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Retaliation after sexual harassment complaint turns ugly

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Question: “I’m an EA. Two years ago, I filed a sexual harassment complaint. My boss immediately retaliated by changing my hours, banning me from the kitchen and restricting my entry into the main office while he kept an open door policy for men. I filed a grievance and now I can enter the kitchen, but I am still not allowed to eat there. Prior to the complaint, my personnel file was squeaky clean; I was praised and given a classification increase and raise. My complaint changed everything. My boss set new work demands that are impossible to meet. He drilled me on why I am documenting gender disparity issues with my union rep. I explained that documentation is not a personal attack against him. I don’t want to be anyone’s doormat and I know I have to take this to resolution, but I need some tips to help survive. The hostile work environment is affecting my health but I cannot retire for four years.”  — The dog my boss kicks

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

The dog my boss kicks August 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Everyone’s input is appreciated. Cymon, I already took the steps you discussed. An attorney is in the wings should conciliation efforts fail.

Lisa they moved me to a different building but I still work for the same boss. A manager in this building told the Township Supervisor that I work hard and have been a very positive, motivating person who has brought out the best in the people I work near now. When my boss attempted to ostracize me at my new office, a manager here told my boss that he lost his opportunity to keep me caged up when he moved me out of the station. He told my boss that my boss threw me out like the trash and finished by saying, “Your trash is now our treasure. You blew it. Then he told my boss in so many words that he would not take part in isolating me from everyone.

I started a BE POSITIVE calendar for the people who work near me. Now even managers ask me for the word or thought of the day. It started when I told them that I came from a hostile work environment that is very stressful. I told them I had no personal agenda other than to be myself and help us work well together and appreciate each other’s unique abilities and personalities. I said we can make the most of our days, but is soley up to us to commit to bettering the work place and the services we provide to the public.

Thank God! The people over here are maleable. We are growing in a positive way each day.

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The dog my boss kicks August 22, 2011 at 7:55 am

My boss has a bad habit of talking to my breasts. Even so, that barely touches the reason I filed the sexual harassment complaint. My boss did retaliate. He did attempt to separate me from all of the men in my department. He has often said there are 16 men but only one woman. It is easier to control one woman than 16 men. This is paraphrased from various comments and actions my boss has taken.
The problem with his thinking and action is that it does not hold the men accountable. It also serves to punish the victim. If there was a murderer on the loose, you contain and punish the bad guy and you do not put the victim and potential victims in jail. My boss once told me boys will be boys. I expect them to be held accountable so the entire department of men will become honorable men. People look at these men as heroes. Many are. But some are despicable and coddled within a good ole boys man cave where 'boys will be boys' is cultural within this department.
There is absolutely no excuse for them acting like women have lesser rights. I will take this as far as I have to in order to improve my life and the lives of women like me all across the United States for generations. This was done on my cell phone so please overlook any typos if any.

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Lisa August 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm

A lot of your story doesn’t really make sense, especially given that you are a union member (see Cymon and Martha’s questions). But your question sounds like, “how do I survive in a stressful work environment in the meantime while I am working on all of the other stuff?” And in my personal experience, the best answer to that question is to focus on positivity. Know that whoever is out to get you or make your life miserable can only succeed if you let them. Only you can decide how you are going to react to things and which emotions you are going to focus on. Accept what things are not under your control (other people’s behaviors and attitudes) and instead focus on your own. Reward yourself for staying upbeat and positive, and soon they will be their own reward. Good luck with all the legal stuff.

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Martha August 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I agree w/ Cymon’s comments. I would also make sure you are documenting all of this harassment/retaliation. Be sure to discuss these with your union rep, I’m shocked your boss still has a job. Many companies will terminate if there is a HINT of retaliation.

Good luck!

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Sympathize August 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

You are in a very bad situation that you probably can’t win. You are definitely a victim of retaliation. Whether this incident happened with your direct boss or someone else within the company, the ultimate job of any HR Department is to protect the company, not the employee. I’ve been told this by two separate HR people at two different companies. So watch out. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

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Cymon August 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Not knowing all of the specifics …

1: What outside agency did you file a sexual harassment complaint with?
– If you have only filed it with Human Resources and they have not acted on it, then you need to escalate it to a state agency.
2: How do you know what’s in your personnel file? You can obtain a complete copy with a written request to Human Resources. Also know (tho this may not help right now), via written notice, you can have anything in your file older than three years removed.
3: No one should know what you’re doing in terms of documenting incidents of sexual harassment. Documentation is crucial and should not be kept on company equipment (computers).
4: See a doctor regarding your depression and have him also document your condition as it relates to your work environment
5: Seek the legal advice – Most Attorneys will give you at least a 1/2 of free legal advise. Just make sure you’re prepared and your questions are very direct. Anything after a 15min- 1/2hr session and they will want a retainer.

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Debbie August 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Follow-through with the harrasment suit and get the heck out of there. I cannot believe you are being restricted from the kitchen. Honestly, sounds like your boss and your HR department need to be educated but you are paying the price for their ignorance! I wish you the best!

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-- The editors, Business Management Daily August 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm

celt365, I don’t think her boss is the man who sexually harassed her … but he is the one who is retaliating. I think her boss is trying to keep her apart from the one who (allegedly) did by restricting her access to the kitchen and main office entry…

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celt365 August 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm

My question is, why are you still working for him? After a complaint, especially two years ago, why is he still allowed to have contact with you in any capacity? I would insist on a transfer to a different boss (different department if needed) since the harrassment has continued in a different form. By the way, the kitchen is a common room. You should be able to access it unrestricted. That too is harrassment. Apparently sanctioned by your HR department. Something to think about.

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