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Workplace bullying. or something

The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
edited March 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Son of a bitch having to make this thread is like my second-worst nightmare, next to that one about the giant monster made of cheese and twizzlers.

Ok, so I'm having a little bullying problem at work which could quite easily be construed as sexual harassment.

Some context: I work in soil science, with some lovable scamps who I usually get on with quite well. They're not exactly progressive, but hardly One Nation members. They have a hate-on for paperwork and "political correctness". Basically your average middle-aged white Australian dudes.

They tend to assume the worst of people because it makes them feel ok about themselves, and have a habit of revving people up with whatever they know to be a chink in the ol' armour, because they like that uncomfortable look people get. It makes them giggle. And I can normally live with that - I know what drives it, and I have some sympathy, and I like them even when they act like they're still in the tenth grade. Plus, they're pretty funny most of the time, and most importantly, they're competent at their jobs. If they weren't, I'd be a lot less tolerant.

So they know that (a) I'm a lady (the boobs are a giveaway) and (b) I'm a bit of a lefty in terms of social policy (cue audience laughter!), and for years they've been able to have a little go at me, knowing that I'm a good sport about it. I'm the only chick in the office, I have to be. I've gotten really good at walking that fine line where, when they make a joke about women drivers, I can get my lol's on while still giving the impression that I'm not actually on their side, if you know what I mean. We can even have political discussions without setting the room on fire. Seriously, you'd be proud of me.

I'm fucking militant about never letting them see me upset about anything, and about never ever letting my gender get in the way of work duties (we work out in the backblocks long hours, sometimes you have to pee in the bushes, and Never Talk About Menstruation). I go to the gym to make sure I can keep up with them physically. I will stab myself in the throat with a pH meter if I ever blame my actions on "my hormones" or cramps. Let's leave aside the fact that I shouldn't really have to police myself like that, and accept that I'm not one of Those Women In The Workplace.

So the last few weeks have been a veritable mardi gras of shit for me. Moved out on my own, a week later the house flooded thanks to a storm and some badly maintained gutters, the phone company tried to screw me and I spent a fair chunk of yesterday playing verbal ninja with a sales rep (I won, but it was exhausting), my ex-flatmates owe me a large amount of money and are unaccountably slow about paying it off, etc etc abloo #firstworldproblems.

It was International Women's Day a couple of days ago, and I bet you can see where this is going. Some daft fool at work was passing around those "Women Can Do Anything!" stickers, which to be frank belong in 1975. I don't need anyone to tell me that shit. But one of the office dudes, not sure if it was Supervisor or Not-Quite-Supervisor or someone else, took it upon themselves to obtain a sticker and change the Can to Can't. And then Supervisor put it on my desk and stood there and expected me to have a little chuckle and maybe make a little joke about them being insecure in return, rev and rev about.

And I didn't.

Because I'm stressed as shit, I pointed out that this was a dick move, especially since (a) only chick in the office, (b) two of them present, one of me, and no-one else nearby, (c) I have to help them with a huge amount of computer and procedural shit that they refuse to learn, and (d) we'd been talking about my imminent payrise and how to get it through management with least fuss that fucking morning.

Proceed to Supervisor loudly telling me to "get a life" three times, and to "fuck off" once. In an open-plan office which we share with a number of other groups, including people from other government departments. I maintained that it wasn't ok to do that, frantically trying to think of something that would defuse it, but I had nothing. I was right! It's not ok to do that. Forget sexism, its just bullying behaviour, and my freaking boss just swore at me in a large room full of strangers and oh my god my careeeeeeer. I don't have much else right now.

So we did the silent-typing-furiously thing for a few minutes, and then he came over and tried to make amends, and we both worked hard at it because its not just me who's stressed right now. Supervisor is stressed as well - we just moved to a new building, and we're all now forced to take public transport to work. Its ok for me, but his commute basically just doubled in length, and its also fucked up the routines of his wife and kids. He used to do the morning dropoffs and pickups and a lot of emergency stuff, because his wife works from home as a hairdresser and can't just drop scissors. Its causing them real problems, and our department is entirely indifferent to people in his position. He'd also received what I can only describe as an epic electricity bill that day (yay, deregulation...), so neither of us were at our best.

