update: my employee didn’t give a coworker the message that his wife was in surgery, and now everyone hates him

Remember the letter-writer whose employee didn’t give a coworker a crucial message that his wife was in surgery? The employee (Percival) was fired, filed a grievance, and was reinstated. Here’s the update.

Wakeen (the employee whose wife was injured) was a foreman, not a manager, so he was also a union member. When he got called out to the gate, he left right away to go to the hospital. He was off for a bit afterwards while Jane recovered.

By the time he came back, Percival had already been fired. As confirmed by Percival, Wakeen never spoke to Percival about what happened, directly or indirectly. He was furious at Percival but he never confronted him over it before the hearing and ruling of reinstatement. Despite this, Wakeen was made to be the bad guy by Percival and the union. It was after the hearing, when Wakeen heard about what was said and was ordered to apologize to Percival along with the company, that Wakeen quit. He ended up seeking a lawyer and sought to take action against the union for them throwing him under the bus when he did not do anything, as well as for slandering him. It looked bad, the union settled, and in the fallout everyone from the union who was involved lost their jobs. Jane fully recovered and is back at work.

The rest of the workers took actions to switch to a different union because they were upset about what had happened. When a vote was taken, there was only one objection, and Percival was the only person who had spoken against the change.

Even with a new union, half of the workers have left and more are leaving every day. We went from two full shifts with one extra day of overtime per shift once a month to a single shift at 75% with no overtime. Hiring has been impossible as word about what happened has gotten around, and we aren’t located in a big city or anything. Percival is still here and he is still being shunned by everyone and he is still using the same excuses (racial issues in America and the fact that he didn’t want to go back on the floor). He is not allowed to do any jobs except for his own. I might look for a new job soon.

{ 296 comments… read them below }

  1. Foreign Octopus*

    Oh my god, this is the update I’ve been waiting for. Thank you so much for sending it in!

    I’m glad to hear that there were some consequences for the union but it’s incredibly frustrating that Percival still doesn’t see that what he did was wrong. Not quite the happy resolution we were all hoping for but at least there’s been some consequences, even if they should be leveled at Percival instead of Wakeen.

    1. Emi.*

      Yeah, I’m really glad they were able to switch to a new union. It’s not clear to me whether “everyone from the union who was involved lost their jobs” means their roles in the union or their jobs at the company. If they lost their jobs at the company, why can’t Percival lose his too?

      1. Lynca*

        It sounds to me like it’s everyone from the union involved with Percival’s reinstatement got fired because the suit towards the union, not the employer.

      2. Antilles*

        I’m pretty sure that means “the union representative from the United Teapot Workers of Earth” – y’know, the guy who got the union sued by protecting union member Percival (who was wrong) at the expense of another union member Wakeen (who was innocent).

    2. Toadstool Sandwich*

      People like Percival will never see what they did wrong despite having it explained to them by several people, seeing it in writing, etc. They choose to act ignorant and stubborn for whatever reason. Either they are truly that dense, or they do it on purpose.

      I have known many Percivals and they are beyond frustrating. I once managed a Percival. I ended up firing him. Throughout the meeting, he kept insisting he didn’t understand why he was being fired. I looked him dead in the eye and in front of the HR rep said, “After several clear discussions and follow ups about your performance issues, you continue to maintain that you fail to understand what is happening. It is not my job or responsibility to help you understand anything else at this point. You have the papers with all of the information you need in black and white and you need to leave. HR will see you out.” I then turned on my heel and walked out of the conference room. I’d had enough.

      HR told me afterward that Percival sat there for a few seconds, stunned and embarrassed, but that he got up, grabbed his box of belongings and walked out. One of his peers alerted HR a day or so later that he tried to hire a lawyer to sue for wrongful termination, but that after contacting two lawyers, was told he had no case and to give it up. The guy was truly a tool with a shriveled up lump of clay for a brain.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Ya, I still don’t get why he’s attempting to use his shitty decision making as activism against American police brutality from a non-US country. That would be like me (in the US) stealing cheese from my corner store and claiming that I’m dissenting against Napolean. Like, what?

      2. MostCake*

        Ugh. .I am related to such a person. He ruined half my childhood and to this day I can’t stand to be in the same room. A pompous blowhard who spends most his time figuring out how to take advantage of any situation or any person and the rest gloating about it. Any dissent gets you a WALLOP of asshole loud and proud so in your face so hard any decent human is left speechless but hopefully with the means and wherewithal to get the eff away as far as possible as soon as possible. He also teems with greed and gluttony and has the spoils to prove it, but anyone who is initially impressed with or intrigued by his shiny toys usually sees through it quickly enough and is disgusted. The man has never had a friend as long as he’s been in my life. The thing is, he thinks he’s awesome and by god RIGHT and everybody else is weak, stupid, et cetera. There is no reasoning with such a species.

        1. Not Australian*

          I know that person, too, and may indeed be related to them, although in my case they’re female.

      3. CMDRBNA*

        Oh, I worked with a guy like that – he spent all his time watching movies, day-trading, and sleeping at his desk. When our office was understaffed and he was asked to do some work, for the first time in two years, he filed an EEO complaint claiming he was being discriminated against for racial reasons.
        I had just left that job, and he tried to use me as a witness to his EEO complaint. I have no idea what he was thinking – I was sent his statement to comment on, and I sent them a BLISTERING response back (oh, and he got my name wrong consistently in the complaint. We’d worked together in a small office for two years).

        I did hear he’d gotten hired at another office. Sadly, in the feds you just end up shuffling bad people around. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to recommend someone so they GTFO of your office, which I think happened in this case.

      4. Candi*

        I showed the first post to a friend of mine, and she mentioned they have a Percival, and she really felt for the LW’s workplace. Fortunately, they have a good union (after getting rid of the top three layers of deadwood, as she put it about eight years ago now), but procedure still has to be followed. Plus, it’s Australia.

    3. Anonymoose*

      I thought I read that there is a service where you can mail someone dog poop in a box. Percival would definitely be an apt candidate for it. I would send it every day until he left that job – although then he would just go somewhere else. UGH. I hate terrible people. They really do make the world so much worse than it needs to be.

      OP, you have the patience of a saint. Truly.

      1. AKchic*

        Ah yes, I love that service. There are a few different um… services, depending on what you want to send. Poo, glitter, sand, phallic glitter. The possibilities are endless!

        1. ConstitutionallyVerbose*

          Phallic glitter sounds both like a blessing from a drag fairy godmother and an almighty annoyance. Thank you for telling us it exists.

      2. Ruffingit*

        There was recently a Groupon to anonymously send a bag of gummy dicks to people. Not that I purchased it or anything, nope not me…

    4. Marthooh*

      “…it’s incredibly frustrating that Percival still doesn’t see that what he did was wrong.”

      I’m pretty sure Percival knows perfectly well that he was wrong, but only cares about getting away with it.

      1. Oranges*

        I think his thought process is something like “Everyone else would do this if they were smart enough to get away with it. They’re just dumb for actually working. I’m smart.” And they are shocked that they get “picked out” in their mind for doing what “everyone else does”.

        They’re kinda fascinating. As long as they’re not actually in my work sphere.

        1. klew*

          “Everyone else would do this if they were smart enough to get away with it. They’re just dumb for actually working. I’m smart.”
          You got it exactly right. I have had interactions with people like this and it is amazing how entitled they feel.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        Yeah, that’s what I came here to say. People like often know what the rules are — but those are rules for OTHER people, not for them. Because they’re special.

    1. PB*

      I’m wondering about this, too. I am glad that everyone involved at the union has been let go. I’m sure I would have walked out, too, if I were in Wakeen’s shoes.

    2. lowercase holly*

      it sounds like because everyone hates percival (even though not the fault of wakeen). so nothing real?

      1. Wendy Darling*

        How could you NOT hate Percival? I’m completely unrelated to this issue but *I* kinda hate that dude.

