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That's it, I QUIT!! Questions about approaching HR.(22 posts)

That's it, I QUIT!! Questions about approaching HR.Kristin
Oct 10, 2003 4:07 AM
I will confess to not being the most politically savy person. I specifically avoid jobs that would require me to play the office politics game. I'd lose badly. I don't mind that, but it means that I will never be far high up on the food chain. I'm also okay with that. But some of the crap I've had to put up with over the last 5 years is ridiculous. I'll give you a couple of examples.

During my 2nd year of employment, My manager (the neo-con) hauled me into a conference room with no warning and told that I needed to be very careful if I wanted to keep my job because people are quitting because of me. When I pressed him for details--which he was relucant to give--I was told that a former co-worker told on my team listed me as the sole reason he'd quit. He'd quit over 3 months before this meeting. Later I found out that my manager was given this information by a new project leader who'd never met the guy who'd quit. Turns out, she heard the information from a guy at work, who claimed that another guy who knew the guy who quit had told him. That's what...4 people removed?? Admitedtly, there was no love lost between myself and the guy who quit, but I later spoke to a mutual friend of ours and that friend said he'd never heard anything of the sort. Actually, the guy quit had told several people he quit because of my boss, not me.

My boss has said openly that women belong in the home. He has also listened to other false reports about me and drug me into scolding sessions without ever checking the facts. I had a co-worker once, another guy, who discovered my bosses ideas on gender roles and did a significant amount of manipulation in an attempt to 1 up me. My boss just refused to look for the truth in those sitations. The only reason my job survived is that the manipulator screwed up big and caused significant down time for several execs. This was 1 week before job cuts.

Yesterday, he flew at me again with no good reason. When I tried to show him that I was working, he refused to listen and just kept scolding me. He talks to me like I'm his 14 year old, which is really infuriating. So I've decided I've had enough. I've been with this company for 5 years now, and am interested in pursuing other opportunities within the company. However, I'm unsure what reason I should give to HR. Should I be honest about my situation or just state that I have no growth potential in my job, which is true. Or is it better to just cut ties with this company and move on?

I will admit that I have not, at all times, worked as hard as I could have. Not been a stellar employee. I won't justify this. I will only say that I find it difficult to give 100% in such and unfair an opressive environment. This makes me feel a little bit guilty when interviewing for other jobs.

Three points: Never feel guilty128
Oct 10, 2003 4:38 AM
about looking for better work. HR never does sht for anybody ouside mgnt. (yes, I'm cynical on that point). Finally, a patern and practice of discriminatory behavior ("Women shouldn't be here") is actionable. Keep good notes and quietly get out.

HR will though, perk up it's ears if you start talking gender discrimination. Also 'retaliatory discharge' (firing you for telling on someone) is illegal.

Sorry to hear your troubles. Grief at work is so depressing.
Oh man, you're in good shape.OldEdScott
Oct 10, 2003 4:59 AM
Go in there shaking your head sadly about 'the man has a problem working with women, he makes me extremely uncomfortable, I don't know WHAT I might do' and you can write your own ticket to another job in the company, probably with a raise. They'll probably make you sign a paper saying you won't discuss the matter further with anyone, for the rest of your natural life.
Have you kept co-temporaneous notes?dr hoo
Oct 10, 2003 5:10 AM
Documenting this kind of thing is critical. If you told friends or family, wrote e-mails to people, posted things on the internet about it, or anything like that, you can show that this stuff has been going on for a long time. Did anyone else hear him say women belong at home? That is definitely a hostile work environment!

Even if you can't dig up old documents, you should sit down and write out everything you can on this BEFORE you go to HR. Be as specific as to time, date, place, people present, etc as you can. Give HR a copy. Then calmly explain what has happened and see what their response is. If it is a large company, they might be able to move you elsewhere. They might also have other complaints about this guy.

If you do quit, let me give you a career option that you might not have thought about: college and university employment. The pay is a bit low (which is why jobs are relatively easy to come by) but the work environment is definitely intolerant of sexism. If asked why you are leaving your old job, simply stating your boss said women belong at home will get you TONS of sympathy and understanding at most schools... Bob Jones university aside.

