The last few months, I've been caught in a whirlwind. Who knows where it started in truth; I just hope it will end soon. Now I know the first thing you're going to think is "you're exaggerating. This can't possibly be true, or at least not the whole truth" .... I assure you, it is all true. I didn't leave out any important details... just names/places etc... To tell you the truth though, if it hadn't happened to me, I probably wouldn't believe it all either. So I guess I can't blame you... but seriously. I'm the one living it! I really cannot even get my head around the beginning... that part is what confuses me the most, I think. Everything that has happened since stems from that moment and it basically came out of nowhere. It was a whirlwind... a tornado, a hurricane... but there were no warning sirens. Not even typically warning signs! First, a little bit of background. At work, there is this official bulletin board. This bulletin board is meant for us to share with one another what occurred during our shift, since we often work alone and do not interact with our coworkers except during shift change. When someone posts something everyone else has to initial it upon arrival to ensure everyone is up to date on work procedures and happenings. Now for the "players": We've got me, of course. Then there are a few co-workers: co-worker A: innocent bystander co-worker C: the bad guy co-worker E: another victim of injustice boss: eh... a victim of injustice but not exactly innocent boss' bosses: evil incarnate. the rest of the co-workers: just bystanders, not really pertinent I arrived for work and the first thing I noticed was that a fellow co-workers post was no longer present (coworker A, or "A"). I know for a fact that I was the third person to initial that document (along with the original author and one other co-worker, co-worker). I also know for a fact that the document was removed between co-worker B and co-worker D's shift, so obviously co-worker C removed it. I thought it was strange, but honestly didn't really put much thought into it until I got to the newest post. The newest post began as a paraphrased version of the missing post... surprise, surprise, it was written by co-worker C. But what struck me as ... shocking... was that the *new* post was business at the top (only the paraphrased version of the missing post) and very, *very*, **VERY** personal at the bottom. So personal, in fact, that it was actually addressed "TO: (my name)". Then, the rest was all just a vent about me. Can we say "not appropriate for the workplace?". But what was even worse, was that it had already been read and initialed. At least TWO co-workers had read it, maybe more (they just didn't initial it). I wasn't sure if maybe it was supposed to be a joke, or ... who knows, but... it did not belong there. And even if it was meant as a joke... which... I don't understand how it could be... but even if it was it was still offensive. And technically, it is harassment. So the first thing I do is call my boss. I wanted it gone. I tell my boss what it said and then that I didn't think it doesn't belong on the board. The boss agreed it didn't belong there. I did not mention "harassment" because I wasn't 100% sure of what the intentions were behind the document, yet. Even if it was a joke, its still harassment leaving it up there, but for the time being I didn't want to drag anyone into anything if it wasn't meant to be mean... even though I wasn't sure how it could NOT be taken mean (based on both what it said and its very nature! and its existence!) but I always try to give the benefit of the doubt. I took it off the board. At first I threw it away, but then I later realized I'd better dig it out because my boss' bosses will probably want it. Just in case. At the time I wasn't really sure what for, but boy am I glad I did fish it outta the trash! When co-worker A arrived that evening, I informed him/her that the original post they had written was gone (Remember? The original post I mentioned noticing was missing?). I said "I don't know who took it, but its gone." (Yeah, so I lied with the "I don't know who took it" part -- I didn't want to get them involved in something that wasn't their problem. They didn't need to know who took it.) Then I mentioned that I still thought their post had pertinent information, and suggested they post it again. I said, and I quote, "Well I figure you're really the only one with the right to re-write your own." Had I re-written it and passed it as my own, it would have been forgery. Honestly, I wasn't sure what was up. I didn't even know that C was upset with me about anything. See, I'd much prefer someone to just approach me if they have a problem with me. We can take care of things between us much, much easier than writing crap in public. So what did I do? Well I approached C. I asked "hey, what's going on? Why did you write that?" (by the way, I had another coworker, E, whom I trusted present for this just in case, and we were at work, and said coworker attests that I was actually being very polite during this.) The response from A? A sneer and "because you're a" **explicative, explicative**. Ooooookaaaaay. That told me all I needed to know. So, it wasn't a joke; it wasn't meant with good intentions. Yep, it was intended to offend. Yes, it was meant to be mean. Yeah, that's a little something called harassment. (AND forgery, for re-writing someone else' and passing it off as your own, but I wasn't even thinking about that part of it.) Wikipedia explains that harassment is anything of an "offensive nature", "commonly understood as behavior intended to disturb or upset" and legality-wise "it is intentional behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing". Well, just a personal note isn't harassment. But the fact that it was posted on company letterhead and put in a place where not only was it public, but