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Contributing to a Hostile Work Environment continued.....

by Nancy
(Ohio)

MY REACTION


1. Tone seems to imply that I am mostly responsible for the whole hostile and unproductive work environment, need for multiple meetings, series of meetings, etc. etc. Just not true; I am 1 pea in a large pod.

2. In recent months? This referring back to at least 2 years ago when staff morale was very low in the whole Crisis Center largely due to the management style of a previous ES Director and Agency Director. Disgruntlement escalated among all staff until it seeped out into the public and the Mental Health Board having heard of it directed the Agency Director to have a series of meetings with Crisis Center staff for damage control. Was I disgruntled at that time - yes. Did I discuss my disgruntlement with co-workers and them with me then - yes. Did I and others ask politically incorrect but direct questions/comments then - yes. Why -because of my belief that if the problems we were being asked to help solve/remedy then everyone needed to take ownership and to work from facts. For me to sit there and do otherwise would make me a part of the problems. The atmosphere of those meetings was tense, punitive and political in nature.

3. Multiple Conversations –another example of using plurals where there is one conversation. This was a situation where I was not present at work and a co-worker called me at home and stated that she had become unable to stay out her night shift due to illness. She reports that when she went to the night ES Manager she was told she could not leave until she found coverage. This co-worker did not feel able to and left telling the ES manager she could not do the calling as she was too ill, ie.left without doing what the ES Manager told her to do. It was my understanding that she was still sitting in her car in the parking lot. Her question to me was: Is it the policy that if one is ill one has to find coverage for sick time off? (Note; we do have to find our own coverage to take vacation time) My response to her was that I had never known of this being the policy or practice, (I have taken sick time and never got my own coverage), noted to her the variant that she was already there on the job instead of calling off from home, and advised her that although she may not think the ES Manager was right she was her supervisor, to avoid being looked upon as being insubordinate she should perhaps go back into the office and/or call the ES Director (let her know she is not ratting on the ES Manager or trying not to follow chain of command)to inform her of the circumstances and seek her guidance. Instead she was part of the 35 mile trip home and she did not speak with the ES Director but texted her. Later when she did discuss this fully with the ES Director it came out that I had advised this so she would not look like she had walked away from her job. The co-worker and I discussed this later and she agreed that she had misunderstood my focus. However, a few weeks later when I became ill at work, the ES Manager told me if I went home I had to get the rest of the shift covered. A co-worker knowing I was in no condition to make those calls called the staff list for me with no success. I stayed the rest of the night as it was unsafe for me to drive. The ES Manager fluctuated with me accusing me of sleeping on the job instead of “passing out” to telling me to go to ER. The ES Manager told the co-worker that I was sleeping on the job and had done so several times before. I did drive home the next morning and got into my doctor. I was already diagnosed with sleep apnea several months prior. The doctor diagnosed me with Unresolved Sleep Apnea and added Narcolepsy as a new diagnosis and the cause of my momentary blackout. Thinking the ES Manager would report me, I obtained a letter from my doctor. Management has never discussed this incident with me but 2-3 co-workers have reported to me that the ES Manager has told them she caught me sleeping on the job which is totally untrue this time or ever and confidential.

On another occasion this same employee was forced by HR to tell who told her that previous meeting information with her regarding tension between her and this ES Manager was disclosed. It was disclosed because the ES Manager shared it with me unsolicited. I warned my co-worker about it so she be aware and she promised not to tell who had told her –but under pressure from HR she folded.

4. Series of meeting within the past 4 months – When the ES manager was hired 1.5+ years ago there was a different ES Director than now. When introduced at a staff meeting by the previous ES Director and she spent time explaining the new ES Manager’s management style and coincidentally how it was different from hers. She reported that the ES Manager had an open door, informal policy and that
staff was free to come in to her office to vent confidentially and that nothing would be repeated unless the staff wanted her to take some sort of action. In the weeks following the first of her employment, the new ES Manager did just this as staff was observed going in and out of her office with door closed and told they did later. Having been burnt before, I was skeptical at first. Then with my general job stress levels rising and the stress, disgruntlement and low staff morale of everyone rising making an unhealthy work environment in addition to the new ES Manager coming to me with clinical and management type questions, I decided to take her up on her offer to vent confidentially. I never once asked her to act and sought her reassurance that it stayed between her and I. Once there a little while, the ES Manager also began to ask me periodically how and why the place was run a certain way, i.e. for the Crisis Center history so to speak. She was observing things and hearing things from other staff and wondered why things were the way they were plus she expressed not being let in on things from management to some extent. I answered her with factual information (emails from management and agency policies, etc.) and yes I also gave my opinions. Included in my opinions was that I felt there were unfair management practices, preferential treatment given to some, my problems with the LSS-Lima Director in current role and past lesser roles, my problems with the former ES Director who hired her and yes that I thought these 2 had narcissistic tendencies. (Not the current ES Director) I gave her a copy of something off the web about narcissistic bosses to illustrate. This copy was presented as evidence at the meeting I had with them. Nothing was on it that identified me and I did not confirm or deny that it was mine. It wasn’t hostile; just my opinion. I do not recall calling anyone a spy, I may have said persons were previously fired for what I felt was an “unjust” reason but not “unethical” reasons and I do not ever recall saying employees were treated like dogs. Since my employment 7+ years ago, there has always existed a pattern of favoritism in the workplace and primarily since the current LSS-Lima Director took that position. This is a general opinion expressed to me from co-workers from the beginning and one I have observed over and over. The favoritism appears to be based upon past work relationships in other agencies, going to the same church and results in promotions, getting by with infractions others are called on and personal relationships outside of work. It appears loyalty and respect is generated by the Director through giving persons these things, they then owe her etc. instead of earning the respect and loyalty. If you aren’t a butt kisser and are not willing to pay with loss of yourself and your independent thoughts then you just maintain and stay off her and her pals’ radar system. I am not willing to pay that price. I roll with a lot of “stuff” but when it gets to the ridiculous and the stress over the injustice gets tremendous, I have spoken out to them one on one and in meetings and to co-workers in discussions. As the political games that are played by management goes from the CEO down and up, I soon quit or haven’t utilized the grievance procedure or much of meeting with any supervisor as it is a stacked deck; this has resulted in me having no paper trail to defend myself with now. Also the management style is micro-management, i.e. you cannot just deal with your ES Director at the lowest point of your concern because she is trained to check with the agency Director before responding definitely and many time the Director checks with the CEO even on day-to- day things. It is like going to your City Council on an issue and President Obama with Secret Service shows up to handle it. This has gone on for much of my employment resulting in the management willing to believe anything told to them about me, i.e. I am guilty and may or may not be given the chance to prove I am innocent. Every time I go to work I feel like I am walking into a mine field.

In this case the Action stands; I can attach a response but that is all. I am in the process of completing the steps in the Action Plan. I return to work next Wednesday night and feel if I look, sigh, etc. the wrong way, I will be held in violation. Even if I don’t express anything similar to the accusations, keep in mind the ES Manager routinely resorts to fabricating and embellishing regarding staff. So she can lie and be believed and it is not likely they will check it out with me or anyone else. I expect to be fired shortly and therefore am trying to prepare the best I can to get Unemployment Compensation here in Ohio.

Can you help me do the best I can with this? I don’t even know what to put in my response to them! AUTHOR OF ARTICLE PLEASE RESPOND!

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