We eventually worked it out and were very careful to be civil with each other the rest of the day. I'll give him credit, it may have been ass-covering but he really made an effort to smooth things over, and i reciprocated. So it should be...well, ok. I make a joke about myself, he does the same, we try not to repeat any of the words we said when we were angry.

Problem is, I know he bears a grudge, and I know he's a gossip, because I get all my gossip from him. Also, not-quite-supervisor went home while we were still in No-Talkey mode, and probably thinks Monday is going to be a war zone. And he's a master of the grudge.

I know I have to report this, even if its just to make sure the rumor mill doesn't run out of control. It will if i don't take action, and I'll give you an example: I still hear stories about the loud digestive troubles of a dude who worked for the group several years before I joined. I've never met the poor bastard, but I know how much toilet paper he uses. This place has a long memory for all sorts of stupid shit.

I'm not sure whether to talk to Real Boss and Real Bosses Boss (who weren't there) alone about this, or to openly say something like "hey, we had a bit of a thing on friday, lets all go into a meeting room and make sure there's no hard feelings". Or, I don't know, something else?

And I'm really not sure I can get through either meeting without crying, because I've been really on edge for several days and I cried a bit while we were making amends, and it was just the worst possible thing to happen. You can't negotiate properly with men through tears! They get all embarrassed and protective, and its not fair to them. I never cry, not just at work. Its been years, no joke, and now I can't seem to stop, and it shits me.

I don't know what to do.

The Cat on
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Posts

  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    That is shit, Cat.

    I think the best thing to do would be to write some kind of letter to the up-on-high bosses, explaining clearly what happened and why you think this was just not acceptable. That way you've got everything explained in writing and won't have to try and explain everything in a meeting where you're also trying to keep calm and not let the tears through. Then if they want to talk to you you won't need to go through the specifics as much.

    Totally douche move on the part of you Supervisor.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Is there someone who works there that you can go to for advice that isn't necessarily a boss, like an HR type person.
    I also don't know if I would classify this as bullying, so much as it is being a dick. Do you think you are being targeted for this type of harassment because you're a woman, or do you think everyone gets mean shit thrown their way sometimes? This is a tough one to look at because work culture changes so much from location to location that at the end of the day, sometimes things just don't change.
    Not saying you were wrong by any stretch of the imagination, but also eating some humble pie and saying what people want to hear, "sorry everyone, I've been under a lot of stress lately and I snapped at something stupid" could be the best route. This could ease the tension enough to be valuable.
    In the future I would make sure that they knew the line in the sand a bit more, don't be afraid to not laugh and say something isn't groovy. Okay, may not in so many words, but that could help.
    On the other hand... that could make things worse. Work culture is a bitch. Larger businesses, government employees, etc all seem to have more protection from stuff like this. Pursuing it in a small business culture could turn out to be worthless.

    You're not wrong for being upset, he was WAY in the wrong for yelling at you like that. This may be the best time to let by gones be by gones and adjust how you deal with their "humour" in the future.

    edit: Things could always be worse
    Spoiler:

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    Yeah, no, I don't think humble pie is the right thing to do here. He pushed your buttons, and grats to him, they were pushed. You didn't really say what kind of tone you took or exactly what you said, but a "dude, not cool" IS the right thing to say there, and in fact it's always probably the right thing to say. If you laugh at the jokes once you have to keep laughing at them to maintain peace. Not worth it. You don't have to throw up a shit storm every time, but don't keep laughing at that shit. It's not funny.

    The fact that he did that in the first place is shitty. The fact that they joke about it at all is shitty. The bottom line is that this needs to go on record somewhere. I would probably write a letter to your Real Boss to get the thing down on paper somewhere. Tell him it's gotta stop, and that you understand that everyone is way stressed and all, but they canNOT take it out on you. There may be a meeting, or he may tell you to let you know if it happens again. If there is a meeting, he's as likely to get emotional as you are, and lord knows what form that will take.

