The Most Important Word In Your Work Vocabulary

Just say no. Are we talking about drugs? No, we’re talking about firmly turning down that date at the office or factory. Sure, the biggest thing you two have in common is your employer. But the next biggest thing you two will have in common is: everyone’s in your business.

And when the romance is over, you’re stuck with leftover regrets. That’s why it’s best to turn down that boss or coworker. Explain to him: it’s not personal. Really, it is personal. But don’t tell him that, because you must protect yourself from him, from other coworkers and from Human Resources.

Yes, you even need to watch out for Human Resources. Even if you don’t immediately report sexual harassment, your boss may turn the tables on you and report you as the harasser. But how can that be? If you’ve dated the coworker or boss, HR will fault you for the messy breakup. You know: the I-don’t-want-to-date-you-anymore breakup. Now you’ve bruised your boss’s ego.

He intends to destroy your reputation. And your coworkers will help the boss because your coworkers will be left with only two choices: lose their jobs or destroy your credibility. It’s that simple.

A woman called Sidney contacted me recently. She stated that she went on two dates with the boss then dropped him. Although he didn’t fire Sidney immediately, he dogged her at work by casting aspersions on her and docking her pay.

He even excluded her from office meetings in which she was the sexual subject. This is disturbing because Sidney never slept with the boss. After kissing him, she decided his kisses were too sloppy and unromantic. So she pulled back.

Although Sidney admits she was a fool for blurring the lines between work and romance, she failed to understand that her boss made a pre-emptive strike by slut shaming her, even though she’d never slept with him. She realized too late that the boss executed a power play to prevent her from disparaging him. But Sidney never engaged in kiss and tell. In fact, she hadn’t mentioned her boss to her best friend because deep-down she knew her best friend wouldn’t have approved of dating in the office.

Now Sidney works at a new employer. After a few coworkers asked her out, she calmly but firmly said no. It didn’t matter that she may have met her match. It only mattered that she didn’t blur the lines of work and personal. What would you do?

 

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Avoiding The Boss And Female Coworkers

He leans in and blows in your ear. Sometimes he licks your ear with his tongue. Your husband or boyfriend? No. Your boss. He’s the two-faced manager at the office. He projects two images. In one image, he presents himself as a professional, highlighting his family-man status. In the other image, he furtively seeks office sex games from unwilling lower level workers like yourself.

You’re the prey. At first you find the situation confusing. But you soon learn that you must decide whether to play in the lion’s den.

Perhaps you feel compelled to comply with your boss’s sexual overtures. After all, how will you feed your family? How will you pay the bills?

But what happens if you refuse your boss’s sexual advances? Unless you have connections that can assist you with the dilemma, you become the hunted one–in more ways than one. Everyone knows the boss wants to sleep with you. Hell, some even figure the boss already has slept with you.

Now your bold, male coworkers proceed to make their sexual moves. One or two asks you out. You turn them down because you don’t want to mix business with pleasure. And all hell breaks loose.

Loose is definitely how the office subsequently labels you. After all, you had to do something to keep the men chasing you. Perhaps they really did catch you. But what if they didn’t catch you? Coworkers will have destroyed your office reputation for nothing.

And in such a precarious situation, who can you turn to? No one at the office. Other coworkers fear speaking up. But then you have that majority of coworkers who prove vicious. You know who they are. Other women. Instead of holding their hand out to you, your female coworkers cross their arms. Or clench their fists.

Whether it’s because of pure jealousy or plain snobbishness, your female coworkers can prove detrimental to your career and subsequently to your health. Non supportive coworkers hold little or no tolerance for victims of sexual harassment. Instead those same coworkers heap insults. They join in the fun and games–conspiracy, really–against you.

With your coworkers partnering with management to destroy your office reputation, what can you do? You should file sexual harassment and hostile work environment charges at a Fair Employment Practices Agency like the EEOC. If this step has already been completed, you should file continuous retaliation charges.

Although you will not gain any friends by blowing the whistle on others, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The EEOC may help you win the pending sexual harassment and continuous retaliation charges.

Are you having bullying or sexual harassment problems on your job? Do you need someone to talk with you? I’d love to hear from you. Email me.

Be Careful Filing Charges Against Your State Employer

Because of a state government’s power, proving sexual harassment and bullying can be difficult and darn near impossible. The state will deploy its entire arsenal of agencies to blow up your life with the hand grenade of retaliation. Damaging your image is the primary goal. Below is just one agency the state of Ohio deployed against me.

