They gave me an electronic signature pad and asked me to sign. I pointed out that I did not have a document in front of me, and they said that they would give me a copy of the signed form after I signed it. I once again attempted to point out that I was being asked to sign a form that I couldn't read, and they said, "oh, it's just a privacy disclosure".
A superviser (who was overseeing the migration to the new system) came by and asked what the issue was, and I said I was being asked to sign a form without seeing what I was signing. They very patiently explained to me that it was a HIPAA disclosure, and I said that if I could sign their description, I would be happy to, but I'm not going to sign a more formal document having only been given a summary of it. They further explained that if I wanted, they could print out a copy of the form after I signed it for my records.
Nobody at the office seemed to understand here what my objection was. I overheard other patients saying things like "I'm not signing something I haven't seen", so I know that I wasn't crazy. Eventually I convinced the person I was working with to turn their monitor around so that I could read the documents before signing them.
The thing is that everyone knows that these forms are completely meaningless anyway. I probably would have been better off just signing the forms so that if they ever came up in a court case I could just honestly say that I had never seen the form before.
It seemed to be a rather overbroad ask for what I was coming for, so I objected (over their secure PM system). They tried to object that "well, you need to follow your doctor's directions because there can be interactions between the medicine and alcohol."
I said "The clause doesn't say 'I will follow the psychiatrist's direction about drug interactions.' It says I will unconditionally refrain from all alcohol."
Then the main doctor entered the thread and really blew my mind. He said, basically, a) no one in 5 years has objected to that clause, and b) it's common to have a clinic policy like and it's like an EULA.
b) was weird because EULA's are known for being notoriously abusive. a) was weird because he seems to genuinely think it's no big deal that either 1) no one is reading that clause, or 2) all of his patients are apparently teetotalers.
(I also felt it was particularly disturbing that he was exploiting the bandwagon effect to intimidate me into signing.)
So I said, if you're comfortable with the clause meaning the interpretation earlier in chat, that it just means to follow directions about alcohol interactions with meds, then I'll sign, and he agreed.
Did you document that modification in in writing or recording?
That typically only applies in situations where the agreement is otherwise ambiguous. The most common example being "A: We verbally agreed to $1 and I signed. B: But what you signed say $1.10" often in these situations the written contract win.
However in this case they are in a written format explicitly clarifying the contents of the contract which you are allowed to do as long as the interpretation you agree to doesn't meaningfully diverge from what was written in a way that doesn't follow standard practice. As the doctor said it is common practice to avoid consuming alcohol with medicine that has known interactions with it. Even if the original contract is unambiguous no one is going to side against OP on the topic of "we both agreed that it meant when taking certain medicines" since the original verbiage didn't follow standard practice by the clarified verbiage did.
Even if you have a written contract that has boilerplate language saying all future modifications need to be in writing, courts have enforced verbal modifications. A contract can always be modified, what matters is if both parties agree.
Situation 1. There is a single document with the title "CONTRACT" signed by both parties. It starts with a list of definitions and continues with a list of things that each party promises to do.
Situation 2. There is a whole pile of documents to be signed by just one of the parties, the word "contract" is not mentioned, and most of the sentences in the documents give information (warning, disclaimer, whatever) rather than express some kind of obligation.
Some kind of (implicit) contract may be created in situation 2, and the documents may have some bearing on it, but the documents are clearly not "the contract".
It's more like signing to receive a parcel than signing a contract.
These forms clearly meet the legal definition of a contract.
“We will have you sign the consent form after the procedure when it’s more convenient for you”
“The first page doesn’t apply to you (when it clearly does)”
From my experiences, I wouldn't say this is a rumor and something to be heard of. It is the standard practice everywhere I have ever sought medical attention.
Isn't the consent form for their CYA? I wonder what happens if someone refuses to sign it later.
I had an office emailing me their appointment data for a patient; I don't know if we had a similar email or something. I responded the first two times I received it that it was being sent in error, and to please stop, for the sake of everyone concerned.
On occasions 3 and 4 I attempted to contact the practice. Both times I was sent to the manager's voicemail, where I left messages that were never returned.
After a half-dozen of these occasions, I contacted OCR on behalf of the patient (you can file an OCR complaint on someone else's behalf), specifically referencing the fact that although the privacy violation is not significant, their repeated violation with no effort to stop is. I enclosed screen shots of the repeated emails I had sent the practice, and the repeated privacy-violating emails I'd gotten from them.
OCR said they'd get in contact with the practice and help them implement a technical solution to stop contacting me, and could I please give them my email address to blacklist, and asked if that solution was satisfactory.
I said, no, no that's not fucking satisfactory. They could have fixed the email issue a year ago; it doesn't require technical assistance from the government. While I appreciate trying to assist small practices in remedying technical defects rather than just being punitive, this was exactly the time to be punitive - when the technical defect is simple and easy to remedy ("we have the wrong contact info; update it"), and there was plenty of opportunity to remedy and they willfully continued to engage in the activity. And blacklisting my email address does absolutely nothing to protect the next patient's privacy.
A few weeks later I got a letter in the mail that basically restated what had been in the email, and that no further action would be taken.
