Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Its Time

I knew this day would come but I have decided that it is time I explain just what exactly happened at my last job that made me refer to it as "evil". The reason for this feeling that the time is now is due to Helen's sad tale today. I feel it's important to tell my story because I want to tell women that they don't have to put up with sexual harrassment at work. Whether they just make sexist comments or they give you uncomfortable brushes in the hallway you do not have to work in that environment.

My story starts in fall of 2003 when I was working as a card dealer, I had just graduated from college and I was anxious to leave the gaming industry. Mostly because I wanted to use my education and I felt as if my brain was turning to mush with the lack of stimulation. Not to mention the small fact that I was getting pretty friendly with my boss (aka. Mr. M).

I went on a leave of absence with the goal of finding another job in 6 weeks. I was desperate at this point and I got an interview with a company (lets call them Hair Co.). The first interview was normal, the lady interviewing me seemed normal. Something strange was that I heard loud singing in one of the offices but I thought it was actually kinda fun and cool that someone would be belting at the top of their lungs in an office (it was a male voice).

I got called for a second interview. During which there were 3 total people interviewing me. They asked me things like, what kind of shoes are you wearing, what kind of music do you like, and other things. At the time I thought once again that it was relaxed and cool. What I didn't know was that these were giant red flags glaring at me.

I started within two weeks. Extremely underpaid even for entry level. 28.5K. Which was a 20K drop in pay from what I was making dealing cards. In my first 2 weeks I didn't have anything to do. No one had prepared for my arrival. No computer... nothing.

That was beginning of a downward spiral. The president of the company, a 60 year old man, who's wife was the co-owner of the company along with her brother, was inappropriate to say the least. He said things and did things that most bosses/CEO's wouldn't even THINK about. Slapping customer service girl's asses. Giving backrubs. He used to bitch about his wife in our morning meetings, called "coffee clutches". If you didn't go to "coffee clutch" you were "acting too good for them". In these meetings you were expected to bash your spouse or significant other as they all did. I was in a new relationship with my Mr. M and didn't have one bad thing to say. They used to try and pull stuff out of me. Create conflict or point out his shortcomings so I would bitch too. I couldn't do it, I loved him.

One time the president (who is already a close talker) cornered me in my cube. I kept backing up he kept inching forward. And since I'm a confident balls to the wall kinda girl I yelled, "DON'T EVER BACK ME INTO MY CUBE!!". He laughed and tried to blow it off. He never from that point on did that to me again.

The year went on and I half heartedly looked for other jobs because the pay sucked and the place had no future. I won an award at the yearly conference for having a kick ass sales program. That night two customer service girls (who were my friends)came to me and sobbingly told me that the 60 year old president had sexually assaulted both of them. One he had raped and the other he had put his hands down her pants in the back of a limosine the night before.

I got them a lawyer the next day. I reported it to the lesser of all evils the brother in law co-owner of the company. He didn't take it the way I had hoped he would. He simply told the girls that they could go home and take the rest of the day off and that he had to talk to "some people" about what to do next.

I went back to the office and the president left to meet the brother in law. He didn't come back that day. It was like wild fire.. it spread so fast. My boss the vice president of the company pulled me into her office and closed the door. She told me I had to stop it now. She told me they were lying and wanted his money. She told me that if I didn't stop this it would hurt me more than anyone else.

Everyday for the next month I search like hell for a job. I also got retaliated against on a daily basis. Sworn at, yelled at, ignored, job's taken away from me, tasks allocated to other people, close door meetings regarding work that I do without me.

In total 7 people left a company of 25. Nothing was ever done about the president. He was merely repremanded and the whole company had to take sexual harrassment classes. The lawsuit is still pending. Everyone that has testimony against him are slowly dropping off the face of the earth. In one case, there is a guy who actually SAW the president come to a bar and meet the girls (they did NOT invite him)he tried to get them drunk and tried to slap asses etc. That guy who saw him do those things, is now dating the president's niece. Convenient isn't it?

I got a job finally after a month of going home from work and crying everyday. When I gave my two weeks notice they told me not to bother coming in for the two weeks and that they'd pay me for those two weeks if I didn't come in. They wanted me as far away from the company as possible.

So for all of you women out there who are experiencing this in your work places. Or are being told that this is a "man's world". Or having sexual innuendos thrown in your direction. Please... don't let it happen. I didn't say anything more after I saw him doing things I knew weren't right. If I would have stopped the small stuff from the first time I saw it then these girls may not have ever been touched in this way.

It's not over, it's not in the past. These things still happen.


At 12:12 PM, Blogger cursingmama said...

What an awful story - I don't think you could have stopped his awful disgusting behavior even if you'd spoken louder as it seems they've swept it all under the rug.
But, you are totally correct that it is NEVER okay to be forced to put up with this type of behavior, no matter how covert. Unfortunately sometimes putting up with mildly poor behavior is easier than dealing with the consequences of speaking out in companies of all sizes.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

You are soooo right CM. Putting up with the little stuff cause we "don't want to cause a scene" is usually what happens. Hopefully some women will read this and say... NO MORE, whether its small or big.

At 2:59 AM, Blogger Helen said...

Doesn't it disgust you no end? Doesn't it make you so angry and so depressed?


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