it was *required* to be read and initialed by co-workers. Um... I would say that is harassment. Wouldn't you? (According to the company handbook, it is harassment.) I told the boss that I didn't want this person to get away with it. I didn't want them fired, per se, but I didn't want them thinking it was o.k. to do that, because its not. What if it was someone else next time? My boss said they would take care of it. "Give it a little time, I'm working on something and it should take care of the problem. You won''t have to worry anymore." So... I waited a day or two and spoke with my boss again. Asking what was happening. My boss said they were "taking care of it" but that these things take time. Okay, not a big deal. I waited a few more days. I wasn't even sure if I would be told anything about the outcome of my complaint, so I didn't know what was supposed to happen, or... I don't know. I figured things would be quick for something this serious but... I don't know. I just figured I'd trust my boss that things were, in fact, being taken care of. I told my boss "well, you remember I have my vacation coming up?" I figured that my boss' bosses would at least want to TALK to me about it... and I wanted to give them the document when they called me in. My hope was to take care of it before I left for vacation. A week before my vacation (and exactly one week to the day since I discovered the post), C was overhead by several co-workers (note, these co-workers were uninvolved. They knew nothing about the issues between C and I, and I preferred to keep it that way. They were nuetral -- friends with both parties. They didn't need to be involved -- and they STAYED that way through all of this.) Well what C was overhead saying was that he/she had "finally called" the boss' bosses to complain about 1) the boss and 2) another co-worker (call him/her F, completely unrelated to the rest of the story.) And that same day, coworker E (yep, the one who was present when I confronted C) was called in for a meeting with the boss' bosses. E was forced to sign a document saying he/she would not discuss what happened at the meeting with anyone, and could only say that he/she was put on 'indefinite suspension pending an investigation'. So I asked the boss AGAIN what was up. He told me that this investigation was unrelated to mine and took precedence. "Just don't worry about it" and then kept encouraging me to quit. Which, again, came out of nowhere. I didn't know what to think about that. Why would I quit? Because someone harassed me? That would send a message that harassing people gets them to quit. The boss' bosses finally asked to see me the DAY before I left for vacation. Two weeks to the day from when I had originally discovered the offensive document. One week to the day from when C was bragging about calling the boss' bosses about a supposedly unrelated issue concerning other coworkers who were not involved in this. And do you know what the boss' bosses tried to tell me? "How can you take offense to that? It's not harassment. They're just trying to correct your behavior." I said One, if someone wants to "correct my behavior" they can do it in private or in person, not on a bulletin board. Two, this person is not my boss, and has no business "correcting" me. Three, the letter didn't suggest any "correction" it just complained about things I had done (which I might add, were at the direction of the boss -- I was following ORDERS and doing my job. If they didn't like it, they could have taken it up with the boss.) (Sorry folks, to give you details about the thing they were upset about would give away the type of work we do, which means ruining some anonymity and I don't want to do that. Basically, I was given responsibility because I had proven myself, whereas C had been there slightly longer and felt they should have been given that responsibility, so accused me of doing it on my own without the boss knowing, which isn't true, the boss ASKED me to do these things... hopefully that explains it without giving anything away?) Four, the conversation with C afterward (which I had written down right after) clearly indicated that it was definitely meant to offend. They said "well, that's just hearsay, we can't do anything with that." I said "I know, but I have a witness, its not just their word against mine." Then they tried to tell me that I had waited to long to complain. I said "I called my boss the day I found it. I told him/her the next day that I wanted someone done. How is that waiting too long?" They said "well, we didn't hear about it for weeks." They berated me for not calling THEM when my boss was taking too long. But I said "I was told it was being taken care of. How was I supposed to know you weren't notified right away?" Okay, fine, so I should have called them. I know that now. But I did NOT know that then. So I just apologized for not calling them. I mean, what else can you do in that situation, right? So then they tell me a bunch of other crap... which I sadly found out later were a mixture of outright lies with twisted and out of context half-truths. My theory is that they were just trying to see if I would change my "story." Which I never did. So in the end, I left feeling like crap. Here I was, upset about someone harassing me at work, and instead of investigating the issue they treat me like I'm the bad guy. So I went on vacation, determined to just forget about it all. Who cares about the harassment, when I got back I was going to ask to be transferred to a different office so I wouldn't have to work with them anymore. And when I came back, I found out that my boss had been fired, and two other co-workers were forced to quit or they would be fired as well. And the new schedule... didn't have me on it. It was as if... my vacation turned into a permanent one without me knowing about it. So I contacted the boss' bosses. I didn't