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CAWorker

Unique State Employee working situation

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Hello - Yes I do work with the State of California and have been for almost 15 years now.  We and I say we because there's a few of us in this situation.  First off - I do know that 'we' are covered by Bargaining Unit contract and 'a lot' is not covered by 'our contract.'  This is a serious situation hopefully you'll get a little understanding and try not to jump to assumptions, nor just say: "Your covered under your contract" at let it go at that.

 

There is a co-worker that:

a.) Is lazy - and goes out of their way to not do anything. For the first 6 months (during their probationary period) they worked hard; lifting heavy objects, doing everything a 'hard worker' would do, but after that they stopped.  This person has been seen to be not doing anything on many, many occasions - and all the previous and so much more is the basis of our knowledge that he IS Lazy.

b.) Has lied on many occasions.  This person has accused not only me but others of doing things that we never did, nor never would.  In our work place - an 'investigation' has to be performed each time there are accusations against another employee.  We have been accused of 'looking at them the wrong way'; blowing dust at this person, 'looking at them with pink eye'; sabotaging their work, etc. the list is a long one.

c.) This person has 'blown up' many times at various 'co-workers' for no clear/good reason.  By blowing up I mean out right yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs saying things that are out right lies.  Has had to be taken away by the manager on almost all of those occasions and has even had to go home due to at least 2 of them.  The way this person blows up is very similar to what I would suspect as a person going postal at work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_postal

Example of this person blowing up:

All of us was talking in the workplace and then all of a sudden this person started screaming above us that "You accusing me of using drugs!" to one particular person I was talking to - as a statement of fact 'we' were only talking about drinking coffee and more specifically some "mountain" blend that's extremely expensive of which I can't remember the name (blue mountain?).  Anyway that person's face showed extreme anger, they balled up their fist and started moving towards the employee that I was talking to so I had no choice but to step in between them.  Then the manager came in and escorted that person to his office shortly after which we could still hear that person screaming behind the closed door and then they started crying extremely loudly.  At that incident that person had to go home.  This type situation has happened at least 4 times!

 

d.) Talks to themselves a lot.  Yes, I know that isn't against any law but...

e.) Is constantly washing their hands and keys for... OH - that time has increased, more and more.  Yes, I know that isn't against any law but...

f.) Doesn't touch anything with their hands if they can avoid it - this person usually uses a 'napkin' or towel.

g.) When we use to talk with this person - they always went on about 'this person' or 'that person' is out to get them.  Yes, I know that isn't against the law but..

 

My perspective - I had a brother who was a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of persecution, self persecution and the list the doctor gave me and my mother was 1 and 1/2 legal pages long!!!  Needless to say 'we' had to have him committed to a State Mental Institution.  This person at work is showing the same signs: delusions, constantly washing their hands (time of washing increasing), getting angry at imagined 'things' that don't happen, etc.  I have notified management and upper management of these parallels and my concerns about the because my bother finally attacked me and my mother.  So personal safety comes into consideration.

 

So everyone can clearly see that this person is 'unstable mentally' because of all of this.  We have told management and upper management that we feel that this person is and has caused this to be an unsafe work environment.  I have told management and upper management that "If I get accused again with unfounded accusations I'm filling harassment."  I have also notified them that if anything happens to me that my wife is going to sue each and everyone of them and "The State."  Now - it seems like tomorrow I will be called in because "I was hiding a key away" from this person.  Something of which I did not do, nor would do.

 

We all feel that it's only a matter of time before this person goes postal!!!  A few employees have put up mirrors on their desks because of the fact that they have their 'backs to him.'  Because of how 'the state operates' we have no idea if this person has been 'punished' with false accusations against us, but that doesn't matter - what does matter is 'our lives!'  I keep a lot of 'evidence' at home and have told my wife what to do - print it all out - get a lawyer and sue management, upper management and "The State" in case if we are victims of a "State Employee Going Postal."

 

So what 'can we do' in this situation?!?

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So what 'can we do' in this situation?!?

 

Keep reporting the incidents to management but I suggest from now on you put the issues in writing so you have a paper trail that management can't just sweep under the rug.

 

I'm wondering if this person is an ethnic minority that management is afraid to fire.

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Agree that you can report it but you can not force the company to do anything in particular about it. It could be they are well aware of this person's medical situation and are working with them. You would not be privy to that. I don't see anything in your post which would lead to the conclusion this individual is likely to "go postal". I would avoid such accusations and assumptions. Your brother's situation may or may not be the same. Certainly not everyone with mental health disorders turns violent. From experience with a family member in a similar situation, any attacks if they do occur, tend to be against those closest to them (family, close friends, etc.). No one can predict of course when any one of us will go off one day, but do be mindful of projecting your experiences on to this person and or treating your coworker like a ticking time bomb.

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Keep reporting the incidents to management but I suggest from now on you put the issues in writing so you have a paper trail that management can't just sweep under the rug.

 

I'm wondering if this person is an ethnic minority that management is afraid to fire.

 I wondered the same thing... or thought that maybe the appearance of a mental issue is enough to protect the employee that OP refers to.  OP, did you report to your supervisors the similarity to your brother's situation?  If so, that seems as though it could go either way... 1) you tell them he seems mentally unstable and they don't want to have a negative employment action towards him because, even though they aren't physicians (or are they?) and therefore can't diagnose his condition, perhaps the suspicion of mental illness or instability still offers him protections as though he had been diagnosed...?  Or 2) You DON'T tell them he seems unstable and they don't place any real significance on the concerns you and your fellow employees have regarding your personal safety while at work as well as feeling as though you're constantly harassed by his fears and accusations.

 

I am curious to see how the company proceeds with this and hope you keep posting.  I would seek the advice of counsel who specializes in employment law because the issues SEEM to be overlapping the rights of each party without knowing what is going on with this particular employee. 

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Based on the poster's initial statement that "I do work with the State of California . . ." I assumed he or she was a state employee. If that is the case you might need a nuclear device to remove the employee he or she is complaining about. Been there, seen that.

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Reporting that an employee seems mentally unstable is a horrible idea. If there are objective behaviors which are of concern, bring those to the attention of your supervisor or HR. Do not go into your brother's situation as it just is not at all relevant. You do not know this person's diagnosis, or treatment plan, and a lot can change in just a few years. What might have been available for your brother may not be the protocol now.

 

Those with disabilities are protected to the extent that they can perform their duties with or without a reasonable accommodation. They are not insulated by law from consequences which jeopardize the health and safety of others, however, that bar is set pretty high and a few tantrums is not going to reach it.

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