Workplace Alienation

Question Ask the Workplace Doctors about sexual discrmination: He eventually gave the issue to our HR representative who handed it off to our EEOC representative. I have everything documented. Currently, HR and our EEOC branch are reviewing their findings. I guess my question is would be, Am I on the right path with workplace alienation?

I’ve been working for my company for five years. When I first started working with the company, I expressed a desire to advance, learn the business, and eventually move into management if the opportunity presented itself. I received my Masters in Business in 2004, and thought joining this company would be a good move. I agreed to enter at a lower level to learn the business. The policy for new hires requires an individual to hold their position for a year before they can apply for a new position. During the beginning of my second year, we had a reduction in force. Our workforce was reduced by two thirds and I survived the cuts. It took another year before we started opening new positions in our company. Those positions were to fill some of the positions we had lost during the reduction in force (RIF).

When the opportunity for a position that I was qualified for appeared, I had confidence I would be promoted due to my hard work during the reduction in force period. I was wrong. The individual who was promoted was one of the people we hired after the RIF. He hadn’t even been in the position for a year. During my interview, the hiring supervisor stated, “You will never be promoted, or move on in this organization. If you want to apply for positions outside our group, I will write you a letter of recommendation.”

My immediate supervisor was the second person present during the interview and said nothing. Both supervisors knew of my personal issue, which involved my responsibilities to my parents as their sole caregiver. It was not an option for to relocate. I was angered by this, but decided to prove him wrong by applying for all positions I was qualified for as they appeared. I unfortunately did not get the “you will never be promoted” statement in writing in an email, nor did I respond with an email repeating his statement. I figured that if I applied for enough positions I would eventually be hired for at least one. If not, I would be able to show a trend, and began documenting.I have applied for seven positions over the last 2 ½ years. New positions have been slow over the last couple of years because of the economy. My company actually has been reducing the size of our staff, so a new opening is rare. Of the seven positions all of which I was qualified, four of the positions were filled by external candidates. After the final denial, I decided to approach our Human Resource department about the issue. I had proven a trend, and was a bit frustrated by the excuses I was hearing from my supervisors. I couldn’t even get a response when asked by email for the reasons I didn’t get the job, or what qualification I lacked so I could improve my portfolio for the next interview. So I figured I could add some more self-directed classes to my list since, in the last five years that I have been with the company, I have not received any formal training of any kind to help direct or develop my skill for my current or future positions.

Others from my department have received training, and have been promoted. After I contacted Human Resources, my District Manager spoke with me about my issues. I had simply asked him to explain to me why I had been passed over for seven internal positions. He could not give me an answer.

Explaining my fears, I felt there was some form of discrimination going on. I had no idea what kind, but some form. Being the only open homosexual individual in my group, I wanted to make sure the lack of opportunity was not coming from someone’s bias. We spent several weeks bantering back and forth with emails. He checked my personnel files that are kept at our local office and at corporate. He found there were numerous awards in my files and no complaints. He eventually reviewed my 50-page portfolio of my resume, diplomas, letters of recommendation, and self-directed classes from our corporate site to help beef up my qualifications. He eventually gave the issue to our HR representative who handed it off to our EEOC representative. I have everything documented. Currently, HR and our EEOC branch are reviewing their findings. I guess my question is would be, Am I on the right path with workplace alienation?

Signed, Not Promoted

Dear Not Promoted:

Your detailed story of being passed by concludes with a question of discrimination. And it is a matter that is now in the hands of HR and EEOC as it should be. Apparently, you have carefully documented your efforts to apply for jobs within your company and the pattern of rejection. You have now to cooperate with their investigation and await recommendations. Meanwhile, you had best continue to perform your assignments professionally.

From this distance, we can’t determine if you have a case and we don’t give legal advice. However, it seems to me that you are justified to learn if your sexual orientation has prevented you from promotion, and if EEOC and HR don’t provide a satisfactory answer to this matter, you can seek outside legal counsel. I appreciate your persistence and conscientious effort to acquire the qualifications for your chosen career path, and from what you report your good work has been recognized.

I also respect your sense of responsibility as a sole caretaker of your parents and I understand the difficulty that would make should you relocate. Therefore, I trust that you can hang in there and that the investigation of discrimination will enable you to advance your career. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, might seem like an empty benediction. But I hope it rather is a prelude to good things for you.

William Gorden