For instance, I found myself in heated situations with the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency for my interstate case with New York Child Support Enforcement Agency. At first I thought the delays were due to New York’s bureaucracy gone awry. But I quickly learned that all delays were on the part Ohio. For instance, my case worker showed me a blank case file even though I’d turned in all paperwork months earlier.

I wanted to raise hell. But I was on my lunch break from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). So I completed all the forms anyway and returned to work. When I checked on my case again weeks later, my caseworker admitted that she’d misplaced my paperwork. I found myself fighting an Ohio agency for money that was rightfully my daughter’s.

After appealing to supervisors and directors, the child support finally arrived bi-weekly. The amount of support was considerably lower even though my daughter’s father made quite a bit of money as a firefighter and a part-time educator. Ohio seemed to torpedo my efforts for increases.

Worse, the checks suddenly stopped coming. I contacted the father who assured me he was paying. He even chuckled about me not receiving the child support. Determined to drag him into court, I contacted New York Child Support Enforcement Agency. After a short investigation, the agency assured me that they garnished his checks regularly. He was all paid up. The problem was on the Ohio end of child support.

Confronting Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency proved stressful. The agency had decided to “hold” my support checks and pay in one lump sum. Eventually they issued me a check for five months of back child support. Later at BWC, in reference to the child support, my supervisor said, “We can all do this the easy way or the hard way. Back off your sexual harassment shit.” These statements chilled me.

For a while I did back off—until the next incident. If you’re a state worker complaining about any kind of discrimination, remember: You can settle things the easy way or the hard way. Just know that there’s no such thing as the easy way.

Your state employer will ensure that they take you down before they cut any checks for pain and suffering. If they bloody you and your family in the process, so what? If they can make you look irrational and crazy, that’s all the better. My berating the child support agency for withholding my checks added fuel to the fire of retaliation.

To this day, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation continuously retaliates against me by interfering with my life. That’s what they do: Interfere with your life. Little things add up. In the meantime, you’re boiling over with fury. Stay tuned for the next installment.

The Bully In Your Cubicle

Has a workplace bully invaded your personal space? Imagine a bully entering your cubicle and threatening to gouge out your eyes and skull fuck you. More than bullying, this threat screams of sexual harassment with undertones of criminality. At least, that’s my opinion.

Notifying a supervisor and upper level management prompted scorn and ridicule of me. After all, this was the same guy who chimed in with other coworkers to call me a prostitute. Horrified, I contacted human resources. They conducted one of many “all hands” meetings. In these meetings, EEO officers cautioned the entire office about sexual harassment instead of punishing the offender.

I felt such shame and embarrassment. Most importantly, I felt helpless because I was not yet schooled on the issues of hostile work environment and sexual harassment. Looking back on that terribly upsetting day, I realize what I should have done.

I should have named it sexual harassment and bullying by calling out the man I refused to sleep with. But I was paralyzed by the thought of the coworker actually harming me. And I was dumbfounded by management’s inaction on the matter. Sure, EEO officers traveled from Columbus, Ohio to Mason, Ohio in order to make a speech. But that speech only turned more coworkers against me.

Right then, I should have taken off work. But I needed all of my vacation and sick days for emergencies. The problem was: I failed to recognize sexual harassment as an emergency. So I remained at the office even though I hated being there.

Looking back, I should have taken my psychologist’s advice: take care of your health by removing yourself from the entire situation. You can always get another job. But you can’t get another you. For years I mourned my life. Eventually I snapped out of it to fight for myself, to stand up for myself.

It took me nearly two decades to learn I’m in the fight of my life. My opponent? Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation–in other words–the state of Ohio, my former employer. 

People wondered why I stayed in such a hostile environment. It’s simple: I knew no better. From the moment I turned down the agency director, BWC targeted me. I complained of sexual harassment. The complaint forced BWC to defend itself by labeling me as a prostitute.

BWC harassed me inside and outside the office. The agency harassed me on my subsequent part-time job at Mercy HealthPlex. When BWC couldn’t brand me as a prostitute because they couldn’t find one person I’d taken money from, BWC labeled me as just crazy.

And they spent years driving me crazy. To this day, I await the termination of the fact-finding investigation at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the EEOC. I’m told that the investigation continues until one of us—I or the state of Ohio—wins.