Benefits are usually good, time off is plentiful. Private schools often give free tuition to children of employees, and allow employees to take classes. Throw in a the typical university culture of performing arts, music, etc, and it makes for a pretty good life. Biking to work doesn't raise eyebrows, but instead gets praise.

Oh, and jobs are easy to track down. School post them on their websites. Pick an area, find schools in that area, and you should have quite a few options listed in a hour or two of looking.

Come work at my school, please? Our IT people are idiots.
Nope, no documentationKristin
Oct 10, 2003 6:09 AM
My experience is that it is very difficult to sue for most harrasment issues and the worker usually loses the case. So it wasn't worth it.

Tell me more about university employment. I applied with UIC a while back, but never heard anything. I've been told that its very difficult to get IT work in a university because the jobs are given to grads and undergrads of CS programs. Which is why IT support at schools is so bad. I used to co-teach a couple continuing ED classes when I was an undergrad myself. I am interested in working for a university. I am planning a career shift in the next 5 years and I think I will return to school to finish out my psych degree and masters. Are there any tips and tricks to applying with schools?
I don't know much, not my area.dr hoo
Oct 10, 2003 8:53 AM
I think low level jobs go to grads, but higher level jobs are usually open to wide ranging searches. BTW, I checked, and we have nothing other than low level 30k jobs at the moment :)

Geting a job with a teaching component is very tough. But non-teaching jobs are just like any other. You apply with everyone else, and are selected based on qualifications. Students do take jobs, but they usually leave shortly thereafter for higher paying jobs that require experience. Also, universities are more the rule there, while smaller 4 year colleges don't tend to hire their grads nearly so much.

You might be at an advantage being able to say "I did the corporate thing, but I would like to be in a different environment for the remainder of my career." If you look like someone wanting a stable place for 15-20 years, that beats hiring someone every 2 years, doesn't it?

I wish I could be more help. work has its own headachesColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 8:24 AM
if you think you're escaping the red tape of the corporate world by working for a university you can forget it. if anything it may be worse and the pay is not as good. benefits are often very attractive though.
Well, I'm planning on returning to school w/in 5 yearsKristin
Oct 13, 2003 8:35 AM
I plan to return to school in a few years and it could be useful to work for a school. Then again, I may wait until I've settled on a major -- I'm 33 and I still haven't chosen a major -- and then choose the school before I apply. It would be a tragedy if I took a job at UIC and then decided to go for an MDiv. So I may do corporate work for a while longer.
I'm 38 and still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!-nmColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 8:37 AM
In the same situation--except I just turned 52 (nm)The Walrus
Oct 14, 2003 10:53 AM
No reason-filtersweep
Oct 10, 2003 5:26 AM
I wouldn't give HR any reason for leaving. I'd line up a new job first- if it is NOT a step up in your career you might want to consider voicing your grievances to HR. If you receive a promotion within your company, you should likely remain quiet about your concerns, unless you have an irrefutable situation (which never happens).

HR likely already knows the score about your boss. There are some real idiots were I work who have either been around for a very long time or who are employed solely through nepotism who are very offensive managers. Most people learn to work around them, and nothing ever changes.

When you interview for other jobs, don't complain about your current employer. Focus on the positives. When I interview, it rubs me the wrong way to hear about people "complaining" about previous work experiences. It isn't the time of the place.

Also, keeping your mouth shut about your concerns while you are working, then giving notice and "telling all" is usually perceived poorly by management. Since you no longer have a stake in your job, your views will be highly questionable.

Playing the "gender card" will probably not endear you to management at all. They will likely view it as you retaliating for some action against you that you deserved.

Sorry that everything is rather biased against you, but when you work in this type of environment for a number of years, you give your tacit approval.

My guess is your boss knows how valuable you really are. At the same time, he wants to keep you in your place. He is looking out for himself- not for the good of the company as a whole. Regardless, he will always undermine you and hold you back.