(Before anyone says "but you got no more information than you would have had if you'd been sitting in the waiting room when the guy came for his appointment":
HIPAA has an exception that basically says "reveal the minimum you need to run a functional clinic, but yeah, obviously you need to run a functional clinic." So things like "patients in the waiting room" is exempt from HIPAA because, well, you won't be able to keep an office open if you can't keep a waiting room full. That same information emailed out to a random stranger - that is, absolutely not needed to be shared with me to provide routine care - does not share that exemption.)
The agency likes to report “enforcement actions” which include fines but 99% of the time are some kind of promise to do better in the future.
HIPAA violations are one of those things the public thinks are super serious but in reality are all but a total joke.
And don’t get me started on HIPAA compliance consultants lol. Reminds me of Lisa Simpson selling Homer her magic rock that keeps away tigers.
Most hospitals have a compliance office where this type of issue would be handled.
If someone called my hospital's IRB to "school them" on a HIPAA violation, I can't even imagine what their response would be. I mean, I'm sure it would be polite, but it's not like they'd start hand-holding the lady on how to file complaints - they wouldn't know, themselves. It's only one step up from calling the cafeteria services people.
Consider it an extension of "HR is there to protect the company, not you." Compliance is there to protect the hospital, not the individual employee that may have erred.
As long as they make a good faith effort to act on the complaint, they themselves are protected from liability. Whereas if they don't act, they open themselves up to enormous liability, on behalf of a replaceable peon - I mean, on behalf of a highly respected staff member.
After months of this and a half an hour on the phone they told me I could just lift the auto-ban for the particular country so that I wouldn't have to spend half an hour on hold every single month for a recurring payment.
I said sure, and I was told to just send an email saying I approved of this just to confirm. The representative quickly tried to end the call after that, and I had to make her back up and explain exactly what I was confirming. She wouldn't just come out with it plainly, saying it was a simple lift of the ban for that country.
After enough prodding, she spilled that my confirmation meant that any transaction coming from that country would be considered pre-approved and not eligible for fraud prevention. I would be stuck with whatever charge came from anywhere an entire country, with no way to fight it.
She got angry with me for having a problem with this and caught an attitude, saying that it was unusual for people to either want to make international transactions at all or for them to care if they pre-approved an entire country for all payments. She couldn't understand what was wrong with this.
As far as I know... that's not even legal?
What do people use credit cards for if not buying things from other countries? O.o
> A fee-free ATM that gets me airline points, when I buy my teammates lunch and have them give me cash / venmo me.
> In person purchases they make during the course of a day?
As a Dutch person, all of the above are done with my normal bank card. Everyday purchases aren't even be possible with a credit card. No grocer is insane enough to risk chargebacks and have to pay for that 'privilege'.
This year I've used my credit card for: Patreon, AliExpress, iTunes, JetBrains and wintersport in Austria.
Neither my normal bank nor my credit card give me cash back or points.
Ironically(?) the only time I ever had to pay an ATM fee was when I used my credit card.
It's not ironic - fee-free cash withdrawals from credit cards are exceptions, not the norm.
But I am very surprised that you need debit for all your in-person purchases: normally at least the more expensive ones (i.e. eating out, big shopping) can go through a credit card. Vendors in the UK only seem to object to high fees - chargebacks aren't made out to be a big issue.
As an European, I do everything with my debit card. Only when I buy something on an American site do I 'need' a credit card. So I think it's weird you use the word 'need' for debit.
I feel unsafe every time I have to use the credit card: I'll have to make sure I get a statement at the end of the month and check it, maybe contest something. I have little idea about what my rights are. It is insecure, anyone who has access to a few numbers on it can make payments. Besides, why do I have to take a loan just to pay something, and make sure it all balances out? Not to say the whole credit score thing is alien to me.
The debit card feels much better. They are secured by a OTP, requiring both the card and a PIN. When it's paid, it's paid. No loans, no chargebacks, no credit score, no paperwork. And I know the governement has my back if something goes wrong.
I would never use a debit card, for anything other than ATM access, ever. If somebody scans my credit card and clones it, or gets hold of the numbers and goes on a spree, no real money changes hands, and I've just got to call Chase or Citibank and dispute the charges.
With the debit card, that money is gone out of my bank account, and I can dispute it, but it takes time, and in the meantime my mortgage and car payment and utility bills have bounced and dinged my credit and incurred late fees and penalties.
And then you dispute the charges. No idea how long that takes, because it's never happened to me. I expect it's very rare now that bank cards have a chip rather than a magnetic strip (which is easily copied).
With a credit card, they just need some numbers that are easily visible. It's basically public information, and it's enough to authorise a payment. Sure, chargebacks are easy, but I still need to pay attention to whether someone might be using my credit card number. And as for those easy chargebacks, someone is still paying for that cost. And if they can't find the thief, it's ultimately going to be the consumers that pay for it one way or another. (I believe credit card transactions are relatively pricey, are they not?)
This here might be part of the difference between EU and USA: Here in the states, there are actually three main forms of "cards": Bank Cards, Debit Cards, and Credit Cards (ignoring Charge Cards like Amex - they aren't really credit cards as you are required to pay them in full each month, whereas a credit card you don't have to).