        1. Liane*

          Percival is my Exhibit A for “why we need a Worst Coworker poll this year, to go along with the Worst Boss.”

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is what I want to know!

      Even if he *had* said something to Percival, well… PERCIVAL DESERVED IT.

        1. TootsNYC*

          he probably left immediately, and then was maybe too busy and preoccupied to say anything right away. By the time he had mental bandwidth to do so, he was probably had time to wise up.

          And if he’d heard through the grapevine that the company had tried to fire him, he may have felt he didn’t need to.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Yeah, it doesn’t sound like Wakeen really had a chance to say anything.

            I bet Percival got earfuls from everyone else though. I know if I worked there and heard this story, I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              I sure hope got earfuls. In fact, I hope he got ripped a new one so many times he looks like a sieve by now.

    4. Myrin*

      Right? I was wondering if I’d forgotten some crucial detail of the original letter but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Like, OP herself says that Wakeen didn’t even speak to Percival until the hearing – what on earth reason did they give for ordering (!) him to apologise? This literally only makes sense if Percival somehow had romantic entanglements with the whole union or something. Holy crap.

    5. Minister of Snark*

      “I’m sorry you suffered the natural consequences of being a pathologically insensitive #$%@?”

      1. Deejay*

        Capt. John Sheridan: [practicing his “apology”] I apologize… I’m sorry.


        Capt. John Sheridan: I’m sorry we had to defend ourselves against an unwarranted attack. I’m sorry that your crew was stupid enough to fire on a station filled with a quarter million civilians, including your own people. And I’m sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to Hell!

        Babylon 5

    6. Code*

      I really hope the OP comes back and explains that part of the story to us. It’s absolutely baffling.

    7. Say what, now?*

      I’m thinking that Percival lied and said that Wakeen threatened him or his job. That’s probably what the Union believed and wanted Wakeen to apologize for.

    8. Antilles*

      I think Wakeen’s apology was required as part of the union settlement between Percival and the company. The union successfully argued Percival was unjustly fired and Wakeen was the bad guy. Therefore, when the union agreed to waive their claim if Percival was hired back, part of that settlement likely included Wakeen issuing a formal apology to Percival for being the ’cause’ of the whole issue.

    9. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      My guess is in the under-bus throwing the Union did of Wakeen, in making him the bad guy, they said Perival didn’t have a work obligation to alert Wakeen of the multiple messages and even though Wakeen never spoke to Percival directly, he started a bullying campaign against Percival and it was Wakeen that got Percival fired and made him an outcast. It sounds like the Union said Wakeen was mean to Percival for no reason and this is all his fault so he needs to apologize.

      Which we all know is BS but apparently they made the argument well enough that someone bought it.

      1. Lison*

        I’d guess this but not no reason, that the union claimed there was a racial element to Wakeem making a big deal of this. Which defies logic, it’s an amazingly big deal.

        1. stitchinthyme*

          The OP said, “[Percival] also brought up racial issues about the police in America, even though we are not American and it has nothing to do with this.” This sounds to me like he decided that since Jane is a police officer, she is automatically at fault for the police racial issues in America, even though she is not, in fact, in America. This would be a totally bogus excuse even if they WERE in America.

          1. MK*

            I find the whole “racial issues about the police in America” is a complete red herring. Even if Jane herself is a racist police officer, in America or anywhere else, what does that have to do with passing along a message to her husband that she is in hospital?

            1. stitchinthyme*

              Yes, of course it is. It sounds like Percival was using racist American police as a reason why Jane did not deserve to have her husband notified of her injury. Which is totally nuts no matter where they’re from or what Jane herself is like.

            2. Brett*

              There is a small but very vocal group of people (who strangely enough, are mostly outside the US) who believe that just being the family member of a police officer makes you complicit in murder and fair game for all sorts of nastiness. We had a case locally where a group went after a police chief. They raided his parent’s bank accounts, published photos of his son online with his address and college schedule, and published his daughter’s home address on the dark net. His son ended up withdrawing for the semester and his daughter had to have guards posted at her house.
              Percival sounds just crazy enough to possibly be of the mindset where Waukeen deserved that kind of animosity just for being married to Jane.

              1. another Liz*

                Sadly there’s a growing segment of such individuals in the States too, to the point where those of us who are family take measures to hide our personal information as much as possible.

              2. SignalLost*

                That seems like a lot of work for someone who didn’t want to do their own job. I’m guessing Percival just seized on anything that could be a “reason” for being lazy.

              3. Candi*

                The thing is, even if the cop in these scenarios is a complete racist bigoted needs-to-see-the-equality-light grade-A jerk -this kind of behavior is vicious and unwarranted (not to mention often illegal). It’s also extremely unlikely to change anyone’s mind, since humans tend to dig in their heels when attacked.

                And quite bluntly, I don’t believe those pulling such crap truly believe in “justice” or even the cause they claim to be fighting for. Not when there are so many options that don’t cause long-lasting or irreparable harm, even though they take longer. From what I’ve observed and read -these creeps just like to hurt people. And maybe make a profit.

                No wonder supervillains in media never have trouble finding mooks and goons.

    10. JokeyJules*

      If I were Wakeen, I can’t imagine I wouldn’t have done something I didn’t need to apologize for later…

      It seems like the way wakeen acted doesn’t warrant any apology at all

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Totally. If I were Wakeen, I think my response would be something like “Well, I don’t have anything to lose, and since they’re going to make me apologize, I may as well apologize for something real,” and then say every single thing I was thinking to Percival.

        Wakeen is a bigger person than I am, for sure. I hope he, and OP, and everyone else (except Percival, obvs) gets a terrific new job once they have gotten the hell out of Dodge.

      2. Moose and Squirrel*

        I’m a pretty chill person. I can go along to get along in a lot of situations. But if I were Wakeen I would go to my grave without apologizing Percival.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Same and I might even make it my mission in life to make Percival miserable in every possible way until he dies.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Percival gives a new dimension to this Paul Simon lyric:

            The mama look down and spit on the ground
            Every time my name gets mentioned

            If I worked there, I’d probably be game for doing that. Percival walks in to the break room? Spit at his feet and walk out.

    11. ArtK*

      Somehow, Percival managed to convince the union that Wakeen was responsible for getting Percival fired, “unjustly.”

  2. Emi.*

    OH MY LORE. This is way more fallout than I expected. And it was so avoidable–if Percival had only not decided to be a selfish jerk!

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Well I’m glad there was fallout and the union Got Theirs. Hopefully in time, things will settle but man…if it’s a smallish area, Percival better hope that company never folds because he may have to move away to get a job anyplace else.

      When there are so many places that ignore or enable bad behavior, it’s good to see that everyone is on the same page about Percival. Some people can never hold themselves accountable, and it’s a shame.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        Sadly, it may be that the company *does* have to fold, because Percival is essentially a poison pill for the department he works in. The department is bleeding workers and they can’t get replacements because word got around. The company can’t fire Percival, and Percival won’t quit. Something has to give, and if it’s not Percival, it WILL be the department where he works, if not the whole company.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Who else is gonna hire this guy? He’s basically a poison pill in human form.

      1. Temperance*

        He’s also not going anywhere! In his warped, shitty mind, he honestly thinks that what he did is fine because of alleged racism in another country and the fact that he didn’t want to do his own damn job.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Even if he for a moment thought he made a mistake, he *can’t* go anywhere now. Small town. This employer was forced to take him back, and word got around – and it’s bad enough in people’s minds (as it should be!) to be killing the company. (I feel bad for the company, because this mess was not their making.)

          Percival almost certainly cannot get another job in this town. If (when) he loses this one, he’s going to have to move, whether he can afford to or not.

