Told to do something I don't agree with

(26 Posts)
Ethicallychallenged Sat 13-Feb-16 20:35:39

A very senior person at work has messed up and instead of taking responsibility he has instructed me to do something which is unethical and probably illegal. He is partly blaming me for what has occurred due to the fact that I didn't challenge him before he did it, this was not possible as I didn't know about it, he says I did. I have told him what needs to be done, he refuses and has sent me an intimidating email basically saying it's my job to sort it. He is a highly political person, ruthless, and has already caused 2 people to leave citing bullying by him, costing a lot of money for the company. He has suffered no consequences for this. I am so stressed and upset by it all, I feel physically ill. I am out of my depth and don't know how to deal with him.

midgeymum2 Sat 13-Feb-16 20:39:02

Does your company have a whistle blowing procedure? Are you a member of a professional body, or a union?

Ethicallychallenged Sat 13-Feb-16 21:01:43

No to both questions. At least I don't think we have a whistle blowing procedure.

BYOSnowman Sat 13-Feb-16 21:07:11

How is your hr department?

KimmySchmidtsSmile Sat 13-Feb-16 21:18:13

How is the e-mail worded? Is it general/implying you are at fault and need to fix or does it include the illegal solution? What is the hierarchy...who is his boss and how close are they?
Clearly do NOT do whatever he is telling you to do. Simply refuse and make it clear if he won't man up or tries to have you fired, you will go above his head and he will end up in a tribunal/ you will take legal action/go to the press?

Ethicallychallenged Sat 13-Feb-16 21:25:44

I think they're OK, but 2 women have already left because of him. HR have organised the settlements but nothing has happened to the guy. I understand he's very highly thought of by his superiors.

Ethicallychallenged Sat 13-Feb-16 21:31:20

He has suggested the illegal solution. I responded saying it wasn't a solution and why. I said we should do the right (expensive) thing. He came back and said no, I knew about it before and that in my capacity as <my job title> kindly sort it out.

CMOTDibbler Sat 13-Feb-16 21:36:27

Go to HR with printouts of the emails and a written timeline regarding the occurrence and any evidence you have around it.

State in writing why what you are being asked to do is wrong (cite codes of practice if necessary), and that as you believe this to be wrong, you cannot and will not do it.

KimmySchmidtsSmile Sat 13-Feb-16 23:53:06

Well, that's good.You have a paper trail then.
I personally would reply along the lines of:

As I stated in our conversation on this on (x date) I was NOT aware of this or I would have told you not to do it.
I will not be scapegoated in this way. I will not be doing (illegal solution) for the reasons stated in my e-mail of (y date).
I will not be placed in this position irrespective of my position as (your job title). Please respect my wishes and accept my advice.

I would copy this to his boss and head of HR, boom!
Because then, although it his word against yours, there can't be the throwing you under the bus behind your back with his boss when he gets wind you have been to HR.

KiwiJude Sun 14-Feb-16 05:54:11

What Kimmy said, ASAP.

Ethicallychallenged Sun 14-Feb-16 08:39:41

I will take it to HR tomorrow morning. My concern is managing the situation in a way which doesn't cause the complete breakdown of our working relationship. I know he's an arsehole, HR know it too, but he gets away with it. I can't afford to leave my job, I'm 59 and feel trapped.

HermioneWeasley Sun 14-Feb-16 08:46:58

What an awful situation. At least you do have a paper trail, but I think the reality is that you are going to be the next person settled out of the business, so you should plan for that.

Is your business regulated in any way? Who is on the board?

bakeoffcake Sun 14-Feb-16 08:54:22

He's asking you do something illegal. You have no option really other than the let HR know, unless you want to break the law?

You have a paper trail proving he's asked you to break the law.
Maybe the bosses will see this as him crossing a line? He must be incredibly arrogant and stupid to put all this in writing! Who would want someone like that working in their company?

Ethicallychallenged Sun 14-Feb-16 12:49:03

Hermione sad how on earth does one plan for losing their income at this stage of life. I need to work for a good number of years yet, getting out with six months pay won't work for me. That's my fear.

Who indeed bakeoff but seemingly he is worth keeping. The payouts to the other 2 women have been significant, as they are in a different country where it is very difficult to get people out. That could be part of it, it would cost millions to get rid of him.

wickedwaterwitch Sun 14-Feb-16 13:02:07

First, stop panicking if you can.