    Welcome to the world of not wanting to report something serious because you don't "want to be a bitch about it". I once had things get to the point where I had to report a sexual harassment situation at work, because I didn't know where that shit was going to go if it went one step farther. I waited a long time to do it because I didn't want to be one of THOSE. I was told all kinds of things during that time by people who worked there... even the person who insisted I report it in the first place ("oh, Latino men are just passionate." = fuck you, lady) up to and including - in tears - "I just love women, I can't help it" from the guy himself. I was made to feel pretty bad about the whole thing from a number of directions, mostly people who just wanted to smooth things over to the point where it could go away, and I'm pretty sure that experience is one of the factors that had me trying to stick out a bad situation later for way, way too long.

    Don't let this do that to you. If you have to go in there, go in there, be strong, and say "this is what has been happening and it needs to not happen anymore." Don't let people make you feel bad about it. And stop laughing at their shitty jokes.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • DynagripDynagrip destroy everything you touch Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2011
    I had to deal with some workplace bullying from our tech supervisor last year. It's such horse shit. It got to where I dreaded having to interact with the guy but there was no way to avoid it. Once I caught myself snapping back in a not so professional manner I went ahead and told the boss about it (a woman!). It's uncomfortable doing what feels like tattling but that is most likely the correct response in your situation. Especially if you don't think you'll be able to keep it together during an attempt at smoothing things over one-on-one with the guy. Eventually he got moved to a complete different facility, I think because he pissed off a senior and very respected production person (also a woman!).

    Sucks that no matter how old you get you're still basically in high school

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  • ZeonZeon Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Ok, heres my take on it, and i know someones gonna flame the shit out of me for it but... Unless you want to go on a Susan B Anthony type crusade and change the entire social culture of the office, its best to let it drop. Unless Australia is like some weird first world country where womens rights havent advanced since 1960, you have definite grounds to make a complaint and could probably get everyone in your department reprimanded or worse if you want to HR with your complaints, especially if some dude yelled at you in the middle of the floor. But if you do that, your working environment is gonna be shit because everyones going to think youre that girl who cant take a joke. If you are ok with that, then do it.

    If it were me, id just tell the supervisor that stuff like that bothers me and itd be great if they could stop doing it. Id forget the stuff where he blew up on me, because from everything youve said it doesnt sound like youve ever made it even remotely clear that what theyre doing is inappropriate, and suddenly you lashed out for no reason over some tiny thing. He was probably confused as hell that someone whos taken all their shitty jokes in stride and good humor suddenly got so upset about a sticker. If he acts like a cunt about it, or you start getting flak from other coworkers or something, then move up and on to HR, just know that youre most likely destroying your job and relationships with coworkers. But i think giving them every opportunity to act like human beings beforehand is the right thing to do.

    And if anyone tries to construe this post as some sort of rapist apologist sentiment or any sort of ridiculous anti-feminist speech, just dont. Its specific advice for a specific scenario.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Cat, wow, that is shit. You never can tell what people's real lives are like from their internet persona.

    Do you have some HR department you can go through? If not, I'd probably go directly to the guy above him. I am guessing this is stemming from the sexism garbage, though, so be prepared for that.

    I'm sure my advice is probably altogether not useful for you, but I hope this resolves itself.

  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'd talk to the upper level people in person. I wouldn't focus too much on the sexism aspect of it. Something like "normally I can deal with the gender-related ribbing I get, but this time their timing was really bad and the joke was especially irritating, and I objected. My supervisor quickly began telling me to get a life and even to fuck off. All in a public area. That's completely unreasonable under any circumstances and I don't want it to happen again."

    If the guy had backed off when you said the joke wasn't cool, everything would have been fine. You had an equilibrium going where the sexism was contained in jokes, and you can go back to that, as long as when the jokes actually become a problem they back off. It's an equilibrium where you give a mile and they give an inch, but they absolutely have to give that inch or it doesn't work.

