HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT--please read and advise

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by SweetT, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. SweetT

    SweetT New Member

    Hello everyone,

    My attempts at gathering empathy from a coworker backfired.

    I am currently a teamleader on my job and there's this one woman on my team who gives me heck all of the time. Her latest drama was requesting that the supervisor move her from me to someone that she sits closer to, because she said after 3 years, she's too old and tired to be having to walk close to me. The chick is only 3 years older than me.

    Let me give you a little background info: My supervisor is a man who doesn't run his unit---------he lets his unit run him. Whomever moans and yells and complains the loudest, gets their way. If everyone is moaning and yelling and complaining, it's survival of the fittest. Our unit is broken up into 5 teams of 3. He does not make people sit close to their teamleaders----------he lets people sit close to their socializing pals, which means that some teamleaders get stuck walking back and forth to communicate with their team.

    Anyway, I sent an email to my supervisor telling him that if he grants her wishes, I'm requesting that in the future, my teammembers sit close to me, as I'm the one with the pain and fatigue issues (which he is well aware of, because of numerous meetings).

    Also, I sent a reply to my coworker/teammember, telling her that I've been having a hard time also, as I'm disabled with pain and fatigue issues. I ended the email with I hope that it works out for both of us. She replied by saying that it's unfair for her to have to choose her seat because of my disability.

    Oh well, it is what it is. Just in time for the supervisor and manager to be able to turn me down for one of the supervisory positions!!!!! She (my teammember)always picks with me when she sees me trying to better myself. I think that one of the bullies in my unit put her up to picking fights with me.

    Do you think that her email trail, especially this one, where she said that it's unfair for her to have to choose her seat because of my disability, evidence of a hostile work environment and enough to have a strong case with EEOC?


    I have a trail of nasty emails from her, and written replies from the supervisor, with this and other situations, where he did nothing to rectify the hostile work environment. He continues to let the unit run itself, but mostly be run by bullies. He refuses to man up and exercise his supervisoral rights, unless they are against me :)
    [This Message was Edited on 09/15/2006]
  2. IndianPrincess

    IndianPrincess New Member

    Just saw your post and right now I don't have adequate time to answer but I wanted to respond quickly.

    First of all, looks like you have an incompetent manager who lacks the skills in handling disputes.

    Secondly, when I was a board member of the Cleveland Chapter of "9 to 5" we had an investigator from the EEOC come an speak to us annually about various discrimination issues and what evidence the EEOC needs to make a case against a company.

    She informed us that you can't sue the government in discrimination issues. A shock!

    Unfortunately, you work for the government. However I feel you should contact the EEOC and find out what your rights are!

    Thirdly, the Cleveland office of the EEOC is grossly understaffed and fileing a charge through them may harm you more than help you.

    You could have the strongest evidence ever presented but because that office is so understaffed, there is no guarantee that they would persue any action and may send you a right to sue letter putting the burden and expenses on you and you certainly cannot afford that.

    Finally, keep documenting and also work on your resume. It may be in your best interest to move on.

    Keep us informed!

    Cindy
  3. alyssalyn

    alyssalyn New Member

    saw your try at the HTML coding for Bold print didn't quite work.

    It's because you should not leave any spaces in between the < and the letter b. In the example I read, it was only that way because if the person had not left spaces between the characters you would not have seen it at all, it would have been invisible and then made whatever word it was around bolded. also, at the ending b, then a forward slash goes before the ending b (not a backslash after it). Then it will work. :)

    < b >Bold< /b >

    Love,

    Alyssalyn
  4. makezmuzic

    makezmuzic New Member

    For the last two days I've been going through grueling interviews by a Shrink workers comp sent me to. I was taken off work status by my MD last november due to major fibro, RA flares that had me eating codine all day for the pain and sleeping from the moment I got home till the next am. My inflammation stats were so high, my MD said I was inflammed down to my connective tissue in my ribs and lungs. My boss & co-workers attitude had me crying nonstop at my desk for two months.

    The WC claim is a stress case based on my boss not approving of my medical appointments and harrassing me to the extent of looking through my garbage can to find things to argue with me about. She sat 6 feet away from me and would send me pages of emails all day long telling me how I left out a decimal point somewhere. I kid you not. I kept them all.

    And THAT is one of my points - document every thing!!! Photo copy, forward emails home, follow up any unusual requests with your own email confirming their requests of you. And don't make the same mistake I made of being quiet and just baring it. Go to your dept suppervisor and ask their advice on how to make it a win - win situation, that you have tried your best and what do they suggest. I also went to Kaisers depression classes. Employee conflict res training. ANy thing you can do that shows you are trying to work on a solution.

