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toxic coworker vent

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Alyssamd24 posted 4/16/2014 18:15 PM

I have been at my job for 6 months, and have done my best to keep boundaries intact and avoid drama...until now.

I have a coworker who is an older woman and very loud and abrasive. She has strong opinions and will share them with everyone whether or not they care to hear them. She has gotten into a few verbal confrontations with other coworkers. ...even threatening violence on one in a nasty voicemail.

Until today I have stayed under the radar and have not had any personal issues with her. But now I am on her shit list.

I had a concern about a new client....the family speaks only Spanish and I speak only English. I have a translator that works with me but feel its hard to build a relationship with the family and child with the language barrier.

I was in no way trying to discriminate against the family...I am new to this field and inexperienced and was simply expressing a my coworker (who speaks Spanish) said she refuses to take the client just because I dont want to do the extra work that it would entail working with a translator and that I am being racist. She then went off and refused to listen to anything I tried to say, and continued to act as though I dont want to work with the client because of their race and language.

I tried to defend myself as much as possible but gave up and began to cry out of frustration. The said coworker then yelled at another employee. the point the other employee also began to cry and even gave her two weeks notice.

I am trying to not let it get to me but am still so upset. Like I said, this job and population is very new to me. ..I have never been exposed to things like this before, but I dont think I am racist and it hurts that I am being accused of it.

Unagie posted 4/16/2014 18:23 PM

Do you have an HR department? If so I would call and report harassing behavior. Anytime she spoke to me that way again I would report it. Anytime she spoke to me not concerning work that directly involved her it would be called in and documented. If allowed I'd bring a VAR with me to have proof of these tantrums. If your coworkers are willing to make statements as witnesses all the better.

I had 2 like that at my old job. Problem was no one had the balls to report them. They would complain but never do anything. I was guilty of this as well and regret it every day. Don't let this woman walk all over you.

Alyssamd24 posted 4/16/2014 19:39 PM

This situation is similar...everyone feels the same way I do but nobody does anything about it. The girl who she left the threatening voice message to brought the voicemail to the head of the company....all they did was make everyone do a workshop on how to communicate with co workers.

This woman also makes comments and is rude to anyone who comes to give us trainings....and she always makes racism an example is yesterday at a staff meeting someone asked her if she had taken any of her new pens (everyone takes everyone's all the time) and the toxic coworker went off....saying that the girl was asking her cuz she (the toxic one) is Puetorican. Although the girl had asked EVERYONE about the pen.

The day before at the general meeting, someone had cut out a comic showing two parents and kids at the front door of a house with a police officer there standing next to a bandaged up pinata...the police officer is handing them a restraining order....she once again went off, saying it was racist and she was offended.

I also forgot to say that another issue she had with me is that I was "pinning the Puetoricans against each other" (direct quote) because by having her take over my client, the woman who goes with me now and translates would have one less client.

SisterMilkshake posted 4/17/2014 07:50 AM

Document, document, document. Get a notebook specifically for this co-worker. Every single incident, whether it is with you or another co-worker, no matter how small, document it. Time, dates, names, and incident. When you have a month's worth of incidents or so, bring it to HR or the head of the company.

The head of the company is a fool to not take care of this. You will have documented enough to bring a lawsuit against the company, suing for having a hostile work environment.

I am sorry Alyssamad. You don't sound at all racist to me. Don't let her bully you or make you question yourself.


[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 7:50 AM, April 17th (Thursday)]

itainteasy posted 4/17/2014 08:02 AM

yeah that woman sounds like a bitch regardless of her race. She's used to everyone cowtowing to her because she's intimidating.

Report her. Keep reporting her. And do it in writing and keep copies of every time you have to do it.

Like Sister said, eventually you'll have enough to bring a lawsuit against the company. This co worker creates a hostile work environment and that is unacceptable.

As for your non english speaking client, keep them. Take this as a learning opportunity.

Even though you must use a translator, ALWAYS look directly at the client when you are speaking. NEVER look at the translator. KEEP eye contact with your client. Don't look at the translator when they are translating the client's words either. Keep your focus on your client. It may sound rude, but try to act like the translator is not even there.

That's a huge, huge thing when dealing with someone that does not speak your language and vice versa. You want that client to know that you are 100% focused on them, regardless of any language barriers.

Look, I'm a college student, studying social work. I am taking Human Diversity right now, and we spent a big amount of time on how to work with and establish rapport with Latino clients.
EYE CONTACT is very big in their culture. It is a validating action. It is respectful.

So, that's the advice I can offer you for working with Latino clients. Perhaps some Latino SIers can chime in with more advice.

Good luck. Alyssa.

MissesJai posted 4/17/2014 11:44 AM

That's a hostile work environment if I ever saw one. Document, make formal complaints to HR in writing. The company's response is totally insufficient and because they're basically ignoring the issue, they are allowing this ONE employee to expose them to a potential lawsuit. Honestly, I would strongly suggest you call the EEOC and file a formal complaint with them as well. This employee is a bully and that needs to be addressed ASAP.

JanaGreen posted 4/17/2014 11:53 AM

She's a bully, and it's obvious you're not the only one who's having problems with her. I agree with everyone to report and keep reporting. Sorry you're dealing with this!

Alyssamd24 posted 4/17/2014 15:30 PM

Thank you all for your input!! I am glad to know I am not crazy...I intend to start documenting everything and will keep track of it and use it when necessary. In the mean time I plan on avoiding her and not interacting with her unless I absolutely need to.

Thank you itainteasy for the tips....the majority of my clients are Latino, but they are all bilingual. This is the first client I have had that only speaks Spanish and I am concerned about how I can model new behaviors and approaches to discipline if I dont know what the family is saying.

I will look at it as a new challenge

20WrongsVs1 posted 4/18/2014 16:49 PM

Puerto Rican is a nationality, not a race, moron (your coworker, not you). According to the 2010 Census, 75% of Puerto Rican citizens are white. Not that it's relevant, because even if you two are of different races, you're not racist. Just sayin', even her accusations are ignorant.

Sorry you have to deal with that nonsense, and even though it's unfounded, yeah it hurts. That's why flinging around accusations is a tactic used by bullies, to hurt and intimidate others. Fuck her and her shit list. You stand strong and don't bother defending yourself next time. If you must engage, deliver your message and walk away.

BTW have you started studying Spanish?

jrc1963 posted 4/18/2014 17:17 PM

I'm sorry

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