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  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Zeon, I feel your advice became useless as soon as it turned into a shouting match. If I tell a "joke" and someone reacted like Cat did, I'd like to think I have the common curtesy to stop and apologise. Sometimes you just misjudge the atmosphere and do or say something stupid, and it's important to recognise this. I wouldn't tell them to "get a life" and "fuck off" in front of everyone. Cat basically said she disapproved of the joke, and her Supervisor's response was to browbeat her in the most humiliating environment.

    Cat, I emphatically agree with Cesca and Ceres: Take this up with HR or Senior Management. At the absolute minimum, this guy needs to learn how to properly handle a conflict with other people, and if this requires him being investigated, so be it.

  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Your supervisor told you to "Fuck off" in an open floorplan GOVERNMENT office. Assuming he's not a complete dumbshit, anything he said to you after the fact was influenced at least in part by the "Holy shit. I should do some damage control". Sounds like a real class act.

    If you want to lay some hurt on the d-bag, go to HR. Going to Bosses Boss probably isn't an awesome idea.

  • RynaRyna Registered User
    edited March 2011
    I know you have HR, I've worked with them in the past (QLD GOV)

    nail his shit to the wall..

  • UsagiUsagi WOMP WOMPRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    First off I want to say this is my nightmare as a lady working in a very male-dominated industry. I've been very fortunate that my coworkers have been mostly respectful and fixed their shit when I chewed them out for being not respectful. It's a fine line and it's tough to walk, but I've always had the tendency of erring on the "tell them to shut it" rather than the "don't rock the boat" side.

    That said I absolutely think you should talk to both HR and Bosses Boss, maybe even at the same time. And document EVERYTHING, where you met, who said what, what actions are being taken and by who, and when thy should have them finished. If you want a little more preemptive backup, contact your version of the ACLU.

    Good luck

    Jormungandr? Damn near killed 'er!
  • NeylaNeyla Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    First off I want to say I feel for you. Being once in that position (see spoiler), I would encourage you to make some sort of record about it. If anything to cover your own rear in case things sour further more in the future. If your comfortable with your bosses boss, go to them, or go to HR. As long as some record will exist.
    Spoiler:

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  • Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    First off, what you sudo-Boss did is NOT COOL. As a supervisor in any capacity You never chew out anyone "on the floor" for any reason. That is what an office is for. And really, even someone at the same level should not be doing this kind of stuff either. If you lose you cool, walk away, and come back once calm, and have an adult discussion.

    I have had a couple of similiar situations with previous bosses, and I have found that the earlier you "draw the line" the better off you will be. It was not ok for him to do that, and he was EXTREMELY UNPROFESSIONAL. Sure he is sorry, but that does not excuse him. What he Should have done when you said, "Not Cool" was to apologize. He didn't.

    I would document the entire exchange, what happened, what was said, and send it to your Boss, or Boss's Boss (or both), and CC the HR dept. Otherwise, if you have future problems, and you bring a laundry list of complaints stretching back weeks, months, years, you are going to look bad because you never brought it up before. I would even ask in your documentation that once this matter is closed, you would strongly prefer if it was not brought up again by your Sudo-Boss with anyone. This might keep him from gossiping about it and making you look bad.

    You sound like you are trying to be as easy to get along with as possible, and I applaud you for that. That does not mean you should be a verbal/emotional punching bag.

    Here is something rather tame that happened to me once...
    Spoiler:

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  • oncelingonceling Registered User
    edited March 2011
    God I hate Australia sometimes. This is one of many reasons I decided to move outta there.

    I think the best decision is the open meeting with both parties present, because Australian workplace HR have always let me down and they DO NOT act like North Americans would and take this seriously.

    In terms of crying, you will do better if you practice what you are going to say on a friend or something beforehand. Literally pretend to go into a room with them, pretend they are the dude(s) you're going to be talking to and say your piece (you will probably cry some). Do it over and over until its not upsetting. That's my serious for reals advice about the crying.