mention the case, just politely asked if they could tell me where I was supposed to work or who I was supposed to contact. I sent emails, called their phones and left messages... nothing. I heard nothing. I was about to file for unemployment (because I hadn't had hours for a couple weeks!!) when they finally contacted me again. First of all, they apologized for not getting me my pay in a timely manner. (Did I forget to mention that my check was messed up a few months back, and I kept getting the runaround for getting it paid?) but that they had finally fixed it and it would be on the next check. Second of all, they apologized that my review was late. (Only a few months, but hey -- the last one was almost a YEAR late). So I was impressed that I was getting my review faster than before. At least they always retro-pay it. And then they said that they were done with their "investigations." And then they said that my act of removing the offensive document from the bulletin board was a criminal act, because it was on company letterhead. The letter that I did not keep, but gave to them. The letter that was harassment. A personal note.... *addressed to* **ME**. So they said I had two choices. 1) get fired for a criminal offense. or 2) resignation. Well, I know most everyone here would have fought it. But by this point, I was so sick of the company that I just wanted it done. I wanted to be free of them. So yes, I did resign. Which put me in some pretty bad hardship, because I had JUST taken vacation. So sure, I almost lost my apartment and had everything shut off because I couldn't afford to live... but hey, I qualified for food stamps. And I didn't have the stain of "fired for criminal offense" on my record. It doesn't matter that it was false and unjust... any future employer sees that on my record and I'm toast before I have a chance to explain. At least this way I still have a future. Plus, if I had stayed to fight it, it would have just caused more heartache and stress -- and I just don't need that in my life. And let me just say that I have never, EVER done anything like this before. Well, I've never been harassed before... and I didn't know what to do. The company policy hand book says if you're being harassed you're supposed to notify your boss immediately. Which is what I did. And it blew up in my face. I did everything I thought I was supposed to do. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure that C's motivation was jealousy -- they were jealous because I was trusted with responsibility that they felt they deserved. I didn't know this then, but I understand, now, I guess. But this seems a pretty far stretch to go for that. At least that's what I think. But its everyone else' response to what happened to me that has me... so... confused. I just don't understand why a company would allow someone who was harassing someone at work to continue working there while at the same time threatens the person who was harassed until they quit? Maybe they were just afraid of me making it bigger and suing the company? But if that was the case, they would have pursued it more... right? that's just it... I don't understand. I just don't. I haven't spoken with a lawyer at all. I didn't want to make this any worse than it already is. A lawsuit would just end badly for everyone involved. I'd have to continue to relive this mess and pay for court costs and ... who knows what else. Although, I'm pretty sure I would have a strong case, but its just not worth it. And, to be honest, I don't think its right to sue. God will judge them someday. I just don't like knowing that C not only thinks its OK, now, because they ultimately got exactly what they wanted (me not working there). But my whirlwind didn't end there, like I thought. I happened to have built quite a few relationships working at the company. In fact, most of my friends/acquaintances in the area are connected in one way or another (work there or a spouse of someone who did). And sadly, three of them have decided that they can no longer socialize with me. I don't have many friends... I have a gazillion acquaintances but few I call "friends." Two of these three, I had thought were some of my closest companions. And they didn't have the decency to tell me to my face, either. I was on facebook. Which, I have never said a foul word against anyone on there. Nothing. And to their credence, neither did they. Instead, they blocked me. I was quite confused, because I went to search for them so I could send them a message since they weren't answering my phone calls. Couldn't find them. They didn't appear when I'd search. Nothing. I asked another friend... nope, they're pages are still there, they didn't delete them. They just blocked me. And dodge my phone calls. They won't even tell me why they're upset, or what they think I've done wrong. Which tells me that I have been a poor, poor judge of character. They were never friends to begin with to just dump me when I'm down. I do know who my real friends are, now. Some even still work there. What am I, still in high school? Seriously folks, I think everyone involved is at least in their late twenties *or more.