You shouldn't have to leave your job and neither should you do anything illegal. He can't MAKE you and he can't sack you for being polite but intransigent on this. I'd suggest something along these lines:

Dear xxx

As I stated in our conversation on X date regarding [be specific here or forward / reply to his email] on (x date) I was not aware of [expand on situation of make it clear]

Had I been aware, my advice would have been that we should not proceed for xxxx reason.

Therefore, for the reasons discussed and detailed in my email of xxx date I'm unable to implement (illegal solution). My view is that we could resolve this by doing [expensive thing].

Regards

That's it. Just say no, calmly and politely and leave it at that. Then forward it to your boss with an FYI. Let him escalate it if he wants to. Or find some other mug to do it.

wickedwaterwitch Sun 14-Feb-16 13:03:59

You don't have to involve HR and I wouldn't. It's your boss's concern, I'd make them aware. However, if you have a whistleblowing policy (which I bet you do) then you could also confidentially raise a concern using that.

wickedwaterwitch Sun 14-Feb-16 13:05:25

I really don't think you can be sacked for this. Make sure you document the conversations, which it sounds as if you already have.

Good luck. You don't need to be accusatory or emotional, just factual and polite.

blueshoes Sun 14-Feb-16 13:41:27

See if you can get free advice from an employment lawyer.

You cannot control how the company and your boss will react but you would want to position yourself for a payout in the worst case. Even if employments laws are not on your side as much as for those other 2 women, bad publicity is an equally strong deterrent.

It is not an easy position to find yourself in. Good luck!

AnnieOnnieMouse Sun 14-Feb-16 13:48:45

Don't, otherwise he will dump the blame on you, and you'll be sacked. That's what happened to a member of my family last year

Ethicallychallenged Sun 14-Feb-16 14:53:41

I won't. Whatever happens. If I did it I would deserve to be sacked; in my job it's essential that I have a high level of integrity.

dramaqueen Sun 14-Feb-16 15:00:47

Every company has to have a whistle blowing policy, so have a look.

Also make sure you keep a copy of all these emails, send them to your personal email address. Make sure that any settlement takes into account your age and chances of finding similar paid work again.

HermioneWeasley Sun 14-Feb-16 16:19:01

Agree that you are protected in law under the public interest disclosure act, but the reality is that even if you whistleblow on this, if the company are that willing to turn a blind eye to his unethical behaviour, you're likely to be the one who ends up leaving.

The good news is that there is no cap on compensation for a dismissal in this circumstance, so the impact on future earnings should be taken into account.

It's good advice to follow the whistleblowing procedure - normally the named person has to confirm to the audit committee whether there have been any complaints raised in a period, so you might get an audience that way.

Either way, you are quite right to be clear in your view that you won't do it.

Ethicallychallenged Tue 16-Feb-16 18:56:46

Ok, there is an update. The following morning his boss had responded summarising the situation as he saw it and asking for our responses. He was supportive of my position. I was relieved, and gave my honest response. All of this was on email with all parties copied. I then received an email from the bully, just to me, saying he now has no trust in me as I didn't back him. Since I manage a function which exists purely to provide a service to the dept he is head of, this places us in a difficult situation as we cannot work together if he has no trust and confidence in me. I forwarded that email to his boss, my boss and the head of HR immediately asking to discuss how to proceed. This was early yesterday. I met with my boss to discuss. Since then I have heard nothing, despite chasing today. What should I do next, raise a formal grievance? Is it a grievance if he's said he doesn't trust me, or something else?

HermioneWeasley Tue 16-Feb-16 19:00:33

I suspect they are scurrying around trying to work out what the fuck to do! Carry on as normal and give them a couple of days. Speak to your boss on Friday if you've not heard anything more

Ethicallychallenged Tue 16-Feb-16 19:41:18

I'm not sure they are that concerned about my issue with him, when I reminded my boss today she was a bit 'meh, well the situation is sorted now isn't it' - but she was talking about the practical issue he had caused, not his behaviour towards me. I felt I really had to drive home the point again that he'd tried to bully me into fraud, blamed me for the error, and said essentially that he couldn't work with me, and remind her that the situation is unsustainable as it stands.

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