Boss Discriminating Against Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a new work situation in which a boss is perceived as unfair and demanding:

To just give you the back story, I was working at a company which bought another company, and I got transferred to this new merger. Since the day of my transfer, people at acquisition have been causing lot of troubles for me.

There is one old lady who is friend of VP. She doesn’t like me. She’s is very powerful in this new merger because of this VP, who is also from new acquisition. She yells at me, withholds information, and treats me badly.

I have been complaining to another VP against her. Proper action was taken, but she has allies and has turned everybody against me. Then she assigned a supervisor over me. Now this supervisor makes my life hell, discriminates me, sidelines me, doesn’t let me get involved in important projects, and clearly treats me badly.

One time she told me switch your job if you can. She spreads rumors that I am not able to do my job properly. I have complained to HR about her and requested that they change my department. Unfortunately, HR referred my request to that old lady VP’s friend. Please suggest what should I do in this situation? Things are really horrible for me in this job.

Signed, Causing Me Troubles

Dear Causing Me Troubles:
Let me see if I understand what you have asked because of a merger of your company. You ask: What should I do? But you have already answered your question by complaining to a VP that was not a friend of this older woman supervisor who you say “yells at me, withholds information, and treats me badly.” And you report that this was handled properly.

However, that didn’t solve your mistreatment. Instead you report this older woman, let’s call her Jan, “turned everybody against me. Then she assigned a supervisor over me.” This new supervisor, you say, “makes my life hell, discriminates me, sidelines me, doesn’t let me get involved in important projects, and clearly treats me badly.” In short you have had two supervisors you feel discriminate against you. But you have complained again, but HR turned back your request to Jan. So you conclude that “Things are really horrible for me in this job.”
Our site is committed to helping employees and their supervisors to understand how communication and behavior can enable a collaborative, satisfying and productive workplace. There is little doubt that your situation is far from that goal. You might be correct in blaming it all on two bad supervisors. If that is the problem, there probably is no way to change that, unless you change.
What should you do now? As an outsider, I see you have two options:
1. Shape up to satisfy those who supervise you since this acquisition or
2. Seek work elsewhere.

I sense you won’t like these two options. You’d like a way to stop the yelling, withholding information, treating you badly, spreading rumors, discriminating against you, sidelining you, not allowing you to get involved in important projects, and to not be told you are unable to do your job properly. In short, you are right that this is horrible. Your workplace suffers from incivility.

But let’s face it: you have complained and although that was, as you say, handled properly, the end result is that you “feel everyone was turned against you.” You might not like to have your rant about this horrible situation repeated. Nor will you like to a face up to this situation. Hope of a resolution, I fear, is not something you can persuade HR to do.

Option 1. Shaping up. From here, it’s impossible to know if you are competent, cooperative, and cheerful—are the kind of employee any place needs, especially after a merger. Therefore, might it be past time to look in the mirror and to see if you add value to your company? Do you produce products and service that meet standards and please internal and/or external customers? Do you cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy and rejects? Possibly rather than complaining, if you indeed, want to keep your job, ask for guidance—ask for specific things you have done wrong and for training so that you might be more competent. Also bring suggestions that might improve your own work and your work group. Ask for advice about this job and what training might lead to a career.

Option 2. Seek work elsewhere. I know good paying and enjoyable jobs aren’t easily found. Therefore, if you determine that finding work elsewhere is the only way to not continue in this “horrible workplace”, quietly begin a job search and prepare a resume’ while doing the best you can to cope with and make the best of your current working relationships. Don’t gossip and badmouth. Don’t complain. Don’t roll your eyes and frown when given assignments. Just do the best work you can until you have a new offer in writing.

A third option is to carefully log in writing specific times, place, and actions (with witnesses) that were taken against you and to request an investigation. I don’t recommend this because you probably are seen as a complainer after having complained twice.

Don’t take my advice without thinking it through and consulting in confidence with someone you respect—someone who wants the best for you and who will help you see yourself as you are as well as the kind person you want to be. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way of suggesting achieving what you and your workplace want is success for all who are engaged there.

William Gorden