers here, if he is the one refusing to work with me then it shouldn't be my hours that are reduced etc.

The COO basically said a bunch of things, like if he's quiting or not, or what his complaint against me was for, are confidential.

Anyway halfway through the shift he got mad, walked out, and sent the COO a message saying never to contact him again.

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    Does your contract specify a certain number of hours?
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jul 15 at 10:40
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    "Why would a manager be hesitant to terminate someone who is still in probation?" Maybe because they're doing good work and they don't want to lose them? This whole question is very one-sided.
    – Barmar
    Jul 15 at 14:49
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    Does this answer your question? I have to work alone with new coworker and we are having conflicts Jul 15 at 16:01
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    @SliderBlackrose Oh, ok. Though... the comment can be upvoted and flagged, you don't see it because you're the author, I think. I can't flag an upvote my comment too. Downvoting comments is not possible at all AFAIK. Cheers!
    – luk32
    Jul 15 at 16:21
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"She said no because he complained about me to head office so it's out of her hands." Why can someone on probation just complain to head office and bypass their manager?

Do you have some kind of bad reputation in this org? Usually I'd expect management to side with the long-term employee and not the new hire. Or does this person have connections to someone in head office?

If they are requesting not to work with you, you should request that they reduce their hours (or quit or are transfered) and not you. Reducing hours and pay is a very drastic measure. Why should you do that? It would be much better to try and resolve the conflict. And you are willing to work on that, aren't you?

I would also consider contacting head office myself and inquire what kind of charges were made against me. I would not agree to any changes until head office has completed all investigations.

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  • no previous manager left the country. Sorry deleted previous comment. Was going to add, I don't even know how the new hire got the contact of someone in head office, maybe the previous manager gave it to him in case he needed to use it before the new manager arrived
    – user127275
    Jul 15 at 9:06
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    There has been a ridiculously high turn over rate, even for retail. I've been here 5 months and that's one month less than the longest coworker.
    – user127275
    Jul 15 at 9:35
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    The question is tagged "retail". In a (low grade) retail job, a new hire can be more productive than a "long term employee" almost from day one. Years of experience stacking shelves doesn't count for much.
    – alephzero
    Jul 15 at 18:47
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    @alephzero what makes retail special? With experience you learn things like location of things, product recommendations, faster at preparing orders.
    – user127275
    Jul 16 at 9:32
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At this point I don't think there are many options left besides escalating the issue or accepting that you have to work less or work together with this coworker. When escalating however, I'd suggest to focus on resolving the problem and not just ask them to fire the other employee. I honestly doubt they'd be happy if some low level employee comes along and asks to fire someone they don't get along with.

It doesn't sound like your manager can/wants to resolve the problem and is just looking to work around it. Until the problem is actually addressed, it seems like you have two options: accept to work less or accept you're going to have to work with this coworker.

Since he is still on probation I asked the manager if she was considering terminating him. She said no because he complained about me to head office so it's out of her hands. I asked what the complaint was exactly and she said she didn't know because they are keeping it confidential. Should I contact head office to find out what's going on?

No. If your manager already doesn't have the information because it's confidential, they're definitely not going to tell you. If the head office wants you to know, they'll contact you.

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  • It seems quite strange that a complaint is made about someone but not brought to their attention. Why wouldn't they do this, at least not immediately?
    – user127275
    Jul 15 at 6:27
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    @user127275 Because they may want to first investigate the complaint. To me it seems weird to immediately notify the other party a complaint has been filed about them, while there may not be any merit to the complaint. It'd only create unnecessary tension between the coworkers (granted, in this case there already is tension, but they may not know that). They probably first want to make sure the complaint is valid and then see what their options are before involving you.
    – Dnomyar96
    Jul 15 at 6:32
  • Good point, though it will have been over a week
    – user127275
    Jul 15 at 7:03
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    @user127275 depending on the office, it may very well take a month until they get around to it (or they may have to go through a lot of bureaucracy). They probably don't just drop everything just because a complaint was filed from one of their locations.
    – Dnomyar96
    Jul 15 at 7:07
  • "work with this coworker" is not in the cards if half of what OP has posted is to be believed
    – Joshua
    Jul 15 at 15:14
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Much of this site assumes you're working in the privileged corporate world. They're often out of touch with how the real world works.

I'm going to be harsh here- I get the impression that there's more here than you're letting on. Your accusations here and in Law have been inconsistent. You put a lot of time and effort into making us dislike this guy- you've even made baseless accusations about his mental health.

And yet he apparently has no issues with other employees- the manager seems happy for him to work with them. The problem is not him, it's that you two can't work together. This may be something you both need to work on- the bosses trying to fix this likely see it that way.

Rearranging shifts to keep two employees apart is a fair amount of work that your manager didn't have to do. She has put time and effort into a solution and appears to be getting your opinion on it. If you think there is a way to accomplish this with neither of you losing hours, try to figure it out. (Here's a hint, count how long the coffee shop is actually open over a week then add your desired hours and his desired hours together).

