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Old 11-10-2007, 03:43 PM   #1
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Racial discrimination advice!!

Hello all, I have a predicament and I need outside advice.

Let me start off by giving you all the rundown on my physical characteristics as well as those typical to where I work. I am a native girl, (lakota, cheyenne, absentee shawnee) and I was "raised native." I am obviously native american by looking at me (and on paper I am 5/8). I work in a restaurant in Midwest City, a suburb of Oklahoma City. The typical races that reside there are either white or black, with a few latinos...it is a rare day when I greet a native at one of my tables...I have had maybe 7 since I started there a year ago.

There are only black or white people where I work, I am the only "native" there (although a few have cards but consider themselves black or white). There are three other girls who are also "inbetweeners" and they have had similar issues but unrelated to race.

I have a manager who is under 30 and within the past couple of months has begun making comments about my race. I must also add that I am fairly good friends with one of the managers who works there, who is black, and we often joke about the other's race but neither is offended since 1: we are both minorities and 2: we have a friendly relationship where talk like this would never be offensive. The white manager has said things to me such as "This is white man's land now, you just need to get over it"; "If your people would have fought harder, you would have never had these problems"; "Okay Pocahontas, get in your canoe and find your John Smith." While these things might be good natured in his eyes, they were seriously offensive to me. When these incidents occurred, I never made a fuss about it because I was afraid to speak out and I didn't want to cause any commotion. Well these "jokes" continued, not on a consistent basis, but definitely every once in a while. Paired with the way I would be picked out of the crew to "spot sweep the restaurant" or run other people's food, I decided to leave on Sunday evening (this past Sunday). What had actually occurred was this particular manager is dating, yes DATING one of our fellow employees. This is completely unacceptable according to Brinker International, but the management allowed this relationship to persist as long as no "unequal treatment" was given to the employee. Of course she was given the "treatment." Sunday evenings are pretty slow after the mini rush. During this rush, I was not only running my food but other employee's food as well. That manager was near the expo line (where the food is distributed) and I had asked him to please have someone run my food, as I was running someone else's food (we have a policy that we must deliver the customer's food in order on the expo screen). Instead, he skipped over my food, left it sitting out (it was soup, it gets skin on it if it sits out long enough) and continued to ensure that the rest of the food was delivered to the customers. After this, he handed me a broom and told me to sweep a side of the restaurant that I wasn't even working on, but I did it because I refuse to go against what my superiors ask of me. When it died down, the hostess told me that she was going to eat something and asked if I would watch the host stand for her. Since my section was near the door, I agreed. As I went to check the tables on her host sheet (the manager's girlfriend walking toward the host stand as well), the manager started laughing at me and goes "there is no need for you to be looking at that, but there is a need for this building to be cleaned." Stunned that I had been picked out yet again, I decided that I absolutely could not tolerate being treated like that anymore and began crying. I am a typical "tough indian" and I rarely cry, especially not in public. I was so upset that I closed out my tickets and gave him my checkout and left. (I didn't know what else I could do in this situation).

The following day, I was still in tears and my mother and grandmother were both upset that I had been treated that way. I spoke with the manager that I am on friendly terms with and explained what had happened. He told me that I should have contacted one of the other managers if I felt that I was being treated that way. I explained to him that I definitely did not feel comfortable enough to ask to use the office phone to contact a different manager. Well, he spoke with that manager (the one who offended me) and told me that that manager had seemed apologetic and continued to deny being racist (well hell, he is talking to a black person at the time, of course hed say that!!) and thought that I had taken everything as a joke. I was then told that I would be allowed to pick up shifts this week and would be put back on the schedule the following week. I had "picked up" a shift for tonight, but was told that I must speak to a manager who closed tonight. Of course it is the same one who treated me badly. I was then told that I wasn't working there anymore. Confused, I called the manager on duty (who I never got along with) and asked what the situation was. He informed me that the managers had decided that since I had walked out on my shift, I was no longer allowed to work there. So here I am now, jobless because I am native american. The manager who informed me that I was no longer working there has also insulted me numerous times. He is in charge of the schedule and despite the general manager asking him to give me better sections, always leaves me with difficult and crappy sections. (I am also 5 months pregnant and had just underwent surgery as I am high risk). He has also told me that he was surprised I was Lakota because "aren't Lakotas ugly?" He also constantly picks me out of the crew and ignores me when I come in, as well as skips over me when he takes shirt sizes for promotional shirts that come in (trivial, I know, but discrimination nonetheless). He also gives a couple of extremely lazy girls better sections that I do, and when we were busy on a lunch rush, he was sitting there chatting with one of those girls, telling her that he is going to have to quit his job so he can marry her. I am 5 months pregnant with stitches in my cervix and I work at least twice as hard as she does, many coworkers can attest to that. Yet, I am still stuck with crappy sections and she is given good sections.

