Can We Defuse A Hostile Work Environment?

Question:

Where do I locate information and skills to defuse a hostile and possible explosive work place environment?

In our current situation there is a hostile environment, a toxic waste dump site if you will. It seems to grow at alarming rate, and we want to get rid of this before it grows out further into the facility or before something escalates into a violent episode.

We are lowly hourly employees, who have to cope with this and want so badly to change it; to change the environment to one where you are afraid to go up into the lab for fear of what will find or what will happen next.

Yes, two of us have presented HR with a proposal to blend into 5-minute safety meetings some training techniques for anger management and other useful techniques that have been found in books and on websites. Since we have just gained approval from HR and are scheduled to give our first “retraining talk” Monday. So far two immediate supervisors and our Safety Manager seem to be behind us 100%. This one segment of our team is made up of three very strong personalities–two who seem to want everything done their way and the third that runs with one who shouts the loudest. Each of the three believe that they are “right” and “in charge” There is no teamship, no understanding, and communication is limited to the one who is loudest. This is not a good work environment at all. Gossip, innuendo, backbiting, and finger pointing are rampant.

Two of us have been researching, searching and asking for help, for support and ideas to promote harmony and end to the hostility. I have been searching help on the Internet. Since we are two hourly employees presenting this proposal, we have no financial resources at our disposal at this point. Perhaps that is what impressed out HR Manager thus far. However, we need more training and education to better enable us to destroy this emotional toxic waste dump.

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Shocked By Co-worker Alienation!

Question:

Please help in any way possible, this is a highly complicated issue that is also very stupid. I am an American male, working for an American contract company, outsourced to an American Investment Bank located in Japan. I made friends with a Japanese female coworker; our friendship was 100% non-romantic. We got into an argument at work, and she asked me to stop bothering her at work. I apologized, and left her alone. She complained to her boss. Later that night she sent me a personal email (home email to home email), indicating that she was sorry for complaining to her boss, that she wanted to remain friends, and that there was some misunderstandings between us. I replied (home email to home email) and told her that I would also like to remain friends and clear up any misunderstandings.

The next day her boss complained to my boss. I explained to my boss what happened, and everything seemed to be fine. I left her alone at work. I received another email from her over the following weekend (home email home email) explaining her position and where she believed our misunderstandings were. I replied with a similar email (there was no animosity on either end).

The next week when I returned to work, there was another complaint from her supervisor. Basically I was continuing to contact her at home, even after I was asked to leave her alone. The first complaint was easy to explain and caused no serious problems for my position, company, or my office relationships. It took three days to sort out as she refused to accept that I would leave her alone (though I was never allowed an audience supervised or unsupervised with her).

The few people in my office, who were friendly to me, are now openly hostile, I was expecting a wage increase (per the terms of my contract) and that was denied. My credibility in my company has decreased, and to tell you the truth it’s really hard to come to work. I also believe that she will not be satisfied until I am fired, though at this point I may be paranoid. Is there anything that you can recommend I do? Or anyplace I can go to find out more about my rights? Thanks.

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My Boss Promoted And Then Demoted Me!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about stress of being promoted:

I have been working in a furniture sales store for 5 months. I started out here as a cash-wrap girl, doing office work and taking money. Within two weeks the owner (the man who hired me) decides without talking to me about it, that I am going to be the assistant manager. And he tells the sales associates this.

Let’s just say this didn’t go over well with anyone. Let me remind you that I have no more that 8 months worth of sales experience (at Home Depot no less). Of course my ego got a major boost, but it put me right in the line of fire for all kinds of verbal and emotional abuse. Within two-months and much abuse, I get promoted to the sales floor part-time. My boss says I’m a natural. This causes even more problems. Two sales people start verbally attacking me with unwanted comments and sarcasms on a daily basis. Needless to say I want to quit.

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Co-worker accuses me of hating her

Question:

I’m been working with this particular coworker for six years. We were friends until after she became pregnant and started accusing me of hating her. The more I tried to tell her that what she was thinking wasn’t true, the more determined she became that I did hate her.

Eventually I couldn’t take any more so I ended the friendship. A few months after I ended the friendship she took me to HR saying I had threatened her and that I didn’t want to work on any projects with her. She had no proof of any of this, but to solve the problem we were given ground rules to follow. I have followed these rules but my coworker is still not satisfied. It seems like every other month I receive an email from her being accused of “disrespecting” her in some form or fashion. Just yesterday she send me an email asking me to stop giving her “nasty looks.” This was after she passed me in the hallway with her head down. I’m not sure what to do about this. I’ve shown a couple of the emails to my manager but he suggests I ignore them.

This is becoming very frustrating. I don’t know what to do anymore. Should I do as my manager suggests and ignore it or should I go back to HR with the emails? If I go to HR there is a possiblity one of us will lose our job and I don’t want that; I just want her to leave me alone. Confused and Frustrated

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Falsely Accused of Harassment

Question:

I’ll get right to the point: I’ve been falsely accused of sexual harrasment at work. Now, this individual is watching my private “online” life as well in order to search for evidence. I get so angry everytime I hear about it in the local rumor mil that I just want to quit but I know that would just give them the satisfaction of seeing me ousted. The bosses are not on my side and so far there has been no official word. What should I do?

Signed,

Job in Jeopardy

Answer:

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Asked Too Much About OB Leave Date

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about expected birth date:

Is it legal for employers/supervisors to constantly ask when your OB DR. will be restricting your work or “putting you out”.

Signed, Tired of being asked

Dear Tired of being asked:

It would be frustrating to be asked frequently about your leave date, but it is not illegal unless some aspect of it is a violation of EEO laws regarding making your work life harassing, clearly based on your gender or pregnancy status.perhaps you can lessen the asking somewhat. Get a letter that states exactly when you will be likely to leave. Don’t rely on your verbal statements, instead get the letter. Have your doctor put in the letter what work restrictions you’ll have before then, if any.Then, submit the letter and explain how frustrating it is to be asked over and over about it. Say that you will be working right until you need to leave.If you have already submitted such a letter, ask if there’s a reason they keep discussing it with you.

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Employees refuse to be retrained

Question:

I work in a small pharmacy where it is my job as pharmacy manager to ensure people get the correct medicine and advice. The problem I have is two counter assistants who believe they have all the answers yet do not know the simplest of things. The solution I feel is to retrain them both at the beginning so I ordered a new starter induction pack and have given these to both the employees. One employee left hers at home so I had to give her a spare, her response was sarcastic at first but she has settled down and is getting on with it. However when I asked how the other persons pack was getting on the response was “I have worked here for 3 years and am a fully trained counter assistant’ yet this person couldn’t tell me what a fully trained counter assistant should know. This then resulted in her telling the other employee “No other shop I’ve worked has ever done this’. The other employee agreed and stopped doing her work. I need some advice on how to deal with both employees, especially as I need to give some more training to the unreceptive one D

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