Bad Blood in the Workplace

I have two questions related to alleged nepotism that I’ll answer together:

Hello, Anita. I would like to know if it’s conflict of interest when the company owner’s sister is the Human Resources Manager. I’ve been asking for some needed information is she is not assisting me with what I need.

Dear Anita, I’ve been working for an Adult Day Care as a CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant]. My boss makes me and my co-workers clean the entire facility, even his desk. It’s a family business so they all have each other’s back. We only get 15 minute breaks when we work 6 hours, 5 days a week. The boss has cameras and is always looking at what we do or if we’re doing something bad, he will come out and stand there looking at us. Is it fair that only me and my other two co-workers clock in and out and the boss’s family don’t, they just leave whenever? Who to call? Or what to do?

In the U.S., 80%-90% of businesses are family-owned, ranging from mom-and-pops storefronts to Fortune 500 companies. You’re bound to work with blood-related employees at some point. But nepotism (preference shown because of a family or personal relationship) may or may not be present.

Reclining_Businesswoman_000026954117An Inc. poll explored perceptions on the factors that lead to getting ahead at work. Connections (e.g., being the boss’s sister) received the most votes at 48%. This real or imagined favoritism may result in bad blood. And as Taylor Swift says, “Now we’ve got problems.” But I think you can solve them.

So, “Waiting on HR,”

There is no legal conflict of interest when a relative serves as an HR manager – or in any position – in a company. (In a way, all of us may have conflicts of interest in the workplace when we are trying to please our supervisor, our co-workers, and other departments!) The issue here is one that could happen with any colleague – you are not getting the results you desire. The HR Manager may be busy (give her the benefit of the doubt), so be sure to remind her of your inquiry. If you asked in person, follow-up with email or vice versa. If she doesn’t honor your request after your reminders and a reasonable timeframe, go to your supervisor and ask him or her to get involved – without pointing out the familial relationship. Just reiterate the facts of your situation without emotion.

clocking systemAnd now, “Ticked Off CNA,”

If you are unclear about the job duties expected in your position, ask your boss for a written job description. If you are unhappy with cleaning tasks, and these were not expected when you were hired, talk with your boss about it. But there is no law against requiring an employee to clean; in fact, a CNA job description probably includes cleaning and sanitizing patient areas. Your boss can add his desk to your duties if he so desires. He may also supervise your work. As for breaks, there is no federal law requiring lunch or coffee breaks. Your state may have a law requiring a meal break or rest period; check these Department of Labor Meal Period and Rest Period Requirement charts.

Your boss and his family may run their business however they choose. As in many companies, some employees may be hourly while others may be on salary, not dependent on actual hours worked. Family members may be doing work from a home office. Some relatives may even work in a family business unpaid.

Just because it may seem unfair on the surface, as long as blood relatives are not impeding your ability to work, quite frankly, it’s none of your concern. Mind your own business, and do the job you signed on for to the best of your ability.

Readers, how have you learned to handle any “blood is thicker than water” situations at work?

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tiffany Lieu
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 15:57:11

    Very surprised the federal government does not enforce lunches or breaks. Whenever I worked, employers always stressed that lunches and breaks must be taken by law. Some of the workers wanted to go home earlier not taking the breaks and lunches before. They could not even negotiate on that because of the law. Maybe it is the state and especially the unions keeping track of lunches and breaks. I do not mind though. Besides, I need to have the relief before I can not work the rest of the week.

    I guess it would not hurt to complain a little if it bothers the worker to do it all just because the relatives or the friends of the bosses are slacking somewhere. At least they are making a point how much productivity they are willing to deliver to the company, and they are ready to negotiate somewhere. Personally I have not encountered such a scenario though. It is better for the workers to speak up before everything looks very argumentative and unfair.


  2. Oscar Rodriguez
    Apr 13, 2016 @ 13:46:22

    “Ticked Off CNA,” We all have 2 and only 2 choices in any area of our life. 1) To accept a situation as it is or 2) To take the responsibility for changing it.
    In your case, if you decide to accept your situation as it is, you must do your job to the best of your abilities without complaining.
    That being said, If I ware you, I would start looking for another employer and make sure you do not give the prospective employer the real reason you are switching job.
    I dot wish you good luck, I wish for you to get prepare and go for what want.


  3. Todd Hicks
    Apr 12, 2016 @ 22:14:35

    I wouldn’t want to have that type of boss.


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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