Three years ago, a coworker of mine was investigated by my employer, and eventually terminated. However, prior to being investigated, she had filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI), alleging harassment and discrimination from management. After being terminated, my coworker and her lawyer added retaliation to the charges.
Since I was the employee’s shop steward at the time I had a passing familiarity with the case. In fact, at the time, my boss called me into his office and strongly cautioned me about how I involved myself with it. I found out later that that could have been considered illegal threatening of a steward, a huge no-no for management. Since I was a fledgeling steward, I didn’t pursue it at the time.
Recently, I found out, from the legal department at my place of employment, that I was being called as a witness in the case, which is only now ready to come to trial. The wheels of justice, yadda yadda. Since I was aware that I was being called by the plaintiff, and my employer was the defendant in the trial, I knew that I really didn’t have any obligation to talk to the lawyers for the defendant. I checked with my union rep and, sure enough, he agreed that I didn’t have to speak to them. If they insisted, I should speak to them, but then we would look into grieving it.
After getting the letter from the lawyer, several days went by. Then I received an email (addressed to me and several others) requesting a meeting. I ignored the email and remained busy with work. Last Thursday I received a follow-up email, asking for a meeting once again. I replied that I respectfully declined.
That led to a series of emails back and forth, each more strongly worded than the other. I pointed out that, if I was being ordered to meet with the lawyer, I would, but failing that, I declined.
The carefully-worded emails from the legal department, however sugar-coated, could be interpreted as intimidation and threats. Y’know, in a certain context. However, they picked the exact wrong week to try to intimidate me. Tyrants need to be challenged; bullies need to be stood up to. I hope that those who wronged my coworker (and, indirectly, myself and my other employees), and have abused both their managerial power and the trust of their workers and the taxpayers and citizens of Multnomah County, will finally have to face the consequences of their actions.