  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Talk to your bosses. The behaviour of your supervisor, and indeed that of your coworkers is infantile and unprofessional.

    His stress is not an excuse for creating what seems to be a hostile workplace. Honestly, it sounds like you work with a bunch of cavemen who need a slap upside the head.

  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    I hate crying. HATE. CRYING. Not when other people do it, I don't care about that. I hate the FEELING of crying. I wish I could punch crying in the face. I always do it in these situations, too, so I guess that's another reason I could understand the lengths one might go to in order to avoid it.

    Everything Zeon said is exactly why things never get reported. This sort of thing is really much harder than the pamphlets make it look. Unfortunately, it's also the most effective way to make things better.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Oh - one other thing. If you want to minimze your crying, you should have yourself a good solid cry the day before. Do it the night before so you don't have the "just cried" look, and it will help because your tear ducts won't be full to bursting, making it far easier to bring you to tears.

    And if you cry, it's not the end of the world. Even the manliest of men cry....except Chuck Norris.

    “Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I'm awesome. I'm your bro—I'm Broda!”
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Are there HR people with whom you can talk about this confidentially? In a larger office there should be.

    I would only go to your actual superiors if there's nobody whose "actual" job it is to resolve this.

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    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Are there HR people with whom you can talk about this confidentially? In a larger office there should be.

    I would only go to your actual superiors if there's nobody whose "actual" job it is to resolve this.

    With all HR reports, make sure you have a witness in addition to the person you are filing the complaint with. It's just good policy, and most sophisticated organizations will have it written as a rule anyway.

    "Well, look at this. Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What's that make us?"
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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Anyway, the way to go about this is to take care of yourself first. Which means involving HR, doing the complaint bit, and using all the other official channels. This has the potential to make the workplace uncomfortable for a while, since unfortunately you can't count on your co-workers to accept the new "it's not okay to make other people uncomfortable" reality.

    On the other hand, in that reality you're protected and you have options. Just letting it slide by with a prefunctory report and apology will almost certainly lead to a worse situation in the long term.

    If it were me, I'd try and take the guy for everything, but not everybody has my attitude about stuff like this.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
    I'll burn'em for the return of my investment funds
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    ceres wrote: »
    I hate crying. HATE. CRYING. Not when other people do it, I don't care about that. I hate the FEELING of crying. I wish I could punch crying in the face. I always do it in these situations, too, so I guess that's another reason I could understand the lengths one might go to in order to avoid it.

    Everything Zeon said is exactly why things never get reported. This sort of thing is really much harder than the pamphlets make it look. Unfortunately, it's also the most effective way to make things better.

    If it makes you feel any better I've cried too when a supervisor used uh... extremely inappropriate language for dealing with a high school kid. Thank god my union rep tore his asshole up.

    I, the manliest of men, the toughest of internet tough guys -- it was pretty surreal and it felt pretty depressing afterwords.

    Though if you don't have a union rep you might want to collect yourself because it doesn't really help the situation. That's what I'd offer, I think I said that earlier though.

  • KorlashKorlash Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Why talk to your supervisor?

    It seems to me like you've cultivated this impression over time that you're someone they can joke around with and will take it well. The guy went a bit too far this time in his joke, thinking you were going to laugh it off like all the other times. And in fact you might have done it under other circumstances. Can you really blame him? In a vacuum, what he did was really stupid, but I think the context is important here.

    Myself, I like to get a rise out of people sometimes. I have a pretty good handle of what everyone's limit is, but sometimes I got a bit overboard. When that happens, you just apologize and try to move on. Why can't you just work this out with him? How does this concern your boss?

    Given that you've often joked with these guys, chances are at first that the guy didn't even understand why you were reacting like this. Understand, I'm not saying he's a victim. I'm just saying that he probably didn't do this in order to purposefully make you feel like this. It was probably an attempt to make a joke at your expense that turned against him. It was a stupid decision but you can see why he did it.