          It’s a pity for the company and his remaining coworkers that he doesn’t move on before forced, though. That’s probably not going to be until the company folds from the sounds of this. :(

          1. Lance*

            Yeah… at the end of it all, it’s really terrible for the company who did nothing wrong, and even tried getting rid of this guy, but union said ‘no’. Unfortunately, even with that being said, I wouldn’t fault OP for taking a step toward job hunting, because it doesn’t sound like this downhill slide is going to end.

          2. animaniactoo*

            Nah. The company deserves this. If they were so weak that they couldn’t defend against the idea that Wakeen was the bad guy here rather than Percival, and that this was a completely justifiable firing, they deserve to go down. I mean – there’s a hearing here where Wakeen is being slandered and they don’t stop and say “We’d like to call him as a witness” or some such and get him in the room? To testify that Percival abrogated a basic tenet of workplace communication that could have had disastrous consequences for Wakeen? And to the point that Wakeen was supposed to apologize to Percival as well? The company threw up its hands here and caved on a couple of points they should have gone to the wall on for each.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              The union did this. The company has no say about the union. In fact, they are limited by law in how much they can intercede. The companys mistake is that they didn’t lawyer up when the union gave its faulty opinion.

              1. animaniactoo*

                And that’s pretty much all of my point – the company made a major mistake not lawyering up or whatever other action they needed to take to enforce Percival’s firing.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  See Jakes comment. I came from a state that was closed union, and that union was hugely powerful with mob ties. A smaller business would have a hard time standing up to this.

                2. Augusta Sugarbean*

                  I get that unions can be pretty powerful but this still doesn’t make sense that they’d throw one union member under the bus in favor of another union member who made a terrible decision.

                3. Liz*

                  It also makes sense if Percival was part of the union’s “in” group, and Wakeen wasn’t, especially if the “in” group was based on race or ethnicity.

            2. Kyrielle*

              I don’t see that. I don’t see where either letter indicates the company did/didn’t fight it to the limits of their ability.

            3. Jake*

              I’m not sure if you’ve ever worked around powerful unions or not, but I’ve literally seen unions say, “we’ll destroy you if you don’t (insert unreasonable demand that sacrifices safety)” and then proceed to pull out of that company when the company didn’t give in, causing them to not legally be able to do the work they were doing.

              Company ceased to exist in 4 months.

              Your assertion that the company is weak discounts hire powerful unions are in some industries and geographical regions of the US.

              1. animaniactoo*

                In addition to above sentiment, it’s pretty clear they’re NOT that strong or the members wouldn’t have been able to switch unions so easily. They would not have had the ability to call for a workstop or other actions in support of whatever the issue is with Percivel.

                If this was as simple an issue as “didn’t follow the CBM guidelines for the firing” the union would have had no reason to paint (or go along with painting) Wakeen as the bad guy in support of Percivel’s grievance. Something more went on here and the company more than likely took the path of least resistance on this grievance when they saw the union was supporting it. That was a mistake.

                1. Jake*

                  The ability to switch is no indication of weakness. As long as all the unions work together going union to union is generally a sign of unity and strength.

      2. Anonymoose*

        poison pill in human form = totally stealing this. I’ve known many and never was able to describe them until I read this. Thank you.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Thanks! I’ve been talking a bunch of M&A stuff today and it’s creeping into my vocab.

    2. MM*

      I suspect that now that he’s ~gone through all this~ (as he’d think of it) to keep that job, he’s got his teeth sunk in it and will give it up when it’s ripped from his proverbial or literal cold dead hands.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It reminds me of the guy who stole his coworker’s juice, and had gone through about five layers of:
        A: “I am right.”
        B. “I disagree.”
        A.”Let’s ask someone else! How about it, C?”
        C: “B is right, and you’re wrong.”
        A: “Well let’s ask D.”

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          Oh, the juice theft! I had forgotten that, it’s one of a handful of letters where I have had a different opinion from the majority and felt VERY STRONGLY about it. I wrote 30 comments and described food as a fungible good. That was an interesting debate.

              1. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

                Alison do you now require an email address? I had to enter one in order to post the link above. (Or I assumed I was being moderated now for some strange reason? ) email line still says optional so….

          1. Oranges*

            I just went and read the comments. It was fascinating to watch both sides dig in and come up with explanations of why they feel like they do. Please correct me if I’m wrong but you were reacting solely to the OP’s actions of “juice taking/response in the meeting to the word thief” and not to the “subsequent actions of digging in”?

            So in your mind you were judging the OP based upon the first few actions only (which is what they wrote in about) and dismissing the later as not germane to the discussion (or as totally rational reactions)?

            Why I am asking this: I think most of the commentariat saw the OP double/triple/quadruple down and therefore they were arguing from a different emotional context. I am wondering if my theory is correct. Sorry for going OT a bit but my curiosity is shameless.

            1. Elizabeth H.*

              Yes! Exactly! I thought the op’s behavior after he was made aware someone was upset he had mistakenly taken their juice was kind of lame but that any reasonable person would have expected, or would be justified in expecting, that a unique, sealed item of food left on a break room table was put there specifically so that someone else who wanted it to take it. I thought people were being weirdly adamant that you should never assume food in a break room is up for grabs. I get diet coke out of the machine by mistake sometimes and leave it in the office kitchen table.

              1. Oranges*

                Thanks! Yeah, I think most of them were in a “this guy’s a jerk” mode and therefore were judging the actions themselves harsher. Which is what we do because human.

                I was more to your line of thinking in the middle of the letter but I noticed that I was drifting over to the other line the more I read just because of the way he acted. So I was taking his other actions into account while responding to just the first part.

  3. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Who does Percival have blackmail on that would allow this travesty to occur?

    I hope Wakeen has found a new job and I am glad to hear Jane recovered from her injury.

  4. LBK*

    Wow. I mean, if no one wants to work there, is the company just going to go out of business? Over one employee? This is insane.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      It’s crazy. It’s entirely reasonable, because they really screwed up here, but also wow.

          1. MK*

            I have no idea how union laws work in the OP’s country, but it sounds insane to me that the company had no resource. I am know of the rules of several very pro-employee and pro-union jurisdictions, and even there the union cannot order the company to take the employee back; at worst, they can take resisting action (like strikes, but that would require support from the other employees that is clearly missing here), file a complaint against the company to the appropriate goverment agency and maybe file a law suit.

            This seems to me the case where a company should have made a stand, refused to rehire Percival and taken its chances in court. I realise that no company wants to get involved in a law suit, but avoiding it at all costs carries its own risk too.

            1. For the home team*

              I second this. It sounds like a case of a company bending over backwards to avoid going to court… rather than taking the long view of protecting the company by GOING to court when it’s appropriate.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          I think you could argue that the company did screw up by not following their CBA with regard to terminations, but really, it pales besides the massive, gargantuan, radioactive clusterfudge (with walnuts!) from the union.

        2. Jesca*

          Yeah, and that is the rub of it all. Basically the union screwed up, and now the company has to pay for it. I don’t even think its about the fact that Percival is still employed there, it is that everyone else believes that they could just get as equally screwed over by the unions like Wakeem as well. I have definitely did some production and quality management system remediations at some union places, and yeah, the unions were this bad. It all depends on who you were friends with. And honestly, the union would have to have been bad to allow their employees to work in the deplorable conditions at some of these places. Unions are, at the end of the day, just another group of people in charge – and can be just as corruptible.

          1. serenity*

            Unions are, at the end of the day, just another group of people in charge – and can be just as corruptible.

            That may be true, but it’s worth remembering that this situation isn’t taking place in the U.S. so what we understand to be union/company relations and rules may not be in play here. I also recall from the original post someone from Europe who said that if this was in Europe that E.U. labor laws would come into play that trump union contract verbiage.

