If you skipped to this chapter you are probably uncomfortable with your current job situation, not necessarily the job.

What's the difference? If the job is making you uncomfortable you hate the whole thing, while if the keyword is 'situation', you like the job "but".
If you are looking to either get out of the job or ride out a situation, you should look to protect yourself until you get to the desired point. Documentation is important during these periods. You may need to prove your innocence in extreme situations. Good documentation can prove you did not do something. Better documentation not only proves your innocence, it also points the finger at the guilty party.

Advice And Tasks

At times it may be suggested that you do not notice certain things or may be asked to do only what you were hired to do. In such cases, document who did what and when under whose authority. Again I abuse pronouns because you are not going to get a clear picture; there are many questions for which you may have to seek the answers yourself. I am not saying be nosy, but note what comes your way.

For example, as a programmer the company safe may be in your office, so that the backup tapes will be protected in case of fire. Also in the safe is the company's petty cash. One of the people from accounting is spending too much time in the safe and tells you to mind your own business when you ask if they need any help. Sure you were not hired to baby-sit the contents of the safe. You may not even know the combination! But if there is ever a problem with the safe's contents (or lack thereof) you may be the first one implicated.

The more pronouns used to describe your task or details missing from the description, the more you should look out for yourself. When you ask questions and get responses that start with "A family man usually does not ask so many questions..." or "Why should you care? It's not your job to care, just to do...", you should be keeping documentation and looking to leave.

When you are told to take out someone's computer and put it in "that car over there so it can be brought in for repair", ask
  1. What is wrong with the system?
  2. Whose car is that?
  3. Where it being repaired?
  4. When is it coming back?
  5. Who authorized such?
  6. Is there any paperwork which must accompany the unit?
  7. Who are you to tell me to do that?
  8. Who told / empowered you to make this decision?
  9. Why don't you do it, or at least help?
Remember you are going to be the last person seen with the system, so you are going to be responsible. If you have a tainted reputation, earned or not, the burden of proof may weigh a little more heavily on you than on others. Be a little more careful than most employees as other people may try to sneak things under your coattails (as opposed to the cliché "ride your coattails"). No manager is ever going to ask you to anything illegal - directly. You may be asked to do something that seems harmless, but strange. When the problem is discovered, you will be to blame because you were never asked to such. At a clinic you are told to deliver "that" package to the nurses - it's an open package of needles. You do not know that they have been used, but you do know that packaging has been compromised. Question it or refuse to do it.


Though I am not a lawyer (I've said that quite a lot), most people know that the more detail one has supporting their claim, the better their chances are for winning. Unfortunately in the courts of precedence (it's really not law anymore), much of the evidence which you may collect may not be considered admissible in court because you gathered such without proper consent.

No boss is ever going to speak clearly in the microphone while commenting how both of you are naked under all those clothes. Does that mean you should not try to gather such evidence? NO! ...Gather It Anyway Even if certain types of evidence may not be allowed, the fact that you have it may help sway the judgment. You go in confident, the defense it shaken and the judge or jury follow your lead because it has direction. If, for example, you were able to get a tape recording of an incident, listen to it many times. Take notes, doing such requires more effort and may increase your chances of remembering many more details. The more confident you are with your story (remember it's the judge's job to find the truth, your job to present your case and rebut your advisary's case), the better you can handle questions and attack points made by the other side. Transcribe the tape or hire someone to do such, the act of reading the facts may help you remember more than if you listened to the tape another dozen times. Despite the fact that the judge may have had certain evidence struck from your testimony, odds are in your favor that the jurors are going to be employees like you. Though they can not take that testimony into account, the fact that you brought it in and were willing to display it adds credibility to your case. Because the jury is made of people rather than machines, the judge can not reduce your credibility. Your opponent will be attacking your credibility in many different ways.

Over the course of employment, your employer has been keeping many records. Attendance, evaluations, complaints and warnings will find their way into the court room. Be prepared to explain how such facts may have made it to the record. For example many salaried employees are not on a time clock, so many tardies in your record may be struck down with a good explanation. One employer in their zeal to make an employee look bad over-documented their case. Though the employee lost, the arbitrator, an employee of the state, was less than impressed by the company's testimony. Had a few more holes been knocked in the company's case, the company's over-documentation would have been its demise.

Be careful about taking documents or copies from the company as they are company property. Depending on the case the company may be able to counter sue as you have stolen or used company materials in a manner not allowed by the company. Document all your observations and transactions (dealings) at home so the company can not accuse you of using any company resources (time, paper, computer, etc...) for personnel gain. Document details of what happened and your feelings at the time.

In a sexual harassment case you may wish to document what you do with each other coworker and how such makes you feel. The accused (that is what the courts are going to call the pervert) is most likely going to justify their actions by making you look bad and make themselves look like one of the other employees. For the record the defense will most likely paint a picture of you being an excessive flirt, while hoping to sneak the word "slut" into the jury's mind. For example your boss pats you on the back a lot and you take it as his or her way of expressing approval of your efforts. Your boss's boss decides that he also wishes to let you know that you are doing a good job, but expresses such a little further down. This person is going to try to make it look like you are making a mountain out of a mole hill, you must prove that this person is trying to pass a mountain as a mole hill. As the accuser, you have the burden of proof, you must make the judge, jury or arbitrator see the issue from your perspective.

Other Conflicts

Company policy should be consulted in times of conflict and you should maintain a personal copy. For example, if your company is involved with any type of mission critical service or product and a customer who has not paid their bill needs service, what should you do? Someone may die if you do not perform at least basic service, while your boss may have grounds to terminate you for violating company policy if you should try to help.

For example, you work for a delivery service and you have to bring blood and uniforms to a hospital that has not paid on an invoice in 90 days. Do you bring the blood and hold the uniforms? Do you not go? At this point company policy should be reviewed and questioned.

Where's The Real Problem?

Before looking to leave, ask yourself about the problem that is making you want to leave?
Is it something that is going to be temporary or permanent in the company?
Is it something with you?
If it's something "with the company", it may be something within the company's industry. For example, the deregulation laws have made dealing with utility companies interesting as a customer. As an employee, the number of details which must be minded grew. New tasks brought about new jobs which brought new faces. But despite such, the puzzle did not really grow, just that there were more pieces, smaller pieces, making the same puzzle. ...


If you feel that the problem is with you, your current environment may not allow you to change the situation. As more colleges and universities develop coop (pronounced co op) or intern programs, there will be more people entering the workforce at a younger age. Instead of starting a career at 22 or 23, the coop puts their foot in the door at 18 or 19. At 24 the coop will have the advantage of having much more experience than other scholars, but may not be able to shake the teenage image, even after 5 years. The company hired the coop as a "kid" and no matter how professional the coop to hire has become, the employee still carries the brand. Until the old guard leaves, the coop to hire employee may be thought of as "the kid" for quite a while. There are many different ways to deal with work related problems. Some may go away when ignored, while others require action. If looking to stay, be prepared to do something about the situation, beside pretending you work for the post office. If looking to leave, build a good defense to hold you until you have someplace else to go.