Those are my two cents. Management tends to be very black and white- you are either for the company or against it. Period.
No reason-Kristin
Oct 10, 2003 7:17 AM
My guess is your boss knows how valuable you really are. At the same time, he wants to keep you in your place. He is looking out for himself- not for the good of the company as a whole. Regardless, he will always undermine you and hold you back.

Wow. You're good. That is a good synopsis of him. As a matter of fact, one thing that pains me greatly is to see him say, "no," to a project or option only because it gives him control. Sometimes what he chooses is not best for the company and I think that's sad.
Oct 10, 2003 6:03 AM
I think I would have a very thin discrimination case. Otherwise, I would have pursued it. Here's what happened. A female teammate of mine approached me and told me that he believes women shouldn't work, but should stay at home. (She was married, I am single--which might, in his eyes, justify my employment a little.) Later on that day, in a joking manner, I confronted him on it. He admitted that his personal religeous belief is that women are best suited for raising kids at home. He makes no apologies about this, but has never given any clearly identifiable signs that his belief impacts his managment style. Except that he can be unfair--no where near proovable though.

Out of everything that has happened, I feel the most offended by the hearsay issue with the co-worker who left. I was still fairly new at the company when that happened and I didn't press it. No report was written and there is no paper trail to it. Too bad. In retrospect, I wish there were.
Start looking outside the companyMR_GRUMPY
Oct 10, 2003 6:27 AM
There isn't any reason to put up with such a jerk. When you do leave, make sure that your manager's boss knows the reason that you are leaving. Let him know that your boss is a pig and a total jerk. Take your time, but start soon.
this isn't legal advice, butDougSloan
Oct 10, 2003 6:42 AM
If you do quit, and they ask you why, tell the truth. If there is any chance of making a claim later, you don't want to have to change your story.

Instead, though, I would go to HR (how big is this company, anyway?) and tell them that you have something that is concerning you. You are an emotional wreck because of it, not sleeping, feeling depressed (if all true), and thinking that you are being forced to leave. Describe everything that has happened. See that HR does a written report of it. Now that you've complained, the company cannot retaliate against you for the mere fact of complaining, not just sexual discrimination. Retaliation against employees because they complain about work conditions is illegal.

I perfectly understand about not wanting to be involved in litigation, though, even if you think you have a good case. The litigation is sometimes harder on people than the underlying problem. There are no sure things, and you could go through all of it for nothing. Doesn't sound like you have a great case from what you say, either, at least in economic terms. While the guy made some boorish comments, unless it rises to the level of creating a hostile work environment or is connected to overt acts of discrimination, you may not get far (don't ever rely on internet advice about these things, though -- always consult your own lawyer).

Still, I'd make the complaint with HR before just quitting. Even if it does you no good, it might help someone else. In any event, if you leave, I'd say nothing at all rather than say something untrue or overly watered down.

Couple of questionsKristin
Oct 10, 2003 7:14 AM
I work for a fortune 5 company. We have over 200,000 employees, but only 600 on my campus, which is a regional office. There are 80 people in this IT group working in 8 teams of varying size.

One reason I've made no complaints is because I fear it could back fire on me. My boss can show that my numbers are lower than some other peoples. I believe there is good reason for this, but as I said before I haven't been above par entirely either. A quick poll of my iternet activity will show that I have been here a couple times today. That right there is against policy. Not that everyone else doesn't do it, too. Just yesterday, my boss spent 1-2 hours on the phone with his church helping them fix a server problem. And he makes plenty of personal calls at work. Today, he left before 10am with no word that he was even going. I turned around to ask him a question and he was gone. Just like that. So if I complain to HR, will they be forced to involve my boss, who will then do everything in his power to make my life hell?? I don't want that either. And if it gets around, I will have no other employment options in my department.
arbitrary enforcementDougSloan
Oct 10, 2003 7:39 AM
They can't aribtrarily or selectively enforce policies only against those who they dislike or who complain. Anyone could see through that right away.