 

3 Ways The EEOC Interfered With The Rearing Of My Daughter

After filing an EEOC charge, beware of your surroundings because they change drastically. I warn you of this because enduring a fact-finding investigation will alter your life and alter your relationships drastically. If I’d known that filing a workplace violation charge would negatively affect my relationship with my daughter, I would not have filed one because the relationship between my daughter and me is my most important relationship. Therefore, the effect my workplace violation charge had on my daughter is most regrettable. Here are 3 ways the EEOC and my employer, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), interfered with me raising my daughter:

  • In retaliation for filing a charge against my employer, the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency routinely withheld child support checks for months. As a single mother, I needed those checks, but the Ohio agency would withhold the checks for as much as 6 months at a time as penalty for me filing a workplace violation charge against the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, my former employer. This increased my anxiety and plunged me further into major depression.
  • Prior to receiving disability retirement from Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS), I filed for workers’ compensation. Since I worked there, I knew exactly what was required to receive payments. Yet, my employer delayed payments in spite of medical documentation. This increased my anxiety and plunged me further into depression. I was so overwhelmed, I found it difficult to get out of bed most mornings, and I found it difficult to explain my moods to my school age daughter. I can’t tell you how many times I tried cleaning my house but lacked the energy to do so. This was embarrassing to my daughter because I wouldn’t permit her friends to visit.
  • As part of their harassment of me, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation approached my neighbors and friends in a bid to obtain dirt on me. One neighbor asked me if I really was a prostitute. This not only angered me, but it horrified me because he said he obtained the information from BWC investigators. Since I was no longer working for BWC, I had no understanding that this was continuous retaliation.

I blame the EEOC for dereliction of duty. Had the agency performed their due diligence, the state of Ohio would have failed in its efforts to destroy me. Even though I’ve now risen from the ashes, I still feel the burn. The EEOC should have known that my employer, the state of Ohio, was continuously retaliating against me.

In the years after filing that first charge, I learned that every employee should familiarize his or herself with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If the employee familiarizes his or herself with the laws, they would never endure what I’ve endured. Until the next time . . .

A Letter To My Senator

This complaint involves two different charges that were processed. In the first charge filed against my former employer, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), the charge was never closed even though I was sent a right-to-sue letter because I had hired an attorney after the bureau wrongfully terminated me. It did not take my attorney two years to file suit. It only took Jeffrie Lurie less than two months, but the magistrate dismissed the suit allegedly for expiration of the statute of limitations even though witnesses and one of my offenders admitted to sexually harassing me and making my workplace hostile. I dispute this because the last incident of continuous retaliation was the date of my termination.

Also, the EEOC ignored evidence that my former employer, BWC, in collusion with the state of Ohio conspired to interfere with and interrupt my child support checks as continuous retaliation. As a matter of fact, the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency withheld support for six months until I filed a complaint against the agency. The EEOC ignored the fact that the state of Ohio was continuously retaliating against me for more than a decade.

In 2006 I worked for Mercy HealthPlex and started experiencing a hostile work environment as well as sexual harassment. I learned later that the state of Ohio and Mercy HealthPlex colluded to undermine my credibility by working together and sending some of my former coworkers at BWC to harass me on my new job. I dual-filed a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the EEOC in August 2009.

By September 2012, I started contacting Ohio Representative Margaret Conditt as well as the Colerain Police Department to cease the fact-finding investigation as I was not only being intimidated, but the process became a financial hardship for me. Conditt’s office made inquiries and told me the OCRC and EEOC was not trying to harass me, but they required additional medical information.

In retaliation for me contacting Conditt and Senator Sherrod Brown, an investigator for the Ohio Highway Patrol illegally detained me and had me committed to UC’s psychiatric facility for 8 days. My insurance company refused to pay for more than a 72 hour hold because I was no danger to myself or anyone else.

In mid January 2013, I went to the Dayton field office of the OCRC and tried withdrawing my charge. There was no incident, yet when the agencies learned I was leaving Ohio, an Ohio Highway Patrol investigator contacted me and stated if I failed to seek psychiatric help and take medicine, they will arrest me. Then they placed a summons in my mailbox. During a dangerous ice storm, I appeared in court in February 2012, and no one from the OCRC or EEOC appeared. The case was set for another court date for April 2012. Neither I nor the OCRC showed up for court, yet the case has haunted me.

In the fall of 2015, I was denied a substitute teaching position because the charge of aggravated menacing was still open. In the spring of 2016, an apartment community in Tucker, GA turned me down for an apartment because of the aggravated menacing charge. In April 2016 I returned to Ohio to defend myself. The case was continued until the beginning of May 2016. I appeared again, but no one from the OCRC or EEOC appeared. I hired a public defender who was surprised the case was not dismissed as no one from the other side appeared 3 years ago nor this year.

The EEOC has continuously denied that any charge I filed was open. I have the right to learn the status of my cases, and I have the right not to be retaliated against by employees at the EEOC and OCRC because I told other politicians and agencies they were not doing their job. Please help me. These agencies have interfered with my life enough!

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 . . .