Makes me stay 2 hours after my shift then gives me a dress code violation

This happened about 6 years ago but something reminded me of it so I thought I might as well share.

I’d been working the night shift at a call centre. Just been made team leader 2 weeks before and it seemed to be going well. I was due to take a 10 hour night shift Sunday night but got a call asking me to come in a couple of hours early because the person I was replacing was sick. No problem, a couple of hours overtime wouldn’t go amiss.

The shift was pretty quiet for the most part, just 3 of us in the office and not many calls. It’s 6:45am, I’m just finishing up the overnights and handover reports when a call comes through. It’s Her Highness, my replacement.

HH (not using her actual nickname as it’s likely against forum rules) was the most senior team leader. She was senior because no one wanted to promote her. Her team had consistently poor stats, high absenteeism and terrible employee turnover but she was friends with the owner and wasn’t incompetent enough to actually be fired. She was also one of those people who likes to exercise their power, writing up people for the smallest violations of dress code or company regulations. Unless you were one of her cronies.

HH calls to tell me she has a family emergency and is going to be a few minutes late and that I’m going to have to stick around for a bit. I take a few details, or at least I try to. For a late call company policy is you take full details, an estimation of how late they’ll be and take a confirmed contact number. HH says she doesn’t need to do any of that as it’ll only be a few minutes and then hangs up.

15 minutes later my shift is supposed to be over. My team leaves. Well one of them did. The other one had the bad luck to get caught up in a last minute call) and about half of HH’s team have turned up. One has decided to quit and another has called in with a sick note due to stress. No sign of HH.

7:30. Still no sign of HH.

8am. Nada. I call HH’s mobile and go straight to voicemail. I try again at 8:15. Same thing. I’m now over what the law says I’m allowed to work so I call a manager who says they’ll be in asap.

8:30am. HH walks through the door. I wave, get all the stuff to do a handover. She walks into the staff room, presumably to put her lunch in the fridge.

8:40am. HH is still in the staff room. I go to the staff room. HH is making her second coffee and having a chat with one of her cronies.


Me: HH. Here’s the handover. I really need to get out of here. My next shift is supposed to start in about 10 hours.

HH: No rush. I’ll be out in a few minutes.

Me: I’ve been working for almost 14 hours now and I’ve had to call the boss cause I didn’t know when you would get here. Would you please just take the handover so I can go home.

HH: [looking scandalized] There was no reason for you to call the boss! You knew I was going to be just a little late. [looks me up and down] And why are you dressed like that!

Me: Like what?

HH: Like that! It’s day shift. You must dress smartly!

Dress code called for smart office wear, shirt and tie or similar during the day but between 8pm and 8am and on weekends you were allowed to wear pretty much anything. I was in a t-shirt and jeans.

Me: Because I’ve been here for 14 hours and was supposed to go home 2 hours ago.

HH: Well you should have changed!

HH proceeds to write me up for violations of dress code taking 20 minutes.

Apparently HH expected me to cover the extra couple of hours then pretend she hadn’t been late. She didn’t even sign off on my extra overtime. I had to get the boss to confirm that after the fact. Eventually the whole mess got sorted out. Dress code thing was removed from my records, though it took about 6 weeks and 3 meetings to do so. I did make a complaint against HH though nothing really came of it. She got a verbal warning for not following procedure but that was it.

The “Family Emergency” turned out to be that HH needed to pick up a birthday cake for her sister and the shop didn’t open until 8. HH didn’t want to “waste her lunch picking it up.” Some of the other team leaders confirmed that this sort of thing happened a lot, though normally only an extra half hour or so.

HH “retired” about 18 months later. It was one of those “Resign or you’ll be fired for gross misconduct” situations.

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