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PSA to people being harrassed at work

Ok, on several occasions I've heard stories of blatant harassment happening at the work place and I'm simply flabbergasted that so many people either (a) don't know this is illegal (b) don't know what to do when it happens and (c) give bad advice to people when it does. So as a public service announcement, from the perspective of someone who knows someone at HR and who plans to attend law school in the fall (in other words, someone who hardly knows any better their damn self) this is what you should do:

If someone is making you feel uncomfortable at work or at school:

1. It does not matter what they are doing.
2. It does not matter what they are doing.

I don't care if they suck their teeth when you walk by or if their nickname for you is Coony McNiggerson. Whatever it is that is making you uncomfortable should be addressed. You decide if the work environment is hostile, not  your supervisor, the person harrassing you, or your cousin's best friend mookie from down the street.

Your first step is:

1. Address the person in writing (or record your conversation if you must)
If the person is so hostile that you do not feel comfortable addressing them, address your direct supervisor. Who ever you talk to, make it clear what actions make you uncomfortable and that you want them to stop immediately. If you recieve no response, e-mail them or write another letter.

If nothing happens after talking to the person and your supervisor once:
1. Go one step above to the boss or the boss's boss. Same complaint, only this time include the fact that no action was taken from the first complaint. Be sure to document everything, including the way you are treated after you make your initial complaint. Write everything down, the date, and the time it occurs and any witnesses to what toook place.

If nothing happens when you contact your boss's boss:
1. Go get yourself a lawyer, you have a suit on your hands. I can't give advice on what to do next, other than to document, but your lawyer should be able to help you.


If you get fired, you have an even bigger suit. If you are treated worse, you have an even bigger suit. Don't be afraid of being fired or treated worse, because the more shit they do to you, the worse it will be for them. As long as you document everything and take the proper actions (i.e. you don't retaliate or act a fool yourself), you are golden.

I may not know what the hell I'm talking about, so HR people and lawyers do chime in to correct my mistakes. But even if this method is not perfect, it's a hell of a lot better than what it seems like other people are doing. People really need to become more informed of their rights. It's sickening the kind of shit that takes place that goes unchecked.

Note: I understand some people may be upset about having to deal with the confrontation or having to work with the people you complained about after the fact. But you have to learn to stand up for yourself because no one is going to do it for you. Yes, it may be hard to work in a place once you've stirred the pot, but I guarantee it would be harder if you never did.

And to those of you who get pissed off and want to kick someone's ass the moment they piss you off--that ass kicking/ cussing out will fade quickly and they will go back to being the same person they were before (and you may be out of a job because of it) but if you get the problem dealt with through the proper channels, you won't have to deal with it again...or at the very least, you'll be sitting on a nice settlement from your lawsuit.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 8th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
Good advice. I went to that website and found this:

What Are the Time Limits for Filing a Charge of Discrimination?

All laws enforced by EEOC, except the Equal Pay Act, require filing a charge with EEOC before a private lawsuit may be filed in court. There are strict time limits within which charges must be filed:

* A charge must be filed with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to protect the charging party's rights.
* This 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. For ADEA charges, only state laws extend the filing limit to 300 days.
* These time limits do not apply to claims under the Equal Pay Act, because under that Act persons do not have to first file a charge with EEOC in order to have the right to go to court. However, since many EPA claims also raise Title VII sex discrimination issues, it may be advisable to file charges under both laws within the time limits indicated.
* To protect legal rights, it is always best to contact EEOC promptly when discrimination is suspected.
* Federal employees or applicants for employment should see Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Processing.
Jan. 8th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
When blatant discrimination and racist stuff was going on at a former employer, I was told by a bunch of people to contact the EEOC. I was too embarrassed to (I was in the center of a storm and not thinking clearly), but really wish I had.
Jan. 8th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
Make sure you keep documentation of what is going on, complete with names and dates. Write it all down; things become real when they're written down.
Jan. 8th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
Yep. I was called a coon by my supervisor and I contacted the EEOC about it. My GM is French and Spanish (personality-wise, he's proper but hood when necessary) and was away in Minnesota on business when he found out, and he was FURIOUS. This was the breaking point where I found out who my real friends were at work. So many people were furious with ME for getting upset that they wouldn't speak to me anymore. "She didn't know any better."
Jan. 8th, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and it's a good thing you found out who those assholes were up front, and that you know your GM is on the up and up.
Jan. 8th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
Well watching my mother go through several jobs where she felt harassed and taken advantage of, I have to stress the fact that you need to DOCUMENT your experiences. Hoping that when you finally can't take it anymore people will back you up isn't going to get it. Your boss is in a much better position to have people defending them, ditto for coworkers who are harassing you. It's better for your job to squash harassment charges so whether or not they are true, they'll probably dogpile you. The only thing that can keep you golden are meticulous records of your attempts to correct the problem through the system. You can't even win on Judge Judy without documentation of who you talked to, when you did, and what happened.
Jan. 8th, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
Preach preach preach....
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 8th, 2007 04:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for providing more information. I thought that maybe the person should contact the EEOC before the lawyer, but I wasn't sure.
Jan. 8th, 2007 04:38 pm (UTC)
with respect to recording conversations, check out the laws in your state first. in some states, like california, recording someone without his or her permission will get you in trouble.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 8th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
I work for a EEO company and one of things that we cannot stress enough is DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Write everything down names, dates, times, emails, memos, faxes etc etc; it doesn't matter how small it is. It will help your case.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 8th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
The fact is your employer can fire you for good reason, bad reason or no reason so long as they don't violate the law

Sad but true, especially in "At Will" employment states such as California. Also, in terms of who will settle, it's simply a matter of how good your case is, and if your empoloyer would rather fight you or just make you go away. I've been considering going after my former employers but the fact is, I know it's an uphill battle.
Jan. 8th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
It's really not as easy as going to Human Resources. Human resources is generally there for the protection of your EMPLOYER, not you. Sometimes they will advise management about possible exposure to liability. Everything you say may be repeated to the people you are complaining about. They may be given an opportunity to cirle the wagons whilst you are thinking the HR is working on it for you.

Another adivsory on top of documenting make sure that you are an impeccable employee during this time period. Never late, never leaving early, if you're out sick even for one day bring a doctor's note, no office gossip. Because the spotlight will be on you.

I have done a variety of things over my work life. I have

a) let things slide.

b)got angry and confronted someone directly

c)filed internal grievances with reams of documentation.

d) filed a wage claim with state because a boss that I complained about f*cked with my final check.

Nothing really changed, until the 156th person comes up with the same complaint or the white girl gets harrassed. Wage claim was cut and dried and I got my money. Meanwhile, everything I do is under a microscope. I usually just end up quitting because life is too short and I'm usually paid too little.

A sexist, harrassing boss I had was eventually fired, the one person who filed suit was dragged through the mud. Basically, she was offered her job back and some back pay. She declined and next thing you know the agency's lawyers are digging through her work history, her personal relationships, everything.

Don't even get started about how about harder this is with the race and gender thing. My thing is along as you can afford to lose the job, then move forward with the complaint process. My experience that a place that allow harrassment you isn't necessarily the best place to work.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )