Thoughts, please: harassment over sexual orientation in the workplace (yes, this is actually a serious post from zdrew...whodathunk?)

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    Jan 01, 2010 2:01 AM GMT
    Guys, something happened at work this evening that has my brain reeling a bit, and I'd appreciate your thoughts and input.

    How to start? Well, I've recently taken a new job with a gym chain. It's hopefully a very temporary gig until such time I can get into a job in my career field. My being gay came up in casual conversation with my bosses the other day, and it's not been a problem at all -- they're cool guys, it's a non-issue, and while I've never been one to wear my sexuality on my sleeve, I don't hide or deny it, either.

    Tonight, though, we were talking about NYE plans, and Boss #1 asked if me and the boy were going out anywhere. I said yeah, and we all ended up chatting about dating and gay clubs and stuff. It was no biggie, with one of the guys saying he's always wanted to check out a gay club anyway.

    About half an hour later one of the trainers walked by my desk and mouthed 'fucking faggot' at me, and when nobody else was around asked me if one of our coworkers (who'd just been let go that morning) quit because I molested him.

    Now, maybe I've been lucky or something, but nothing like this has happened to me before. I blew it off and ignored him, but it pisses me off. I was half tempted to go report his sorry ass right then and there (and yeah, it seems like a no-brainer), but I figured maybe I'd wait and see if he says anything the next time I work (day after tomorrow).

    The thing is, I don't have any intention of sticking with the job -- for a myriad of reasons, it's just not my thing, and I'm currently looking into other part-time and immediate options. At the same time, I really desperately need the job, at least for the moment -- after being laid off six months ago, I currently have exactly $23.76 in my bank account. So really, I don't want to go making waves at the moment anyway -- for all I know, I could report him and then he could say I harassed HIM or something...and frankly, being there under a week makes my position tenuous anyway (it's all based on commissions and client bases, which I'm still training in and mastering). I'm really hoping another option I've been pursuing materializes in the next few days, and I'll leap at that in a heartbeat, reporting him and his harassment as I go and citing that as my precipitating reason for leaving (because really, it's a big one).

    My question is, am I thinking clearly about all this? Am I approaching it the right way? Am I being all wrongheaded about the whole thing? Taking it too seriously? This is all new ground for me, so I look forward to your input. Take your time, though -- I'm off for NYE and probably won't get back to RJ until sometime tomorrow.

    Thanks. :-)

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    Jan 01, 2010 2:12 AM GMT
    well that certainly is a dilly of a pickle your in lilz.

    My first instinct would have been to smack the bitch but it's probably a good thing you didn't do that.

    Anyway

    if he's done it once, he'll do it again, if this upcoming job seems likely I might be inclined to wait it out and see if this other job comes along and if it doesn't the instant his says something again I'd report him.

    only working a week shouldn't be of concern, he's acting like an arsehole in a place that should be a safe secure place of work!

    Otherwise, wait for him by his car with a crowbar and perform a straight bashing!
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    Jan 01, 2010 2:14 AM GMT
    Report him to HR immediately. He cant claim harassment AFTER you report him. He would have needed to reported his claim immediately. He's probably done this before.

    Also, he cant claim he was just joking or whatever. It is not his intent that counts. It is how the recipient perceived it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 01, 2010 2:28 AM GMT
    Great advice from the guys, zdrew, nothing we can add.

    But we both SURE KNOW just what you're feeling!

    -us

    Happy New Year to you and your man!
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    Jan 01, 2010 2:53 AM GMT
    Hmmm... icon_confused.gif
    A frustrating situation but you know what should be done. Intolerance and bigotry shouldn't be brushed off, especially in the workplace. If you don't take action, what will happen to the next guy?

    Here is my advice to you. Talk to your boss and tell them you had an incident with a coworker and ask if you can resolve the situation before bringing the it to his full attention; give the coworker a chance to apologize. You desire to resolve conflicts and help promote a healthy attitude and work environment.

    Granted the above is wishful thinking.

