When the Harasser is a She
Familiarity and expectancy lye with sexual harassment and males in the work place. It is rather simplistic to access and accept the penchants that arise from assumed adages associated with this type of workplace harassment. There is often a flurry of infamy when the mere mention of harassment parts the lips of anyone, especially women. However, there exists a more esoteric and onerous brand of abuse that I will attempt to expose and illustrate elaborately.
You are due for a performance review evaluation. To date, your work is impeccable, your attitude, work habits and personality are all commendable. You do very well. Several weeks lapse and you’re feeling like you are on top of the world. The holidays are on the horizon and promotions and year- end bonuses are given. You welcome in the New Year-with special significance; realizing that you are expecting; you know, with child; in a family way!
No symptoms, no warning signs; nothing could have prepared you for your little delight In fact, if it had not been for the modest weight gain, you would not have suspected a thing other than too many holiday treats. You have been more energetic than most and looking forward to all the newness associated with babies.
Once the announcement is made, your world spirals uncontrollably into an inimical environment. You maintain your productivity, professionalism and acumen yet you become the pinnacle of debasing jokes and ridiculed for allowing such a thing to happen at such a time in your life. What’s worse, the deplorable comments are made by your supervisor–another woman! Your whereabouts and the number of visits made to the restroom are tallied. What you eat and with whom you do so, are now being monitored. Why?
The strange behavior that was experienced in this scenario is not lack of understanding, misinterpretation or even stupidity. It is a combination of several thoughts, feelings and emotions that are displayed when a person believes that they are being threatened in a valued relationship. Jealousy has absolutely nothing to do with the treatment received but rather your mirroring something that the other ‘woman’ wants or wishes for herself.
Another rather unfortunate scenario would entail women who are sandwiched between raising their minor children and caring for their aging/disabled parents.
The disparity between the sexes is quite brutal. While men who perform these same duties are very often praised for their heroics, women performing these actions are overlooked for hire, promotion, and even having work loads reduced because of the assumption of potential absenteeism and lack of availability.
Many women conceal the fact of having to care for young children/elderly/disabled family members by removing subtle indicators such as photos, charms, wedding bands, medical information for fear of being suspected and losing their position and jobs. Hundreds of cases are reported and filed. This has spiked over the past decade but has not deterred the unacceptable behavior and practice. The greater business of proving the harassment/abuse is a campaign that may seem like an endless turbulent ride.
Once a harassment case has been filed, the blackballing begins. The distancing between you and the accused [expected due to suit], other company associates, lunch mates may become apparent. There are very definite lines drawn in the hardening cement and many will take a conscious stance in support or retaliation.
Once these types of cases are filed, it is overwhelmingly difficult-often-significant uncertainty in continued employment with such companies even if the case is still being litigated. The other pressing issue would be the monetary significance associated with any lawsuit. Should you not be successful in your suit, you may be required to cover the cost lost to your ’employer’ [this may become very steep in addition to your own expenses]. To avoid this entirely, make sure that your case is airtight and be willing to do the mileage.
Understanding the magnitude of options for employment may be a bit tricky due to the rationale behind why you are no longer with your previous employer and any questions that you may have answered previously. The confetti trail may lead to further discrimination depending on your responses.
Consequently, with all the attention given to educating, training and suits that send monetary messages to employers regarding what is acceptable and what is not, there is
no predisposition to the formation of voluntary torpor.