DEAR CHRISTINE – Men at work not acting right
I got a job at a company last year after being out of work for some months. I really need this job to support myself and my child, and have been trying really hard to do well.
But I have a problem with the men working there. From the male manager down to the men who drive the forklift, the men are always chatting up the young women.
No one that I am aware of ever complained about this, although more than half the workers are women.
For that reason, the older women don’t seem to care what is said to us.
So when I complained for the things a salesman said to me, my supervisor – one of these older women – told me that I am making a big deal out of nothing.
I would have thought that if I went to my supervisor and told her how a particular salesman was badgering me about going out with him, and I did not like it, that she should have a meeting with the man and let him know this.
Instead, she told him in front of everybody in a jokey way that his charm was not working on me and to bark up another tree.
Everybody laughed at him but later he came to me and told me that it was not going to end so.
Since then, he has complained for the way I handled the paperwork on one of his accounts. I did make a mistake on the particular account, but I feel the three days I was sent home without pay for this error was his way of arranging to get back at me.
Since going back to work, the other people in the office don’t say much to me. I feel as if I everybody is against me here. I feel as if I’m being pressured and I’m very unhappy.
What can I do about this situation? Jobs are hard to come by so I can’t afford to lose this one.
– VERY UPSET
Dear Very Upset,
First, let me tell you what you should not do. Never give into this salesman’s bullying.
If you compromise your dignity now you will forever be vulnerable in situations like these, and in time will come to hate yourself. You need to stand up for your rights!
Secondly, stop assuming that everybody is against you. That could lead to you becoming paranoid about perfectly innocent situations and may result in you making more mistakes.
By your own admission, the error which led to your suspension was yours. The three-day no-pay penalty was to impress upon you the need to always be accurate. After all you are dealing with people’s money.
As you had a run in with the salesman who manages that account it would be natural to feel you were penalized and that he was using his influence to get back at you. Though that could be true, this need not be the case at all in this instance. Quite frankly, you messed up and had to be punished.
Third, and what I think you should do, is that if you feel this salesman is targeting you, please write to the manager in charge explaining to him what you think is going on and request a meeting with him and the individual on this matter.
Send the letter to him by registered post and mark it as private and confidential.
Also, speak to a representative from a trade union, as well as the Bureau of Gender Affairs and get their input on how you should proceed as well. Both agencies would be up to speed on the regulations in the workplace relating to sexual harassment which you will need for guidance in handling this situation.
Very Upset, sexual harassment on the job is a serious charge and no organization would want to have their male staff being accused of this. I am sure that the manager, in recognizing how serious you are about this matter, will not treat it lightly.
I hope this helps.