Wednesday, December 14, 2016

HR Can Put Employees at Risk

I've written about problems with Human Resources departments several times - especially the sometimes unfair relationship between human resources and employees.  As you might expect, The Sliding Door Company's human resources department certainly is not without serious problems.  Clearly, this blog wouldn't be here if I didn't feel my rights were violated.  So, let's have a look at one huge failure that, in this case, directly impacted several people.




When I wrote about TSDC spying on their employees both articles I linked to state plainly 
"the employer needs consent from its workers to monitor their behavior in the workplace." 
That means the employee has to sign something giving consent to be spied on.  Lacking a document showing consent, spying on an employee would be illegal.  

TSDC's terms of spying are laid out in their Employee Handbook.  And sure enough, TSDC's human resources department has a document that employees must sign to acknowledge receipt of the Employee Handbook.  Again, lacking a signed document from an employee stating they have received the notice of the company's policy on spying, the company is NOT allowed to spy on the employee.  From the law:


California's Privacy Act is in the Penal Code. [54] Under section 631, the anti-wiretapping law, anyone who
. . . willfully and without the consent of all parties . . . reads or attempts . . . to learn the contents or meaning of any . . . communication . . . in transit . . . over any wire, line, or cable or is being sent from, or received at any place within this state . . . is punishable by . . . imprisonment . . . [55]Under section 632, the broader anti-eavesdropping/anti-recording law,
Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties . . ., by means of any . . . recording device eavesdrops upon or records [a] confidential communication . . . [including ones] carried on . . . by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device . . . shall be punished by . . . imprisonment . . . . [56]  

Here's the document that employees are supposed to sign that indicates they have received the Employee Handbook.


Oh dear... it appears in my case the Human Resources Manager neglected to notice I hadn't signed the document.  This means TSDC did NOT have permission to spy on me.  
And yet... they DID.

So, did The Sliding Door Company's human resources manager put other employees in jeopardy by not securing my signature on this document?  

According to California law, it could mean "imprisonment" for someone who unlawfully spies on someone else.  



There is a lot more to the California Privacy Act and associated laws... but the bottom line is...

Human Resources has a very big responsibility when it comes to paperwork and collecting all the signatures required to keep a company and the employees within that company safe.  





When Human Resources fails, companies fail.  But hey... there will always be employees to blame for the shortcomings of employers.




Sunday, December 11, 2016

Patent Infringement Lawsuit

The Sliding Door Company's Patent Infringement Lawsuit 

I find this fascinating, personally.  I have already described that there is a flaw in this product - and yet the patent infringement lawsuit was filed against a product that, in my view, may have CORRECTED the flaw.  
Let's see what I'm talking about.  Here are two images from the lawsuit that was filed (linked above):





It's difficult to tell from the quality of the "Defendant's Product" images, but it appears to me the Defendant in this case may have corrected the high-heel-catching design problem that users of TSDC's patented product have experienced and reported.

Remember this image, again from my previous blog post?



Notice in the Patent illustration above, how unnecessarily wide the gap is - in order to accommodate a relatively narrow hook?  The gap is literally big enough to trap a high heel.

That The Sliding Door Company's design can trap a high-heeled shoe becomes more obvious when one considers that the rounded top of the hook works as a funnel to jamb the heel into the track.  
When the heel is pulled out, the sharp edge of the hook traps the heel.  Again, this was reported by TSDC's own employees AND customers.



Now, let's look at Defendant's track.  Does it look like a high-heel can get jammed in there?  It's hard to know for sure, but the gap in the defendant's product doesn't look nearly as wide to me.  Indeed, it appears that a high heel would be prevented from falling into the gap by the rounded knob that the roller will ride on.  It's a very different design... other than the hooking element.  And seriously, the "hooking" element is nothing new.  Anybody who has been around a roller coaster knows this is how roller-coaster wheels are made to stay on the track... they ALL hook underneath.

