According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of educate is: to give (someone) information about something:
• to train (someone) to do something.
Educate - What does this mean in the workplace?
Well, my friend, it means educate yourself about the interworking of your workplace: your responsibilities, your department, your manager(s) personality and what makes them tick or get ticked off, policies, procedures, dress codes, holidays, benefits (education, medical, especially mental), who’s who in human resources and management, employee handbook, people’s movement and personalities. I am sure this was not part of your interview. So let’s get started with the department that begins your career at the company. HR. Fasten your seatbelt my friend.
HR (Human Resources)
Let’s get very, very, VERY REAL here; HR is PR (Public Relations) for upper management. Yes, you read that correctly. Simply, put, HR is NOT your friend. Is that real education for you? Their first priority is to protect the company, NOT you. Sorry (sar-ree)! What this means is, if you have a real legal problem on the job, such as sexual harassment or any harassment, make sure you document everything BEFORE you go to HR.
Once you go to HR with a problem, they will tell you (in so many words) that, they have a legal obligation to follow state and federal laws and procedures (aka: they don’t want you to sue them or get fined). No matter how you phase it, going to HR = legal stuff. This means, HR will try to downplay what happened to you, to protect the company. Once you open your mouth to HR, your situation becomes a potential legal or worker’s compensation case, or in extreme situations, a police case. Educate yourself!
Here is Becky’s story (another true story): *Names have been changed to protect individuals and cases
Becky and Dale worked in an office at an investment bank. Each have been at the company for about 4 years in different departments. After the reorganization, they began to work together for the same manager. They had work cubicles near each other.
Dale’s behavior changed towards Becky. He began to make remarks about her breasts. His disgusting behavior continued for weeks. Becky rejected Dale, told him to stop, and his behavior made her uncomfortable, yet his behavior continued. She felt her only recourse was to tell HR, hoping they would step in.
Becky made an appointment with HR to provide them with details about his behavior. They documented her situation. They suggested that she wear loose blouses, loose suit jackets, scarves, and try to avoid being alone with him as much as possible. They stated “We will have his manager talk to him”. In her disbelief and shock from HR’s response, she cried in their office.
A few weeks went by with no interaction with Dale, due to their manager assigning him to a different project than Becky. Seeing that he was not fired or moved to another department, and continued to sit near her, was obviously upsetting to her. As a single mom, she stayed at the job for the income. Approximately two months went by and his behavior started up again. *Warning: next paragraph is disturbing.
In the afternoon, Becky was in the supply room. She gathered items and began to walk out, when Dale abruptly entered in the room blocking the door. He aggressively pushed her back into in the room, and attempted to sexually assault her. Becky grabbed staplers, reams of paper and whatever she could find to hit him, while screaming for help. The door was open. Three or four people heard the screams, and supplies falling off shelves. They broke up the scuffle, pulled them apart, and Dale ended up with a blooded forehead, bruises and scratches on his face. Dale DID NOT end up sexually assaulting her. The police came. Dale admitted to the police and the company what he did; charges were filed and, THEN he lost his job.
Human Resources did not admit fault (even though he admitted his behavior in the supply closet and making comments about her breast), did not take responsibility (when they could have fired him), and said they could not have prevented his behavior.
Becky documented every detail: his behavior, when it started, dates, times, meeting with HR, how long, etc. Becky, her attorney and the company knew the case was strong, especially after the witness' testimonies and Dale admission of guilt.
Becky was diagnosed with PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder) and other injuries. After some heavy negotiation, she (and he attorney) settled the case with the company for a significant amount of money (aka: “hush money”, meaning not to file a case in court. A filed case is a public record that can get out in the media).
Harassment, violence, odd outburst by employees and other situations occur in the workplace more often than not. Becky's situation was horrible and caused emotional grief. Grief of a sense of security.
PLEASE LISTEN and educate yourself.
From former Human Resource insiders, a company will not admit fault, but will give an employee “hush” money, eventually. Sexual harassment happens to men, as well as women. Women in the workplace tend to get sexually harassed more than men. Whatever you do, do not quit, if you can take it. If you do, then you will forfeit any settlement.
How to handle HR if you experience harassment in the workplace (or any issue):
• From the above story, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT and DOCUMENT. Keep emails, make note of everything. Keep a detailed journal.
• If you experience any threatening behavior in the workplace, take a martial arts class, just in case. Seriously
• Educate yourself about HR, legal procedures and know your rights (look outside the company for education)! The company will only educate you, what THEY want you to know.
• Begin searching for an attorney, early
• Stay calm as much as humanly possible and keep your communication with HR brief, as they record each interaction you have with them.
• HR is where the road begins and ends with your job at the company, so choose your actions and timing of communication carefully.
• HR is PR for the company, not you, so choose your WORDS carefully.
• Get on disability, if situation warrants it - know your rights (of course HR doesn't want you to know).
Not all HR are bad, but they do have “insurance (hush) money” aka "$ettlement" in their back pockets. They of course will not tell you that. Educate yourself is learning about workplace realities.
HR will always present to you, the employee, a Disney fairy tale picture of them, being your friendly resource. WRONG, they are not! They will butter you up faster than you can butter up a Butterball turkey the night before thanksgiving! Just proceed carefully. EDUCATE!
This book (Workplace Poker) is another excellent resource to help navigate your workplace (HR) solutions. It is a MUST READ! Add this book to your workplace survival toolbox! Don't think about, just read it.
Some positives about Human Resources
• Has direct deposit or paycheck $chedule
• Has paid $ holiday schedule
• Provide benefit information: health, 401K, vacation, sick days, remaining paid time off, etc.
• Provides information on tuition reimbursement (if available)
• Access to company phone list, including tech support
• Provides your hiring paperwork
Please leave your comments below. What are your thoughts?