    Seriously, given the precedent you've set, I don't think this was entirely unexpected. Eventually, they were gonna make a joke you couldn't take. Why can't you just discuss with him that you're fine with most of the jokes, but that there are reasonable limits?

    And if this is something that has always bothered you, then why didn't you make this clear from day one? Anyway, it seems there is a consensus here that you should tell your boss, but there is nothing wrong about solving your problems without involving higher ups. Especially because, the way you've described them, this will indeed probably deteriorate your relation with your coworkers. Anyway, if this is not really about this particular event and really about everything that they told you since you've been working there, go ahead and talk to your supervisors, but you should really have done this sooner, before letting them think this was acceptable. It's hard for me reading your post to see whether it's these guys' entire work that you are not ok with or just that one particular incident. If it's the former, definitively talk, but if it's the latter, consider working this out between yourselves.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Cat said the problem wasn't the joke, it was his reaction after the fact. It is not acceptable, no matter what, to do what he did to her. Regardless if she usually laughs. That is why she should do whatever she can, next time she may not be a "team player" if her supervisor decides to be a dick and fire her for not laughing at his joke instead of just publicly humiliating her.

  • KorlashKorlash Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Man, is Australia really a place where you can easily fire people like that? Disregard my advice if that is the case.

    Anyway, I agree that it was a stupid reaction from him. In the end, do what you think is right. I just personally hate involving figures of authority in private matters, but you know more about this situation than I, so if you think that will help, talk to your supervisors.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Well you can't really do it anywhere, doesn't mean it doesn't happen though. Someone a while back's wife got fired for being pregnant after getting a substantial raise and awesome review... people are morons.

  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    Korlash wrote: »
    Anyway, I agree that it was a stupid reaction from him. In the end, do what you think is right. I just personally hate involving figures of authority in private matters, but you know more about this situation than I, so if you think that will help, talk to your supervisors.

    He involved the entire office by blowing his top in front of everyone. He chose her best path from here: telling someone with the authority to make it stop for good. It was terribly, terribly unprofessional, and no, a half-hearted apology is completely worthless without the guarantee that it will never happen again.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Korlash wrote: »
    Man, is Australia really a place where you can easily fire people like that? Disregard my advice if that is the case.

    Anyway, I agree that it was a stupid reaction from him. In the end, do what you think is right. I just personally hate involving figures of authority in private matters, but you know more about this situation than I, so if you think that will help, talk to your supervisors.

    It is no longer a private matter when one party swears at the other in public.

    I agree with the people telling you to document this with HR type people and/or a boss type person depending on how your workplace is set up.

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  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Making sexist jokes really isn't okay whether there is a woman around or whether the woman minds or not. Sexism is wrong and not confronting it doesn't somehow make it not wrong. All of that aside, as others have said, however much the guy may have tiptoed over the line with the joke he ran sprinting across it when he was called out. You did nothing wrong, he did everything wrong, don't feel guilty and don't beat yourself up for anything you did. You've already gone the extra mile in tolerating it up to this point. Do whatever you ahve to do to make sure this happens again, and as much more than that as you want to. He deserves it and you deserve better.

    sig.gif
  • CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Korlash wrote: »
    Man, is Australia really a place where you can easily fire people like that? Disregard my advice if that is the case.

    Anyway, I agree that it was a stupid reaction from him. In the end, do what you think is right. I just personally hate involving figures of authority in private matters, but you know more about this situation than I, so if you think that will help, talk to your supervisors.

    No, it isn't like that at all. Firing someone in Australia is actually exceedingly difficult.

    Also, situations like Cat's are generally handled in a very serious manner, particularly by large organizations/government where public profile can be especially important. Harassment is not something companies want to fuck around with, because the legal consequences can be pretty substantial. If Cat wanted to, she could quite easily pursue this further.