Bank cards can typically only be used at the issuing bank, or at one of their ATMs and virtually no place else; this does vary though. But in most cases, where you can use the card is fairly limited.
Debit cards, on the other hand, can typically be used anywhere a credit card can. Virtually any ATM will take them, you can swipe them at grocery stores and other retailers, use them to get gas, or type in the numbers on a web site to use them for online purchases. They are also typically issued by the bank in concert with one of the major credit card issuers (VISA or Mastercard, sometimes Discover); typically any fraudulent activity can also be resolved just as quickly because of this, but that varies too - and it doesn't prevent the money from leaving your checking account (to which it is tied). Such an account can also usually "overdraft" to a credit card by the same company - which may also be why the cards are provided/tied to the CC companies. I'm not sure on this completely, though.
Credit cards can be used anywhere and have the most protection; since they don't draw from your checking account, no worries if a fraudulent transaction occurs, either. There's also the thing about "float" - in which by using a credit card often enough, and paying the account balance off regularly, you can actually gain more purchasing power than if you were dealing with your debit card or cash alone (but you have to be vigilant about paying that balance off quickly and regularly, and not letting the float amount get far outside your income level - things can crash fast - but if you do it right, you can regulate the float to be higher at times, or lower, just by changing your spending habits - I can't really explain it well, but you know it when you do it).
I don't know about bank cards, but for the other two, here in the USA we've only recently started the wider adoption of "chip and pin". In the case of my credit card, I have it tied to my phone in such a way that (supposedly) my bank (or Visa?) checks that when I use my card, my phone is also nearby - if not, it flags for fraudulent usage. It doesn't require a pin (but most places read the chip); while my debit card does use the chip and pin (if I use it, which is rare for me nowadays).
Online, though - I only use my credit card - which always requires just the numbers; there's no way for the chip to be read, and nothing for a pin number or anything?
Are things different in Europe for online payments? How does it work other than numbers only for online purchases?
> And then you dispute the charges. No idea how long that takes, because it's never happened to me. I expect it's very rare now that bank cards have a chip rather than a magnetic strip (which is easily copied).
I've rarely had to "dispute charges" - I can only think of one time, and that turned out to be a mistake on the merchant's part (some kind of reconciliation issue at end-of-month or something - it's been years). But things were resolved fairly quickly.
> With a credit card, they just need some numbers that are easily visible. It's basically public information, and it's enough to authorise a payment.
Again - how does this work with online purchases? All I have ever used have been numbers...
In the case of real-world usage, it's either swiping the card (gas stations still aren't using chip readers at the pump yet), chip reading, or in the old-school days (and still found in some backwater areas - but very useful when the power goes out) the old carbon paper pressure chunk-chunk devices where they take an impression and you sign (though I've honestly haven't seen one of these in over a decade or more now, but I do recall them from earlier and when I was a kid).
Something they have recently changed here has been making cards "flat" and not having raised impressed numbers, and printing the number on the back of the card (only the name appears on the front). I'm not sure how much this helps, but it does prevent impressions or rubbings from being done. Not that it stops skimmers (mag stripe) or photos from being taken...
My (Swedish) bank has 2FA for online purchases. When I make a purchase, an app on my phone asks me to confirm the purchase (showing the vendor name and amount) by signing it with a key stored on my phone, along with a PIN.
When I buy from some American companies (Steam, Amazon, etc.) I need to put the card into "unsafe mode" first, since by default all transactions must support this system.
> Are things different in Europe for online payments? How does it work other than numbers only for online purchases?
Netherland has a system called iDeal, which is supported by all banks and all webshops that want to do business here (which includes Steam and amazon.de, but not amazon.com, for example). The payment is processed directly through my own bank, with nobody else having to know even what my account number is. The webshop directs me to my bank (or to a page where I select my bank, which then directs me to my bank) with some token with payment details, I authorise the payment through my own bank (which uses 2FA), and the bank redirects me bank to the webshop which knows I've paid.
Basically just like how PayPal does it, except with my own bank in the place of PayPal and with 2FA. Much more secure.
Honestly I'm baffled that this isn't internationally supported. It seems to me to be the only proper way to handle internet payments. Sadly it would involve the whole world agreeing on adopting this system, and Dutch banks just don't have that kind of impact. American credit card companies do.
I also got a credit card (MasterCard) from my bank, but I only use it for online international purchases (mostly the US).
 Which is all of them except for my local cheese shop, because the owner is a luddite and considers anything other than cash too expensive. He's got good cheese though, and is really cheap.
Doesn't this mean your card issuer has 24/7 access to your cell location? That's extremely invasive.
Dirk (the supermarket) accepts credit cards. A few others as well
I was stunned because they never gave any indication that the signature was for some sort of contract/legal form! Perhaps I should have suspected, but it still seemed really underhanded… If they had, I would have insisted on reading it first. Luckily, reading it afterward it was something I would have signed anyway, but come on!
My best friend was given a PIP from his manager. Company wanted him out for political reasons, told him he had to sign, except all of the reasons in the PIP were fabricated.
He stapled a page to the back before turning it in saying that he disagrees, but is required to sign, and thus wishes to comply with the requirement to sign.