If your "numbers are bad" or you are not giving 100%, normally, they could terminate for that. However, if your numbers and activities compare to lots of other employees who they don't reprimand or terminate, they have a problem if they select you out.

Here's how it works:

1. They terminate you. You claim it was because of your sex or in retaliation for your complaints. If they replace you with a man, it may raise a presumption that it because of your gender.

2. They claim they had a justification for doing so.

3. You claim the justification offered was untrue or a mere pretense, because other employees were not similarly treated.

4. They claim that even if one reason was a pretense, they had other valid reasons, anyway, and would have made the same decision. In such case, you may win, but your damages may be limited.

Bottom line, though, is that mere boorish behavior and mistreatment of employees is not necessarily against the law. Retaliation is against the law, though, even if your complaint was groundless.

I can't tell you to complain if you think that it certainly will cause you to lose your job, unless the conditions are extremely bad and you would have a great lawsuit. If this were blatent sexual or race discrimination, for example, it would probably be worth it. If he groped you are said "do me or you're fired," then I'd have you in the HR (and EEOC) office that day. You have to size it up yourself, though.

Bottom line, though, create your safety net before you do anything. Scope out other jobs, or actually get another offer. If you do, then you can complain/negotiate from strength, not fear of losing your job, house, etc.

Good advice...though not legal. ;-)Kristin
Oct 10, 2003 7:45 AM
A true lawyer you are. Thanks.
re: That's it, I QUIT!! Questions about approaching HR.jrm
Oct 10, 2003 4:51 PM
Fock that. I would have lasted maybe one year. Get outta dodge. i ehar the sprawl in califoria is kinda nice.
I'm a little confused.53T
Oct 14, 2003 9:38 AM
Do you want to quit? If so, you write a letter of resignation and hand deliver it to your boss. HR is not involved until after you resign.

Do you want to sue? If so, you call an attorney and arrange a consult (agree on no-fee for consult ahead of time).

As far as giving HR a reason why you are quitting, don't spend another second thinking about it. They might not even ask, and if they do, screw 'em, you are too busy looking for a job to be answering their stupid questions. Besides, it's none of their business why you make your career decisions.

BTW, have another job lined up (offered AND accepted) before you quit. Refuse to listen to counter-offers (IT folks get them a lot).
You should learn to read slower.Kristin
Oct 14, 2003 9:55 AM
That was advice someone gave me once. Who was that, who gave me that advice? Honestly 53T, your opinions are not ones that I pay much attention to. My impression of you is that you are haughty, hold an opinion about absolutely everything, and can be crude. I can't remember reading even one post of yours that I agreed with. And its obvious, based on your response here, that you also have a prejudged me and only scanned my post breify...but of course, was compelled to give your opinion despite that. You assume so much about everything that you don't even take the time to read carefully. Until you show me some respect, no respect from me you will receive.
Listen you,53T
Oct 14, 2003 11:29 AM
I read your post in detail. You have two choices, quit or sue. If you think you can get a transfer without a good rec from your boss, you're nuts. HR will not help you find your potential, they just process paperwork.

You don't pay much attention to my opinions, but where has that got you? You work for a jerk, you have guilt over job interviews, and you have no clear career plans. You are undecided between IT and Divinity school (or perhaps you plan to combine the fields), and you fret over office gossip. It seems I have none of these problems. Maybe it has nothing to do with my core values, or my "opinions" as you might say. Maybe I'm just blessed, but I doubt it.

I have not pre-judged you. I have judged you based on your posts. You are correct, I am indeed haughty, I hold an opinion on many topics, but not all, and I can be as crude as just about anyone. I don't remember anyone quitting because of me, but everyone needs a goal to shoot for.

However, I perform my work, either paid or volunteer, with great vigor. And if I ever feel that that I have not lived up to expectations, I certainly don't fret about it. That is called self-confidence, and that is what you need.

A great man once said, "Confidence is the key, once you can fake that, everything else is easy."

Until you show respect for yourself, no respect from me will you receive.