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Peter R. Garber has worked as an HR professional for over 25 years and is the author of many business books including: Winning the Rat Race at Work and 100 Ways to Get on the Wrong Side of your Boss.
Dina Beach Lynch, is an Ombudsman, Author and former attorney. An award-winning mediator, Dina served as the Corporate Ombudsman for the 7th largest bank in the US helping over 48,000 employees to resolve workplace issues.
Dr. Rick Brandon is CEO of Brandon Partners. He has consulted and trained tens of thousands at corporations worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries.
Dr. Marty Seldman is one of America's most experienced executive coaches. His 35-year career includes expertise in executive coaching, group dynamics, cross-cultural studies, clinical psychology, and training.
Arnie Herz, is a lawyer, mediator, speaker, author and consultant nationally recognized for his practical and inspired approach to conflict resolution and client counseling.
Dr. John Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer and theologian. John is currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's aboriginal communities.
But the double standards pile up. He called me into his office for inappropriate work attire... So I switched... However, no one else in the office changed.
Have I got the most dysfunctional office environment? I work in a small, family owned landscape company. Politics are natural in a small marriage-like environment, but what is worse is the less educated you are, the more valued you may be.
This is my third season there, and with any luck my last. I think if I don't escape it, it will swallow me whole.
The office is run by an aging owner, and his two sons. One son runs the landscape department, and the other runs the lawn and tree care. The landscape side son is the most reasonable. However, he has temper flare-ups out of nowhere. Last spring he called me into his office for inappropriate work attire. (Still not sure, but ok...) Anyway, he felt that I should wear jeans in the office. So I switched to Khakis, dress pants, anything other than skirts since he deemed those inappropriate as well. HOWEVER, no one else in the office changed suit. They wore t-shirts and jeans, complete with dirty shoes. After some time I reverted back to jeans (non wholly, and non dirty) and nice tops. He approached me again about several "mistakes" on the records that had been made. Ironically they had been made by my counterpart who has been there for 7 years and is the diva herself. She is the book keeper, in fact I have spent the last 2 weeks correcting the issues she has recorded in her rush to complete her tasks and escape by 5 o clock pm. When I told him that that was not the area I usually did he didn't want to hear it. I did not blame my co-worker, but he informed me that I was not to point fingers (Ironic since he did incorrectly at me).
He also told me I was not to have personal calls on the clock, nor am I allowed to eat on the office premises. Both of which is terrifically mispositioned as my coworker (the only other female mind you, a mid-weight, middle aged, overbearing undereducated, overpaid cow of a woman most days!) receives 1 call from her daughter upon arrival home from school, and at least 2 from her husband. I receive none, with the exception of one I received last week from my college regarding a signature. She also eats throughout the day, whereas I now go from 8 am to 5 pm without a break for meals or drinks.
The other side of his ironic twist is the fact she wore jeans last week with two large holes exposing her bright pink underwear, yet nothing was said.
Our office manager is even better, he is the only one besides the owner and myself with a college degree. Not that you would be able to tell given the letter he sends as correspondence. With chronic misspellings, grammatical errors, and mathematical disputes he is hardly a source to look up to.
But I digress. The accusations of error have slowed since 9 times last week alone, my co-worker was put in her place when her errors were exposed in front of herself, and others. She can't point the finger at issues that were blatantly her fault. But it gets better.
My other boss, he is a real trip. In his late forties he is the most egotistical, arrogant, and self centered person I have ever meant. He has flipped me the bird, told me to bill jobs that were not completed, and instructed me that I must have many boyfriends. He has commented on my bra size, my "rear end", and other sexual innuendos. The sexual harassment is ridiculous. When I told him I would not compromise my ethics to bill someone for something he didn't do, he told me he would fire me. When I said, that was fine. He flipped me off. Needless to say I still work there.
But the double standards pile up. My car was hit by their employee, on their time, on their equipment and I had to pay the damages. They refused to pay for any of the damage which approached $600.00. They said that because it was in the parking lot they were not responsible for their employees poor driving.
I am the only one that is singled out to wear "certain" types of clothing- nothing frumpy, nothing too revealing, nothing too casual, but not too dressed up either... no green shoes, but no boots....the list goes on. I have decided company based polos and a terrifically thin coat is about the only thing I won't be addressed for.
This is only the surface, but I swear... all I can think is that this job is tearing the life from my young soul. I graduate with my second degree in May and have started to think I may be overqualified and should apply elsewhere perhaps.
Dear Dreading Double-standards,
Great letter. Thank you for sending it. It brings out a point that applies to many employees, who, like you, are under-appreciated, undervalued, disrespected, underutilized and stuck in work situations that are unhealthy and do not provide an environment that will help you best advance your career.
The question is: Why do you (and others like you) stay in such situations when you know it is so unhealthy and where meaningful change of the work environment is as likely as a month-long blizzard on the equator?
The answer is that we are treated by others in direct relationship to the way we feel and treat ourselves. Your letter is a big step forward -- a declaration that you want and deserve better. Your next step is to actually go and do it by finding a job that best aligns with your integrity, intelligence, dedication and aspirations.
And, one final note. If you feel you have been sexually harassed, I recommend you speak to an attorney in your local area.
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Arnie Herz, Esq.
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