Woman Machinist Fired!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about gender discrimination & wrongfully terminated: I was fired yesterday-because I wasn’t coming along fast enough. I told them it was unfair; it was discriminatory and they damn well knew what I was lacking.

If you can, give me advice. It would be much appreciated. I believe I have been the victim of gender discrimination & wrongfully terminated. Scratch that: I was the victim of gender discrimination and I was wrongfully terminated. This is a fairly long story.

After almost 20 yrs away from machine shop work, I decided to go back to it in 2002. I returned to the company I had trained at, back in 1973. They were glad to have me; I did well. I rotated thru several different departments and did well in each of them. I am a machine operator, what I was doing was production work and in process inspection. My last supervisor was teaching me as much as he could–including setting up the two machines that were ‘mine.’ He left and a month later I left also left to go to a smaller shop closer to home, for a bit more pay.

During the 3 months I spent there, I was relentlessly bullied, insulted and blown off about safety issues. It was a horrible place and I meant to leave as soon as I found another position. This did not happen. Because of a bad, dangerous set-up on a drill press that had no guards, I had the hell torn out of my left index finger. The first thing the owner did when confronted with my injury was to start screaming that it was my fault. Because of the most inept first aid I received, the damage is permanent and cannot be repaired.

This is just the physical damage-emotionally. I was so traumatized. My self- confidence became non-existent and I began suffering from physical complaints that severely impaired my performance at my next job. I was laid off from there for ‘lack of work” and immediately began looking for work. I have this little thing called a mortgage. I posted my resume online and was approached by a company that has government/military contracts. I explained that I was very honest about what I could do and could not do; about what I knew and did not know. I was told that they preferred to hire people that knew little so they could train them their way. I was supposed to work half my shift training on the CNC machinery and the other half training on manual machinery

I have never seen the likes of or worked on in 25 years. My so-called trainer had a thick accent, was impatience and a bad temper. He was out and out insulting by the end of the third night. I stayed out the 4th day with a severe migraine and called later in the day and complained tactfully and as politely as I could. Looking back, I think I was expected to quit, at this point-but I was given another mentor, to train on the manual machines and I tried. I tried very hard. The fellow who was training me told me that at least six months was needed to learn the basics and that he was being pressured to have me running a machine and set up by the end of the second day. I know what I did not know. I was told repeatedly that the company was losing money when someone was training me. Am I being unreasonable or stupid to feel that perhaps I could not be blamed totally when I would go mentally blank and be unable to recall the next step in an operation? That I was given a completely ridiculous timetable, to meet and that I was being pressured to meet it. I was told I would be trained. I was told that I knew as much-or as little as some of the men they hired. I made some progress and I made mistakes. Was it expecting too much to want a teacher, who did not have a thick, foreign accent?Both men who trained me did.

I was fired yesterday-because I wasn’t coming along fast enough. I told them it was unfair; it was discriminatory and they damn well knew what I was lacking. The gang of three firing me told me the owners had made the decision. I told them, the owners were assholes. Guess what? their feelings were hurt! I was told to seek further training through the state of CT. As the state of CT had decided through two hearings that the jerk owning the factory I was injured at, despite being cited by OSHA for 8 serious violations, was supplying me with “suitable work” and that I had left his employ for no good reason. I do not have a great deal of faith in anything the state has to offer. Somewhere have I mentioned that I was the first woman hired for this position? I hope you can make some sense out of this. I believe I was hired because this company was being pressured to hire a woman. Due to equal opportunity reasons I was given unreasonable expectations to meet and, set up to fail, so they cld say, “See! We tried to hire a woman, but she couldn’t do it. So we had to fire her. This is gender discrimination; it is sexual harassment in the sense that I was denied the training I needed. This was a wrongful termination. So now what?

Signed, Fired

DearĀ Fired:

Thank you for writing to us about your concerns. We don’t often immediately suggest an attorney but that appears to be a necessity in this case. The situation is certainly too complex–and too important to your future–for us to want to give you advice without knowing all the details and the state-specific laws pertaining to it.

There are several difficult issues involved, starting with the first job, in which you were injured and continuing to the current situation. Any of those issues need good legal advice.In your first job, it seems you certainly have suffered permanent injury because of unsafe conditions. In the current situation, you certainly seem to have not been trained appropriately and not given a fair chance to learn. Whether or not that is based on gender or just poor management, would have to be proven. You did not cite clear indicators of that, but perhaps it can be shown through conversations, written information and other documentation, if it actually occurred. If that employer has government contracts, there may be additional protections for you as well. I do not know the status of your type of work regarding labor union affiliation, but if you are a member of a labor union, perhaps they would have resources or assistance regarding this issue. At this point, you will need to find a job too.

Your physical injury, combined with the emotional upset you’ve gone through may make it difficult to get back to the work you’ve been doing. That is another reason to see an attorney about this matter.Attorneys will provide a free consultation meeting, so you could take the information you have and ask what they think are likely to be your options. Find an attorney who specializes in worker injuries and ask for his or her assistance to get a fair hearing of your situation and financial recompense to allow you to make up for the losses you are having over this matter. Best wishes for finding both a legal and personal solution to your situation. Fighting for your job is more than just thinking of yourself. It can be important to creating a WEGO workplace.

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.