    But please, do not just brush it off. In the end, it does more harm than good.
    If you have any more problems with this coworker, I emplore you to report them. No one deserves to be treated like trash, least of all you.

    Stand up for yourself and all others. Show him that it is wrong and that his actions wont be tolerated by any gay man.
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    Jan 01, 2010 4:19 PM GMT
    Some good thoughts before me here. I thought about this and I think I'd report it - and I'd go to one of the bosses you described, especially the one who mentioned he might like to check out a gay bar sometime. This way - with you reporting it first, you're not on the defensive if the instigator decides that he wants to report YOU for some stupid violation or comment (that you're not guilty of). Isn't it too bad the world has a few of these assholes? Wouldn't it be nice to meet up with this clown in a dark alley and beat the crap out of him - and then ask him - "Got any more cracks for me, punk?"
    icon_twisted.gif
  • stu1

    Posts: 47

    Jan 01, 2010 4:29 PM GMT
    This type of behavior creates a terrible work environment. You should document anything this person has said, and any future remarks that could be considered harassment. Include what was said, when it was said, (such as time and date) and anyone who may have witnessed. You never know how long you will be working their and may decide to report him. Good luck
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    Jan 01, 2010 4:36 PM GMT
    Don't waste another minute: go and report him now. These kinds of bullies respond to passivity by escalating the harrassment. He'll be back and next time it will be worse. Get on the record with his harrassment NOW.

    This may be a temporary gig for you, but his impact on your psyche and self-esteem is lasting if you don't stand up for yourself. And while you're at it, stand up for your sisters and brothers, because if he's harrassing you, he's harrassed and will harrass others.

    I bet when you report him it won't come as a surprise to the management. These kinds of cruel creeps are also usually stupid and predictable.

    Take the high road when you interact with him and avoid being alone with him but report the mother-fucker's ass NOW.
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    Jan 01, 2010 4:46 PM GMT
    I have experienced this personally as well, at work. I've been with my company for almost 10 years now, and I would have never thought to find myself in that situation...ever (I work for Whole Foods Market, and that stuff just doesn't happen).

    Last year, and employee referred to me as "faggot manager". I have tough skin and personally, I've been called worse. My concern, however, as a member of leadership, was what if this were to happen to someone who was not as "tough"? It could have turned into all sorts of bad legal and personal or even physical issues that I could not allow to happen.

    I did my due diligence and relayed the incident to my store leaders. They were shocked to say the least. I will say that I'm fortunate to have sexual orientation as a protected group under our harassment policy, company wide (as a "major infraction"). So this individual basically wrote his own ticket out of a job.

    The consequences of this act were swift and to the point. He was separated (that's what we call it icon_smile.gif) without opportunity for rehire, which we offer to folks who have been separated for lesser infractions.

    I also agree with the above mention that people who are that blatantly aggressive will likely do whatever it takes to cause you harm, professionally or personally. It would most definitely be wise to inform your superiors, so that it cannot be turned back on you at any point.

    I do think we currently enjoy more and more protection from such people and the things they do. However, this works both ways, unfortunately. I would not surprise me at all to start hearing more and more about straight guys claiming harassment from gay co-workers. I've no doubt that happens, I'm just saying freedoms almost always come at a price.

    Do what you feel is necessary to protect yourself, in every manner.

    Good luck!
  • camfer

    Posts: 891

    Jan 01, 2010 4:48 PM GMT
    I would have immediately asked the trainer to come with me and meet with the manager on duty at that moment to discuss his behavior. I would have repeated to the manager exactly what the trainer said to you. It was completely unacceptable, and a power play.

    If the management refused to address the situation right then and there, I'd know to quit asap, but on my terms and when I felt like it. Most likely the trainer would be reprimanded on the spot, and by addressing it instantly you would have put him and everyone else on notice that you will not tolerate that kind of bullshit. He was testing you, and he sure won that round, but you gotta stick up for yourself.

