August 7th, 2013
Let’s Talk with Kalola: Bullied, Sexual Harassed, and Demoted for Speaking Up
I've worked as a contracted Security Guard at a State DHS building for four years before they placed a co-worker next to me who I believed was hired to intimidate, gas light, sexually harass, annoy, invade my personal privacy, home, sabotage my radios, and work environment, cyber, cell phone, and text mob me.
I was asked how much it cost for sexual favors - sexual harassment. Because I refused a black male's sexual advancements he said I was prejudice. I broke out in hives and battled a stress rash which he told everyone I had bed bugs and fleas. I had to put up with rude, degrading humiliating remarks.
The more I complained to management and my employer the worse the harassment became. No one did anything so I had to make two police reports, once when my home and car keys went missing and showed up at my work three days later, and once when someone put water in my gas tank, all this bullying has caused me so much financial hardships with doctor fees, and car repair, I was demoted and transferred and no one will help me not even the police.
Thank you for writing in and telling your story. I am sorry that this is happening to you at work and outside of work. You allege that you were bullied and sexual harassed on the job by a new co-worker. You also complained to the employer. Although you received a job transfer, you were demoted for reporting what your co-worker was doing to you in the workplace. The demotion may be what is called an adverse employment action.
USA Legal Definition: "An adverse action is an official personnel action, usually taken for disciplinary reasons, which adversely affects an employee and may include such punishments as a suspension for a defined period, reduction in grade or status, or removal."
In Michigan, the State Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) has their own definition which is on their website at: http://michigan.gov/mdcr/0,4613,7-138--55189--,00.html
To file a complaint with the MDCR, see their website at: http://michigan.gov/mdcr/0,4613,7-138-4951-9283--,00.html
An excerpt from the MDCR website: "The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution of 1963 to carry out the guarantees against discrimination articulated in Article 1, Section 2. As further stated in Article V, Section 29, the state constitution directs the Commission to investigate alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin and to "secure the equal protection of such civil rights without such discrimination." Public Acts 453 and 220 of 1976 and subsequent amendments have added sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disabilities to the original four protected categories."
Note: "A complaint (to MDCR) may be filed at any of the Department's offices if the alleged discrimination occurred within the past 180 days."
Here are a few options for you to consider:
- At home, replace your door locks with deadbolt locks. You can also obtain window locks at your local hardware store. For sliding glass doors and/or sliding windows, you can alternatively use shade rollers to block the sliding glass door or window from opening. You might check a window covering store that makes custom shades and ask if they have old, broken shade rollers that you might purchase. The store might give the old rollers to you without charge if you explain why you need them. The shade rollers can be cut to the length that you need. If the shade roller doesn't quite fit, you can tape it to the window to hold it in place to block the window from opening. Of course, if someone really wants to enter your home, locked doors and windows won't stop the person. However, breaking and entering into a residence is illegal. If there is evidence of a break in, call the police. If you are in your home and your home is being broken into, call 9-1-1.
Carry your keys with you at all times and/or lock up your purse in your desk—do not leave your purse unattended. If you go to a meeting, on break, to the restroom, etc.—take your purse and keys with you. Because your keys disappeared and then reappeared, it would be difficult to prove that your co-worker or anyone else took your keys. You could purchase a small travel pouch that you can wear around your neck to keep your keys, ID, credit cards in. You can find one at a travel store or on the internet at a luggage store.
- Purchase a locking gas cap for your vehicle. If someone enters your vehicle, they can open the latch to get to your gas cap, but if there is a locking gas cap (separate key) it may prevent someone from easily putting something into your gas tank. Park your vehicle in a well lit area if you work at night. If there is a security camera near the front of the building or parking garage, park where your vehicle will be in view of the security camera.
Keep a copy of your automobile repair bill(s) which will include an itemization of the work that was done as a result of an unknown subject tampering with your vehicle.
- Do not delete/erase any voice or text messages from the person harassing you. Your first instinct may be to delete the offending calls or texts—Don't. This is proof for the authorities as well as the telephone company or cellular phone service that you are being harassed.
