Our HR/ Office Manager is my direct reports BFF!

Okay, First, thank you for taking the time to read this, because I am actually out of places to go... 

I am literally in living hell.  I hope you don't mind reading my story, because so far, I have found no one else to turn to.  Once you read this, I think you will understand why.  I work at a division of a pretty big company, our division is only 175 people. I work in the office, sales department, and I supervise 6 employees.  I have a manager over me, who also manages four other departments, which I also help out with, and I also have the general manager I also report to.  Well, our HR department is lacking, to say the least.  We have one HR manager, who is located at our corporate office, and then we have one at each of our divisions.  The HR person at our division is also the "office manager", she handles payroll, and things of that nature.  One of my employees was hired internally, and transferred into my department from the reception desk.  Her previous supervisor was this HR/ Office Manager.  Little did I know when I hired her, they are best friends, and actually hang out on a daily basis.  Needless to say, this has made my life very difficult.  I won't go into every detail of the situations that have come up, because I will run out of room, and probably time too, but the point I want to get across is that HR cannot be trusted.  I do not have anyone to go to for advice.  I can go to my managers, but sometimes, I want advice about them.  I have actually told this HR person things in the past tat have been repeated and spread around.  I have been targeted, talked about, and they have even tried to get me fired. 

The most recent issue just came up two days ago.  I was called into the GM's office and he told me that there were ongoing complaints about me from within my department, too many that he could not ignore, and he demoted me.  YES. HE DEMOTED ME. My question is this- If people are complaining about me, why doesn't my direct supervisor know about these complaints? Why haven't I been told about these "ongoing" complaints?  When an employee complains, isn't HR supposed to go to that employees supervisor, and then together they determine how to proceed?  I have never once received news of a complaint, and neither has my supervisor (he is just as upset as I am about this, as they did this to me while he was out).

I am still in shock that they can get away with this, without even telling me what the complaints were, and all of a sudden, I am not a supervisor anymore. Is there anyone who can give me advice on how to handle this?  I just don't have anywhere to go!  Corporate HR literally supports everything divisional HR does, no questions asked, and I am beginning to think this company doesn't follow the "core values" is says it does.

 Please help me.  I have no where else to turn.


- Demoted & Confused 


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • There are no laws that require them to divulge any complaints or investigations to you.  Or give you a chance to change or even ask your point of view.  As a matter of course, most HR/companies do everything they can to keep the complaints/investigations confidential for fear of retaliation complaints. Because often the complainer is protected from retaliation even if it is found that the complaint is untrue.

    On the other hand, if you want to be about to go to HR to complain or get advice about your own boss, there are no laws requiring that they keep it confidential.  Honestly I am HR and my job is not to listen to your complaints about your job/boss/coworker etc unless those complaints fall under Title 7, FMLA, ADA, FLSA or other employment laws. I am not a relationship or jobs counselor.

    In the end, HR works for the employer and has to keep the best interests of the employer at heart.  Sometimes that is very difficult while understanding the employee's perspective and wanting to help or solve a situation.

    I think you need to seek a solution outside of your employer through a job coach or other such job/career advisor.

  • I appreciate your reply.  Do you have any ideas where I should even start looking for a job coach or job/career advisor?  I am going to start on google.
  • One more thing, I re-read your response, and I do understand confidentiality.  What I don't understand is why they have reason to demote me only due to these supposed complaints.  What I would expect from a reputable company, would be a conversation about what I need to improve on, they don't have to tell me details about complainer or complaints.


    Thank you for your time. 

  • I have actually demoted someone without a conversation. Why? Because the situation was such that under the law, I pretty much had to do so to protect the employer's liability.  Because for that situation/employee, he was known to be very argumentative.  We knew what we were going to do and no explanation from the employee would have changed the situation.  Would it possibly make the employee happier?  Possibly, but at that point, I needed the "authority" he had over others to stop immediately.

    I am not saying the complaints about you rose to that level, but they might have.  The employer has to right to decide what and who they believe. The employer is not a court of law and doesn't need evidence.  They would need to be able to explain should you file some sort of illegal discrimination complaint.  But in truth, that just means they have to be able to back up their decision based on something other than a protected characteristic.

  • I admit a high degree of skepticism whenever I'm trying to assess a workplace situation based solely on the negatively affected party's characterization of events.  Even so, let's assume that things happened exactly as you claimed.

    1. Some of your subordinates complained to HR rather than your supervisor.
    2. HR took the complaints to the GM.
    3. The GM demoted you.

    First Complaint: It's not fair!
    I don't see a violation of any law unless you can show, at the very least, that the employees' complaints or the final decision to demote were motivated by some illegally discriminatory reason.  Can you even raise a red flag by showing that the process used to discipline you was unique to you?  There is no obligation to be "fair" in any manner that is not legally protected.  They could demote you for entertainment value as long as that couldn't be tied to some illegal reason.  They could demote you by lottery.  You have no right to confront your accuser(s).  The employer does not have to be certain of the allegations against you to demote you.  You don't have a right to confront complainants.  The company could demote you simply to calm everyone else down so they'll go back to work even if your performance has otherwise been sterling.  If you believe you were demoted for an illegal reason or you are uncertain if you were wronged in some legal way, you should see an attorney.  Your attorney will want to know about the "situations that have come up" that you have declined to reveal here (and should not reveal if you intend to pursue legal action).

    Second Complaint: That's not how HR operates!
    HR's role differs by company.  I have worked in both advisory and termination-empowered roles in HR.  That's a decision about the operation of the organization, not a limitaiton on the HR profession.

    A Problem in This Situation
    By not giving us any details about the "situations that have come up," you deny us any insight into what the complaints might be about.  Maybe you are a terrible supervisor.  Maybe you are technically proficient but personally ineffective.  Maybe you harass people.  We don't know and we cannot tell from the information you have provided.  It's not immediately clear that the subordinate you are concerned about is at the root of any of your problems.  Maybe the GM told you precisely why you were disciplined but you were too upset to hear it.

    Something You Might Try
    See if your employer's code of conduct, fraternization, nepostism, or other similarly styled policies pertain to your former subordinate's relationship with the HR person at the corporate office.  If you can find a policy that governs the situation, make the appropriate complaint.  Consider making the complaint to whomever the corporate HR person reports to (higher HR official? CFO?)


Sign In or Register to comment.