They fired him immediately for refusing to remove the extra page, tried to deny him unemployment benefits saying that he chose to quit by not signing. The case went to unemployment court and he won. He got all his benefits, company had to pay a huge fine.
So if the friend took issue with the claims being made in the PIP about underperformance, it makes sense that he wouldn’t want to sign it as-is.
In most countries I am aware of it is a requirement for being able to fire someone.
The reasons don't need to be accurate; they just need to be not provably inaccurate and to be well documented.
It goes both ways.
But I was specifically referring, as a pain point, to how often offices use HIPAA as an excuse to not do things patients want them to do.
I'm a physician that has worked in health policy. I get very, very volubly angry when a front desk puts me off with "that's a HIPAA violation" and it isn't. It's "we don't want to be bothered doing things that convenience the patient, and here's an excuse that sounds like it's out of our hands."
When they share information they're not supposed to, it's often - not always, but often - at least with the underlying intention of doing right by the patient, as opposed to just trying to get rid of them.
What was your reaction when a stranger called you for a date?
So were you a good match or what?
“Everyone — from hospitals, tech companies, and pharma — wants patient data,” Jenny said. “But each have their own data silos, HIPAA restrictions, regulatory concerns, and liability issues. Through trial and error, we discovered the key to the puzzle: patients have the freedom to aggregate their own data and freely share it to drive new research.”
I look forward to seeing more initiatives like hers.
They probably all understood quite well, but they stuck to the script (either unofficially to make their job smoother, or officially).
It's hard these days to know if you're talking to an innocent person or a corporate script.
A friend told me the inside story about a call answering service. This is a service that answers the late night infomercial numbers.
They are very quick to take your information to buy the thing, but then they try upselling you or cross-selling you other stuff.
EVERYTHING is scripted. "Oh, but other people didn't listen to these fabulous offers, and had to call back", etc.
So here's the thing. The people are required to follow the script, they cannot deviate. The ONLY exit to the script that would prevent them from being fired was "I will CANCEL my order unless you stop."
I thought it was particularly interesting that I was referred to another doctor inside the same medical system sharing an EHR (ie they already HAD my data)and I still had to sign aa new HIPAA form less than a week later. That was the single time I didn't insist on reading the whole thing, I asked them if they were the exact forms used across the entire hospital system, I double checked one of them, and then just signed the rest.
My real fun experience with this was when I bought a house, one thing said I had to move in within 30 days, another 60 days, and another 15 days. There were also various other date discrepancies on when certain things had been completed and, they had used my full name (first, middle, last) in some places and just first/last in others. Man everyone was mad I was reading everything before I signed it though.
I'm also a pretty fast reader, so it is pretty obvious that they absolutely expect you to not read whatever it is you are signing, because I assume that it would take most other people well over an hour to read.
They also asked me to sign a form that said "I have inspected the car" before I'd seen it at all. Sickens me.
Each of these places have their own branded contracts and similar, but unique documents that look like they typed up and copied some word document they wrote 7 years ago and have never re-printed.
And the descriptions they give are usually a couple works... This one is a power of attorney, it lets us handle title work for your car on your behalf. I had my title in-hand and signed it over to them, so I was really confused why that was necessary among several other things.
They file the paperwork with the state.
If possession of the title printout was sufficient to legally take possession of someone's car, that would open the door to a lot of easy car thefts.
I enjoyed putting the warranty In terms of a bet. Would you spend $5k on a lottery ticket that had payout capped at $25k? No. Then why are you trying to sell me a 3rd party warranty?
I enjoyed the whole process. I set aside a whole day for it.
The best part was when my credit card didn't run for some reason and I didn't have the full payment :)
Not conditional on non-payment or anything. Not conditional on violation of the terms of the mortgage. Just a blanket document that said they could take it whenever they liked. Apparently the idea is that if I die and my survivors continue to live in the house, then they might have trouble foreclosing on the house because my survivors did not sign the loan agreement. Otherwise, they promised, this document would stay in a drawer somewhere and never be used.
I said that of course I would not sign this document, and they said that the bank would not issue the loan without it. At this point, at closing, what can I even do? Closing was a formality -- my lease had already run out on my previous place, movers had been arranged, HOA had signed off on the purchase and the mortgage terms, and the approval of the loan itself took a stupidly long time to get all the documentation necessary so I couldn't just go to another bank and start the whole process again (especially since they would probably make me sign the same damn form).
So I signed it, and may God have mercy on my soul.
So just edit it to say what you agree with and move on (and don't make a fuss, call their attention to it - they should be reading these just as much as you should).
Fortunately, I doubt a judge would uphold that provision and find that you were forced into it for exactly the reason you gave.
Confused... if you're buying the house why can't you just move in when/if you feel like it? Is this a mortgage/legal thing about it being your primary residence?
Basically, they wanted to make sure I wasn't getting the mortgage to buy a commercial property since that would have had different terms associated with it.
I doubt that it said you had to move in, unless it was a condo with bizarrely strict vacancy rules. do you mean that it said you have the right to move in in those time-frames?
Nobody checks on it.
How do a trust a doctor, nurse, or hospital administrator, when the whole systems seems to OPTIMIZE for situations like the one I just mentioned? I guess I'm supposed to call bullshit on everything they tell me, assume malice, and spend a large amount of money/time chasing down bills and second opinions. And this is with private insurance through my employer.