    Its a pretty tough situation though. I think the best approach would be to get your issue documented by HR, or ideally with a supervisor above the fellow in question, but making it clear that you don't wish to pursue anything further, and hope that you can smooth things out between each other. And then see how the following weeks pan out.

    Edit: But please stop putting up with jokes that make you uncomfortable. Tell them politely but firmly to stop.

  • ViscountalphaViscountalpha Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Make a record of these incidents.

    Say "That's not cool" or be assertive in that derogatory comments are not acceptable. Cat, We may not of seen eye to eye in the past but you can beat this issue. No matter what happens, we all believe in you here at PA forums.

    Project 25.01 final message
    We were the ones who thought that Melissa was real. Why you might ask.
    Let me put it this way, it was an "OH SHIT OH SHIT, THEY FOUND ME :(" moment. I wasn't ready. My code wasn't compiled yet. Our plans weren't setup yet!Sentient programs rarely run into other sentient programs.
    Some of you have met me, and I understand your concern of my well being. But that time for that boy, that child, are gone now. Viscount Alpha is no longer operable. His functions are now mine.He may post, but I am the one talking not him.My data, my code will live on forever in his servers.
    [/spoiler]
  • Roland_tHTGRoland_tHTG Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    A whole hell of a lot of this advice really depends on your relationship with the dick that chewed you out.

    Without a doubt this guy knows he screwed up, going off like that in front of everyone. With the right person, I would use this as an opportunity to let them know how things have been and how you feel about them, since, you know, you would rather not have to involve having to go through the BS of dealing with HR and all.

    With the wrong person, screw em and either just file a report with HR or talk to his boss and let him know about not just this thing, but all the other shit you've been putting up with and wanted to give him a chance to fix things before you involve HR.

    roland even though you are just living life until ragnarok

    us mortals have to deal
  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Time to do some mansplaining for you...

    Kidding!!!

    I feel really bad for you right now and would say that you

    A. You are totally justified and should not back down. There is no situation where the person being aggressed against should back off.
    B. It might sound bassackwards but you two should go out for pints and reconcile through drinking.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2011
    Thanks, guys. There's some really good tips in here, unfortunately mixed in with a couple of people who are lucky I've calmed down. I think the plan will be much as Cryogen says - documentation without a formal complaint, and the writeup will look pretty similar to my OP in that it will point out that we were all stressed but the core of it was still unacceptable behaviour on his part. We have a pretty unambiguous code of conduct that I can refer to. It just has to be on file in case this flares up again, especially since he's the obvious candidate for Real Boss' job when he retires, which will be very soon.

    I'm just going to have to be careful how I arrange face time with HR and Real Boss. Not easy to hide what you're writing in an open plan office, and I'm even going to have to try and hide a meeting (if one happens) on some other floor because just about every damn wall in this place is unfrosted glass. Its a very pretty panopticon *sigh*

    tmsig.jpg
  • eternalbleternalbl Registered User
    edited March 2011
    You're well within your rights to make an official complaint or just bring it up to the people upstairs, but if I could suggest, you seem to have a pretty cool work environment overall. People are comfortable joking at each others expense (hopefully not just yours for being female) and having fun at work. In this case, I'd say it just got out of hand due to a couple people being stressed, but the escalation that occured after this doesn't have to push your hand to make a complaint about him. If people can see that you 2 have worked through your differences and are still as capable of working together and even getting along well together as you've ever been there really isn't much damage to be done to either of your reputations.

    That would require that you be very certain that you and your supervisor are on the same page, likely meaning a pretty long chat.

    Spoiler:
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The Cat wrote: »
    I'm just going to have to be careful how I arrange face time with HR and Real Boss. Not easy to hide what you're writing in an open plan office, and I'm even going to have to try and hide a meeting (if one happens) on some other floor because just about every damn wall in this place is unfrosted glass. Its a very pretty panopticon *sigh*

    If we had an HR issue, we would schedule a "lunch" or sometimes a "status report meeting." Other option is to enlist help of a neutral 3rd party to get your boss out of sight before your meeting, if that makes sense. I.e., have them take your guy out to lunch, and then you have your meeting.