I'm guessing The Sliding Door Company won this case.  I took a peek at the Defendant's website to see if they have abandoned their bottom track design, and it appears they have.  Oddly, the company has a subsidiary called Chaparral which is a name I remember from my very first week working at The Sliding Door Company.  I essentially found their EXACT same extrusion being used by another company and selling their product at Lowes.  I wondered at the time who this Chaparral company was and why our product was being sold by them.  Now, after seeing TSDC in action, I'm not so sure who ripped who off.

Remember this blog post?  To save 15 cents per bracket, TSDC decided to forego engineering and product testing and simply copy an engineered and tested bracket by Simpson Strong-Tie.  Building inspectors accustomed to seeing the Simpson tie can easily mistake TSDC's bracket for an engineered and tested product by Simpson.


Untested knock-off STRUCTURAL tie by TSDC

Engineered and tested STRUCTURAL tie by Simpson















Patent Infringement?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Email Scandal!

The Sliding Door Company has its very own email scandal.  Leaked emails show former President of TSDC's commercial division not only avoided complying with ADA regulations, but blamed her CUSTOMER for it.  It turns out they didn't want to scrap pre-cut door jambs, so they preferred to violate ADA - for quite some time apparently.  

Here's the email chain.  I have redacted the names of the employees who need not be involved in this for their own personal privacy (and because I'm not Wikileaks).


It started out with a drawing request:



From: P_REDACTED
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2015 10:36 AM
To: 'Sheryl Hai-Ami'Subject: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Hi Sheryl,
Attached is a drawing request for Regus 0564 (Indianapolis).Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you,
P_REDACTED
Senior Estimator

Sheryl passes it up the line to my co-worker instead of me (she knew I wouldn't permit a non-ADA-compliant product to be sold in the US). 

From: Sheryl Hai-Ami [mailto:Sheryl@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2015 10:52 AM
To: 'A_REDACTED; drawings@slidingdoorco.com <This email was to my department and allowed me to see this email chain even though I wasn't directly copied on it.
Cc: P_REDACTEDSubject:
FW: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Importance: High

Hi A_REDACTED,

Please see drawing request for Regus.Please let me know if you have any questions.Thank you.
SHERYL HAI-AMI
President, Space Plus div of TSDC

By now, of course, I was out of the loop (for being a whistleblower) but still wanted to keep them from violating ADA.  I notified my former team who were now filling the drawing requests (engineering) and let them know they were violating ADA - in case they didn't already know.
From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 7:39 AM
To: A_REDACTED
Cc: N_REDACTED
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Pssst.. 32" is below ADA
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

Seasoned employees know better than to rock the boat.  You could lose your job, like I did.  Employees learned a lesson when I was retaliated against.
From: A_REDACTED
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:56 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

I don't give a shit.

A_REDACTED
Technical Integration Manager

From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:58 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Great! Leave it to me to give a shit! &^&*$#%^#

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

From: A_REDACTED
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:30 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Lol. I mean, this is how Regus always does it, so I don't care. If that's what Sheryl's team wants, I am not going to argue.

A_REDACTED
Technical Integration Manager

From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:30 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Ah. You learned my lesson. ;)

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager 


From: A_REDACTED
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:36 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

I already argued that one with them before that that's How they want it.

A_REDACTED
Technical Integration Manager

I tried to explain the severity of what they are doing:


From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:40 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Do they get that it is NOT their call? They can't make their own ADA guidelines - or alter existing ADA requirements for aesthetics. All it takes is one disabled person to notice and turn Regus in, and they will have to replace everything that was put in since the requirement changed. Older stuff is grandfathered in - but there is absolutely no excuse to put a handle in a commercial building that is out of ADA range. <shaking head> I guess everybody needs to learn the hard way these days. 
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager 

Coming from a "sales" standpoint is sometimes at odds with safety and regulations.  In this case, people at TSDC have convinced themselves that "the customer is always right".
From: A_REDACTED
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:02 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

But Regus is the client. Plus these are private offices, so they don't need to be ADA compliant. Right?