The signature is merely evidence that you were physically present and signed the document, since a signature is generally (if farcically) considered to be something only you can create. The contract that the signature is attached to is another evidentiary question, which is why some multi-page documents ask for a signature or at least initials on every page.
Now, if the signature page you signed says, "I have read to and agree to Document X", that's evidence of... what it says, but there's still the very open question what are the contents of Document X, unless "X" is something like an SHA hash of a document, or a name and date/version of a document maintained by a well-trusted escrow agent.
No! It already feels illegitimate when I sign a PDF with a touchscreen computer over a paper signature. There's no way for me to know precisely what I'm signing unless I have paper in front of me. Even then, without acknowledgement on every sheet and/or me receiving a copy at the end, it's entirely possible for them to swap Page 3 out and for me to suddenly have agreed to something else entirely!
I ended up getting paper copies of the documents and signed those.
Rules and the regulators enforcing them sometimes do not make any sense at all.
Seems to be a thing that doctors like to point out how much more important they are than auto mechanics. I think the auto mechanic that fixed my transmission almost killed me. Because on SR 108 the transmission wouldn't go into low.
I think if it can be shown that the provider is making it difficult for the consumer to actually read the form before signing, a judge will actually be more upset with the provider.
What is a patient supposed to do in this case? Leave the office? What if this appointment was scheduled several months in advance, which is not an uncommon wait time? To put this in the way of a patient's health should not be acceptable.
Taken another way, this can’t work because otherwise everyone would just sign every contract without reading it and then get out of it later by saying they didn’t read it. Right?
And that would be a better world.
Other party: Did you read it before you signed it?
Other party: Why not
You: Nobody ever reads these things
Other party + Judge: :/
Now the onus is on the defense to show that it is not a common practice and who was responsible for that. Pretty excellent line to pursuit, hard to defend.
The onus is not on the one who says it the loudest, it's on the one who can provide proof. The defense can explain to the judge that they turn the screen to show it or whatever it's supposed to do.
There's no reason that the provider's testimony is magically preferred over the patient's, and in fact the generaly pratice is to resolve ambiguities in favor of the person who did not write the contract and is not the professional who has had plenty of pratice to know what they should be doing.
(We're talking about boilerplate forms here for doctor's visits, not like your mortgage)
When it comes to he said she said you need actual evidence. The judge generally weighs what's said between both parties equally unless there's a reason not to.
If you find out that your records were released three times in the past year and when you ask to whom they were released to, it's better to have a piece of paper with a signature on it than for them to say "it must have been you, because we don't have any paperwork".
Now the coversheet for the exam has a place to write your name and sign it which you must do before starting the test.
The older brother signed it as his younger brother. Then was charged with forgery. The requirement to sign was there to make that kind of cheating a crime.
It makes sense why (default to release to nobody but the patient), but I just thought it was funny that although she has the authority to add herself or anyone else that she wasn't on the list by default.
I honestly would rather have this.
Related: On check-in for a doctor appointment, I was given a routine consent form to opt-in to some kind of sharing of info (for research purposes, or something like that). I instead checked the checkbox on the form that explicitly did not consent. The person at the front desk didn't seem to quite know what to do with the form when I didn't check the checkbox that was expected, but they accepted the form after a confused pause, and hopefully it was processed correctly.
I rarely go to a new doctor, but when I do, I usually leave about half the forms untouched, and the other half, half-filled out. Never had any any issues with the staff. Your mileage may vary.
The vast majority of folks picking up prescriptions do not talk to a pharmacist.
No, it doesn't HAVE to match your usual signature, but that's not the actual point of a signature anyway.
Of course not. Because the rest of us were writing, "HERP DERP" in the signature line and moving on with our lives.
Have a good laugh when that document is presented to a judge.
In principle, when there's a problem situation you are documenting, I think it's better to make sure you document what the other party did wrong first and foremost, then move on to what you did in response to it.
It’s also a habit to sign actual restaurant receipts with a signature that isn’t my real one but a specific one for restaurants.
> I overheard other patients saying things like "I'm not signing something I haven't seen"
So it sounds like this was a common complaint
I think we often underestimate just how bad this sort of thing is. It's not just a question of personal integrity, or of whether the real value is a viable one.
First, these practices create miscommunication. If some clever analyst realizes training can be done in 256 days rather than 297, they might write a report recommending 30 days be shaved off training time. And unless someone who knows about the discrepancy gets involved, it's possible that "cut 30 days" will get implemented formally against the lower real timeframe. (This sort of thing happens all the time with budgets, where extra money that's been informally redirected to a different expense is formally cut as bloat.)
Second, they weaken the integrity of the system. No matter how upstanding the individuals, certifying nonsense disrupts a Schelling point of "printed and signed claims are accurate", and so it becomes harder to react to actual problems like the people cheating on nuclear missile readiness training. It's the print equivalent of unimportant elements in a safety routine; changing the routine is fine, but getting sloppy endangers the parts that do matter.
bad URL in OP:
"I falsified the [traumatic brain injury] report that changed a distance from the IED strike [to where] one person was standing. So that way someone didn’t come back down and stick a finger in my CO’s chest and say, “You need to evac that lieutenant right now!” Because in the middle of [a] RIP, that’s not going to happen. If I do that, I’m going to put my boys in bags because they don’t have any leadership. That ain’t happening. I owe the parents of this country more than that."
