Searching For Satisfaction

Disrespect In The Workplace

Posted on: December 17, 2010


This week I’ve already been feeling feisty, and I kind of snapped yesterday in the office.

So for those who aren’t aware, I’m a polymer chemist, tho currently I run an analytical chemistry lab. Obviously that means I do testing for other people, mostly other engineers & scientists. In my group, there’s my boss, then my counterpart & I who report to my boss, and then 3 technicians who are supervised by my counterpart (we’ll call him CP for short). I don’t report to CP, we are parallels & we both report to the boss.

All year I’ve had a problem with people going to CP when they need testing done, because its the testing that I do. So essentially he’s just serving as an intermediary – he’s not doing any of the actual work, for whatever reason people just want to keep him in the loop and not me. So then he has to disseminate the information to me & then I have to follow up. Add to that, several people have erroneously assumed that I report to CP, as if I’m one of his technicians instead of his coworker. I’ve also dealt with an issue of requestors asking me for testing at the last minute, which is way more involved that than think & requires that I drop everything I’m doing to solve their immediate crisis.

In the most recent incident, which occurred yesterday, I was informed about some testing once again through CP. The requestor then comes to me with some additions, doesn’t actually ASK me to do the testing (and yall know I’m a stickler for words like “please” and “thank you”) and then expects me to drop everything to get them what they need by a certain time. This same requestor also asked me if I reported to CP about a month ago, and seemed genuinely surprised to hear that I didn’t. Ugh, I’m getting mad again just typing all of this out.

Then it got even worse! I got the additions done…and the next thing I know, MY BOSS’S BOSS comes up to me & tells me I did the samples wrong! o_o WTF? Yes, said requestor threw me under the bus in front of my boss’s boss, and instead of him getting the whole story first he decided to reprimand me in public.

Yall, I was thisclose to being the stereotypical Black woman. So I decided to pack it up for the day & try again tomorrow. My boss (the only cool & sane person in this entire story) came by my desk to drop off a sample, took one look at me, and took me back to her office to talk. She assured me that everything I was experiencing was not acceptable & she would make sure that folks knew what the proper chain of command was, and what info should go to what personnel. If my boss hadn’t handled it the way she did, I probably would have thrown them the deuces yesterday #realtalk..

To me, this is all disrespectful & I’m not going to stand for it. Yes, part of my job is to do testing for people, and I’m willing to do so. But I have other responsibilities, and I will not drop everything for folks who come to me at the last minute, especially people who are not appreciative of my efforts & how much work goes into getting them quality data quickly. Plus, I really resent folks assuming that I report to CP – I didn’t spend 4 years in undergrad & 2 years in grad school to be thought of as a technician.

The other factor in this situation is race and gender…I’m the only person of color & 2nd woman in my dept (my boss is the other woman). Everyone who I deal with is a White male, tho they range in age from late 20’s to probably 40’s or 50’s. Is there some subconcious thing going on? IDK – but I do know that no matter the motivation, this behavior is unacceptable.

I don’t handle disrespect well…AT ALL. So today was quite a challenge. I absolutely will not stand for disrespect…so I guess its time to move on, for real.

Ever had a crazy moment in the office? Been disrespected? How did you handle it? Any tips on how to NOT go totally off or end up unemployed before I have a new job?


8 Responses to "Disrespect In The Workplace"

When you deal with white men, this type of thing tends to happen. They think they are better than anybody else. Glad you handled it well.

On Monday I had a conflict because my boss is a succsesful Jamaican businessman and a family friend who actually introduced my parents. Therefore, he fancies himself a mentor, except sometimes that translates to enforcer rather than advisor.

This is my 3rd week there and I still hadn’t had anything near a clear objective. I didn’t have a offer letter, they didn’t process my paperwork, I had an e-mail address and Windows account in the middle of the previous week. After the second consecutive day of “we’ll sit down and talk about what i want you to do” followed by 2+ hours of me waiting for him to consider me a priority instead of getting to any and EVERYTHING else first, I take an extended lunch.