There are three other managers; the black one, a white guy and the general manager...I have absolutely no problem with any of them and feel that they are very professional and have always treated me extremely well due to my work ethic and demeanor.

The other two managers have made me feel uncomfortable working in their presence, have continuously (maybe unknowingly) insulted me owing to my race and have shown others (whites) preferential treatment for no reason other than they like them.

I am wondering if this sounds to you like it could be a racial/sexual discrimination case. I am going to contact the EEOC office of Oklahoma on Monday to see what they say as well. Yes, I left in tears and even for a brief moment hated that I wasn't "white." Just this mere feeling hurts not only me and my family, but my people and my race as well. Any advice, whether it is saying that you agree with me or not, will be gladly accepted.
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Old 11-10-2007, 04:11 PM   #2
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First, let me say that I feel badly for you and the way you were treated. No one should ever be treatedly poorly or differently because of their race.

I'm not an employment law specialist by any means, although I did take a course in employee/management relations in my MBA program. I did have an incidence in undergraduate school where I experienced sexual harassment at the hands of a very well-respected chemistry professor. Even though I filed a formal complaint, nothing was ever done to him because:

1). I didn't tell him directly, to his face, that what he was doing was inappropriate and that I wanted him to stop.

2). I didn't file a complaint the first time the abuse occurred (it occurred on 2 or 3 occasions, escalating each time).

I would say to follow through on your meeting with EEOC, give them all the facts with as much detail as you can, including how long ago the abuse began, the frequency, the type of abuse (as you outlined here) and go from there. If you have any witnesses that could back you up, that would be of additional help.

From your description, this does constitute racial discrimination/abuse, but the fact that you did sign out early on that last occasion (and I don't blame you for that) may complicate things.

I wish you the best and hope that your complaint receives the appropriate attention.
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Old 11-10-2007, 05:02 PM   #3
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Report it. Then consider finding another line of work, or improved workplace environment. You will find that working in an eatery, the owner is not going to be as picky when hiring, and all walks of life tipically are hired on, even those with felony records etc. You sound like a young person that could do better in life and are smart enough to figure out that since you have several years of experience you may be able to look for employment in fine dinery if you so choose to stay in that profession. I would always encourage you to go to college if you have not done so already, your mind and options in life will open up to greater opportunities if you do.
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Old 11-10-2007, 05:21 PM   #4
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Thank you Wocus Woman and North of Ada.

I am actually about to graduate with a bachelor's in psychology and restaurant work is definitely not something I would recommend to anyone on the long term!! I just do not think it is fair for anyone in any setting to be treated unfairly due to circumstances that they cannot control. My mother also thinks it has to do with the fact that I am pregnant and they were probably trying to make me leave so that I would not be a problem for them later on. I definitely feel like I was made to quit, definitely felt like those two managers were doing everything in their power to make me want to leave. They had no reason to fire me, so that was their only other option. I refuse to be the little voice that dwindles in the heavy storm, I will make sure that something is done about this and I will not be silent until I feel some sort of apology has been sincerely offered (whether it be monetary or otherwise, I do not care). I have taken this abuse for too long and even if there is nothing that can be done about it, I will do my best to see that any natives coming after me are able to work wherever they please and are not treated unequally just because of our ancestry!!
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:46 PM   #5
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Whatever you do.. follow through with it. You never know if there will be another native woman taking your place sometime down the road (which I read you've already considered).
These actions of this manager are completely unacceptable and workplace harrassment is VERY serious. You might not be able to change his ideas or beliefs but you will have taught him that his actions are repugnant and illegal. Take your complaint to the corporation instead of any Head management, and have it sent to them via a lawyer or organization that you turn to for advice.
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Old 11-12-2007, 07:00 PM   #6
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yano.... from my perspective i gotta say this sucks on so many levels it aint funny.
its bad enough that restaraunts get away with paying the substandard wages they do. but when you find an employee who is willing to give a schit about her work for that level of pittence is pretty rare and then to treat that person like that is pretty shabby. arent there federal laws against creating a hostile work environment?
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Old 11-12-2007, 11:05 PM   #7
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file...contact your states attorney generals office and also the federal dept of labor...what youve been thru at work is a violation of both state and federal laws...
when someone makes any racial or ethnic comment even as a joke in a work place ,its is considered harrassment...it is also "a hostile work environment"
and yes follow thru...the reason why employers and landlords get away with things like this is because people dont follow thru...stand up for yourself and for others who arent strong enough to....
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siouxner_sweetie
So here I am now, jobless because I am native american.
No. You're jobless because you quit your job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by siouxner_sweetie
we often joke about the other's race...
Doesn't matter that this interaction wasn't the manager in question, you opened the door to this as acceptable work behavior.