For home landline telephones, screen your calls. Do you have Caller ID? You could also change your landline telephone number as well as your cell number, however, if you have to give the number(s) to your employer, the offending party will likely be able to access records to obtain your number.
If you are receiving text messages on your cell phone, your cell phone bill will show all calls placed to your cell phone as well as calls that you have placed. However, if the abuser is using a disposal cell phone it will be difficult to find out who has been calling you and/or texting you.
- Back up important documents onto a small portable hard drive that can be kept at a separate location from your desktop or laptop computer should your computer be stolen. Keep a hard copy of the documents in a separate location. Don't keep your laptop and important documents in your car as the thief who stole your keys may have made a copy of your car key. Suggest that you change your e-mail passwords. Don't access your personal e-mail accounts while at work as the I.T. Department of your employer can access your e-mails.
- File a police report. If the desk person at the police department refuses to take your report, ask for her/his supervisor. A police report is documentation, obtain a copy for your own records.
- Where to file a complaint if you receive offending, threatening e-mails or if you are cyber bullied? Go to the website for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internet Crime Complaint Center, the website is: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
- Call the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 1-800-669-4000, and talk to an EEOC representative about sexual harassment. Be prepared to give examples of what has happened to you at work, and what happened when you complained to the employer. The website for the EEOC: http://eeoc.gov/
- You may want to consider contacting an employment and labor attorney that works with workers to help you file a complaint with the MDCR or the EEOC. The anti-bullying Workplace Bullying Institute offers advice and tips on how to find a attorney at their website: http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/solutions/finding-a-lawyer/
- The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has information about harassment and stalking at their website: https://www.privacyrights.org/Harassment-and-Stalking
—Fact Sheet 2a: Hang Up on Harassment: Dealing with Cellular Phone Abuse
—Fact Sheet 3: How to Put an End to Unwanted or Harassing Phone Calls
—Fact Sheet 14: Are You Being Stalked?
—Fact Sheet 14a: Security Recommendations for Stalking Victims
- If the offending individual continues to harass you consider obtaining a restraining order or personal protection order (PPO). Information about restraining order in your state can be found at the following website at Women's Law: http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?statelaw_name=Restraining%20Orders&state_code=MI
- Consider hiring a private investigator who can do a sweep of your home for hidden surveillance equipment. Interview private investigators on the telephone. Ask for the person's background. You may be able to find a retired law enforcement crime scene investigator who is doing private investigation. You can check a private investigator's license in Michigan to make sure the person has a valid license at the following website for the Michigan State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs:
What is sexual harassment? According to the EEOC, it is unlawful to harass a person (a job applicant or an employee) because of that person's sex. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer."
Reference: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Sexual Harassment http://eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm
For our readers, Wikipedia's definition of gas-lighting: It is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity.
Document what has happened to you at work. Include: Date/Time/Location, and describe in detail what happened to you. Were there any witnesses? Keep a record of all complaints that you make as a result of being harassed. Keep your documentation in a safe place. Don't tell anyone at work that you are documenting.
Did the employer investigate your allegations? Were you disciplined for complaining? Keep copies of your pay stubs that show that your pay was reduced. Did the employer put in writing why you were being demoted?(WBI Note: For a good discussion on gaslighting, visit David Yamada's blog)
It is unfortunate when an employer turns things around and supports the offending party, and then discredits the target or victim. All too often this happens to the target. This should not be happening. When workers file complaints against their employer for alleged illegal discrimination, the employer has the opportunity to respond. Statements from the employer as well as the worker should be truthful statements made under the penalty of perjury for making false statements. Workers too often report that the bully and/or the employer will lie about what happened. Shameless tactics to discredit a worker who has done nothing wrong.
Contact the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) and/or the EEOC as soon as possible to discuss what happened to you. There are strict deadline dates to file a complaint. Be sure to tell the agency representative that you were transferred and demoted as a result of complaining to the employer about sexual harassment.
Take care and be safe.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am and is filed under Let's Talk with Kalola. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.