* So first I'm harassed, then berated, then forced to resign and then I lose two of my three closest friends. When I look back at what I could have done differently... I would not have removed the document from the board that is for sure! But honestly, even if I hadn't... I am 100% sure that they would have found another way to try to get me to shut up.... So then, I guess I should have complained at all. I should have just let that document stay there. For everyone to see and read and sign. Sure, it staying there really only made that person look bad... but it still offended me... deeply upset me. And it was still inappropriate. And I thought I had the blessing of my boss to remove it -- but when I think back to what he said, he never actually said that. That's just what I understood when he agreed that it didn't belong there. And removing it is the only thing that I had apparently done wrong -- according to them. I just... don't know. I don't get it. But what really erks me, is that the exact thing they told me -- that removing the document was what was wrong -- Well, C removed a document, too. A's original document was removed. But nobody is saying anything about THAT. Not only did C remove the document, but C re-phrased the original message at the top of the offensive document and passed it off as their own... which is forgery. But again, nobody's saying anything about THAT. Its injustice. Pure and simple. Evil was rewarded. So the boss who was fired... well he apparently blames me for him losing his job. Won't explain why, though. But remember the coworkers who also lost their jobs? Remember E, who was there when I confronted C? Once they no longer worked there, they free to tell me what had happened, so I could understand the whole picture for the first time. Keep in mind, up until this point, I know everything to be accurate. Below here, it is just hearsay. Pieces I put together based on other people's accounts, so I don't know (myself) what is true or exaggerated etc. : Apparently, the boss had talked to C about it, too, telling C that action was going to be taken because it was harassment. C freaked out, realizing he/she could get into BIG trouble for that... so decided to act first. Went above the supervisors head. Said the supervisor was giving some of us "special treatment" and that the supervisor was lying for us etc. etc. I don't know all the details but it was a ten page, single spaced complaint about the boss, E and another coworker and me. Said that E was a crazy psycho that C was afraid was going to come in and hurt people some day because E was bipolar and off his medicine and would go on yelling rants and get really violent. C also said that I was concocting a plan to get C fired because of a personal vendetta. C said that I had 'made up' the letter (and when later confronted with it, denied it was theirs and said I had forged it! Which, my removing the document helped with that accusation). The other coworker was just given special treatment and the supposedly had not reported things about that coworker that he was "supposed" to... which I don't even know what that is talking about. Seriously, I know E pretty well and almost anyone who knows E is shocked by that accusation. Totally not true. Sure, he/she sees a counselor for anxiety issues and USED to take ANXIETY medication, but come on. Who in this world hasn't? Doesn't mean he/she's bipolar! (I know for a fact that is not the diagnoses.) So... wow. Yeah. One person made a mistake... a big one... and then ruined the careers of four other people in an effort to take them down before getting into trouble for the mistake. But... I still have a future. The company is pretty... stupid, at least, for buying into it. I mean, come on. The story is pretty outrageous, did they even look into the investigation? Did they just listen to the first person who caught their ear, and then automatically assume the worst about the rest of us? It's so unbelievable. Even to me, and it happened TO ME! But the gist of it is true. I was harassed, and followed proper protocol... my boss didn't report it fast enough (apparently he was trying to take care of it in house, first, which would have been fine except C decided to make everything worse before the boss got a chance to report it... and then reporting it just confirmed what C indicated he/she was afraid of happening...) So that's that. Injustice. I still cannot believe the way they treated me. I mean, it DOES make sense, their reaction, if C called them up and said "please help me, I think (my name) is going to accuse me of harassment and I didn't do it! (my name) forged it!" and then sure enough, when my boss finally does get around to reporting it they go "C was right, that is exactly what happened." Its not a big surprise, psychology says that many people tend to believe the first person they hear from more so than the second. So I mean, it does make some sense that they would treat me with caution. If only my boss hadn't taken his time reporting it... if only my boss hadn't warned C... none of this would have happened. If only C hadn't harassed me at work in the first place, none of this would have happened. Justice was not served here. I was a victim, and have only been further victimized. I still can't believe it all... I mean, I didn't want it to turn into the mess it did. I mean, why involve anyone else in this? It should have been between C and me. The boss was only involved because he/she was the one I was supposed to contact (and I did). I asked E to remain as neutral as possible, but I needed a witness... and possible protection if C got out of hand. Other than that, I left everyone else out of it. Not C. C had to drag in a ton of people. Don't know why. Don't understand C. So if you're just going to tell me that I should have just sucked it up and let the harassing letter stay on the board.... don't bother. I already know that. Part of my brain is kicking myself for ever saying anything. Because it ruined a few good people along the way. But the other part of me, the one that says "hey, I live in America, how can someone get away with treating me like that? Harassment is illegal, I don't have to tolerate harassment in this country" says I should have stood up for myself. But all standing up for myself got me was lost job and lost friends. I'm really frustrated and angry right now. I don't know what to do. I mean, its been several months, really, and why does it still bother me so much? Why do I still stay up late at night regretting ever standing up for myself after being harassed??
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