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A conversation between an Employee and HR in Poland

Written by Duarte Castelo Grande de Carvalho (dcgc)

PHONE

Bulldog HR: Hello, this is HR. How can I help you and who may I be speaking with?

Donkey Employee: Hello, this is Donkey. I want to report a harassment case in my department and in my team.

Bulldog HR: Ah… Sure, of course. Can you tell me what happened?

Donkey Employee: Absolutely. I am a donkey in a team of jackasses, and I was told by my colleague that I am not dumb enough for the team, that I should stop giving 100% and not be too smart; that I should go back to the country I came from. That I am not one of the jackasses and that I am a disgrace to the team. This jackass also tells other colleagues from my team the same and encourages them to not speak to me or greet me. I have never faced anything like this, what should I do?

Bulldog HR: Humm… I understand your situation and I am surprised to hear such a thing… I must ask you to please explain the situation further and tell me when this started happening and what colleague started doing this to you.

Donkey Employee: Of course. When my manager stopped appearing at the office for several weeks, not caring about the team and not giving meaningful updates about our future, and when my close and friendly colleagues left, my colleague who hated me since I joined the team, seized the opportunity and started badmouthing me to all the team, including the new jackasses. I don’t understand what I did, why do people do this?

Bulldog HR: Ok, calm down. Did this person or anyone else physically hurt you or threatened you?

Donkey Employee: No… No one threatened me to beat me up. But I am constantly being harassed and mobbed by my team. I am even trying to work on my things or trying to collaborate with other people, and no one is willing to work with me because of what this colleague said. What should I do?

Bulldog HR: Ok, if there is no physical threat, then it is much harder to prove your point, unfortunately. Were there any verbal insults towards you?

Donkey Employee: This person was talking jackanese in front me, thinking I wouldn’t understand, and starts badmouthing me in front of everyone. Whatever happened with inclusion and speaking an universal language inside a corporation?

Bulldog HR: Donkey, calm down, I assure you that we as an organization look up for a healthy relationship between each other and the self-respect of every one of our employees. We thrive to contribute to a safe and inclusive environment. What is happening must be something else, I believe that maybe you got things wrong? Tell me, was there any humiliation done towards you?

Donkey Employee: He is speaking jackanese in front of everyone, saying bad things about me.

Bulldog HR: I understand, unfortunately you are a Donkey and don’t speak jackanese because you are not a jackass. I think that something was lost in translation.

Donkey Employee: What if I record what people are saying about me, then would that suffice to prove my point? To prove what is happening? Just because I am a Donkey, doesn’t mean I don’t speak jackanese, I can also speak other languages too.

Bulldog HR: I am sorry, but you cannot record anything inside the office premises.

Donkey Employee: What about the racial slurs I was given? To return to my place of origin. What about the text that was written to me aggressively? What about the gestures that were done to me? Should I screenshot or record these?

Bulldog HR: I am sorry, but you cannot record anything inside the office premises. I am sure that your colleague was trying to tell you something else with his/her gesture and I am sure he/she wrote to you jokingly. Show me please.

SMS

Bulldog HR: Oh, c’mon… I am sure he/she is going through some pressure and because he/she is new, needed to blow off some steam.

Donkey Employee: What? That fucking dipshit told me to go back to my country!

Bulldog HR: Now, now… We don’t need to insult others, now do we? Is that how you treat others?

Donkey Employee: I was called the same!

Bulldog HR: It doesn’t matter. Now, I suggest you get along with everyone and to not call us back with reporting of harassment, mobbing and bullying by other co-workers. Our environment is friendly, and we don’t have any issues with anything, we never did. We just provide the training and I suggest you do it again. In case you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Goodbye.

Donkey Employee: Goodbye?…

Words and Definitions

Bullying: bullying behavior can involve repeated mistreatment of someone by a single person or group of people. It can include physical or emotional harm (e.g., shoving, hitting), verbal (e.g., threats, racism/xenophobia, name-calling), non-verbal (e.g., threats, racism/xenophobia, name-calling, done in a communication platform), psychological (e.g., untruthful gossip, sabotage) and physical abuse (e.g., intimidation, sexual/inappropriate touching, sabotage) and humiliation (e.g., ridicule). Bullying and abusive conduct is not tolerated.

Mobbing: abusive conduct carried out by a group, a term that is interchangeable with bullying. Occurs when an individual is ridiculed, humiliated or otherwise targeted with hostile or harmful behavior. The mobber gathers others to gang up on the target with a goal of forcing the victim out or making their work difficult.

Reporting: bullying and mobbing should be reported to an internal resource such as a manager or HR, even if the harassment has not happened to you directly. Reporting helps ensure that the organization knows what is going on, can respond to it appropriately and can watch for broader issues across the organization. And when you do report, you are protected from retaliation. Organization should protect anyone who reports suspected harassment or abusive conduct, or who participates in an investigation into such a report.

Repercussions: In the event of bullying and/or mobbing, employees can claim damages in a court proceeding, allowing the employee pressing charges to have the right to a compensation of at least the amount of the minimum remuneration for work. A bullied employee has additional rights if his/her health has deteriorated as a result of bullying/mobbing at work and may claim financial compensation from the employer for the damage suffered, if he/she terminated the employment contract as a result of the incident and long after the event.

Moral of the story

Despite some good advancements and good outlook regarding the law handling harassment at the workplace, we still see organizations turning a “blind-eye” and providing this kind of training as an obligation to “check boxes”. If you have integrity, are truthful and want to practice good, but you don’t have a voice or don’t have a position of power inside the corporation, you will be penalized and probably looked down upon. If senior management or someone higher in the “chain” observes an act of similar nature and frowns upon, there is a “chain” reaction.

The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t be a donkey (dumb and small) and you should know better than to expect justice from places that do not look for the best of interest regarding its employees. Inclusion and Diversity are words that look good in Marketing. It’s all about connections and support between each other. If you are a persona non grata for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter how right you are, you will be put aside. “Lay low”, look for other places, do your thing (whatever it is) and then move on to the next place. Organizations have different types of employees (some are of very stupid) and the jackasses will always win.

Now… are you going to be a donkey, a jackass or a stallion?

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