            1. Jesca*

              At the end of the day, none of that matters. People relied on the union – and felt betrayed enough to flee the company. They don’t care that Wakeen was compensated. They care about the decision that human beings made. Human beings they felt were in power and who they trusted. It doesn’t matter what country you are in, unions are ran by people. People have unions because they trust them. But the trust in the union broke down here because people in charge made a very bad decision.. Country of origin is irrelevant. Unions how just as much power as management in a company does. They can be just as corrupted. Anywhere.

              1. serenity*

                Well….yes, I agree on principle but what I’m saying is the laws and regulations may be quite different but, based on different laws, the union may have acted in good faith and according to their local laws here whether we’re happy with that assessment or now.

                I’m saying we don’t know enough about the particulars as there’s no info on where this is taking place.

              2. serenity*

                Sorry my reply was full of typos.

                What I wanted to clearly push back on was that “none of that matters”. Labor laws (among many other things) varies widely from country to country, so location most definitely matters.

                I get that this situation is awful and it appears (from what was written) that the union here sucked big-time….but we don’t know the particulars, and that definitely influences what was possible (and legal) for the company and the union to do in this story.

              3. WeevilWobble*

                Unions do not have as much power as the company anywhere in the world. With the possible exception of police unions.

                The company failed because they just took what the union dished out.

              4. Mary*

                >> Country of origin is irrelevant. Unions how just as much power as management in a company does. They can be just as corrupted. Anywher

                This makes no sense at all. You can’t say, “regardless of jurisdiction, X is as powerful as Y”! The power that a union has is absolutely dependent on what the local legislation is.

        3. LBK*

          Did they, though? I mean, in a general moral sense, probably, but isn’t their duty to protect Percival assuming the company did violate the contract in terminating him? I think the argument in the original comments was that if this truly was some sort of mob mentality crusade against Percival and that he was genuinely innocent, you wouldn’t want the company to have the power to fire him just to save face with his accusers.

          1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

            It seems like the Union shot Wakeen in order to save Percival, to me. Based on the facts we were given (admittedly, not all), Percival failed in a duty of his work. Which should be a fire-able offence. But the Union somehow blamed it on Wakeen, to make it look like Percival did no wrong and was ganged-up on by jealous coworkers and was therefore fired without cause and against the contract. The fact that Wakeen won a settlement against the Union, and that everyone involved in protecting Percival got fired, and that the Union was left for a different Union, says to me that likely Percival was able to be fired and the Union acted shadily to prevent it.

            But I don’t have all the info and am not a llama, so I don’t know.

            1. LBK*

              Wow, my brain is fried – I was still thinking a lot more in the context of the original letter and not so much about the follow up details here. Disregard.

            2. nonegiven*

              It may not have been in his job description, since he wasn’t doing his actual job, he was putting off doing his actual job, (I don’t recall the reason.) He was covering Wakeen’s desk or something while Wakeen did something else. It was his job as a human being, but the union couldn’t let him get fired for that.

              I still don’t get why Wakeen had to apologize just for having a wife on the job.

          2. Jesca*

            Yes, the union did screw up. They screwed up very very badly. All of it. Every sentence of this screams how badly the union mishandled it.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Basically the union told it’s members, “If someone a coworker loves is sick/dying and you do not relay an emergency message to that worker, we are okay with that. We tend to support depraved indifference to human life.”

              This is not something people will handle well. I am surprised there was no mention of violence.

    2. serenity*

      Exactly. I can’t wrap my head around the sheer amount and scope of fallout over Percival’s bullheaded behavior. What is this company thinking?

      1. Jesca*

        The company has very little power. It was the union’s decision outside of the scope of what management even brought up!

        1. serenity*

          But from OP’s update, it sounds like all of the former union’s staff at this company was let go after the union was successfully sued and a new union affiliation is on the table.

          That old union has no power anymore, so how in the heck did Percival (the eye at the center of this hurricane) emerge unscathed??

          1. Jesca*

            Because the new union does not have anything to fire him over. Percival is just part of a new union now – slithering about ruining an entire company with no consequences he seems to care about.

          2. Jess*

            I think the former union employees involved were let go from their union positions, not from this company. Unions usually represent employees at more than one company and they have people who work directly for the union and don’t necessarily work for the company involved in any given situation.

        2. SallytooShort*

          That is a very odd union arrangement though.

          Usually management can still fire someone against the recommendation of the union. It just requires another formal hearing and some more red tape.

          1. Mike C.*

            Yeah, this whole thing is very, very confusing. I work in a heavily unionized place and idiots who do stupid things are walked out immediately by security.

            But given any sort of rules system, if you get enough people acting like complete idiots, this is what can happen.

    3. Nea*

      I can’t help but wonder if the way out for the company is to cite the lack of workers, fold, and then lo and behold, a week later Percival’s Teapots and Coffee Emporium is bought out by Percy’s Spouts and Pours, which takes over the whole factory… and hires a whole new workforce.

      Were I the company owner in this case, I’d be going over the union contract with a lawyer and a fine-toothed comb to make this happen ASAP.

      1. Jesca*

        Yes. They can also move the entire company somewhere else citing financial issues due to lack of work force in the area, etc. It all depends on their contract, really. But if I were the owner(s), I would be looking at all avenues.

      2. MK*

        Any lawyer worth their salt will tell you that this is more likely to land you in trouble than the proud owner of a brand new company, without bothering to look at the union contract.

        1. Bobbocio*

          Of course you are right here, MK. There are many laws set up to prevent employers from avoiding unions in this way.

          1. Jesca*

            I have seen it successfully done. But its complicated, and honestly if the company is going to go out of business, I would get a lawyer.

      3. Jess*

        At least in the US (not sure about OP’s country), the new owner can be obligated to recognize the existing union contracts. To institute new company ownership (ESPECIALLY if it’s not a legit acquisition & done solely to get rid of a union) would be a legal land mine.

  5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Holy. I. Um. I can’t. I can’t make words on this.

    Talk about the whole situation going nuclear! It’s a shame that it’s the company that’s suffering when the union were the ones to make the bad call here — and how depressingly poetic is it that Percival was literally the only person who didn’t want to ditch the union?

        1. Snark*

          I was thinking Fukushima Daiichi – sort of a slow, agonizing collapse in the radiant heat of a nuclear garbage fire.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yeah, I think you’re right here. A massive, shocking event triggering the whole thing, and then a slow slide into utter collapse.

  6. TootsNYC*

    I feel bad for the company, actually–they’re really struggling with the fallout from this, and they didn’t do anything dishonorable!

    OK, they tried to fire Percival, which created union problems for them–but I’d argue that this was actually something they SHOULD do.

    1. Lunch Meat*

      There were suggestions in the original comments that the company screwed up just by not following the correct process for firing.

      1. Lance*

        With as vocal as Percival seems to be, though, and as much as the union was (for some reason) on his side… I doubt it would’ve made much difference either way, to be honest.

    2. Wintermute*

      Their failure was one of leadership and one of allowing themselves to be bullied.

      There are some times you have to stand and fight, there are ABSOLUTELY hills that are worth dying on. By caving to the threat of a union lawsuit they sent a message loud and clear to their entire workforce that they’re not going to have the workers’ backs when the chips are down, they’ll cow to the slightest pressure. The message was received and understood.

  7. Falling Diphthong*

    It does sound like your workplace might still be thick with bees, even with the less-insane union.

    Percival didn’t want to go back on the floor–This is where sane people discover “Golly, I don’t like being on the floor, guess I should start looking for a job where I don’t have to do that.” You don’t carpet the floor with the skins of your coworkers.

    1. Cotton Balls*

      That’s where I get hung up, too. Percival is all “Yeah, I don’t want to go back on the floor today, so I’m not going to tell Wakeen his wife, a law enforcement officer, has been injured and having emergency surgery. He can wait until the end of the shift to find out”.

      They really wanted Wakeen to apologize to Percival? Um, hell no. Glad Jane is healed and hope Wakeen found an better job!