    Now, I would meet with management or human resources. On my own time I would also write down the incident to build a paper trail in the event that you later decide to take legal action. Without documentation it's their word against yours.

    Sorry this happened to you. I hope something better comes along soon.
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    Jan 01, 2010 4:56 PM GMT
    I'm sorry this happened to you - it sucks.

    First, and most importantly, do you feel (physically) safe? If not, get the hell out of there. If you do, I would probably say something to the manager to get on the record but try to deal with this guy constructively by engaging him in a conversation if it happens again. This probably won't work if he is as bigoted as he sounds, but if he gets in trouble he could become even more aggressive.
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    Jan 01, 2010 5:05 PM GMT
    If you work for a large company like Bally for example then just call corporate office and report the matter, you don't even need to go to your 3 bosses.

    I wouldn't let it slide because after you leave this guy could pull this shit with another gay guy.. It's a work place and that molestation thing is a biggy. You don't know if he's actually telling other people that shit.

    I would contact corporate though, sometimes bosses let things slide, head offices are pretty strict with there non discrimination policy.

    Document everything you got on this guy.

    Good luck! And do whatever you feel comfortable doing.
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    Jan 01, 2010 5:08 PM GMT
    In regard to work in general. Yes report things like this, but you also may want to keep a work journal when anything questionable happens. Record the details and people involved in ink and paper. It helps to be able to recall dates, names, details, etc in case things continue unresolved.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jan 01, 2010 5:22 PM GMT
    Hey Zach, Happy New Year to you....

    Sorry that you had to spend your holiday period thinking about something like this ... but you raise several questions.

    If it were me (and on the basis of what you've told us here)... I'd probably not
    make huge waves, but you do need to document what happened (I agree with some of what has been said above) and if you do get along well with your bosses, I'd suggest you mention it to one that you feel is trustworthy.
    Document the fact you told him.

    DO NOT SIT IDLEY BY AND DO NOTHING!

    Always think about what might happen (and I know by our conversations you do). The guy might be a real fuck or create some real issues.
    I wouldn't mention it to your boss in a "I want to report this "fuckwad trainer" kind of thing, but rather just mention that you perceived that "this was a gay friendly environment" and pass along what happened without any provocation.

    If something major were to happen, the fact you didn't even mention it to your superiors could be a problem.

    I too, would have been stunned by the whole thing, but don't make an issue with the trainer, just move along and do your job..... documenting any issues along the way.... and don't stress or focus on this shit, he isn't worth it.

    Meanwhile.... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Jan 01, 2010 5:35 PM GMT
    I don't condone any of the harassment you're experiencing at all, and I hope it ceases and that it was perhaps just a one time thing. If it continues, then you may have to have it documented with HR. That said, I think perhaps being a bit less forthcoming about your sexuality in the early stages of a job is a better way to go in the future at other jobs. I'm not saying not be yourself, but co-workers don't need to know some of your more personal business until they have at least had some time to get to know you and work with you. I know many will disagree with me on this, but I just feel the first week on the job may have been too soon to open up so much.
  • SanEsteban

    Posts: 454

    Jan 01, 2010 6:12 PM GMT
    Hi Zach.

    Buddy, this is serious. My gut instinct is report him right away. In today's world, the way this trainer acted is just not appropriate behavior. It may start as verbal abuse, which is bad enough, but what if it escalates and you are harmed physically? There has to be a lot of hate associated with this guy if, so early in your new position, he has already made this comment.

    The thing is, you need to report it right away. Are you with a large gym chain? If you are, I would circumvent the immediate club management and go directly to corporate HR. The local management at the club may be a "Good Ol' Boys Club" and the issue may be dismissed or written off with a comment like, "Timmy Trainer was having a bad day. He didn't mean anything by it." They would then tell him and he would really turn up the heat and perhaps he would call HR and say YOU sexually approached him and made advances. Since he reported to Corp HR first, he would win. In a nutshell, Report directly to
    Corporate HR - they should take this matter seriously - you just want to be the first to make the report.

