I knowingly worked in a warehouse full of men. Knowing this fact I had been very aware of my surroundings and how the guys all speak to me when we’d be working together on anything. Yes, we did tend to joke and play about certain things and some of the guys are more “macho” in a sense than the rest. That is to say that I did indeed partake in the occasional workplace banter alongside them all. I tried to “fit in” as best I could even though I am a member of the opposite sex. Having said all of this, and having been around for over 7 months, the following occurred nonetheless:
Two of my male coworkers were in the office with me on a Friday just a few weeks prior to me being let go back in March, with no manager in the office, things were pretty chill around there. One of them was on the phone with our offsite operations manager with whom he was discussing the hiring of a new Sales and Marketing employee. He was telling her things like “It would be nice to have another female in the office, someone with a bit more estrogen”. “Make sure it is someone who would not qualify as being described as obese, but someone thin”. Once the conversation was over, he hung up the phone laughing and looked over at me to say “You know Sarah, you must have a lot of testosterone running through you or something”. And with that, I got up out of my chair while my two coworkers in the office both laughed. I stopped to bend over to turn off my little heater and he commented again saying “It would be nice to see a little leg around here, I mean come on Sarah, you’re wearing sweats.” They both laughed, yet again and I told them, not laughing, that “It’s Friday and I’m being casual”. I immediately called my significant other on the phone after clocking out to take my lunch break and told him what had happened, in tears. I had never been subjected to such blatant discrimination in the workplace, nor to such ridiculous sexist remarks. I decided to report him to management immediately. My manager on duty was actually an offsite Office Manager that was working out of her office in Dallas, Texas and so I phoned her immediately to report him. She informed me that I needed to report it directly to the owner as she did not know the correct protocol. So I made another phone call to the owner’s wife who normally handled all of the Human Resource issues that arose at the workplace. I left her a voicemail and walked back to the warehouse. I asked then to speak to my warehouse manager for a moment about what had happened. I informed him and he asked if I’d like to finish out my shift working in the warehouse with him. I informed him, in tears, that I would be unable to do so. I said goodbye and got my stuff from my desk a few desks away from the coworker who had harassed me, and he asked if I was having “boyfriend problems?”. I did not even acknowledge him. I walked out of my office and out of the building and went to wait for my ride to pick me up.
Over the weekend I struggled greatly. Both with my gender and with my having been attacked for being a female while at work and for many other reasons. This man I worked with had said multiple things that were very very wrong to say to anyone in the workplace and it had left me to cry all weekend long. The owner’s wife did get back to me and she told me that I needed to think very hard and write a descriptive letter to her informing her of just what had happened in the office that day because an investigation would happen. So I did. I researched and found that I needed to be very very detailed and needed to show that in my paperwork when I was hired I was told that this company had a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment in the workplace. I referred to it over and over in my writing up of the event. The only thing left to do was email what I had written. I clicked the send button and waited for the next step to happen.
The next week was dreadful. I was told by the owner’s wife that their would indeed be an investigation by an outside Human Resource Representative that they were hiring in order to look into what had happened and that I would be questioned, as well as everyone who had been present at the time. However, I would have to wait a week until that happened. In the meantime, I was to endure the silent treatment from that coworker for the entire week. It was so difficult to concentrate on my work and focus because I was still so very upset with him. Halfway through the week I asked if I could speak to him about it and he said yes and I told him that he’d hurt me badly and he apologized, but things were still weird after that. Once we were questioned, it was still off in the office. Nothing was normal again after that and my managers wouldn’t even speak to me regularly any longer. Communication went downward and nothing was done for 2 weeks that I was aware of about what had occurred.
They had us meet, all of the warehouse and office employees, to discuss the slow season that had hit at last. I had been warned that that time of year it was bound to happen that hours would be cut. And so it happened and I went from a 40 hour week down to a 30 hour work week. It was a big hit, but I was fine as I was still living at home. After one week. 5 days. That first Friday, the owner’s wife asked me to meet with her the last 15 minutes of the day. What I thought was just a regular conversation about my mental health as we’d had in the past, turned into her letting me go from the company.
I was shocked, but then, not so much. I had a feeling that this company was going to be something good for me, but once I had gone through all the medical appointments with my doctors and all, I figured they might decide to let me go after all of it. Especially after the harassment claim I filed against another employee, I just knew something was going to change, and here it was! No big shock here. She was all teary-eyed when handing me an envelope with my last paycheck in it, and I just told her I would be alright and everything was fine. She said no. I went and gathered up my belongings and said goodbye to my warehouse manager for the last time and goodbye to the owner of the company and left the office for the last time.
I realize that I could have made the decision to go after them for what they’d done, but they were a small company, and I just did not want to cause them such hardship and trouble over this. They’d covered their tracks by cutting everyone’s hours across the board, and so they could use that to their advantage to fight me. I just chose to let it go. It was something of a blessing in disguise to me. Here I was, tired and stressed out from all this, and they handed me an opportunity to relax. I took it! I’ve been unemployed and getting unemployment checks and living stress free at home while I look for work, and also visiting family out of state while I have the chance. Things have been good since to say the very least!