That I really had to stop and stare and re-read the paragraph to make sure I understood what had happened.
That is horrifying but the worst bit is I can sort of see the reasoning behind it, but bloody hell...
I know this happens/exists, but I have not seen it in my country. There are people who simply will not read what they are signing, but having to sign something that is factually wrong or impossible or without having the option to read it hasn't appeared to me yet. While anecdotal, I would have expected to see this as well if it is as widespread as I'd expect it to be. (I sign about ~10 things every week which might be on the low side or high side depending on job/location/context)
i.e. the nature of these problems may stem from other forms of inefficiencies.
In the work camps on the Alberta Oil Fields, there are literally signs up in front of the all of the pissoires instructing men on 'what angle to hold your penis at' so as to avoid splatter. I'm. Not. Kidding.
Can you imagine the site Engineer signing off on the bathrooms, possibly knowing the 'how to hold your penis' safety posters have not been issued yet?
1. Nobody seems to notice or care.
I did this to a bunch of minutiae, misspellings, wrong addresses, etc. They do make it into the scanned copy and as far as I'm concerned, the record. But nobody seems to notice or care that it got changed.
2. "Let's talk about it but I still want your business."
I crossed out some things about data sharing that I disagreed with on some insurance forms. I got a call days later that someone noticed this. It sounded like they had a protocol for handling it. This felt like a, "there's an option to decline but we won't show it to you; you have to ask for it" kind of thing.
3. "You just ruined this 30 page document."
Okay so she didn't say that, but she did have to make an effort not to sound irritated that I crossed out some stuff. The resolution was a polite, "this is non-negotiable by the lender. If you don't agree, then we won't be confirming the mortgage today and you won't be closing today, leading to an expensive breach in the contract with the home seller." She then re-printed the sheet I "ruined" and I initialed it.
He stands up, and says incredulously, "That is completely ridiculous. I sold reddit for a lot more than price of that house, and the contract was only a few pages. What the hell is in that packet?!" I couldn't help but agree with him.
If you just buy the house like you buy anything else, everything is negotiable.
Did you waive your financing contingency?
>"Zoon tribes are very proud of their Liars. Other races get very annoyed about all this. They feel like the Zoon ought to have adopted more suitable titles, like ‘diplomat’ or ‘public relations officer.’ They feel they are poking fun of the whole thing."
You may be dealing with them more than you know. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farang
A job I worked at required that I acknowledge having received and read a pamphlet on sexual harassment in the workplace. My understanding is that it is a requirement of the state of CA that employers distribute such a pamphlet. The state even has a stock pamphlet that fulfills the requirement, though employers are free to substitute their own. My employer wanted me to acknowledge that I'd received the one via the HR website … except the link caused 500 Internal Server Errors.
I reported this, and even noted that if the link just goes to the standard pamphlet [and I linked to that] that we could consider the defect in the website "cured" and I could sign and life could move on. That part of the message got ignored, of course; the people responsible for the HR site are like "well it works for us?", and of course there's still pressure to sign a statement that I've read this thing.
All of that after I explicitly asked for any and all paperwork that would require my signature up front before becoming an employee. (This was, of course, not included in what I was given prior to starting.)
I'd be interested in what would happen if you pushed hard on this point. Giving people surprise contracts after they have quit their previous job, moved their family and acquired a new house should not be acceptable.
If what you mean is "this policy sounds reasonable, but I cannot sign anything sight unseen" any reasonable HR will just print (scan / email) you a copy of anything they want you to sign. My 2c.
If the company actually cares about keeping you and they have any sort of leeway as to changing the policy, they will listen to why you can't agree to it.
I agree in spirit, but I suspect this would almost never happen: companies who care and track employee signatures on a bunch of HR policies tend to be large and inflexible (smaller companies would often make some blanket blurb "thou must read and comply to policies that you can find <here>" and move on -- they have technologies to develop).
Using your leverage as an employer to change the terms of the agreement immediately after the agreement has been made is unacceptable. It might be legal¹, but that doesn't make it right. And when you present subsequent legal agreements after I've started my employment that I "must" sign when I explicitly asked for them up front (and even when my employment agreement states that this is "the entire agreement" too!) — I mean, the company might as well put on their best impression of Darth Vader "pray I do not alter it further".
There's also the point about asking for HR to send you a copy. I actually did that in the case above, and it just never happened; HR wants you to go through the website, for everything. It's incredible how dead set some people can be, because "that's the system"! The entire thing was inane, and so fell by the wayside, and was forgotten about. About a year later, someone new took over, audited their predecessor, found out I hadn't signed, and sent an email "Hey, we noticed you never signed that you've read the pamphlet, can you sign?" and attached the pamphlet as a PDF to that email. Since that rectified the error (I now had a copy of the pamphlet) a signature was given and life went on.
¹IANAL. I honestly don't think "we won't fire you" should be valid as consideration in a contract. Thus, such agreements lack consideration, so they're not valid contracts, signature or not. I think some Canadian courts have agreed with this, but alas, I'm not in Canada. I'm still at-will, so IDK if it really matters per se, given what at-will is.