Find alternative employment.
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Old 11-13-2007, 06:22 AM   #9
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[b]


Doesn't matter that this interaction wasn't the manager in question, you opened the door to this as acceptable work behavior.


ease up zeke, thats like saying when black people use the term 'nigga' as an endearment amongst themselves it makes it acceptable for anyone to go dropping the 'N-bomb'.
granted words have only the impact you allow them, but wrong is wrong no matter what color its painted
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Old 11-13-2007, 08:00 AM   #10
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Thank you everyone for your support, and thank you Zeke for your input as well (despite the fact the opinions he left had nothing to do with the actual thread, and were just comments left to stir commotion).

As far as my jokes with the other manager (my friend of quite some time), it is the same thing as him telling "n jokes" to me and then someone else hearing it and "thinking it's ok." If you heard two people of a different race who were good friends making jokes about each other say something to that effect, would YOU really consider that an open door to make the same jokes? (Possibly if your IQ was less than adequate...) And the "jokes" made by my manager and myself were things such as him calling me Pocahontas or Sacagawea or me making fun of him for always eating so much damn chicken...nothing that would be considered insulting.

As for another thing, my grandmother was raised on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. My tribe lives in a place that is not any better off than a third world country, just because they refuse to agree with a lot of things. (Like the fact that the US "bought" our Black Hills...) Comments like these sting a little harder because my family is actually living that way, to be shut up by the whites. My grandmother's brother, Buddy Lamont, was shot in the back of the head by an FBI agent during the Oglala Incident of the early 1970's just because he was native. Yeah, there are many tribes out there who live better than a lot of people do, and they are very fortunate. But when jokes like these are made to someone who has seen just exactly how much damage and lack of caring can be dispensed by the government, jokes like these are harsh insults and reminders of what my family has been through, even as recent as 30 years ago. Did anything happen to the FBI agent? No, but you better believe they locked up Leonard Peltier and threw away the key with less-than-no evidence.

As for my situation, it has just came to my attention (yesterday) that not all of the managers were involved in this "manager's meeting" to discuss my employment. The mere fact that it did involve one of the two managers I am reporting invokes more reason for me to follow through. One of the managers who wasn't involved (my good friend) didn't even know I no longer was employed there. He chewed out one of the two managers I am reporting and made the comment that anyone else can run out and throw things but still come back to work. Just the fact that these two managers were going behind people's backs makes me see how hard they were trying to make sure I didn't come back. Also interesting was the fact that another employee saw these two managers at a local bar this past week together. 2 + 2 = 4. I have already filed a complaint (it was Vet's Day, didn't get to speak with anyone yet) and through my research have discovered that there are several task committees who deal specifically with guarding Native American rights in the workforce in Oklahoma.

My GM wants me to call him this morning. I am just going to explain to him that the meeting was unfair and you can't pick and choose where you are going to enforce the rules. A manager is dating an employee...and that is pretty forbidden by Brinker International. Bartenders give away free drinks and are caught but not fired. I honestly feel that those two managers went out of their way to ensure I wasn't there anymore.

As far as the actual employment goes, this was my job while I finished school. I have 18 hours left of school and really did not want to hop from this job to another job to my "real" job in a year. It is also difficult to be hired by someone when you are 5 months pregnant, but the job search begins today.

Again, thank you all for your kind words and yes, I intend on following through with this. I have children and I absolutely refuse to help beat down the white man's path just for him to make it easier to treat them badly.

And how ironic that this is Native American Heritage month!!
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:33 AM   #11
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Red face This stuff IS the problem...

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Originally Posted by FluteMaker View Post
ease up zeke, thats like saying when black people use the term 'nigga' as an endearment amongst themselves it makes it acceptable for anyone to go dropping the 'N-bomb'.
Uh, even black folk (NAACP) have indicated that the above is precisely the point. That's why they have created a movement to cease the practice. Such figments cannot be used as endearments and it DOES generate acceptability for others to do same. To wit: NAACP lays N word to rest

The use of racial epithets, in any environment, is NOT acceptable and behavioral relativism -- in this case -- is decidedly NOT a defense. Get it? The NAACP says that "little jokes," "just between us," are the REASON this crap is perpetuated.

I say, again: siouxner_sweetie is unemployed because she quit her job. That's what walking out is, "voluntary termination." She is, personally admitted, on this site, just as guilty of being racially insensitive (if that is even management's true error, in this case) as others are alleged. She opened the door to insensitivity. As long as the duties she was asked to perform are within the Job Description, there's nothing here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by siouxner_sweetie
My grandmother's brother, Buddy Lamont, was shot in the back of the head by an FBI agent during the Oglala Incident of the early 1970's JUST BECAUSE HE WAS NATIVE (emphasis added).
That's disputable, irrelevant, and doesn't mean you get special treatment if you work at IHOP.
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:42 AM   #12
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It is within the confines of the law to leave a hostile work environment. That is what she did. It has no bearing what happened in the past but what happened that day. She was well within her right to leave. And actually because of that fact she should be eligible for unemployment because she left and was not fired.
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:49 AM   #13
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It is within the confines of the law to leave a hostile work environment.
Sure!

