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Wednesday, 07 January 2015 00:00

Let’s Talk Discrimination in the Workplace

Written by  Anonymous
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I work at a job I absolutely love and adore.  

I love all of my co-workers, I love the people, I love the ‘perks’ and just what I do in general.  I have been at this organization for 7 years and have had 3 bosses and 1 “filler boss” (maternity cover) while one was away on Maternity Leave and many co-workers have come and gone,  (It’s not a bad place to work, but when you’re in a small town, it’s hard to find good employees at a non-profit.)

A few years ago we had a “Filler Boss” who came in to fill a Maternity Leave position for a year.  
As a ‘disabled’ person I always get kind of nervous meeting a new boss, or starting at a new place – because honestly – you don’t know how people are going to react or respond to you once they find out that you have Usher Syndrome.  I didn’t think it would be this bad though.  
Never in my life have I ever been treated so bad and lowly as I was during the 9 months he was there.  And I have a big sister.

After the first introductions to the staff my pregnant boss explained that I had a hearing loss and talking with my back to you just did not work.  More or less giving a respectful heads up.  

Immediately after she left it was apparent he did not pay attention or care about her advice.  He would constantly walk up behind me and then start talking – getting upset when I wouldn’t respond or would walk away.  He also would startle me.  Even though it had been explained to him I had Usher Syndrome and what that was, he still would walk up in my blind spots and startle me and act like it was a huge shock when I would tell him not to.
It was incredibly frustrating and embarrassing.  But I figured he was just a moron and just didn’t get it.  Because let’s face it, there are ignorant people out there, and no matter what you say or do, they just don’t get it.  But it just got worse.

Every other year the company attends a job fair of sorts and volunteers were needed.  I needed the extra hours and cash so I volunteered to go.  Never having gone before I was unsure of the dress code.  Casual? Business? Business casual?  
So I asked. 
I was told to cover up my cleavage.  That was it. 
I’ve grown up a busty girl, no matter what I wore I have cleavage.  And trust me, I didn’t show it off.  I was so self-conscious and embarrassed about being big breasted that I would do anything I could to cover up.  So obviously this comment upset me, and was really not warranted.  Not only was he a male saying this to me, he was a male boss, but this was also spoken on the main floor of the organization and was overheard by many people including other staff who were equally as shocked.
After thinking about it, reading policy, laws and encouragement from family, I filed a complaint. 
His response word for word handwritten on a letterhead was “I am sorry I hurt your feelings.”

Whatever.  He’s a dick.  So I figured that was it.


Then he began to ask me into his office with the lights off.  He would have one of my co-workers come get me, and I would go to his office and he would be sitting in there with just the computer screen on.  The first time I refused to enter he acted like he was confused.  I had explained my Usher Syndrome plenty of times before this and explained the whole night vision thing.  So once again, I told him I didn’t have night vision and that I wouldn’t be able to find my way to the desk safely. But not only that, it was inappropriate for him to ask female employees into a dark office.   He told me to turn on the light. I responded by saying if I can’t see your desk, how am I going to find a light switch?  Get up and do it yourself.

I’d love to say that from then on out, he would have the light on.  But no, every time I was “summoned” the light was off.

Eventually he took away all of my job duties, so I was only able to do the bare basics.  There were programs I had created and implemented with a very high success rate (they were one of the highest attended programs at the time.)  But because he didn’t feel I was capable he passed it on to another employee.  He also explained that technically doing these programs was not listed in my job description, so I wasn’t allowed to do half of the duties I was currently doing.  

The he got my co-workers involved, and they were told to report to him every time I did something wrong, made a comment…anything really.  If I rubbed someone the wrong way, they were to report it to him.  I still don’t know what the point of this was.  I don’t know if he was keeping a file or what.  Eventually I began to record all the work I was doing, keeping track of times I was doing certain things, and wrote down every single conversation I ever had with him.  I had to.  I didn’t know if anything I said or did was going to be used against me in some way, shape or form.

I began to feel sick about going to work, and hated going.  My fiancé had to pick me up from work one day because I had an anxiety attack. I was seeing spots, couldn’t breathe and shaking like a leaf.  Once I was out of the parking lot of, it stopped.  My family eventually made me go to my family doctor.  I’ll admit, I was hoping he would put me on stress leave and I wouldn’t have to deal with this anymore.  But he thankfully didn’t.  He gave me a series of tests, all of which came back showing that I was depressed and had sever anxiety.  He wanted to medicate me, but I don’t like taking pills.  So he suggested I go to counselling.  The lady I had was amazing and gave me some very useful suggestions.  But I think even just having someone who wasn’t family to talk to really helped.  She and my doctor would periodically remind me that I could take pills to help with everything, but I felt that if I did that, it would be letting him win.

After some urging from my fiancé and family I filed another complaint, and this time I submitted to the board as well.  I included my job description, all my programs (the one’s I created as well as other regular programs.) along with the stats from each program, all my employee reviews, all emails between the jerk-off and myself and whatever I could think of.  I mailed a copy to the head of the house of the board chair, so I knew he would get it and gave a copy to the acting boss.

He quit.

 

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