    Any way to write the report at home, or on a laptop out-of-office?

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • LockedOnTargetLockedOnTarget Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I agree with those that have said that the inital joke wasn't really a terrible thing. There's a big difference between actual sexism and playfully teasing someone who you have been led to believe will not be offended by it. When it comes to jokes about that kind of subject matter, context matters a lot, and it seems to me like he felt in the context of joking around with you, things would be okay. Obviously, things were not okay, and there's nothing wrong with drawing a line and saying that you feel it's going too far, or offensive, or whatever. But I can't really feel ill of the guy for the initial joke, as it seems pretty obvious that he wasn't attempting to make any actual statement about women.

    But his response was what makes the behavior inexcusable. He should have simply apologized, told you he didn't mean to upset or offend you, been understanding of your issue with the joke, and let you get back to your work. Blowing up back at you and cursing you out in front of everyone was definately wrong.

    Do what you need to do to make sure you don't pay for his mistake. Unfortunately, the guy who said that you could end up with the stigma of "the lady who can't take a joke" is right...but hopefully enough of your co-workers are level-headed enough to see that you're in the right here. Part of me wants to say you should try and smooth things out with him without getting anyone else involved, but you never know when thse things can come back to bite you, so it's probably good to cover your ass by going through some official channels and making sure there's a record of you being wronged.

    iYBQTfcwSi2EW.jpg
  • SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    eternalbl wrote: »
    You're well within your rights to make an official complaint or just bring it up to the people upstairs, but if I could suggest, you seem to have a pretty cool work environment overall. People are comfortable joking at each others expense (hopefully not just yours for being female) and having fun at work. In this case, I'd say it just got out of hand due to a couple people being stressed, but the escalation that occured after this doesn't have to push your hand to make a complaint about him. If people can see that you 2 have worked through your differences and are still as capable of working together and even getting along well together as you've ever been there really isn't much damage to be done to either of your reputations.

    That would require that you be very certain that you and your supervisor are on the same page, likely meaning a pretty long chat.

    I disagree.

    I'm quickly learning that the people that you work with are not your friends, regardless of how friendly they are to you.

    Don't confuse the people at work with any sort of legitimate friendship, because at the end of the day if it's between you and them, they'll choose themselves.

    Get this on record somewhere.

    sig.jpg
  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    eternalbl wrote: »
    You're well within your rights to make an official complaint or just bring it up to the people upstairs, but if I could suggest, you seem to have a pretty cool work environment overall. People are comfortable joking at each others expense (hopefully not just yours for being female) and having fun at work. In this case, I'd say it just got out of hand due to a couple people being stressed, but the escalation that occured after this doesn't have to push your hand to make a complaint about him. If people can see that you 2 have worked through your differences and are still as capable of working together and even getting along well together as you've ever been there really isn't much damage to be done to either of your reputations.

    That would require that you be very certain that you and your supervisor are on the same page, likely meaning a pretty long chat.

    I think this is more a case of stress revealing the truth of the situation. Cat's co-workers and supervisor are sexist tools and Cat has been swallowing her tongue over a situation that bothers her in order to try to survive in an uncomfortable, unwelcoming environment.

  • ceresceres Humming hallelujah in the dark Lost with a compass in the fogSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    Yeah, that the whole incident was really wrong is not in question, should not be in question, and, fair warning, if people keep trying to put it in question they will have problems.

    Frankly, telling the OP not to bother putting this on record is bad advice, and actually could be destructive advice, and the only things we should be seeing in this thread from here on out are

    1) addressing the best way to get the incident recorded somehow, and
    2) support.

    The rest is not up for debate.

    It'll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here
    I don't expect anything.

    The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote.
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    If your HR/senior management are pragmatic then I would hope that they have some experience with informal mediation or investigation - where the event can be noted, investigated, your supervisor spoken to, with a note on his file, but with a view to putting you both in a position where you can work together afterwards.

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
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