    My second point: I know you need the job, but this stress will weaqr your health down!!!! The longer you stay there in a toxic environment, the more it will sink into you. Run for your life. Please!!

    Take care, I feel for you.

    MM

    She started harrassing me in march of last year, gave me a horrindus job review (hand written on yellow paper) badmouthed me to the point of my becoming scapegoated and shuned by my coworkers.
  5. makezmuzic

    makezmuzic New Member

    .
    A bully coworker is an emotional vampire.

    Please get out as soon as you can. Now that you have found her out , it will escalate. They hold on to resentments forever!!!! Act nice and just take it underground. Thats how bullys are.
  6. Mini4Me

    Mini4Me New Member

    I stayed in a toxic job environment for 12 years, and it nearly killed me! I retired (filed for disability) in August, and I can't believe what a luxury it now is to lay in bed when I'm in pain rather than deal with an unsupportive, rude boss and immature, self-serving co-workers.

    The environment was killing me. I didn't even realize how detrimental it was to me until recently, when I was able to relax in my own bed at 2:pm one day, with not a care in the world (other than dealing with my chronic pain).

    Yes, I'm broke, but I'm getting my "spirit" back. It was literally killed in that awful job invironment.

    Yes, I was different than the others, and different can be very threatening to the average insecure worker out there. What happens is, everyone turns on you because you are different and therefore threatening to their sense of belonging.

    Very sick, but it's the way it is out there in the viscious job world.
    Mini
  7. makezmuzic

    makezmuzic New Member

    Mini, that was beautifully put.

    "Yes, I'm broke, but I'm getting my "spirit" back. It was literally killed in that awful job invironment."

    Your Spirit! Yes, thats what leaving my toxic job environment gave me back. My friend even commented on how I was back to my old self again.

    "Yes, I was different than the others, and different can be very threatening to the average insecure worker out there. What happens is, everyone turns on you because you are different and therefore threatening to their sense of belonging."


    That is so true. It felt like I was back on the school yard being tawnted by a circle of school mates because I was "different"!! You would think people would grow up. I have read that we are the people we will be even as young as the 2nd grade. Once a bully, always a bully.

    Again that you for describing what I went through so well. You didnt work for UC Berkeley did you? LOL!!!!

    MM
  8. SweetT

    SweetT New Member

    Plus I have minor children. So I don't want to put them through living a hand-to-mouth existence when they've become so expensive.

    Without any kind of short-term disability or a husband, the options are very limited, if not nonexistent.
  9. IndianPrincess

    IndianPrincess New Member

    I'm e-mailing you the name of my attorney friend Caryn Groedel but get prepared to find another job because by fighting this legally there will be more problems!

    Follow through with Caryn. By not doing something you are exasperating the problem and not getting results.

    You've got the evidence NOW and you are an intellegent woman whose skills are in demand by better employers and you need to act on that NOW!

    Because you are my friend I am pleading with you to take some sort of action rather than spending the time on this board venting.

    This is making you ill and your kids don't need to suffer because you are ill. Staying at that job is making you ill and fighting them is making you ill.

    Is it best to move on to a better job where they will respect you and hopefully pay you more or be fired?

    I know from experience!

    Cindy
  10. joanng

    joanng New Member

    I don't dare tell my boss or co-workers what is really wrong with me. I tell them I have "back issues" and I love it when they say "you should really take care of that" and "when are you going to get that taken care of". When I need to call in sick, I use the usual excuses, stomach virus, flu, head cold, etc. Even my doctor told me not to tell them the truth. The sad part is when I am sick they don't ever show an ounce of compassion....especially my boss! He has his favorites....I had no voice (it just disappeared) for 2 weeks. I came to work every day and he nor anyone else in the group said anything about it...as soon as a co-worker got a case of the sniffles, he was all over her, saying she sounded horrible and needed to rest, etc. I just shake my head. I don't get it. There is definitely a double standard here and I've learned the hard way not to trust anyone in my group. I too have e-mails that are nit-picked apart for the dumbest things and I just started keeping copies. In the past, when I asked him why he seemed to pick on me and my work and not pick apart others and their stuff, he told me it was none of my business and I should stop looking at what he was or wasn't doing with others. He said I must have 'father' issues????? since I always thought he was picking on me. The funny thing is even my untrustworthy co-workers have commented on how he likes to pick on me all the time!
  11. musikmaker

    musikmaker New Member

    A lot of very good advice here. I agree that staying in a toxic environment will play havoc with your health. I also finally retired after a major flare knocked me down.

    The environmnet I worked in was very toxic and I shouldn't have stayed as long as I did. I was afraid to move on.

