This Is What I’m Gonna Do To You,” My Coworker Threatened After Hanging A Brown Teddy Bear From His Pod: A Shocking Example Of A Hostile Work Environment

5/18/2016

In 20 Seconds I shifted from anger to terror because I realized that my coworker at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) was responding to my rejection of his unwanted sexual advances. My supervisor chuckled and said my coworker was “just being ornery.” Ornery? Really? The man had just threatened me with bodily injury, and the supervisor only considered him ornery.

I reported him to BWC’s EEO office. Finally, my supervisor and the agency director told him to take down that teddy bear. But the damage was already done because he next publicly stated that he wanted to “go toe-to-toe” with me. My supervisor and the agency director deemed him crazy and told me to ignore him.

After many more incidents I filed workplace violation charges with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). The investigation took so long that I thought the agency had forgotten about me. Eventually the agency sent me a right-to-sue letter, effectively dismissing my charge. Or so I believed. Suffering from depression, I sought medical advice for the condition. Both my psychiatrist and my psychologist advised me not to return my place of employment.

With a school-age daughter to raise, a mortgage and a car note, I could not afford to take time off work. So I endured more sexual harassment, intimidation, hostile work environment and retaliation. I found myself ostracized and labeled crazy because I kept reporting sexual harassment to my employer’s EEO office.

Worse, the EEOC never actually ended the investigation. But they obviously sided with BWC, an agency within the state of Ohio. Suddenly my child support checks stop coming. When I filed an inquiry, I learned that my child’s father was current, but the state of Ohio withheld the support for six months. Talk about continuous retaliation! But I was ignorant of this term and how it could be used to make one’s life a living hell.

Eventually I took a medical leave of absence for major depression. I finally followed the advice of my shrink and my therapist. But BWC was not pleased. They demanded that I return to work, and when I cited my medical condition and no physician’s release, BWC wrongfully terminated me. I hired my coworker’s husband as my attorney—huge mistake. He allegedly failed to file suit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

I nearly suffered a heart-attack; I was so distraught. But what I realize today but failed to realize then was the last incident occurred after I was wrongfully terminated. With my most conservative calculations, I now realize the state owes me at least $700K in back wages. Later I will explain what occurred next. Until the next time . . .

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