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Posted by: Avril | 2007/07/23

Work is the portal to hell!!

Hi Doc,
I'm not sure what to do anymore and I feel like i'm going mad. Work has become a living hell. I wake up in the morning and contemplate sticking pins in my eyes instead of going to work! I'm a senior manager with a fairly large, well known company. I feel at this level I should be dealing with the issues here with ease, however I'm getting more and more irritated and angry and depressed as each day goes by.

The company I work for is predominantly male. Which is not in itself a problem, except that they have not moved beyond 1980. So for example I am not allowed to present at the EXCO because "women arn't taken seriously". But I have been told to wear a short skirt and keep the directors distracted. About a month ago I was out on one of the company's sites. One of the directors forced me against a wall and shoved his hand up my skirt. When I fought back he said that "it's no wonder my husband left me" (I'm divorced btw). A week later he grabbed my breasts and said that he just wanted to feel if I had a bra on. I decided that it was enough and laid a complaint. I was called into a meeting and told that I must shut up because this guy could lose his job, and that besides, this is a "man's world". A few days later it was said to me that maybe I had an issue with men as a result of my tough divorce. This couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, my divorce was tough, but I promised myself that I would not get bitter and twisted about it, which I can honestly say that I didn't become all psycho about men. I decided to take it further with the head of IR, only to find out that he's been up for a number of sexual harassment cases and all of them have been dropped. So results of Sexual harrassment case: Company 1; Avril 0 with less then optimal inclination to be at work.

Aside from this, there really is a huge lack of morals, ethics and management in this company. Racism and sexism is rampant here. Black staff are still referred to in the terms that were used in the apartheid era. I have been labelled as a radical communist because of my views on treating all people equally and with respect.

On an actual work perspective I am told to do something urgently, so that it is read first thing in the morning. So I work throughout the night to complete it, only to be told in the morning that they'll only get a chance to look at it next week. This has happened about 7 times in the past two months.

I could carry on with stories for hours. But I think this gives you an idea of what the circumstances are. I know that I cannot stay with this company any longer, yet I'm not in a postion to resign without having another job. I've got my CV in the market, but how do I deal with this in the mean time? How do I get enough energy just to get up in the morning?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Guys, it is TERRIBLY difficult for me to handle dozens of very very long messages, especially when they all pile up on a monday --- at least try to spread them through the week, and edit them to render them more brief and to the point. A long discussion with all the details belongs in a paid session with your own personal shrink.
Now, that said, you are describing outrageous even criminal sexual harassment, and I think you should consider laying criminal chanrges for assault, etc., against the guy who did that to you . And record the fact that they keep telling you that it's a man's world and that they instructed you to withdraw a complain for criminal assault because they guy might lose his job --- he totally deserved to lose his job.
I agree with Shae that you should take this to the Dept of Labour and CCMA, and also explore the Constructive Dismissal possibility. And you need good legal advice.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Anonamous | 2007/07/23

Perhaps a classic case of bullying? I'd suggest researching bullying on the web - there's lots of great sites, and the sites also give tips on how to make sure you are not a target. Bullies thrive on emotional blackmail, and they know how to pull one's "hot buttons" - the trick perhaps is to make sure your "buttons" are disengaged. Make sure you document all evidence, as suggested. It's important to show a pattern of behaviour over time if you do ever plan a case, as the little things add up - what you speak about is very difficult to prove and to stop. One tactic is to ensure totally open communication, as bullying or other abuse thrives in a closed environment. Good luck!

Reply to Anonamous
Posted by: John | 2007/07/23

The best course of action is to leave and you already have your CV on the market. Leaving the company you work is the best but, in between then and now, I suggest that you document, in detail, and with evidence (copies of e-mail etc) the reasons why you are unhappy.

When you do get another job you can take them to the CCMA for 'Constructive Dismissal', which effectively means that they made your day-to-day job impossible to do by unfair practices. Which is not different from the truth. Of course, one can gain a fair amount of personal satisfaction from making them eat dirt but, in the larger scheme of things, this action would make them think twice about continuing to believe that they live in work in Jurrasic Park. This may make life a little easier to bear for the unfortunates you leave behind, which is the larger and more useful benefit.

Good luck.

Reply to John
Posted by: O please | 2007/07/23

Iam a man but agree that, thats just wrong and disgusting, kick him in his nuts if he does it again ...

Reply to O please
Posted by: Shae | 2007/07/23

Hang in there Avril. Im an HR professional and i know very well what you speak of. I share your ideals on dignity and respect and unfortunately, these are not common place in the workplace (in my experience).

All companies have a long list of values that supposedly prescribe the way the company operates but i have not yet come across any company actually living those values.

Its a very infortunate thing that your head of IR is himself a louse and this is definitely not healthy for any female employee. What i can suggest is that you take this case to the deparment of labour. If you have documented your case make copies of this and take these along. If you can, get the females who have opened sexual harassment cases against both of these men to all open a case at the epartmet of labour. If you are in a unionised environment, perhaps speak to their representatives.

This is all ofcourse assuming that there are still decent people out there who will take this charge seriously. I must warn you though, people are often victimised for doing this and it could take alot of time and energy to dissolve, ot to mention that the case against them could be dismissed. That is the raw ugliness of it all unfortunately and realities in this new age of immorality we live in. If you can, enlist the help of a law attorney (try one of the law firms in your area).

Good Luck Avril, keep us posted. Its about time us women stood against being treated like pieces of meat. This kind of behaviour from men is intolerable and inhumane and the sooner we do something about it, the sooner we create a better world for those little girls who are being raped and abused out there.

Reply to Shae

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