    Zach, not only am I concerned about your safety and well being here, I am also concerned how this trainer may treat clients. As we all know, in the typical gym, there tend to be a fairly large population of gay individuals. These people may not be obvious but if in casual conversation this trainer finds out their orientation, how will he act toward them? Will he be rude or inconsiderate? Will he make embarrassing comments toward them?

    I know that you don't wear your sexuality on your sleeve and that is good. I don't either. I have been in my current office for quite some time now and I haven't talked about it to anyone even though they may "know quite well" after all this time. It is a non issue but people respect my privacy there. Perhaps I would have waited for a longer period until I REALLY got to know these people before I started talking about gay clubs etc even if they seemed cool with it. They probably are very cool with it but it is amazing how "the walls have ears" and people like this trainer find out.

    Zach, I'm so sorry this is happening to you. You know my opinion but you really need to do what you feel is right. I can only encourage you to report to HR and the sooner the better. He did it to you, he will do it to others also! You are a smart guy and you will do the correct thing.

    Until then have a Happy New Year!
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    Jan 01, 2010 6:23 PM GMT

    totally agree... with the above about delaying being "out" with co-work and is why I prefer to be mostly anonymous on this and other forums oriented sites. When you share your most personal thoughts on all that gets discussed, it can be used against you at workplace and has happened to me once. Once is all it took. I too do not expect folks to agree with much of what I say but that's how advice and opinions are....and we all know the saying about how everyone's got one...lol

    So, what to do with this prick at work? Jeez.. I am going to go out on a limb here. To me...this guy sounds like he has the potential to be dangerous. The fact that he said this to you so blatently in a workplace enivronment says he was fairly confident he could get away with it without any sort of harm. You must do something but take the action that serves you best. The whole reporting him for the sake of future gay guys is noble but don't screw yourself to make your point. I almost equate calling HR with "I am going to go tell on you" The likliehood this guy will retaliate is high... He must fear you to respect you and leave you alone...that's all a bully understands. Be careful not to make him an enemy. This job doesn't seem worth it.

    Every time someone has wronged me (and this guy has definitely wrong'd you) I try to out-smart them.. I can't tell you exactly what to do in this case but if you get creative you can turn the tables on this MF'-R and he will think twice before fucking with you again. It is possible to do this without breaking the law too... ...
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    Jan 01, 2010 6:34 PM GMT
    You say you've only been at this place for a week? How long has the idiot worked there? I know this should not make any difference, but it does, in the back of the bosses minds. That fact that he did it twice removes all doubts that if you stay and do nothing, it will happen again.

    Of course you should report him, but only you can judge if it will damage your standing with the employers.

    Best case scenario is that you get a different position, and list the uncouth moron's comments as your main reason for leaving.

    It is so unfortunate that you have to start off the new year with this to deal with Zdrew.
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    Jan 01, 2010 7:28 PM GMT
    My first obligation is to my own well being and the well being of my family. Not being abused is certainly high up on the list of things that constitute my well being, and I have often made decisions that placed my personal dignity in front of my financial integrity. However, I did those things when I felt empowered to make that kind of a decision.

    It is really easy for everyone to lay this "Norma Rae" trip on you. Of course, in the bigger scheme of things we all ought to stick up for our rights, for ourselves, and for everyone else. But, ya know what, that is just horse shit.

    This is a gym. You're not the only guy who is working there while waiting for a better gig. The people who actually are in physical fitness for a career (speaking from my own experience) neatly divide into two categories:

    a. people who love physical fitness and are there to help themselves and others.
    b. screaming assholes who are as maladjusted as they are armored.

    The idea that this creep, who says as much in his epithet to you, might actually claim you are the harasser is quite real. I'd lay odds that this is just what he would do. That is a hassle that you really don't need.

    Personally, in the situation you have described, I would bite the bullet in the short term. I would set myself up to document anything else that happens. Just as soon as I could I would get myself out of there. I would do this ONLY because I wouldn't wish to be distracted from my real goal, which is getting a job in my field.