      1. Amber T*

        And what the flying fudge did Wakeen he to apologize to Percival for? Percival admitted Wakeen never even spoke to him! What could Wakeen possibly be guilty of in this situation? And did nobody in the Union ONCE say “Hey, Percival needs to apologize to Wakeen for being a colossal ass?”

        Best of luck to you, OP, and to Wakeen and Jane, and to everyone else in this situation, except Percival and the rest of the union reps who can rot in a ditch somewhere.

        1. Cotton Balls*

          That’s the other I can’t understand- Wakeen said NOTHING to Percival. He just left to be with his wife and it seems they did not see each other again until the union hearing. Wacko.

          1. Jesca*

            There is so much of this I cannot understand, but I can speculate a bit. The union surmised that notifying another employee of a phone call was outside the scope of Percival’s job. Fine. Yeah, some people can be very black and white about that – and maybe the company cannot fire for that. Unions can definitely be that way. But then they had a hearing where ANOTHER NOT PRESENT union member, the victim, was being blasted by lies!!! And they didn’t even follow up! And I am going to speculate that was because Percival had closer ties to those on the union. The union thought their final word would be respected, and it wasn’t. They forgot who pays the union dues …

          2. Not So NewReader*

            The only thing more powerful in this place than the union is the rumor mill. I am picturing this and people must have been talking about Percival all day long. Percival assumed it came from Wakeen because it could not possibly be that Percival upset everyone by his thoughtlessness.

    2. Snark*

      “You don’t carpet the floor with the skins of your coworkers.”

      And somewhere, the ghost of Genghis Khan is like…..but whyyyyyy not?

      1. Lady at Liberty*

        I wouldn’t think Genghis Khan would consider his trampled enemies to be co-workers, per se.

      2. Wintermute*

        “you have committed great employee handbook violations. If you had not I would not be here, for I am the HR Representative of God.”

  8. Marillenbaum*

    OH MY BLOB this is bananacrackers. I completely understand why Wakeen left, the staff left, and hiring is basically a no-go. Good luck getting out of there, OP.

  9. MuseumChick*

    This is update has me on an emotional roller coaster. Equal parts satisfying (that the union was finally held accountable) and dissatisfying (Jerkface still has a job and no remorse).

  10. MuseumChick*

    Forgot to add, this is a perfect example of how one jerk can destroy a good work place and cause repercussions for (sometimes) years.

  11. Forrest*

    Alison – is it possible for the company to fire him now since the union fired everyone who demanded he stay?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d think it would depend on the specifics of their contract with the union. But also, if I’m remembering correctly, I think the OP is in a different country than the U.S. so I don’t know what rules they might be under.

      1. Jesca*

        Honestly, I don’t think they could in the US either. For instance, the union forced reinstatement, then Wakeem sued the union itself over the union’s specific actions. The union had to remove its members. Meanwhile, the company did not (may not have been able to depending on how strong the union is) fight the reinstatement of Percival. The employees of this company voted out that union and voted in a new. Every current and new employee has the opportunity and right to join a union – and that includes Percival. So now, Percival is protected under a new union. Even being persona non grata cant get Percival fired. Its all enough to reinstate the word “dumpster fire”.

    2. PersephoneUnderground*

      I wondered this as well- one would hope the new union would allow him to be fired for this incident, since it’s the whole reason the employees got a new union. So why haven’t they?

      1. Bobbocio*

        For an incident that has already been litigated, and where was Percival found not at fault (as unbelievable as that is) and reinstated? Six months or one year later, with no new information, deciding that he did deserve to be fired the first time after all? Chance of that must approximate 0.

        Sucks, but that is how unionized environments work.

        1. Emi.*

          Do we know that he was found not at fault? Couldn’t it just be that the company didn’t go through the proper procedures to fire him?

          1. Bobbocio*

            Same thing though. You only get one bite at the apple, and if the employee is only reinstated because they weren’t aware of present jurisprudence on clause 1.3 section iii part b) of the collective bargaining agreement, that was only being litigated the week before, on appropriate notice when inviting an employee to a disciplinary hearing… well that is still their only shot at terminating him.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        That’s double jeopardy. You can’t get tried twice for the same thing. That doesn’y mean Perceval can’t get fired for a new thing. An I’m sure everyone (employees and management) are just waiting for him to slip up.

        1. Student*

          Double jeopardy is not a universal concept. It’s part of the US constitution, for criminal issues.

          It does not constrain a private company, or even a US government employer, from firing someone in any situation.

          This would only apply if the union contract had something to similar effect, and it’s arguable it would not apply at all since this is a new union and he got “tried”, as you say, under the old union. Out with the old “state” and in with the new, as it were.

          1. Wintermute*

            It’s not even part of the US constitution for criminal issues anymore thanks to tortured interpretations of dual soviergnty: the federal government can happily try you for crimes you’ve been aquitted of by state courts.

            Though you’re very right in surmising it wouldn’t apply in any case to a non-criminal proceeding.

        2. Nursey Nurse*

          Double jeopardy applies only to criminal cases. It’s not an issue in union grievance proceedings, although it is possible that the employer’s specific contract with the union prohibits firing someone for the same offense after reinstatement.

    3. Miles*

      I was wondering about this as well. Isn’t the fact that the company lost over half of its workforce over this individual enough cause to say Percival’s presence is creating a hostile workplace within the company at this point?

    4. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I have to think it’s only a matter of time before he makes more bad decisions. Hopefully the new union will do the right thing this time.

  12. Scubacat*

    Egads! I can’t…. I can’t even.

    And how does Percival even want to work there anymore? He has to be aware of his unpopularity.

      1. MuseumChick*

        My guess is, in a very twisted way, people ignoring him, telling him to stop talked etc all feed the narrative he has created in his own mind.

        And I can’t imagine another company hiring him!

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Which, just: how DARE you? You don’t get to use very real issues of police violence as a fig leaf to avoid being a moral human and doing your actual job. Scum bag.

          1. aebhel*

            Agreed. This is clearly all about him; it’s completely nonsensical as a moral stand, that’s just post-hoc justification for being a heartless ass. It sounds better to say ‘I’m taking a stand against POLICE BRUTALITY’ than to admit that you can’t be bothered to let your colleague know that his wife is in the hospital because then you’d have to actually go do your job.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, I think I’m going to defend missing deadlines because of the thirteenth-century Europe’s persecution of the Cathars.

    1. Sadie Doyle*

      OP says they’re having trouble hiring because words has gotten around — maybe Percival is worried that he won’t be able to get a job elsewhere because his reputation now precedes him?

      1. OhNo*

        That would be my guess. Especially if all the people who dislike him from this company are moving on to other places, I’d bet that anywhere he would apply has heard this story and wouldn’t let him past the gate.

      1. LBK*

        Yup – I would guess that in his mind he’s still 100% sure he was in the right and therefore anyone who doesn’t like him is just a hater, and he doesn’t care what the haters think.

        1. Antilles*

          “The contract did not require me to pass along personal phone messages so I was just doing my job per the contract. I was unjustly fired and got hired back because the company was wrong – you heard that part,
          didn’t you? the company rehired me because they were wrong! Wakeen even had to apologize because I was right and he was wrong.
          I really don’t understand why you’re all making such a big deal out of this.”
          -Percival, probably

          1. Not So NewReader*

            So, Percival, if heaven forbid you have an emergency of any sort, it would be okay with you if we did not call your ICE number?

            1. Wintermute*

              I don’t mean to be hyperbolic but if I was percival I’d be scared to work in an industrial environment with that many people I antagonized that badly… that’s the kind of situation that’s ripe for a wrench to get dropped off a catwalk onto his head and not one of the 50 people in the room to see where it came from…

              1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

                I could imagine not feeling safe in such an environment, yeah.

                It’s worse, though. In that kind of work, you need to be able to trust your coworkers to do things like adhere to safety protocols, do things properly, etc. How could anyone work with Percival now?

