Dear Evil Skippy:
One of the employees who I supervise is difficult. Let’s call her Sue. Sue does a satisfactory job, but barely. She quibbles all the time about everything, so I have become an expert at documentation. One of her responsibilities is to leave her work area ready for the person on the next shift who uses the same station. Sue often leaves the station in a mess and there have been a few complaints. I told her to be more neat and she argued, so I took photos at the end of two shifts so I could show Sue what was wrong. She immediately accused me of spying and surveillance. I explained several times that I was merely documenting how the area looked so we could talk. She kept saying it was illegal spying and she was going to file a complaint, but so far I have not heard anything. Is it really surveillance to take a photo?
You did not take a photo, but you took a weasel. Here’s why:
- You told Sue to leave the workstation in a neat state.
- She changed the subject.
- You let her and talked about your photo instead of her failure to meet expectations.
Remember the first rule of supervision: Take No Weasels.
— Evil Skippy
P.S. Did you notice that I put “Supervisor” in quotes? That was a slam, one step below a Slap.
There was nothing illegal about taking a photograph of the work station. When you hear about illegal workplace surveillance, generally it refers to employers using hidden cameras to keep tabs on workers and not telling anyone they are doing so. The law can vary from state to state and union rules can also apply. However, taking a photo of a work area — especially one where no people are in view — is legal.
Your employee does indeed sound difficult. Keep doing your job and leave the weasels alone.
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