    Terry

  • josephmovie

    Posts: 533

    Jan 01, 2010 7:46 PM GMT
    I think you should hold off and see how this pans out. However, I would mention it to management in a casual way such as "Hey, X called me a fucking faggot. I thought he was a nice guy. I don't want to report him or anything but just thought you should know." That way you have let them know without creating a huge scene. If it gets worse and you do have to report him then you have the history to back it up.

    And if you're are feeling a bit cheeky you could always pass him and mouth "fucking straight"!
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    Jan 01, 2010 7:52 PM GMT
    Damn, Z-Drew, that's awful.
    When I read the title I had pictured a handsome coworker who refused to keep his hands off you or something.
    Wish that was it!

    Kudos to your for keeping a cool head.
    But you probably should report that.
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    Jan 01, 2010 7:55 PM GMT
    I know how you feel.

    I had the same problem with some guy at my work, but it wasn't about sexual orientation. Me and him just didn't click. Anyways the rest of my coworkers don't like him either but he was hired as supervisor. To make a long story short I spoke to my manager and I got my hours changed so I wouldn't have to have contact with him.

    I know what it is like to feel broke and I can understand the position you're in. If I were in your shoes I would talk to the "cool" manager who asked you about the gay club thing. Just be like, "Hey I know I don't want to cause any problems but so and so called me a derogatory name and I don't appreciate it." Then I would just try to avoid the guy for the rest of the time I would work there. He's probably not going to get fired, just talked to.

    My two cents. icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 01, 2010 8:05 PM GMT
    1. Document everything that transpired in detail, dates and times etc.

    2. Check into the laws in your state. Do gays have any legal protection there?

    3. You might want to consult with a gay or gay-friendly lawyer.

    I have been in a similar situation but I didn't report the weirdness immediately because I was on a term contract. When I became permanent and brought it to the attention of superiors they asked why I didn't report it immediately.

    So I'm inclined to advise you to nip it in the bud and report immediately. If it comes back on you (which is very possible) and you are forced out the employer may be liable. But look before you leap - get professional legal advice.

    No one should have to work in a hostile environment. It WILL affect your health. You should be able to hold your head up in the workplace.
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Jan 01, 2010 8:24 PM GMT
    Unless it continues, I'd do nothing.
    But, if you have any more touble at all from this guy, go to your supervisor and tell him what is happening.
    The worst problem about harassment is that you get up every morning dreading to go to work, because you know what is waiting there for you. And, the feeling slowly crushes you.

    Where I used to work, I drove a small truck that was assigned to me. One day, I went out to get in my truck, and I found several pictures of naked women stuck under the windshield wiper.
    I can't explain the terrible emotional feeling that suddenly swept over me.
    But, I didn't say anything.
    I just let it go.
    And, nothing else happened.
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    Jan 01, 2010 8:30 PM GMT
    CuriousJockAZ saidI don't condone any of the harassment you're experiencing at all, and I hope it ceases and that it was perhaps just a one time thing. If it continues, then you may have to have it documented with HR. That said, I think perhaps being a bit less forthcoming about your sexuality in the early stages of a job is a better way to go in the future at other jobs. I'm not saying not be yourself, but co-workers don't need to know some of your more personal business until they have at least had some time to get to know you and work with you. I know many will disagree with me on this, but I just feel the first week on the job may have been too soon to open up so much.


    Cowardice is a very ugly state of being. Talk to HR. Explain things precisely and unemotionally, say that you were surprised rather than offended. Let them deal with it. It is important because you're not the only one in the picture: How would this guy deal with gay clients? or women? or other gay staff? In an ideal world, this chap should have someone sit down with him and explain why he's wrong... but it shouldn't be you.

    Alas, those who followed CuriousJockAZ's damnable advice are the reason why we are so retrograde in our understanding of morality in the country. We need an army of light to illuminate those dark reaches. Be part of that.