    I understand needing a job. Maybe you can't retire but consider finding a new job in a environment that is not toxic for you. Good luck!
  12. kellygirl

    kellygirl Member

    of a bully for a boss. If you read my posts, I only lasted about 5 months. I will not allow myself in that environment because it does make me sicker and I worked too hard and long to get to where I am at.

    I would rather claim bankruptcy than to go through that. It also reaks havoc on someone's pride to be bullied. It crushes the spirit of the person being bullied.

    I do empathize with you and whish you all the best.

    Patti

  13. SweetT

    SweetT New Member

    Yes, I am not one to wallow in self-pity for long. I have already determined to make looking for a full-time job a second full-time job. I did a resume for my last interview----but then I had to get rid of that computer and didn't save it to disk.

    I am registered on a few job search boards, in addition to checking out the want ads. I am going to start networking.

    I have gotten lead for a job that I can do from home, making $8 an hour, for extra money, or as an option if I either get fired or have to quit for my health. If the ex gets on long-term disability somehow, which wouldn't be dependent on whether or not he could work (since for some odd reason he won't retire), I could cut down to a part-time schedule for about a month and rest up plus look for another job.

    That was my original plan anyway-----------to go on and take some much-needed time off if I didn't get the promotion. But then the child support stopped.

    That brings up another quick thing. Whenever I feel trapped, I wallow in self pity, briefly, until I find a possible way to regain power. I am petitioning the court in the county where I live to take jurisdiction of my child support order, because that would be closer to my home, instead of closer to my job. That way, Management wouldn't be able to use the enforcement of my child support case as a weapon of retaliation and discrimination, as they did with others. There's no guarantee that the judge will allow the transfer, but I have to try.

    If I don't find another job within 30 days (and I know that even the best search can take 6 months), I'll enroll in school (even if it's a community college course), just to enrich myself. Lots of people on my job just use the job as an income source while they are in school--------and not just 20 year old college kids, but 45 year olds changing careers, etc.

    Thanks for your tough-love advice Cindy. I can take it.
  14. TXFMmom

    TXFMmom New Member

    Hostile work environments refer to sexual harassment, but it can be expanded to include disabilities.

    There are excellent books on this, check your local library, and call the EEOC and get literature from them.

    They do have to make REASONABLE work changes for disabled individuals, AND THIS WOMAN NEEDS TO BE MOVED TO ANOTHER TEAM AND LET HER START MAKING PROBLEMS FOR THEM.

    She does not, LEGALLY, HAVE A RIGHT TO GIVE YOU A HARD TIME OVER YOUR DISABILITY, AND HER STREAM OF ABUSIVE E-MAILS WOULD BE ENOUGH, SINCE THE BOSS DIDN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT TO MAKE A CASE AGAINST SHE AND THE BOSS.

    The problem is, does it bother you enough to make your job untenable?

    In the end, it may just be better to send a very well composed memo to the boss of the department, mentioning that this team member has been abusive of you in your communications with him, and with you, and that since you have a recognized disability, that it would be in the best interests of everyone if, perhaps, she had policy and common decency and work-related issues re-examined by HR, or whomever handles those affairs. Be polite, stick to policy, and don't criticize the boss, only point out that this type of behavior undermines his position, his authority, your position, your authority, and the overall functioning of the department, etc. When you make it about the manner in which the person IS DISRESPECTING HIM, AND THE POLICIES, THEN IT IS SOMETHING WHICH HAS TO BE ADDRESSED IN ORDER FOR HIM TO SAVE FACE AND POWER, AND POINTS OUT THAT WHEN YOUR POWER AND INFLUENCE IS WEAKENED, SO IS HIS.

    In most organizations of any size, this type of disruption and INTENTIONAL TAUNTING and misbehavior, leading to a hostile environment, would, after all be grounds for dismissal, and since you have a trail in her case, then PERHAPS SHE NEEDS TO BE REMINDED THAT SHE MAY BE OUT ON HER OLD BUTT.

    Once he is put on attention that THE SITUATION EXISTS, IS AGAINST POLICY AND GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS, AS IN AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, ETC. AND THAT YOU HAVE REQUESTED THE MOST MODEST OF CONSIDERATION UNDER THAT, then his neck is on the line in the event of an EEOC thing.

    BEFORE EEOC, GET YOUR DUCKS IN LINE. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. I am not sure what your company's policy is in respect to line of report, but make sure you have COPIES, DATES, RECORDINGS (YES, THOSE POCKET RECORDERS WHICH LOOK LIKE SMALL CELL PHONES AND BEEPERS ARE THE BEST LINE OF DEFENCE EVER, AND IN MOST STATES THEY ARE PERMISSABLE WITHOUT LEGAL NEED TO ALERT THE INDIVIDUALS), JOURNALS, LISTS OF WITNESSES, COMMUNICATIONS WHICH YOU HAVE BETWEEN YOURSELF AND THE EMPLOYEE, ETC. ARE INVALUABLE IN MAKING YOUR CASE.