                If you knew that story and worked at that company, would you trust that guy if he said ‘yeah, I locked out the power switch’ or ‘yeah, I put that stuff back in storage’? What about if your health depended on it?

              2. Oranges*

                Yeah, it’s not totally, completely irrational to have that thought. Which is why you don’t feel safe in that environment. Reminds me of the time my former boss brought a gun to work.

                There’s a huge difference between “That’s irrational” and “I know the thought is irrational but….”

    2. AKchic*

      He was rehired, therefore in his mind, he was not only wholly justified in his actions (or inactions, depending on the viewpoint); but he was *vindicated* simply because he fought his termination and *was reinstated* and as part of the arbitration, he was owed an apology. Whether he actually received one from Wakeen is neither here nor there, the fact that the union required one is vindication enough to a mind like that. It justifies his actions/inactions. To him, he was *right* all along. His rightness is all the comfort he needs. It’s the balm when he’s feeling grieved when nobody speaks to him. When others leave, he may very well consider them to be enemies or traitors and “good riddance”. He may see himself as the “last man standing”.

      Of course, I’m basing this on how my first ex-husband spoke, thought, and behaved. He is a malignant narcissist, among other things. We didn’t last long, but when he did work, oh, you’d think the sun shone out of his every orifice, and that he and he alone could solve the company’s every problem that he miraculously discovered as soon as he walked into the building on his first day and when they terminated him within 2 months, well, they were the enemy who owed him at least a year’s worth of severance for the emotional damage they put him through and no wonder their company was failing and they’d be shut down within the year, just you wait and see. (Oddly, not a single company he worked for has ever closed and are all thriving)

      1. Apostrophina*

        My dad was a narcissist as well (probably—hard to get a diagnosis for someone who literally thought the problem was *everybody else in the world,* after all) and did the same thing. The last company he worked for, which he swore would fold soon after he left due to poor administration, has not only outlived him but keeps winning awards.

        1. Oranges*

          My (therapist) mom says she has never seen a narcissist come in voluntarily. After all understanding that you need a therapist would require honest self-reflection. And since the N can’t deal with ANY “ego pain” that will just… not happen.

          I find them fascinating. But they seriously need to have big warning signs all over them so every one else knows how to deal with them.

      2. Oranges*

        I’d bet 3 months of my pay that this is exactly what’s going through his little head.

        Also, I research psychology a ton and my latest was Narcissism. Reading this update I was all can’t…. armchair… diagnose….. So hard!

  13. Adlib*

    I was going to say that I can’t believe such garbage people exist. Then I think: Yes. Yes, I can. How depressing. Glad Wakeen got out. Hope you get out too, OP!

    1. Jesca*

      Haha I know! But then I think there are like ten people in this building I know who probably, under the same circumstances, have done the same thing.

  14. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    I am sitting here with my jaw on the floor. I am glad there was some small fraction of justice for Wakeen in the form of a settlement, because the Union absolutely did him wrong. And I am glad the workers were so appalled by the union’s actions that they basically mutinied.

    Surely Percival can be let go at this point, right? He doesn’t have the backing of his coworkers, and therefore likely doesn’t have the backing of the new union they have selected. That the union officers who worked to help him keep his job were all terminated suggests, to me, that the old firing was in fact justified and so those grounds could be used for actual termination this time. But I am not a llama, so I don’t know.

    At this point, if the company isn’t actively and aggressively working to correct this serious image issue, then it probably is time to look for a new job. Because… wowza, this is a hot mess.

    1. Memyselfandi*

      Yes, the Union has a duty of fair representation. They showed bad faith in dealing with one union member’s grievance to the detriment of another. That is probably why Wakeen got a settlement. Personally, I benefited greatly from my parents participation in unions and I am a great supporter. When unions don’t do a good job it can be very damaging as this case shows.

      1. LBK*

        I think unions work a lot better in protecting employees from management. They don’t seem to do a great job protecting employees from each other.

  15. Just a thought*

    Why is it that I can’t get a job, but people like Percival get to keep theirs despite EVERYTHING being against them?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I felt that way when I found out that Kim Kardashian made a million dollars in one day from her ass emoji. And I had to go work in a cubicle. Life is definitely not fair.

      1. Anon for this post*

        I’ve got a huge booty, too. If I had known that it could make me a multimillionaire…but Kim K has that market wrapped up.

        1. Hills to Die On*

          I suspect a lot of people were thinking, ‘an ass emoji? I could have made an ass emoji…’ but if you aren’t KK, there’s that whole marketing angle, definitely!

    2. The Strand*

      They know how to play the system, and found a job that favors the system over common sense, ethics, etc.

      Hang in there. You are a better person than Percival and we’d all rather work with you, even if you microwave fish.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      I feel the same way. What the heck is wrong with me?

    4. Circus peanuts*

      It’s an odd world. I compare this to when Subway awarded Michael Vick an award for good sportsmanship after he got out of prison and played a season. Some things will never make sense.

  16. Lana Kane*

    Question: if the union was so wrong that they lost a lawsuit over this, why can’t the company go ahead and fire Percival? Does that whole business not invalidate the results of the union investigation?

    Agreed that if he is unfireable, then Percival will be holding on to that job for dear life. He knows he’s not getting hired anywhere else.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      This is my thinking. Surely that they had to settle with Wakeen over their actions, and they all lost their jobs for supporting Percival, means that Percival can now be let go? RIGHT? Can the world please make sense again??

    2. MuseumChick*

      My (very uneducated guess) would be that to undo the previous unions ruling would open a whole can of worms no one wants to deal with. It would open the door for ever other decision they made to be quested and that is just to much of a head ache for anyone to want to deal with.

    3. Creag an Tuire*

      Since this is evidently not the US, I’m not certain what the exact laws in question are, but I’m guessing that technically the union wasn’t wrong in representing Percival to the best of their ability, it was wrong in -not- representing Wakeen as well. Which is why the ruling in favor of Percival isn’t automatically overturned.

      (I know when my union has an issue where two members are effectively grieving against each other, we make sure to give each member a separate union rep to avoid this situation.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I suspect this is exactly it, and I also suspect that forcing Wakeen to apologize to Percival, and blaming Wakeen, is the crux of why he won his case against them.

        Had they forced reinstatement of Percival “because the firing was not properly handled, and notification of phone calls is not one of his job duties” and done and said nothing negative to/about Wakeen, I suspect the union would have come off with no legal troubles.

  17. Cassie*

    TIL that there are enough unions in some professions that you can just switch if you aren’t happy. I always thought it was a one-and-done sort of situation. Interesting!

  18. The Ginger Ginger*

    Is there any possibility of working with the new union to phase Percival out? I’m assuming the new one is less terrible, and it sounds like Percival is literally killing this company.

  19. Jubilance*

    This update is just as nuts as the original letter. I’m still really miffed that Percival threw out race relations in America as a reason for why he was fired.

    1. sunny-dee*

      Not (only) why he was fired — it was because he didn’t like police officers, and Wakeen’s wife was a police officer. As in, he didn’t tell anyone in part because he was okay with a cop being seriously injured.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ding, ding, ding, winner here.
        Percival is doing the very thing he accuses others of doing.

  20. Aunt Vixen*

    We went from two full shifts with one extra day of overtime per shift once a month to a single shift at 75% with no overtime.

    Besides what everyone else is saying, I confess I’m puzzled by the math here. I don’t understand how a lot of people leaving would mean anything other than that the people who are still there could have as much overtime as they want – unless I’m looking at it backwards, and it’s the management/staffing coordinator who’s noting they used to have enough people to get (basically) 62 person-days’ worth of work done in 30 calendar days, but now they only have enough people to get 22.5 person-days’ worth of work done in 30 calendar days. That is, there’s no way to rearrange the staffing to keep up with previous levels of productivity. Makes a little more sense.

