Harrassment?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about bully manager and discrimination: they constantly belittle me and talk down to me, and the manager just laughs with them.

I have been working in a new job for three weeks now. I don’t mind hard labor. The rule book lists things you are not supposed to do. I followed them, but the manager constantly belittles, talks down, and has even shoved me a few times. The employees themselves crack explicit jokes about me and tease me about my beliefs. Yet out of respect to the manager and the workers, I say nothing because they would cut me off. The manager happens to be friends with the other managers and the owner as well, so I have no other choice but to leave.

Is it just me being sensitive or was this really harassment? They make sexual jokes that make me uncomfortable, and when I respond, they shout out to other people to stop talking because I had special ears. I’m 25 years old. My boss is white and I am Asian. If I am in my boss’ way because I hang clothes, my boss will shove me. If I hung something wrong she will throw it on the ground for me to pick it up or snatch it out of my hand. At one point, she called me blind because I missed something, and then she accused me of stealing. The rule book says you are not allowed to curse and harass, but it seems like it’s the total opposite.

She pulls me out in front of the employee’s and yells at me and curses. I cannot tell the other manager because she is friends with all of them and even the owner’s wife. Every manager that comes in there knows her. There was on occasion where I had to leave because you are not allowed to be in that area for more than 10 minutes so I gave the pen that I had to the other manager. Because my boss was not there, the next day she said that if I did it again she would look at me like I stole it because she couldn’t find it. There have been moments when she just walks up and grabs me trying to be affectionate. There’s nothing I can do but leave because everyone here is her friend and lets her do what she wants. I’m at the point where it makes me uncomfortable to be here. Other employees seem to be upset because the last worker there left, yet they constantly belittle me and talk down to me, and the manager just laughs with them.

Signed, Just Sensitive?

Dear Just Sensitive?:

No one should have to endure being cursed, the target of sexual jokes, belittled and shoved. Some of the criticism, throwing a garment on the floor and shoving by your boss are not harassment in themselves, but when included with cursing, sexual jokes, belittling your beliefs and shoving they constitute more than simply bad bossing behavior. The fact that you are Asian makes this a situation of more than bullying by a boss and verbal abuse by coworkers because you are Asian and your boss and other employees are white. We provide advice about communication, not legal matters. An attorney might advise you if what you are a victim of a hostile environment and sexual harassment. She/he would require a careful description of the instances in which you were the target of each of these acts. Although what your boss and coworkers have said and done is disgraceful and hurts you emotionally, seeking a legal remedy entails a lengthy and difficult remedy, and could put follow-up employment at risk of you being perceived as a trouble-maker. It is understandable that you fear voicing you discomfort to a boss and owner.

You have rejected telling them what has occurred because you assume your boss and owners would not acknowledge as true what you say happen. You must decide if it is best to bite your tongue and steel yourself until this abuse stops or to speak up against it. The option of a face to face meeting with your boss and owner is what I recommend. In such a meeting you should frankly and firmly describe the behaviors that have made you feel uncomfortable. Use the words of verbal abuse, sexual harassment and hostile environment when describing each incident. Stress that these acts distract from your commitment to do the work for which you have been hired. In this country, the law states that owners and managers are responsible to do all that is reasonable to prevent and correct a hostile environment and sexual harassment. This is clearly stated when this occurs toward one of a different race, national origin, religion and sexual orientation.

I predict that if you persist your owner and boss will strive to correct these acts that have created a hostile environment. Correcting them won’t occur with one meeting and in one quick fix, but respectful communication should gradually become the rule if in deed you are seen as a valued hard worker. The other option is for you to look for work elsewhere.

Below is a list of Questions and Answers in our Archives. Read a few of them to get sense of what we have advised. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way of suggesting that placing blame is not what you want to do so much as you simply want to join with all in your workplace to make it productive and worker-friendly.

Dating Coworkers

Did I Create A Hostile Work Environment?

Dating Coworkers Policies About Personal Relationships

Discrimination My Boss Dislikes Christians. Hostile Workplace?

Discrimination Immature Racist Remarks

Discrimination Diversity in the Workplace Discrimination Racism

Other Personnel Matters Can We Defuse A Hostile Work Environment?

Troublesome Coworkers Hostile Work Environment.

Troublesome Coworkers Belittled And Put Down By Peers

Troublesome Coworkers Hostile Workplace Physical & Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harrassment Stinks

William Gorden