If you consider only what has changed from the original agreement: the company gets whatever it is you're signing the document for. You typically get nothing, aside from getting to keep your job. It's in this second agreement that I just don't find a compelling argument that "keep your job" (i.e., wages) suffices as "consideration". If you do, it's effectively reneging on the original deal, and trying to replace it with a new one that's not as good for the employee. Meanwhile, the employee has likely left their previous employment, and is at a huge disadvantage to walk away at this point. Particularly so when a prospective employee asks for anything that requires a signature up front, and when the documents in question use legalese like "this is the entire agreement". After that, there shouldn't be any more agreements unless something actually changes.
No employment, problem solved.
So we all just refused to sign the contract change.
The situation stalled for a few months, and they eventually backed down and wrote in a clarification. This was the UK, so we actually had rights and couldn't just be arbitrarily sacked, and everyone was aware that pursuing individuals over this would lead to a mass exodus and the destruction of the company.
The contract was so broad there was no way it was valid. The kicker was she was withholding my standard'ish larg'ish bonus. I just walked and finally she came around - took years for us to mend our relationship.
You don't have to say anything, life can be like a game of poker. If your perception of reality is correct, you gain outsize influence, if it is incorrect (or more specifically "can't gain consensus") then you are poor or are imprisoned or killed. Do you gain a benefit by informing someone else about their perception of reality?
I primarily try to be rich enough to exercise my perception of reality in appeals court, because thats the only place it really matters.
Signing it knowing I was in the clear was the best of a couple bad options.
Finally I told her 'I feel like that check your holding is already mine' - aka your on the verge of theft..
I immediately spent the next month negotiating the bonus into the base pay. Took a few years to regain trust and now I'm at a glass ceiling (which I won't complain about but feel fortunate about)
I also remember a company that I worked for where every week, you had to sign a paper showing you worked 8 hours each day for a total of 40 hours, regardless of whether you actually worked more or less. This was for a salaried position with no overtime so it didn’t really affect my compensation. I tried correcting the numbers and HR said you can’t change them. I pointed out that I’d be lying if I signed it unmodified and the response was I’d be terminated if I didn’t sign. So, of course I signed it but it seemed like such a pointless exercise.
A year or so into the new job, the CEO emailed everyone in the company a restrictive NDA, non-compete, non-solicitation contract and told everyone to sign it. It included language about theft of company forms or documents among other things.
I looked at the metadata of the contract doc and the "company" tag was the CEO's previous employer. Which told me that the CEO "stole" the doc from his previous company, and was asking everyone to sign something saying they wouldn't do the same.
Because of that I decided not to sign it. Several other colleagues refused it too. No one was terminated, but there was a large staff exodus shortly after who were solicited by another former employee. I stayed on another 6 months to finish a project but left after that to join my former coworkers.
I would have been open to signing if I was compensated for it, but that option wasn't on the table, and I wasn't willing to restrict my future ability to find work with no benefit to me.
Lesson learned: Reusing legal forms from old companies can cost a lot more than a proper lawyer review would have cost. Don't take shortcuts when signing OR asking people to sign a legal document.
No issues came up but I've since felt vindicated in doing a close reading of anything more important than an EULA.
It’s usually enforceable but it’s also almost always negotiable.
1. UTMB Galveston was indemnified from her mistakes by her employment contract;
2. She owed me something like 60000$ in unpaid compensation, and that the State of Texas would probably penalize her another 250-500k$; and,
3. A cursory investigation showed that there was probably another several million in fines & compensation, outstanding in the complaint, that she would have to pay.
We "settled" with an official apology, an official write up in her permanent record, & a change in policy. (She quietly "left" shortly thereafter.)
If you have to track your hours to be paid (or not terminated), then you are by definition not a salaried employee: you are hourly. The way the FLSA works is it asks how the employer treats the employee — if you're treated like you're salaried, then you're salaried. Legally, there's no notion of 'salary' and 'hourly' outside of this. (Ignoring all the real complexities of the law.)
Requiring an hourly worker to falsify statements of hourly work is a serious crime. The repercussions are pretty crazy.
For a low-level manager?
That's insane and I'd be shocked to see that hold up in court.
> Requiring an hourly worker to falsify statements of hourly work is a serious crime.
Maybe, but it's also one of the most common non-punished crimes in the USA.
I wouldn't. In the United States, you don't screw with labor law. Pay your employees late a couple of times, and if the right bureaucrat finds out, your company is gone.
Every law firm I know of has their associates keep track of hours and all are on salary. I assume the lawyers know what they are doing.
I'm not sure if this theory would actually prevail in an unemployment hearing - it varies significantly by state - but the business loses nothing by trying.
But who knows, the court system is so in the pocket of employers in stuff like this and it's so expensive to litigate in the first place it never really happens unless you've got a huge organization with deep pockets.
The worst one was where during the interview, the interviewer specifically warned about the dynamics of the place: "we serve at the pleasure."
And indeed we did. The owner expected bizarre rigid behaviors. For one, everybody clocked in/out (a question that didn't occur to me to even ask about), and if you clocked in >5 minutes after when you were supposed to start, you had to go to HR and sign a document explaining why. This was a development gig.
