I am a new hire at this company. After three months, our HR/recruiting rep put in his two weeks' notice. The next day, the VP and my supervisor told me that they would be placing me in the HR/recruiting rep position because our numbers are low and I'm the newest employee so I would the one they would most likely layoff if it came to that. They said this was a great opportunity and after 3-6 months I might want to stay in the position. A few days later, it was announced to the rest of the office staff that I was stepping into this position. I was told that if I "excelled", in 3-6 months I might take this one permanently.

I never filed a change of status or signed a new job description. My previous responsibilities were limited to taking incoming calls from new clients. Now, I am managing paperwork for over 100 employees, and attempting to recruit more field staff.

A week into this role, I filed some paperwork that had been piling up from the last person. Some of it was for the office staff employee files which are kept in a larger space on the other side of the building. I filed those, but couldn't find the file for my supervisor, and I had some paperwork for her too. I took this to my VP, and said that I couldn't find her file among the other office staff employees.

My VP became very upset, and said that I had no authority to handle any of the employee files, which are confidential. She also said that she had specifically told the person that trained me (that I replaced) and the people in HR that I am not allowed to handle those files. She said that is completely outside the scope of my responsibilities. I explained that I had no idea that this was wrong, as the previous person had shown me those files himself and the HR people assisted me in finding the right file cabinet.

The next day my supervisor spoke to me privately and said that she was speaking for the VP as well, and that I greatly overstepped my bounds yesterday and it was a very serious matter that I handled confidential paperwork. She said that I am not allowed to go into the HR department for any reason, and I am not allowed to speak to any of the people in the HR department or ask them any questions, that all questions must be directed to our VP. My supervisor said that she wanted to clarify that I was not being offered or even considered for this position because I am not qualified at all for this position and that the only reason that they put me in this position is because they didn't want to lay me off. And that I better not be disappointed when they bring in someone else for this role.

The next day I pointed out to my supervisor that all the new hires coming in need to go to the main HR department to get their badges and normally the person in my role would take them there. She said that she will escort them there herself. She even went to the HR department herself just to pick up a tiny item - a photograph - because she didn't want me to set foot in the HR department.

This seems very strange to me, but I don't see a specific law being broken. Is this all legal?

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    We can't really answer "is this legal". Especially not without a location tag. But it sure as hell sounds fishy. – Erik Jan 26 '17 at 19:56
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    So they told you they were going to transfer you to HR, but then when you went and performed the HR duties you were told you overstepped your bounds? This is strange enough that I feel like we are missing half of the story. – David K Jan 26 '17 at 20:04
  • Who told you to do filing? – Xavier J Jan 26 '17 at 20:04
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    I don't think that there's anything that legally stops them from doing this. However, if it were me, I'd find another position somewhere else. Once you're safely out, maybe even leave a review of their shady practices on glassdoor (Or don't if you think it'd identify you) so that other people might be warned. – schizoid04 Jan 26 '17 at 21:22
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    So you were moved to an HR position with the promise of being hired in that capacity permanently and they then later told you not to actually perform any HR duties but should be glad you weren't fired. What kind of Kafkaesque insane asylum are you working in? VTC because we don't do legal questoins but really, these are giant signs that you should be job searching. – Lilienthal Jan 27 '17 at 14:38

They can limit the scope of your work and how you are to do it to their hearts' content. That alone is not improper though it certainly is strange.

I would have alarm bells going off in my mind that they're doing something improper or illegal, not because they don't want you to look at confidential files but their reaction when you were, which is very over the top. Then to say that you're not being considered for the position tells me that they're suddenly afraid of something.

I hope your resume is up to date and I'd personally consider hunting for work elsewhere. It sounds to me like you almost stumbled on to something that they weren't yet prepared for you to discover. I couldn't work for people that erratic myself and would be afraid every day that I was about to be a scapegoat for something.

Another "red flag" to me about the company is that they're already talking about who would be laid off "if it came to that". Successful companies don't talk about layoffs and unless you're under a contract, most companies can lay off whomever they choose barring discrimination or retribution.

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    Yep. I'd bet this company makes news within the year, and not in a good way. – Wesley Long Jan 26 '17 at 20:41

Sound like you got shafted here but yes they can order you not to go to HR.

  • They needed someone in HR and you are assigned
  • You say OK
  • You processed paper work on your desk
    VP goes berserk based on she specifically told person that trained you that you were not to access that data. If that work was on your desk then clearly the person that trained you did not do what they were specifically instructed by the VP. As for your supervisors file you had not yet accessed it so not skin lost there.
  • If you were not qualified at all for this position then why did they put you in it in the first place.

If what you state is accurate then you did nothing wrong and VP over reacted. At this point it sounds like you are collateral damage and they don't care. VP is clearly not going to take the blame. You might survive but you should start looking for another job.

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