Sexual Harrassment And Retaliation

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about sexual harassment and retaliation: They made comments to a man in another department portraying me as a slut that chases men and screws around. I have never done anything to justify their comments. I have been very uncomfortable and crying a lot.

I am the only woman working with 14 men. Two of these men don’t like me at all. One of them was written up for cell phone abuse and they think I had something to do with it. They made comments to a man in another department portraying me as a slut that chases men and screws around. I have never done anything to justify their comments. I have been very uncomfortable and crying a lot. I went to another of our stores to get advice from a woman in management. The woman, who took my personal cell number I gave to her, was upset and told her male manager what was going on. He told my boss in a staff meeting what was going on.

My boss comes back, takes me in his office with another male manager present and cusses me like a dog. He was using the f-word and he made me feel like I am the one at fault. The other manager present is a close friend with one of the guys that is running his mouth. I went to the Dr. and am on nerve pills just so I can work. I can’t afford to quit my job and I’m afraid. The woman I talked to said she understands how I feel and that I have clearly been harassed. She says if I decide to go to HR, she will go with me and back me up. I don’t want to make matters worse but I’m a nervous wreck. Also my boss is on the board of directors. What do I do while I try to find another job. I like my job and wish I could stay but I don’t see how I can.

Signed, The Only Woman

Dear The Only Woman:

You feel so alone and are working scared. Work is hard enough without being harassed and blamed for complaining. Rather than being attacked by your boss for seeking advice from a woman in manager in another of your stores, your boss should have launched an investigation and made sure that you are protected from retaliation for making a complaint. I’m sure you have thought again and again about what you might have done, if anything, to provoke sexual harassment. Don’t allow your boss or others to blame you for it.

Should you go to Human Resources? Yes. But make both an oral and written a request for an investigation for sexual harassment and working in a hostile environment; using those words. You can say that what has occurred has been stressful and adversely affects your work. Stress that you like your job; however, state that the hostility has been hard enough on you that you have sought medical advice. You need not give all the details to ask for an investigation. Also now take time, to the best of you ability, to log the incidents (with approximate dates, contest, and names of the person(s) who said what and who might have witnessed, be precise as possible of the language used) that caused you to feel singled out as less that a respected coworker. And be sure to describe the occasion of being called in and cussed out by your boss and another male manager. Make several copies and keep them in more than one a safe place, until you are assured that a fair investigation will be made and that you will not be victim of retaliation. HR should see to it that if you report certain individuals have harassed you that those individuals are separated from you.

Charging sexual harassment is stressful, but so is it to be the target of harassment. If your employer doesn’t find a way correct this situation, you can consult an attorney.Meanwhile avoid obsessing and gossip with others about it both at work and home. As much as possible find ways to do things that refresh you; choir, reading, dancing, workouts, walks, yoga, hiking or biking with friends. Feel free to write us again. The wisest woman I know, my associate workplace doctor Tina Lewis Rowe, might have additional advice. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. In short, work should be a place you want to go to and feel a part of doing something that makes this world a little better. You deserve that.

William Gorden