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.

Advertisements

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.

 

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 . . .

Why Would ‘He’ Want To Set Fire To My Tampon?

5/13/2016

I’m Tracey Lampley. Many apologies for not posting sooner, but I’m back now. Are you wondering about the title of this post? You should because a coworker stated he would set fire to my tampon if I continue being mean to him (by resisting his advances).

I must admit this personal trainer, who dabbled in karate, scared the crap out of me every time he undressed me with his eyes. He even ‘playfully’ punched me in my arm. Back in the day, it was called ‘frogging.’ Frogging me left me bewildered and in pain. Want to know the worst part about this? The assault was captured on camera.

In my days working the front desk at Mercy HealthPlex , I experienced many physical and verbal assaults. Sprinkle in a some psychological assaults, and you have yourself a hostile work environment stew!

But please do not think that you should go to fair employment practices agencies like the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and/or the OCRC (Ohio Civil Rights Commission) because they will drop you in hell first then supply the ladder–not the water–to bring you back up.

Speaking of ladders, at my gig with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the former director stared at my breasts and told me he could school me in being promoted. He said this after I was turned down for promotion.

The entire time I thought I was passed over for promotion in favor of a white male when in fact sleeping with the agency director would have sealed the deal. No, I never slept with him nor did I realize he was violating a workplace rules and regulations. I blame myself for being ignorant of Title VII laws of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

As you know, I am blogging a book to inform and help victims of Title VII laws. Until the next time . . .

 

5 Books on Hostile Work Environments

April 16, 2016

As you already know, I endured a hostile work environment. Now I’m writing about it. But the following books may give you insight into what you are enduring. Here are the following:

  1. Ten Commandments of Working in a Hostile Environment by T.D. Jakes
  2. What Your Boss Really Wants From You: 15 Insights To Improve Your Relationship by Steve Arneson.
  3. Women And Sexual Harassment: A Practical Guide to the Legal Protections of Title VII and the Hostile Environment Claim by Robert C. Berring and Anja A. Chan
  4. Sexual Harassment Kit by Bikash Kalita
  5. The Manager’s Guide to Preventing a Hostile Work Environment: How to Avoid Legal Threats by Protecting Your Workplace from Harassment Based on Sex, Race Age by Wanda Dobrich, PhD., Steven Dranoff, PhD., Gerald L. Maatman Jr., Esq. (I mention this book because you will notice immediately what your boss is not doing)

Wipe your tears. Diffuse your anger, and get informed! Always leave a paper trail. In my case, I left a trail of emails. Now, the employer may claim that you are harassing them with emails if you consistently report harassment that way. Tough! It may be the only way to prove you’ve notified the company, the chain of command.

Because you have complained in person–or even given your supervisor a heads up, you’ve planted a target on your back because now the company must cover its ass. The company will look for any reason to discipline you. This is called retaliation. Firing you is not only wrongful termination but continuous retaliation.

In my case, BWC secretly interviewed my neighbors about me. Two of them told me! Ignorant of what to do, I did nothing about it. When I saw someone stealing my trash out of my trashcan, I reported it to police. But nothing materialized from the incident. Watch your trash! Companies hire private investigators to go through it. Even if you use a shredder, private investigators will still fish for information.

For all of this, the EEOC  nor the OCRC never helped me. The agency’s investigators were too busy trying to drive me crazy, and they missed out on obvious opportunities to close this case in my favor. Know this: After filing a workplace violation charge, you can’t trust anyone but yourself. The investigation lingers for as long as your family, friends and neighbors cooperate. You must stop the investigation by blasting what happened while appearing calm, cool, and collected. I know. I’m a survivor.

Follow me. Stick with me. Share my blog posts. Tell people about it. And if you have a similar story, I may let you guest blog. Contact me at: tracey.lampley@gmail.com. Until the next time . . .

Tracey Lampley is the author of Kept and Kept Book Two
Follow me on twitter @BookMistress1