I rarely drink but when I do, I like to have a salted caramel martini in front of a roaring fire. ;)
It has been a big couple of weeks here in Snoskredland – with The Other Half leaving his toxic job and moving to a new job on top of a birthday for me and some news about former colleagues at the toxic job, a place where I also worked too..
Remember when I told you I didn’t work there anymore – at the very end of that post I said –
For me there are some unresolved issues that simply will never be resolved. Years ago that would have driven me crazy. I hate unresolved stuff. Now I am pretty good at resolving my side of it and letting it go.
I am pretty good at that UNTIL I discover that the very thing I most feared happening has actually happened. In order to explain that statement to you, I have to give you a little bit of not especially interesting history but I don’t want to go too far into detail.
Last year, mid-Santa, my offsider told me she had been sexually harassed by the 2nd in charge person. Given that she was very young and newly pregnant, she did not want to “rock the boat” by reporting what happened. I felt very strongly that she needed to report it.
Guess why? Because if she didn’t, and it happened to someone else, there would be no record of it happening. But she was resolute – I suspect because the 2nd in charge had something he was holding over her head.
While I could not report it because it did not happen to me, I was able to speak up and raise concerns and I did make it very clear to the business owner what had happened and who had done it. Of course without an official complaint he could not do very much, so he called both her and myself into his office and tried very hard to get her to make an official complaint or even just tell him personally so he could take action without making it official but she still refused.
If I had been the business owner, you can bet I would have made some changes even without an official complaint and the very first one would be dropping that harasser as second in charge. But as they say in the classics, not my monkeys, not my circus.
The harasser remained as second in charge, but I made it VERY clear to the business owner I was reporting directly to him as the owner from now on and while the harasser could be 2nd in charge of the rest of the store he was to have nothing to do with my area at all. I would not take no for an answer on that. He agreed with it. I would have quit on the spot otherwise and it was mid-Santa so he really had no choice but to agree.
I pulled the harasser aside and told him I knew what he had done and that I wanted nothing more to do with him at all, and that I had made my feelings clear to the owner. I refused to speak to him unless it was work related. I actually found it very hard to even look at him. I was furious because he had taken advantage of a young girl who he knew was vulnerable.
But I also had work to do, it was our busiest time of year and I had to focus in on that. As much as I wanted to punch that guy in the face on a daily basis, it would not have done any good. Ohhh, he was so slimy and smarmy and arrogant, knowing he’d got away with what he’d done. Some days it was very hard not to punch him but some how I always managed it.
As time went on, I kept encouraging my offsider to put in an official complaint or even just to put what happened in writing, and then give it to the HR manager and ask them to put it in the safe unopened for a later date in case it was needed. I felt that when it was time for her to go on maternity leave, she might want to take action then. She still refused. My main point was – what if this happens to someone else, how will you feel then?
I felt so strongly about this that I made a call to head office when I left, speaking to someone in a position of power that I met at the conference. I said look, I know there is nothing you can do without an official complaint but I wanted you to at least know this happened in case something else happens down the track. I did find out she actually took some action, arranging for the business owner to attend mandatory training re this particular area.
I suppose my former offsider would be able to tell me the answer to that question I asked now, because of course it did happen to someone else. I found out during the last couple of weeks. I don’t have specific details of what happened, but I do know the harassed person resigned and made an official complaint. The 2nd in charge received a written warning. I don’t know if he will remain as 2nd in charge.
But I am, again, furious. Despite my earlier attempt at resolving things within myself. If my offsider had made an official complaint, that would be two complaints of the same thing and it would be very unlikely he would still have the job let alone have a chance of still being in charge of anything.
I wanted to write about this many times and in fact I did write it out a couple of times and delete it, way back in December when it happened. This was a difficult situation to be placed in, and I hated it. And I was not the person being harassed. It was far worse for her. I’ve been bullied in previous workplaces but this was a whole other level of Not Awesome. It certainly contributed greatly to my decision to move on.
Nobody should have to put up with bullying or any kind of harassment in their workplace. We have laws in place to prevent this and many companies have strict procedures around all of this, but if the people involved will not speak up, the laws can’t do a damn thing.
If the people this happens to will not speak up, that leaves the door wide open for it to happen to the next person. And that WILL happen. If someone behaves this way and gets away with it, they think they can always behave this way and get away with it.