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This Is Why You Always, Always Cover Your A**

, , , , , | Working | May 30, 2020

I am a system admin for a small manufacturing company that gets purchased by a much larger corporation; I’m not sure why exactly. As part of the buyout, in email and across the company, it states all employees that are retained keep the requested days off and holidays for that year.

As my wife is going to have some major surgery, I have requested to take a week off and had it all approved. I have my backup lined up: [System Admin #2] and [IT Tech]. 

The new company merges the IT department with HR and I meet my new boss as the old HR staff was all let go. At our first meeting, [New Boss] gives a long-winded spiel about how great the new company is and how they take pride in how they treat employees.

New Boss: “So, anything you think we need to discuss?”

I explain the situation with my wife and tell him that I will soon be taking a week off.

New Boss: “Not a problem.” 

He gives me some more company BS and a “my door is always open.”

I immediately send an email reminding my new boss about our conversation and the dates I will be off. His response is, “Yes, that is what we discussed. Thank you.” I learned to cover my a** a long time ago

Fast forward a month. Literally the week before I will be taking off for my wife’s surgery, [System Admin #2] is let go. I remind [New Boss] that I will be absent for an entire week and they will be without a system admin or IT support other than [IT Tech]. 

New Boss: “What are you talking about? You never told me you would be taking time off, and even if you did it was never approved. And since it wasn’t approved, you will just have to not take your vacation or whatever unimportant issue it is.”

I have a bad feeling, so I email [New Boss] and explain again that it’s a surgery for my wife, it is important, I will be taking the time off as it was approved by previous HR, and it was our first conversation. I also make copies and forward all emails pertaining to the conversation with [New Boss] and the email as part of the buyout — i.e. contract — to my personal email. 

New Boss: “There was never a conversation, and since you never told me and I never approved it, you will just have to figure something out for your wife.”

This email is copied and forwarded to my personal email.

Me: “It was approved prior to buyout and we did have a discussion. I will be taking that week off.”

I copy and forward this to my personal email, too.

Friday before I take the week off, this happens.

IT Tech: “So… Um, you did back up your emails somewhere that is not on our network, right?” 

Me: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

IT Tech: “Well, in case there is an issue and something happens to the exchange server and the backups, it might be a good idea to have some backups for… you know, since the buyout…”

He then walks away. I copy all emails, print them out, and forward them to a newly-created unrelated email account. I head home and have a nagging feeling, so I compose an email to the Corporate Human Resources of the company that bought out our little company. I explain the issue, mentioning that if I am let go while I am off with my wife, I will be retaining a lawyer — never mentioning I have proof of conversation with HR — and telling them they should look into it.  

Lo and behold, the exchange server and our backup get corrupted to the point of losing all the emails for the year. Hmm, suspect. 

I return from taking care of my wife (who is doing much better) and am immediately taken to the board room with [New Boss] and two people from Corporate HR. 

New Boss: “I am going to have to let you go, as you took an entire week of unapproved vacation time off so you could take some trip to who knows where, and we had a major system failure that resulted in a loss of all the company’s emails for several months, which is causing headaches for shipping and accounting.”

Me: “Really. That is odd. We did discuss my week off, as I told you it was for my wife’s surgery and recovery.”

I open my backpack and pull out a binder and a notebook.

Me: “You see, an email was sent to all employees about the buyout, and part of the buyout contract was that we got to retain all approved days off; it was sent out on [Date]. After I spoke with you on [date #1], I sent you an email reminding you. I also reminded you via email on [date #2], and [dates #3, #4, and #5].”

New Boss: “While yes, the first email is correct, there was nothing in your file about approved time off, and also, we never discussed it, and I can’t corroborate your story.” 

Me: “Here is the paperwork of the signed approval form from my old HR.” *Taking paper from the binder* “Here is a printout of me outlining our first discussion and all other emails pertaining to the approved time off.”

I slide over the paper, not to [New Boss], but to the corporate HR employees, who seem to have finally taken an interest.

Me: “Also, you will find that, since this is information only about me and not anything regarding the company, I did not break any laws by sending this information to my personal email.”

Corporate HR: “Can you step outside? We will call you back in shortly.” 

To cut this already long story short, I was called back in, and after a lengthy discussion and the revealing that [IT Tech] also had some emails about being told to do some maintenance on the exchange server and backup, [New Boss] was promptly fired.

[IT Tech] was promoted to Temp System Admin, and his schooling was paid for him to get the correct degree.

As for me, after some heated discussion between me and corporate that mentioned a lawsuit, I was given a decent “bonus,” as well as a severance package — along with a non-disclosure agreement. I was able to easily find another job in my career field and am much happier.

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