We are making great strides at ending homelessness and connecting people in that community to mental health and substance programs.
I am FINALLY doing therapy with this population.
My boss is great.
So… what’s the problem?
Well, yesterday was my two year anniversary at Tarzana. I was expecting to do my annual review. I’m expecting my review to be amazing because I have kicked ass for the last year and I say that without modesty because it was a deliberate choice. A year ago I should have quit but I stayed and I gave it my all to make a point to myself and to not be chased off from work I really believe in by people who didn’t like me.
Hell is Human Resources Helping Someone Bully You
Last fall I went through hell at work. I got an email from my then supervisor asking me to respond to a complaint made against me. A complaint that was very long, incredibly detailed, and grossly fictional. It was insultingly fictional.
It took human resources 4 months to get to the end of this and give me the results of this whole investigation. That’s 1/3 of a year. from October to January I did not know what was going on or if I’d have a job and I was told not to tell anybody including my own direct supervisor about what I was going through. I was not told who I could talk to I was not given connections to employee assistance programs and I wasn’t advised to seek legal help or bring anybody with me into human resources and I went in a lot. They didn’t like my response; they had me write more and had me write more again. I went in for an interview they had me come back for a second interview and I had to go in a third time. Sometimes the head of human resources was there – sometimes it was one of the junior staff. Eventually I got half an hour’s notice that they needed to meet with me and give me their answer about what was going on. It was exhausting, scary, frightening and I was completely unsupported by my place of employment. I had to take a week of stress leave because I had stopped sleeping and couldn’t stop crying. I was being bullied by this process happening at work. The employee eventually quit and took with her a lot of my personal property that I had to buy and loan to her so that she could perform her job easier.
At the same time I had shelter houses filled with homeless people who needed help and staff who were new to the field who needed guidance and I was the best person to do that. I stayed and I did that. I brought my project in under budget and got its timeline extended because I saved so much money. I went out to the hospitals we worked with and talked to the staff there and built connections and rapport and made the company that was torturing me look good. Because I believe in the company I work for even though once small portion of it was robbing me of my happiness.
I hate the gays?
To give you hint of what was in that complaint, I apparently hate gay people. Yes, you read that right. I apparently don’t like the gay population and tell queer women that they should not feel good about being who they are because vaginas are gross. Never mind that I have a queer curious daughter, pictures of rainbows all over my office, a button that says”yay for gay” at my desk. When I did the hiring- I knowingly hired three gay people. Two gay men and one gay lady. I led grief support groups for children who had lost a friend due to bullying based on their sexuality. I brought in rainbow posters that say this is a hate-free zone and I’m an ally. If you’ve ever met me you would know that I’m very concerned about this population because they are at risk and vulnerable because of the discrimination they face and that I don’t discriminate against them.
That was one of the many claims.
Another one was that I throw furniture at employees. I would invite anyone to come into my office and tell me exactly which piece of that furniture you think I could pick up before we get to the issue of my stance on violence – I am nonviolent by choice. The junior employee lady in human resources didn’t ask me “if” I threw furniture at somebody. She asked me “why” I threw the furniture. The assumption they presented was that I was guilty of all that was said.
I did not feel like I was being treated fairly. I did not feel like they were investigating to try to find the truth. I very much felt like they were making it as unpleasant as possible and hoping I would just quit.
Hostile treatment from them was not new. One day we had a fire drill and everybody had to go stand outside in the parking lot. I was wearing a black sweater that hit just below my waist and red cigarette pants. $90 cigarette pants by the way that came from PinUp Gal. I had on black flats, makeup and a black headband. I was completely and totally professionally dressed for work. All of the Human Resources staff was there with me in the parking lot and yet I got an awkward notification from my program director, who is stationed in another city, asking me if I was wearing leggings to work. Full disclosure, I’m an incredibly fat person. Cigarette pants on someone who weighs 100 lb versus cigarettes on someone of my stature- okay it’s a completely different look. Probably not my most flattering look but I was definitely not wearing leggings and there’s nothing in the employee manual that says I have to address in a certain way to compliment my body shape or frame. I immediately drove 20 minutes to go show my current supervisor that I was wearing clothes that were appropriate to work and included the internet shopping link showing the exact types of pants I was wearing. I then sent that email and notified human resources that I did not appreciate being fat shamed. any member of them who’d had a question about what I was wearing had the opportunity to ask me when we were all standing within 40 ft of each other in the parking lot. Their personal opinion that I didn’t look good in those pants had no place at work.
There was another time when an employee sent me a series of text messages calling me a petty liar and disparaging me and the director of my department. The male employee was allowed to keep his job. I was forced to continue working with him, and although he was supposedly put on probation he was never formally let off of probation. Nothing happened.
My company did not stand up for me or check in with me to make sure I was okay after my personal cell phone received those attack text messages in a row. I was not even giving guidance on how to respond or not respond to that.
I have been making the choice to stay and continue working because I really believe that Tarzana has the right approach to permanently ending homelessness one person at a time and has the ability to do it in bulk. They are connecting with other homeless service agencies and sharing what they know and coordinating and sharing staff and they are finally right where they need to be and I get to participate in this and it’s awesome and I love it. And I thought I had put all that other pain behind me.
I had thought I healed from all the other damage until I found out that my annual review would be postponed by the same amount of time it took them to complete the internal human resources complaint investigation. You see, I’m still at Tarzana but they changed my job title and so apparently that means they will change my start date and review date. This was not explained to me until Thursday when I asked my supervisor to start my review process. At the same time that they changed my job title they retroactively reached back to a time before this complaint was filed and changed the results of my last year’s annual review which happened in September (but the complaint landed in October). They changed the score on my September review which reduced my pay increase. Now this year they want me to wait until next January to do my annual review and evaluate a possible increase. They are hitting me in my pocketbook and I don’t play when it comes to my dollars. I agreed to take this low paying job because I believe in the company and the mission.
But I will not believe in the company and the mission if they can’t get it together and treat me fairly this once and moving forward.
I’ve had employment lawyers reach out to me and offer to represent me. I’ve had people telling me I should sue this company for discrimination based on my body type. But that’s not what I wanted to. I just want to do my job, get my raise and finish earning my hours. oh, have I told you that I’ve been on the wait list to get my LCSW hours for 18 months?