What Should I Do About This Terrible Workplace?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about toxic workplace:

My workplace is described as “toxic” by every former employee I have ever met. Here are several issues I am having trouble with, and it all stems from the boss being racist, sexist, jealous, insecure and a poor communicator. 1. Rule changes to “show who is the boss”. The entrepreneur CEO of a small private corporation is a poor communicator and changes rules on the fly seemingly with no reason except to prove who is in power. It cost me sales commission.He changed the rule while I had a two-day vacation and gave the sale to a coworker. When I politely asked about it, he accused me of gossiping and rumor mongering, manipulating and trying to take credit for other’ ‘sales. All I did was want to know what kind of rules changes there were on territories that had been assigned to us. It was obviously done because he got angry at me a few weeks back and was holding a grudge.

2. Badgering subordinates who hold a different political view from him. I am known in the local community for taking leadership positions outside of work so it’s difficult to conceal which party I choose. I get berated constantly for that, and questioned about current news events with obvious intentions of trying to get answers that could be ridiculed.

3. Boss is joined in by coworkers in playing videos on the Internet that mock my ethnicity. They do this one desk over from mine.

4. Boss makes fun of gays in front of everyone.

5. Makes fun of my faith because of a religious item I had.

6. I offered to buy my coworkers a coke, and daily I said good morning usually with no response. I tried to be friendly, helpful and efficient with my work. I kept up with this despite being given the cold shoulder, and even being treated with hostility. The others were kind and friendly to one another but if I spoke a word to them they made it clear I was intruding.

7. I am not going to try to compete with 24 year old females with bleached blonde hair, mini skirts, and pride in former sorority memberships. The men get offices and the women get a barnyard. They embarrass me with revealing clothing, which spurred the boss to talk with a coworker about her body parts when he thought everyone else was gone. I never said a word about overhearing that conversation, but I did hear her encouraging him.

Signed, Beyond Frustrated

Dear Beyond Frustrated:

If the company is large enough to come under EEO guidelines, it seems that you may have some legal recourse based on the things you have mentioned–especially if you have proof of sexual,racial, religious or ethnic harassment or discrimination. You might want to consider seeking a free legal consultation to consider if, on the surface, it appears you might have legal or civil recourse. Or, contact your federal or state Civil Rights office, or Equal Employment Opportunity Office. You do not need an attorney to contact those offices to talk about filing a complaint.Apart from that approach, based on what you say about your boss, coworkers of both genders and the overall environment, this doesn’t appear to be the right place for you to be working. Dr. Gorden often advises, “Vote with your feet.” That may be the only way for you to find a better workplace. If the owner of the company approves of the culture and work situation–and contributes to it–and if other employees support it and encourage it, the odds are it will not change. The company may go out of business, you may receive some legal or civil remedy, but continuing to keep working there really isn’t an option.

Your actions should be focused on deciding whether or not to attempt legal or civil action, or just quit and move on to someplace better. If you are going to talk to an attorney or to an EEO counselor, have a timeline and all the evidence you can muster, ready to discuss. If there were witnesses to wrong doing, list their names even if you do not think they would want to testify. If you have contact information for former employees who had the same situations, give their names. If you have emails or similar documentation, save that and share it with the attorney. It seems unlikely that there is absolutely no one else in your office who will talk to you. If there is anyone who seems to share your views, list that person’s name as a possible witness.However, you will also need to check your own behavior and performance, because that will be brought up if you take legal or civil action or complain more formally.If you have done your best to communicate about your concerns, and have sincerely tried to be a team member, then it seems you have done all you can do. You have no higher authority to go to–the CEO is the top ranking person.

You seem to have no coworkers to support you in a mass complaint process. So, it seems you have few choices other than tolerate it, try to take legal or civil action about it, or leave.I wish there was some magical solution for this problem, but it doesn’t appear there is. Please seek at least an advisory phone call with an attorney or contact an EEO office, maintain your network of friends outside work, and put your focus on finding a better place to build your career.Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.