    1. Emi.*

      Maybe they can’t require overtime, and now everyone who’s still there is so mad they don’t want to work any?

    2. MK*

      I wonder if their sales/client list is also suffering drastically from the bad PR of this story? Though I must say it would be highly unusual for a company to lose more than half its product demand in so sort a time.

      But re:overtime, it’s possible they can’t have as much overtime as they want, because of safety regulations.

      1. nonegiven*

        That’s the only thing I could think of. But it could be a coincidence and due to a different factor.

    3. Beatrice*

      If they were short staffed long enough, the company may have defaulted delivery on contracts or lost enough customers due to not being able to serve them, that there is now not enough work for the remaining workers to work full time.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Or, if the factory is a part of a larger company, they could have shifted production quotas around based on the workforce. Supply chain types typically hate uncertainty.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      If they’re in the EU it’s illegal for anyome to work more than 48 hours/week. Which means they could only have staff to cover 75% of work is how I read it.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Even if they could hire people to work overtime, they may not have enough bodies to work the overtime.

      2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        Individuals can opt out of that working time directive, though. Some companies require it as part of their contract. Which is awful, but it does happen.

    5. Mephyle*

      It sounds like the reduction in staff has greatly reduced their sales, and hence their production needs.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I thought they had gone down to one shift that everyone now uses and they lost or gave up contracts because of their inability to meet the orders. The problem comes in is that customers self-select out and they may have lost bigger customers with bigger orders.

    7. Tex*

      They may need to have X number of people per shift in order for the whole line to function properly . And some of the roles are probably specialized.

  21. Brando*

    My response to Percival and the union is all the curse words, and every combination thereof, that I can think of.

  22. Nita*

    I also wonder, since there is now a new union that presumably doesn’t have heart eyes for Percival, if Percival couldn’t be re-fired – possibly even after confirming with the new union that they will not contest the firing. I suppose he could come back with a new lawsuit alleging a hostile workplace culture, and even plenty of evidence to back it, since everyone really is avoiding him now. However – it looks like he’ll be the end of the company if he stays.

    Too bad it’s probably not realistic for management to shutter the company, re-open at a new location, and re-hire everyone except Percival.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      There could be one or more people just waiting for Percival to make the wrong move. I mean watching with a level of scrutiny that most people could not live up to, most people would fail.

    2. Student*

      That’s not what “hostile workplace culture” means, anywhere, for legal reasons.

      “Hostile” in common vernacular means unpleasant and unkind. “Hostile” in legal parlance is limited to very specific types of conduct against very specific targets for very specific reasons.

  23. Jessica*

    I’m going to bet that Percival now has a target on his back the size of the Hindenburg. Hopefully the company lawyer has a copy of the current union contract and will take the first legitimate-on-paper opportunity, however petty, to fire this guy, who is singlehandedly wrecking the company’s reputation and productivity.

    1. Bobbocio*

      I’d say the opposite is just as likely… Percival, after being reinstated, and everyone making it clear how much they hate him, now is immune. If he is fired for cause, he can claim it’s because everyone hates him, which they obviously do, and it’s the employer’s retribution against him for filing his original grievance that got him appointed. The employer would be the one in the unwinnable situation there, because everyone does hate him, and makes it known to him.

      1. Marie*

        Not a lawyer but I commented further down the post (before I read this) that it may be cheaper, even if they have to settle to pay him to go away. It sounds like his very presence at the company is making all the staff leave and making it hard to recruit new employees, if they cannot recruit people to cover the work they do they will not be able to take on clients and will eventually go bankrupt.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, if they can prove his presence is killing the businesses and putting everyone else’s jobs in jeopardy then they might have something.

      2. Dove*

        I suspect Percival’s only immune for as long as he doesn’t do anything to give the employer cause to fire him. They can’t toss him out on his ear because the original reason has been settled, and he’s unlikely to voluntarily leave (because no one else in the area will take him), so they have to wait until there’s a reason that anyone else would get fired over and then go through the proper procedures.

        The unfortunate part is that it’s likely to take long enough that the company’s going to be struggling for a while even after they finally manage to toss him out the door, if they survive being shackled to him at all.

  24. Miss Elaine e*

    I want to know more about Walden: Did he get another job?
    I feel horrible for him. Essentially, he lost his job because his wife got injured on the job (with all the financial and emotional hardship that entails) and had to pay a lawyer for something that was completely out of his hands. No one should have to suffer through that.

  25. Marie*

    The company should fire Percival, even if he starts legal action again settling that (if he wins) is likely cheaper than letting him drag the company down, which is what will happen if no one wants to work for them the staff that currently work for them are leaving in droves. If they cannot find employees to do the necessary work they will eventually go bankrupt.

    1. Nacho*

      Depending on the union contract, the settlement can actually be reinstating Percival’s position (which it sounds like was the result last time), not just a cash payment.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Unions don’t usually have contracts with employers where i am (uk). The contract is between the union and the member… you pay dues, and one of benefits is they will represent you (like a lawyer for a client). Or pay for a lawyer if needed.

        1. GingerHR*

          They will, if recognised, have formal agreements – generally covering things like pay negotiations, which will affect all employees whether members or not. Employees can be members of other unions and still be represented, including in non-unionised workplaces. However, a union could not force an employer to reinstate someone, although they could argue it. A tribunal can order reinstatement or re-engagement, but it’s rare and even then not always complied with. I’m pretty sure this letter isn’t the UK.

          1. Marie*

            I’m in the UK too but without knowing what country the OP, Wakeen and Percival are in it is hard to judge. I was mostly commenting on the fact that any backlash from firing Percival might be worth it if he has become such poison it is hard to hire other employees and retain the employees they already have.

  26. Aphrodite*

    Op, somehow I sense that you will probably be able to provide another update on this terrible situation, and I would like to ask: Would you?

    Percival may be holding strong now but given time the hatred may tear him apart and he may choose to leave. Or the company may suffer irreparable business losses. Or there may be other issues that mean things cannot go on as they have. Please let us know. This is both heartbreaking and appalling.

  27. Middle Name Jane*

    The Percival update!

    I’m sorry this story doesn’t have a better ending. It’s stories like these that make people like me dislike unions. What an all-around terrible thing to have happened. It’s appalling to me that the company seems to be imploding because of Percival’s bad decision and the union bullies that backed him up. And Percival doesn’t seem to have learned anything either. Wow.

    1. WeevilWobble*

      It would seem like retaliation for filing a grievance.

      And if the union contract says they can only be fired for cause and only work related offenses they might be reading this too strictly and saying delivering messages wasn’t part of his job. (Don’t agree with that view but it must be their stance.)

      That being said, I’ve dealt with a lot of union stuff from management side (so antagonistic in some ways) and I’ve never seen anything this crazy. Usually they just want to make sure you abide by the rules before firing an obvious stinker. But don’t mind the end result of firing.

  28. Alldogsarepupppies*

    I apologize if this is a stupid or naive question – but I don’t understand how union works. How is it that the union can tell the employer if someone can be fired or not. I thought unions just bargained pay rates and conditions for groups as a whole?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Unions make sure correct procedures are followed. Usually the procedures are spelled out in writing. Apparently the company did not follow correct procedure for firing when they fired Percival. So back he came.

      What is interesting here is that the union advocated for one person’s rights over everyone else’s rights in the group.

      1. Tiger Snake*

        To be honest, it makes me suspect that the union got involved because Percival was fired without following due process and procedures. Which would be a fair enough thing for their to advocate, even in the circumstances.

        Without more information, what I picture happened was that Percival either lied to the union, or got really loud/overtalked more reasonable people in the hearing, and spun the story as he got fired because Wakeen complained about something that wasn’t his fault/was outside his scope of duties/Wakeen performed a smear campaign against him. That just seems like the Occam’s Razor to me.