We also had to watch cartoons made by the owners wife. Absolutely bizarre place. I made it about 6mo before getting the hell outta there.
The other notable "small shop" experience was when I stopped getting paid on time and the company credit card started getting declined.
MegaCorp1 is nice in the way that the others were not.
I'm ok with my compensation, and have no real complaints, except the lying to authorities pay.
This is in a FAANG company, but a European subsidiary.
It was required by federal contracting rules/law/whatever that our timesheet reporting be accurate. The spirit of the law was probably "don't charge us for time you didn't work for us", which is a reasonable requirement.
The problem was when I worked 70 or 80 hour weeks. I didn't get paid any more, the company didn't get paid any more (I have no idea how or why, I didn't do project or program management, so I have only the most cursory knowledge of the different flavors of the main contract types in defense contracting). I was just trying to follow the law and whatever agreements I had signed. Seems pretty easy, pretty cut and dry, right?
Nope. I was working on two projects - we often did this. 90% on one, 10% on the other, usually in some sort of super specialist role where you help with one specific aspect you might be good at and free up other devs' time to focus on the actual dev, not things like Decision Analysis and Reporting plans for your CMMI compliance. The problem was the percentages were fixed. That means if my 90% project was in crunch time, and I worked a 70 hour week, even if I still did the normal 5 hours for the 10% project, it didn't work out that way. They normalized all the hours back down to 40, so the normal 5 ended up looking more like 3. Shouldn't be a big deal, but different contract types, different budgets not burning at the right rates, blah blah blah blah blah.
The result was they asked me to work a proportionately increased amount on the 10% project, as well. So not only was I putting in an extra 30 hours a week for no extra pay, no benefits, no tangible rewards in any way, but they wanted me to do even more of that on the other 10% too.
> All extra hours and overtime [...] must be announced to HR department before the 10th of the following month
> Any hours that are not announced respecting this time frame will be excluded from any form of compensation.
Almost always, it won't hurt to ask. I've gotten approval to cross out some of the clauses when it didn't matter to the employer. Ex: ownership of work clause when I wasn't in a position providing work; but they wouldn't let me cross out asymmetric notice clauses.
I also neglected to sign an NDA for about two years once; I was asked to sign and scan prior to employment, but had some equipment issues and was told we'd do it on the first day, but it was forgotten, until investors wanted to see that everyone had an NDA prior to the next round of investment.
Different companies are more or less zealous in how they collect documentation for these tax deductions. I've worked for companies where management just "handles it", and it's invisible to employees. I've worked for companies that not only make salaried employees log hours, but also do separate them by project code (with some codes being "operational" and other "capital").
Why isn't this a good reason to file a wrongful termination lawsuit?
My biggest concerns are outside contributions and IP. Personally, I don't believe in Software Patents for the most part, and will not give up rights for stuff I build on my own time.
The general pattern for this sort of thing is that a different person from the one who got the complaint comes by and reminds you you haven't signed the form, and HR is breathing down their neck now. And if you explain about the error, they might reasonably say "well, if it's the same form as the one you did read, then who cares?" After all, it's not their form, they're not asking you to lie - just pointing out the same sensible thing you did in the first place. In the most extreme case, a bunch of people would ask this, none of them would ever push back up the chain, and if you refused strenuously enough you might get fired for "failing to sign the sexual harassment form" (or more likely, for no stated reason). Nobody's going to ask for a lie, they just ignore the problem and keep repeating the initial request. That doesn't necessarily make it legal, given that the complaint was raised, but it makes proving the misbehavior enormously difficult.
I don't remember who said this first, but the miracle of bureaucracy is that it can create causeless effects. A bunch of people make a bunch of reasonable, innocent-looking decisions, and somehow they all add up to "lie or get fired" without anyone ever having to say it.
(This might be legitimately less true for more entry-level jobs, which is why we have unions. Pushing back against unreasonable transfers of burden from the company to individually-low-power workers is basically the entire point of unions.)
Precisely. If I had to guess which group of people get fired or penalized for this sort of thing most, I'd go with "shift managers". The shift manager at a fast-food franchise might have the most power in the room, but they don't have local control (i.e. ownership) or corporate power (i.e. any say in company policy). If somebody at the head office screws up like this, their options are to fire the person who won't sign, or complain upstream until they get fired.
If replacing people is a lot of work for the company (and especially if its not that hard on those replaced), these things tend to take care of themselves. If everyone is in one place and talking, sanity tends to prevail regardless. But when costs are low and power is sufficiently indirect, there's no guarantee anyone with a say in the matter will give it any thought.
If the organization gets big enough, it's very possible that things simply become both mandatory and forbidden, and no one with the power to fix it cares enough to do so.
Naturally I asked him to print out a copy so I could read it before signing. While I was reading the document, to make some small-talk I asked him how many people in the years he'd been there have actually read the contract they signed. His answer? 0. I was the first.
This reminds me of the Feynman story where he agrees to do a talk - but only if he doesn't have to sign his name more than 13 times.
They almost make it.
I've also received countless "confidential, do not forward. We just posted on our public blog <TL;DR of blog post>"