    In the event that you must make calls from your cell or home phone to your boss or this individual, find out what state law is in your state about recordings, in some, as in TX, only one party member of the call must know that the recording is taking place. Some companies have policies about recordings on their equipment or phones, so know yours.

    Keep a recorder unobtrusively located in your work area, and if you anticipate problems with this person, put it on voice activated, on the surface, or in a pocket and record her. No one has a reason to expect privacy if the conversation is not requested in a private, secure area.

    Once the boss had been put on notice that you think that her behavior is creating a hostile environment for you, he may, by policy have to report it upward along the line or to HR, to Cover his behind, and unless this person has something unique, then they will probably squelch the whole thing as quickly as possible by bringing her in and updating her on the policy AND THE LAW.
  15. IndianPrincess

    IndianPrincess New Member

    I don't want to see you destroy yourself because of this job.

    I became totally disabled and now have a heart problem due to the unnecessary fightinmg to get a reasonable accommodation and the resulting retaliations.

    I wish I had listened to my gut when I pulled into the parking lot for my initial interview.

    Cindy

    P.S. Did you contact Caryn?
  16. Noahvale

    Noahvale New Member

    I have worked in a very hostile envornment for a long time now,and I always thought that maybe it was my personality or something that I did wrong. When I mentioned this to a employee that I worked with and trusted she said that she noticed the same thing too. She said just sit back and listen to the conversations around you and act like you don't know what going on and you'll see the real picture. Well, I took her advise and she was right. There are people that I work with that will say anyting about anyone to get what they want and will step on anybody to get it. Recently I have been let go from my job because I finally stood up for myself. I probably shouldn't have because now I don't have a income now, but ya know, I feel good about what I done. The advise that I can ngive SweetT is Don't tell anyone about your health problems. It does affect the way you get treated at work and possible promotions that you have coming. I learnt this the hard way. It is sad that we all have to be like the rest and not not be truthful about our personal problems but the way I look at is we are not at work to talk about our personal problems, we are there to collect a paycheck and go home to our families.

    I am so glad that I have the chance to lay in bed and rest and just be me and take care of me for once. It is a good life even though I don't have money I am finally happy and stress free!

    Thanks for listen! My Prayers are with you SweetT. Good luck!

    God bless,

    Noahvale---Kathy
  17. SweetT

    SweetT New Member

    I informed my employer of my disability (not specifically but the fact that I have an ADA-qualifying disability) and submitted documentation, to protect my job.

    Now I know for sure that I was passed over for the promotion. I know that it had more to do with my track record (standing up for what's right) than my disability, because one of the people promoted has an ADA-qualifying disability. They want people who won't question their lying and making up rules as they go along.

    Well, they've just lost the loyalty of this one.

    So I've determined that if my employer would go to that much trouble (making sure that they hire someone other than me with an ADA-qualifying conditon) to make sure that any lawsuit by me would not turn up successful, they're not worth my hard work anymore. It must be a higher power's way of telling me to let the job go---------it's not even worth the fight. So I am now actively looking for other employment.

    I really thought that I might get the promotion because of the fact that my child support suddenly stopped, after 10 years (and using the God-doesn't-close-one-door-without-opening-another reasoning). Now I'm facing possibly having no income, high rent (because renting a nice apartment in a suburb with an excellent school district is much more affordable than private school), and two teens to raise.

    IndianPrincess, I didn't call Caryn yet. I know that I have to go through EEOC first, and get a right to sue letter. But yes, I know that I need to meet Caryn and have her ready to take my case, if she were to choose to do so. And no, I did't take your words as harsh. It's just that my situation is a harsh reality. It is what it is. No need to sugarcoat it.
  18. starofsd

    starofsd New Member

    It's amazing how people do not acknowledge others with disabilities even though it's a federal law that we can't be terminated, picked on, overlooked for promotion, etc. I worked at a bank for several years. When my fibro really got out of control it was my low back and would put me out of work for 4-6 weeks. My supervisor actually told one of my co-workers that I was probably faking it so I did not have to go to work. I was finally terminated in 2004 with the excuse of downsizing even though my seniority should have bumped another with less time on the job. I didn't argue because I was so sick it would have taken too much out of me in the long run. I hope things for you get better, it sucks to be sick and trying to keep your head above water.