Your solution of "just fire this guy" is not going to happen. Yes, the manager could do this. No, she shouldn't. Even assuming the best case scenario where she doesn't have to redo the selection process, she still needs to recruit, train, and sort out all the paperwork for a new employee. It is not reasonable to do this simply because one employee doesn't get along with them.

Worse, this sets a precedent that you and other staff can veto new hires. This is not reasonable or healthy.

You have 4 options.

  1. Take the reduced hours if it is financially viable for you. This means you will earn less and being inflexible may impact your future within the company.
  2. Work with the annoying guy. Ask your manager if she will help mediate things between you. If the three of you sit down together and discuss the worst problems, that might help.
  3. Arrange a transfer to another store. I don't know if this is actually viable and may be worse than option 1 for you but I'm including it for completeness. From what you've said it sounds like you work for a chain. There is likely a procedure for employees to move from one store to another.
  4. Find a job elsewhere. It's best to secure a new job, then quit so go with option 1 or 2 while you look.
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    Definitely agree with the first line - a lot of people on this site assume a level of bargaining power that simply isn't available to most workers, especially in high employee turnover industries. Not sure I agree with assuming the OP is to blame though - not saying they aren't but we don't know enough about the situation to assume. You would probably do better to express it as an option to consider rather than coming out with "I highly doubt you're blameless" - it comes across as a little too confrontational. Jul 16 at 10:11
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    Fair point, reworded it
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jul 16 at 11:00
  • "you've even made baseless accusations about his mental health". Where?
    – user127275
    Jul 17 at 7:29
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    @user127275 In your first post on law you describe him as "crazy".
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jul 17 at 7:31
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    @user127275 You don't actually know what cherry picking is, do you?
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jul 18 at 8:19
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Polish up your CV/Resume then say you will agree to the reduction of hours but on the sole condition that you remain on the same monthly/annual salary indefinitely, or until this problem is resolved.

This will do at least one of two things:

  1. Force the manager to question if there isn't a better solution than to reduce your hours.
  2. Reveal what the actual problem is in the managers eyes. If it is you, you will be likely be flatly refused this request. At this point start looking for another job.
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    This job is likely paid by the hour, so these demands are certainly not going to happen
    – morbo
    Jul 16 at 6:39
  • @morbo I completely agree! It feels as if OP is paid hourly, but that doesn't mean they have a minimum contracted number of hours per week, for example. Either way, the above still applies as per 2).
    – josh
    Jul 16 at 7:35
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    @josh It's not uncommon for customer service workers to be on low hour contracts then consistently work more than their contracted hours. OP has ignored my questions about this both here and in Law so I assume this is the case.
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jul 16 at 8:25
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They are likely setting you up to fail

While you didn't give much details about yourself (what industry you are working in, did you have problems on this job before, etc ...) usually it is a common practice for companies to trust their experienced well-established workers more than new guys. Especially in cases like this if he really straight out refuses to work with you.

However, in this case there are tell-tale signs that something is wrong, and that the new hire has some unusual clout in the company. The most worrying sign is the fear of your immediate manager. She wants to implicitly punish you by reducing your work hours, thus your wage. She is also afraid to talk about the new employee, making excuses that it is "over her head". Head office is also keeping complaints against you "confidential", i.e. you cannot meet your accuser or know accusation against you which sounds like some kind of witch trial.

Anyway, what you need to do is get pro-active. First of all, try to find out if this new guy has some connections with top management in the company, or he belongs to some kind of "protected class". Second, if you need the money, absolutely refuse to have your working hours cut. Third, make a formal complaint against the new hire to the same head office where he made a complaint against you. And fourth, depending on the circumstances (especially considering his connections in the company or "protected" status), be prepared to abandon ship i.e. start looking for a new job as a precaution right away.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – motosubatsu
    Jul 16 at 9:24
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Having your hours reduced is absolutely unacceptable. You make that very clear to the manager. Not "I'm not sure" but "No f***ing way", adapted to use the strongest expression possible where you are.

And you can tell them that you know an employment lawyer who will get involved if they try to reduce your hours.

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    Bluffing legal action is not a good idea. When they call OP's bluff, they have two options and neither is good.
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jul 15 at 12:52
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    This answer might make some sense for a salaried position with a well-defined number of hours per week, but for a coffee shop job it is unlikely to be useful (depending on the contract)
    – JDL
    Jul 15 at 15:36
  • @Studoku: ... which means you'd need to contact a lawyer first. "I know a layer" sounds like a bluff. "If you want to draft a proposal for a reduction in hours, please CC my lawyer. Her email is Foo@Bar". makes it clear that you have taken real action. It doesn't mean you will sue, it's common enough to hire lawyers to review a proposal. But that still means the company needs to draft a legally sound proposal for the reduction in hours. That leaves the company with more than 2 options
    – MSalters
    Jul 15 at 16:30
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    @MSalters Do you really think it's common in "retail" for most employees (probably on the minimum wage) to "hire a lawyer to review a proposal"?
    – alephzero
    Jul 15 at 18:50
  • @MSalters If OP was a member of a union that provided legal services, this would potentially be an option though one I disagree with
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jul 15 at 19:42

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