Coming to a head but not getting ahead
August 28, 2012 10:31 AM Subscribe
My employer seems to be pushing me toward filing an EEOC complaint or resigning my job. What do I do?
posted by anonymous to work & money (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I work in a very male-heavy environment at a smallish company (currently 36 full-time regular employees, plus one former-employee-consultant, one outside sales rep, and 3 officers, 2 of whom co-own the company and are in a legal dispute regarding whether one is legally allowed to have fired the other).
I have worked here for 14 years and have not had an annual review since 2009. I am the only employee not to receive an annual review in that timeframe. There are no women in positions of power, and have not been since 2000. I am the highest ranking woman in the company, but have been effectively demoted several times through org chart shufflings that result in my reporting to someone lower down the chain, despite no history of disciplinary action.
Week before last, our head of accounting/designated human resources person caused a problem with me trying to resolve an applications clash. I asked him politely either to let me handle it or let me know to step out. He responded by declaring that he was forwarding all my emails to the GM, and that anything I had to discuss should go through either the GM or the purchasing manager from then on. He has not apologized or rescinded that directive since, but he did go to the logistics department and declare, "This is why I hate working with heifers!", meaning apparently me in particular and women in general (it was not a size-related comment, as I am not a plus-sized person).
Yesterday, the GM became involved when he inquired why I was sending certain information to him rather than the head of accounting, and I provided him with the email where I was instructed to do so. I was instructed to disregard the directive and forgive and forget. I told him that I did not like to put myself in a position where I am disobeying a direct order that has not been rescinded, as I feel that could put me in a position of insubordination. I further said that I have observed a pattern of problematic attitudes and behavior toward women, and I would appreciate an opportunity to address them with him, with an eye toward problem resolution.
The GM has responded that he is unwilling to discuss this with me or hear any incidents supporting that point without a lawyer present, and asked if I were making a formal complaint. I told him that I was informally notifying him of a problem and would prefer to discuss the situation and see if we could address it, that litigation was not my plan. So far, it appears that he is sticking to his guns, that we cannot discuss anything about this without the company attorney present.
Possibly relevant points:
I am in Georgia, which is a "Right to work" state.
There are no disciplinary actions on my record.
There is no one else here capable of performing all or a significant subset of my work functions.
I do not have substantial documentation, only a few email forwarded to my personal account, regarding issues contributing to a hostile work environment, but I do have one or two witnesses to back up some incidents.
None of the incidents I have reported to "human resources", such as it is, have been documented or investigated. In every case, I was told to get over it.
The GM is also the VP and the seat of power; the CEO is not involved in daily operations or employee relations and has not been for several years. The CFO was one of the people I reported incidents regarding, and he was dismissed in January (unrelated; a power struggle between himself and the CEO), over which there is an ongoing legal situation.
Given that a lot of the specific incidents occurred more than 180 days ago, I am under the impression that this means they cannot be considered by the EEOC if I were to consult with them.
I would prefer to resolve this amicably, but am afraid that may no longer be possible.
Next week, I am scheduled to go on my first-ever week-long vacation. I am concerned that actions or discussions may occur during this time to further jeopardize my position.
I have been considering starting a search for employment elsewhere, but have not yet begun that search and do not have a backup option at this time. I could survive off savings for a few months if I have to, and longer if I resort to my 401k, but am terrified of having no income.
What should I do? What should I say and not say and to whom?