A_REDACTED
Technical Integration Manager

From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:05 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Wait. are you suggesting "private" offices in a commercial building are"residential"?
NOOOOOooooo. they absolutely have to be ADA compliant. Is Regus planning to discriminate against employees with disabilities? It isn't like a hotel where they can have one ADA room per floor. This is a commercial office space. no way do they get to do that.
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager 

From: A_REDACTED
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:22 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Huh. News to me. I will have N_REDACTED add a note to the drawing that they are not compliant at that height. But anyway the Slider Hook Latch is not an ADA compliant feature, so what difference does that make?

A_REDACTED
Technical Integration Manager
From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:25 AM
To: 'A_REDACTED
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Just because a feature isn't ADA compliant (a pull for example) - doesn't mean we get to put it out of ADA range. Our pulls aren't ADA compliant - but because someone is in a wheelchair doesn't mean they have no hands or fingers. they could certainly use a pull if it was at the correct height.
We can't make assumptions like this.

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

From: A_REDACTED
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:42 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject:
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
I understand, finally.
A_REDACTED
Technical Integration Manager

Meanwhile, the CAD designer sent me the details of the installation to confirm whether it was indeed in violation of ADA.

From: N_REDACTED 
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:17 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject:
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Hi Pete,
There was a sliding hook latch at 32" and an ADA 9" handle at 40.5" on this one.
Is that ok for ADA?

N_REDACTED
CAD Designer

I tried to give a solution... moving the hardware to within ADA range.  Simple, right?
From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:19 AM
To: 'N_REDACTED'
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Can the sliding hook latch come up to 34"? That would put it within ADA requirements.

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

From: N_REDACTED 
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:42 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Hi Pete,
Just letting you know for future, I checked with A_REDACTED, she said REGUS is special and we even stock special extrusions with cutouts at 32" for the accessories they use just for them. She says that is how Regus always has their heights. So we are leaving it at 32" - perhaps they are not getting inspected.
Thanks!

N_REDACTED
CAD Designer

But, by this time, A_REDACTED had understood the ADA requirement.  I let N_REDACTED know.
From: Pete Karaiskos [mailto:petek@slidingdoorco.com] 
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:46 AM
To: 'N_REDACTEDCc: A_REDACTEDSubject:
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
 
Thanks N_REDACTED,
 
A_REDACTED (and Regus) is wrong in this case.  We've been discussing it and I think she finally understood why in my last email.
 
Having said this. I'm happy to let Regus learn their lesson the hard way. ;)
 
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager
This prompted N_REDACTED to email Sheryl to ask if it would be OK to comply with ADA.

From: Drawings [mailto:drawings@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:26 AM
To: 'Sheryl Hai-Ami'Subject:
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Hi Sheryl,

Pete was taking a look at this project and raised a good question. The sliding hook latch was requested to be at 32"which is currently not within the ADA range - but if we moved it up to 34" it would be in the range. Do you think this might be a possibility?

Sincere thanks,

N_REDACTED
CAD Designer 

Sheryl's very predictable response (remember, this was the PRESIDENT of their commercial division making up rules for ADA):
From: Sheryl Hai-Ami [mailto:Sheryl@slidingdoorco.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2015 1:08 PM
To: drawings@slidingdoorco.com
Hi N_REDACTED,
Not in this case.
The Regus program nationwide is very specific and they have asked for it to be centered at 32" from the bottom of our bottom frame from day 1.
They are taking ownership for anything related to ADA.

Thank you very much for asking.
Sheryl
SHERYL HAI-AMI
President, Space Plus div of TSDC

And there you have it.  The Sliding Door Company's former commercial division President (now an administrator but still wife of their CEO) was directing employees to violate ADA in commercial products and placing the blame on their own customer.