        Some of this is poor form on the union, but without knowing more about the incident in question their flaw is more around failing to reign Percival in while they were trying to focus on the main issue of he was fired inappropriately, not that they prioritised Percival over Wakeen’s wellbeing.
        That makes the story less “The union is corrupt” and more “Percival ruined a perfectly good workplace and an okay-but-not-great union with his antics”.

    2. WeevilWobble*

      Unions negotiate the terms of how someone can be fired. And there is usually a process involved.

      So in my organization we want to fire someone? 1) We put them on leave. 2) They “grieve” this through the union. 3) Setup a rather informal hearing where we state the reasons. 4) The union can choose to take up their cause and ask for more formal hearing. Or they can let it go.

      In the first letter I got it. The employer didn’t follow the process and they were reinstated because of that.

      But all this other stuff? Not letting him be fired at all, ever? Insisting on an apology? It doesn’t make sense to me.

      At my organization they can’t just insist we keep someone forever.

    3. Prince of Snarkness*

      Former, and never again, union thug here.

      The union has certain “pets” and will rules-lawyer the employer to death over them. This sounds like this was the case here. The unions do bargain for rates and conditions, and one of the conditions are the circumstances under which a person can be fired. I’d assume that there was some severe outrage over this, and management fired this guy without going through the Kabuki theatre required by the union.

      The reason I say he was likely a “pet” is that they went to the mat for him and the staff got rid of the union. I’ve seen this happen too many times.

  29. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

    Really? Am I being moderated that I can’t post the link here for the juice theeft?

  30. Nox*

    Just some WOC perspective, I’m very black lives matter [this aspect is not open to debate please] and I do believe a person is allowed to find certain issues that affect other countries to be problematic. HOWEVER….. this guy I feel was more focused on not returning to his job then he was concerned about racial issues in America. This is grasping at straws at its finest. I’m wondering if the guy was coached to make that kind of statement thinking it was oh shizzz, this is hands off.

    And also lets make note you can be weary of law enforcement practices towards POC but have empathy and concern for LEOs hurt in the line of duty. There’s no reason this guy should of not passed a message on no matter how critical he is of racial issues here if he truly was sincere. If he truly was very anti LE, this is heartless and undermines the movement of improving those relations with the respective communities.

    1. TootsNYC*

      ” you can be weary of law enforcement practices towards POC but have empathy and concern for LEOs hurt in the line of duty.”


      And my BLM support is very multi-layered. One definite aspect of it, for me (though it’s not the top one), is that I’m furious about the way it affects how police are perceived, and how that makes their jobs so much more dangerous. Our cops have a tough job, and the bias we see doesn’t help them get home safe at the end of the day.

      1. Oranges*


        I want to boil it down to Cops are NOT soldiers. Cops are citizens and should NOT think of themselves as a distinct “us” against a “them”. They should think it’s an “us” FOR a larger “us”.

        The uniforms and camaraderie create the smaller “cop us” but there’s been too much focus on “getting the criminals” and not “protecting the society”. Grumble. Stupid tough on crime/militarization/every thing else that isolates the cops from the people.

        1. Oranges*

          To clarify: This “us vs them” mental shift is a totally normal and expected reaction to how the police force functions today.

          I don’t know how to fix it because I don’t know enough about how police function in day to day and budgets and all that crap. But to me the main thing would be to interact with people face to face. Know the people you’re protecting. I’m guessing that this is considered a waste of time by most people though.

          1. Anon for this*

            I still see community policing as an emphasis in my local police department, if not the sheriff’s department. However it can be undermined by fear on both sides. We are approaching an anniversary of an officer killed in an ambush. It makes it tougher to view people at individuals when you are wondering if they are intending to kill you. I am welcome at our local police department (I make a mean brownie), so can observe the tension in the officers as the anniversary approaches. I am not a police officer, but I also face the fear of not knowing if one of them will be killed in the line of duty at any moment. However, I don’t believe that any of this has to do with Percival being worthless scum. It is just an easy topic to hang his selfish wants off of.

            1. Oranges*

              Cops should stand between the light and the darkness. When you have cops feeling apprehensive about the public in general (or worse, a particular race) than something has gone wrong with the system.

              This is why I love the idea that cops keep the peace and that’s all. They’re not there to figure out who the bad guy is or win a “war on drugs” they’re there to keep the peace. Deescalation is very needed in that endevour. Why face to face time is important because it’s easier to deescalate with a known quantity.

              And I think the current framing of cops as Bruce Willas heros/soldiers on a “war against” is a huge huge huge issue.

              But looping back to the letter. Totally 100000% a transparent fig leaf that Percival is using and proving how much they are a jerk who needs an empathy kick up their rear. (I wish this was an actual thing now…. a kick that would actually make jerks empathetic)

  31. Teacher*

    Maybe Perceval can get a job at the company that wants the other LW to give up her accessible van. His concern for his own priorities over others’ well being should make him a good culture fit.

  32. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

    The union should give Wakeen back all his money taken off his wages – to fight this battle for him – since that was their job. I get that’s not how it works but it freakin should be!

    Too bad the company can’t hire a lawyer to go after the union on behalf of their seemingly good empoyee, Wakeen. But seems the company doesn’thave the balls to stand up to the union, even after it imploded!

    I understand a lot of people here are pro-union, and will say this does not accurately represent what unions do… (And I acknowledge the letter is not US based).
    But, Unfortunately this story is the perfect example of why I will NEVER, EVER work a union job.

    Guess the moral of the story is, Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? :/

    OP please update us on Percival and how karma eventually will come back to bite him. I’m personally hoping for a public removal / walk-of-shame. Maybe Matt Lauer style, with Ann Curry and Wakeen sipping cognac and toasting “Lifes a bitch” as he’s escorted out. (What? a girl can dream…)

  33. Lady Phoenix*

    I think the company and the unions dropped the ball. Just… this is a massive trainwreck that I don’t think can be salavaged. I think the company will start laying off workers soon and folding, all because of one scumbag piece of shit. May this piece of shit step barefooted in a puddle of shit that is also hiding lego bricks and pine cones underneath.

  34. Goya*

    Oh Wakeen! I feel so bad for him, going through all of that useless drama in a such a tough family time.

    and seriously Percival….don’t you DARE place the race card. People hate you because you’re an a-hole who makes poor life decisions, not because of racial climate in the world today.

  35. TootsNYC*

    I’d pay him to stay home, if I were the business owner. That would be a lot cheaper than losing my business over it.

    And then I’d hope that he’d decide to use his time during the day to get a second job and double-dip, and THEN I’d probably have grounds to fire him.

  36. Hard Nope*

    I must be the only one to think it’s strange that a shift manager who didn’t even manage these two people originally has so much detailed information about the incident (notably excluded from Percival’s personnel file), the grievance hearing, the condition of the wife when that employee doesn’t even work there anymore, the follow up legal ramifications for specific union members — especially since it seems that the OP is not in the union (i.e., Wakeen is a foreman and not a manager, therefore union member; OP is a manager, therefore not union member?).

    Is it normal in manufacturing or with unions for such specific details to be so transparent, or is this second-hand information coming out of the rumor mill? I note in both the original letter and the follow-up that OP never said, “Percival has said to me xx about his reasons.”

    Even if it’s a narcissistic ramble, I’d love to hear Percival’s side on this one.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      Did you really just “There is another side” about a dude who threw his coworker under the bus because he hated cops and working?

      Just… no

    2. Really? No, Really?*

      OP is the shift manager that Percival was moved to after he was reinstated. Percival had a hearing and was reinstated & the union Wakeen ordered to apologize to Percival. Wakeen sued the union for slander. Presumably EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE company knows the details because of all of the hearings, witnesses, etc.

  37. Prince of Snarkness*

    You could always use the old trick of putting Percival at a desk and give him no work, have nobody speak to him all day, and forbid him to leave the desk except for union authorized breaks.

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