Thursday, February 10, 2011

9to5 Is On The Line

Every year, thousands of women and men call 9to5’s Job Survival Helpline for advice on how to deal with difficult situations at work, information on their rights in the workplace, and tips on balancing work and family.

After Maya* fell and injured herself on the job, her supervisor began pushing her to quit. When that didn’t intimidate her, he tried to pit Maya and another woman against each other, creating a hostile work environment for both of them. Fortunately, both women could see through his behavior and became allies instead of enemies. The supervisor became verbally abusive and made the workplace unbearable.

Maya says her supervisor’s behavior bordered on stalking. He abused his authority by calling his staff and asking them to report on her. If he could not see her, he wanted to know where she was at all times. When Maya reported his behavior to Human Resources, her supervisor’s harassment escalated. “One time, he waited for me outside in the parking lot and followed me in his car,” she says. Maya felt threatened enough to call the police.

One day, her supervisor turned to her and demanded, “Why are you working here anyway? You have an advanced degree.” This confirmed Maya’s feelings that her supervisor felt threatened by her education and experience. With nowhere else to turn, Maya fled to the bathroom to pull herself together. She had gotten 9to5’s number previously, and now she called the 9to5 Job Survival Helpline from the bathroom of her workplace.

That call made all the difference. “It was having a place to call that could listen and give resources, having someone who was on my side, that helped me get through the day,” she says. The person on the other end of the line gave her tips she could use right then to deal with the situation and sent her a list of local lawyers, highlighting the ones that dealt with discrimination and retaliation.

Maya ended up leaving her job, and in spite of her reports to his superiors, her former supervisor is still there. Maya says that knowing that the problems weren’t her fault, but her supervisor’s, helped her get through the situation. She believes that everyone should have the right to a workplace free from harassment, and those that don’t should have options to remedy the

The Job Survival Helpline offers information and resources about your rights in the workplace. The Helpline is staffed from 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM Eastern time on weekdays, and has additional evening hours between 5:00 and 7:00 PM Eastern time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 1-800-522-0925 to speak to a trained staff person.

*Name has been changed at Maya's request.

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