So of course Murphy’s Law happens. He allegedly was ready to talk to me minutes after I left, therefore stopwatched the time I was gone, got infuriated when I got back. He eventually stops because he was supposed to be so mad he didn’t want to cause a scene. 5PM comes and the other two coworkers leave, but I didn’t; it was my plan to make up the time anyway, but now I’m ordering a pizza and planning to stay til like 9 or some shit.

So after bitching that I don’t care, am not taking work seriously, and think I’m more special than my coworkers, I get told I cannot stay at 7PM because they’re leaving. Oh btw, the very next day, the other two coworkers were gone just as long on their lunch break.

Our evening conversation culminated with another lecture, that finally ended when he felt convinced that I “knew what I did was unacceptable.” He then asks me what I was going to do for dinner which was hilarious; at that point I wouldn’t have taken a lobster and steak cuisine served by a topless model if that meant I had to eat with him. I tell him about the pizza, so he sarcastically asks me do I know how to cook. So I say yes and turn to leave; I thought I had enough for the day. He disagreed.

NOW, I’ve disrespecting him by turning and walking away, because you’re supposed to look someone in the eye when you’re talking to a man. He then proceeds to call me a boy, a boy…I am a boy he cares very much about. So yes, 27 years after Cesarean entrance into the world, I am still a boy, and it was that moment that I realized not only why over the past month I’ve been tried in this manner(4 very serious infractions on my manhood) by my parents and their friends who are so-called mentors, and why this job will be a great blessing and a tremendous strain on my mental health.

I’m trying not to be objective with this story, but you probably caught the irony and hypocrisy in the entire scope of the story. So fuck him, and if you think he’s right and alright to talk to me like that, fuck you too.

There you go Joobs, that was the long and drawn-out story I was hesitant to text.

Yes, this has happened to me.

Granted, the reports I submitted were incorrect. And yes, my boss should have called me on it. But what she also should’ve done – and didn’t do – was pull me into her office to discuss. Instead, she got angry and yelled at me in front of my co-workers and interns (college students), sometimes banging the desk for emphasis. I had never felt so small.

It’s already embarrassing to be called out like that in front of others, but what really pissed me off more is that the interns – who were technically my subordinates – were sitting RIGHT. THERE. I didn’t want them to get the impression that this was the right course of action or that they, too, can treat me any kind of way. I already suspected that she was still upset about being passed over for a promotion (and it wouldn’t be the last promotion she was passed over for), and was probably struggling to prove she shouldn’t be wiped out entirely, but to take it out on me was unacceptable.

Needless to say, the workplace environment really deteriorated for me after that point, and things just got worse, until eventually I was forced to resign. I’ve since found a new job that I love, and am glad to be out of that place.

Oh, and to answer your questions (sorry, got a little heated there):

– You did the right thing by going to your boss and telling her what happened. You also did the right thing by not blowing your top. That’s how you should handle all situations. However, when the boss’s boss is rude, this might be a risk, but I’d respectfully ask if he wanted to step inside a private area (like an empty conference room) to discuss further. He may take the hint that he’s being out of line and follow.

– If it’s really getting that bad and you’re starting to loathe showing up, now is the time to start looking for a new job. Update your online job-search accounts (if you have them) and start checking Craigslist. But in the meantime, keep going throught the correct channels.

I understand where you’re coming from and unfortunately being a woman, black and young you will experience the same bull everywhere you go. Being in the scientific field I know exactly how people in the lab give little jabs here and there and think you didn’t catch on. The first year at my job was the worst for me. I thought about quitting almost every day but I stuck it out and things got better. I learned to play the game and it made me a stronger person. Having to prove yourself day in and day out can be exhausting. Not to mention having to bite your tongue and not going all black girl on their butts. Keep your head up Jubi don’t let them still your joy.

“steal” not “still”…ugh

[…] dismal work situation has been the topic of several posts lately, including this one where I felt extremely disrespected at work & almost quit on the spot. Since that incident in December, it seems like folks have been at least attempting to stay on my […]

Wow… No Further Comments… This Stereotypical ABW, is really starting to wear on me… cause I am wondering on how black women are supposed to emote… Handle these situations the way you see fit with your discernment…

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