But being directed to actually work (sweep the floor?) does not indicate hostility. Pressing this racially is a big can of worms, where her position can -- readily -- be denounced.

At best, just to make this irritant go away, she gets her job back. Is that really what she wants?

I don't think so... If what she wanted was her job, she'd still be there.

Last edited by Zeke; 11-13-2007 at 10:59 AM..
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:57 AM   #14
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Yeah and it was hostile by the means she was given the excessive work and substandard work alone. She was treated unfairly for whatever reason. The manager was breeching his work ethics by not only carrying on with an employee... but doing so on business hours and to the detriment of another employee. She had a right to leave. And who's to say that it really didn't come down to her being pregnant. The point is moot... she was plainly treated badly and had the right to leave.
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:06 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mato Winyan View Post
Yeah and it was hostile by the means she was given the excessive work and substandard work alone. She was treated unfairly for whatever reason. The manager was breeching his work ethics by not only carrying on with an employee... but doing so on business hours and to the detriment of another employee. She had a right to leave. And who's to say that it really didn't come down to her being pregnant. The point is moot... she was plainly treated badly and had the right to leave.
1. If it's in the job description, it's not excessive.
2. Employees ALWAYS have the right to leave.
3. They do NOT always have the right to come back.
4. If she's allowed back, they'll ask her to sweep the floor.

What is she going to do, then, mention Buddy Lamont or sweep the floor?

The pregnancy thing is a wholly different issue. That would be EVIL.

Last edited by Zeke; 11-13-2007 at 11:20 AM..
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:26 AM   #16
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these are her words in her original post "I was then told that I would be allowed to pick up shifts this week and would be put back on the schedule the following week. I had "picked up" a shift for tonight, but was told that I must speak to a manager who closed tonight."

she left and was told the above after she left...

learn to read zeke....
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:29 PM   #17
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Zeke, if you would like to educate yourself on the AIM movement and Oglala Incident of 1973, I urge you to do so. While you are researching that, also research the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in order that you may realize why a movement like AIM was created. It is sad that even natives are ignorant to all of these terrible things that have occurred. (And yes, considering the circumstances and the location, he WAS shot because he was native.)

I spoke with my general manager this morning. He agreed that the statements made were incredibly racist in nature and that paired with the feeling that I had been singled out does deserve attention. He was only upset that I had not called him earlier to discuss this. He is going to make the other manager very aware of why the things he said are racist and insulting and why they would upset someone. He offered me my job back there (noting that he realized that I would have never left like that without a really good reason) and also said that I could transfer to the one in Shawnee until I have my baby if I wanted to.

Once again, let me restate that I am about to graduate and have already decided to attend the same school for post graduate studies. This job was a "during school" job and I never saw it as a possible OCCUPATION. I do believe in work ethic no matter what you are involved in. If you establish good habits early, it is so much easier to excel when you are finally involved in what you were reaching for. When I am completely finished with school, I intend to make sure that I do my part in preserving my people's ways and hopefully improve their living conditions. Education of every sort truly allows you more opportunity and I hope everyone can take advantage of the one good thing America has extended to our people.


To all of you natives out there who are proud of where you come from and what you are and try your best to preserve your culture and enjoy reaching out to others who are trying as well, I am very proud of you and I thank you for helping me make sure our children and their children will be proud as well.

Last edited by Blackbear; 11-13-2007 at 03:44 PM..
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:08 PM   #18
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Zeke, if you would like to educate yourself on the AIM movement and Oglala Incident of 1973, I urge you to do so. While you are researching that, also research the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in order that you may realize why a movement like AIM was created. It is sad that even natives are ignorant to all of these terrible things that have occurred. (And yes, considering the circumstances and the location, he WAS shot because he was native.)

I spoke with my general manager this morning. He agreed that the statements made were incredibly racist in nature and that paired with the feeling that I had been singled out does deserve attention. He was only upset that I had not called him earlier to discuss this. He is going to make the other manager very aware of why the things he said are racist and insulting and why they would upset someone. He offered me my job back there (noting that he realized that I would have never left like that without a really good reason) and also said that I could transfer to the one in Shawnee until I have my baby if I wanted to.

Once again, let me restate that I am about to graduate and have already decided to attend the same school for post graduate studies. This job was a "during school" job and I never saw it as a possible OCCUPATION. I do believe in work ethic no matter what you are involved in. If you establish good habits early, it is so much easier to excel when you are finally involved in what you were reaching for. When I am completely finished with school, I intend to make sure that I do my part in preserving my people's ways and hopefully improve their living conditions. Education of every sort truly allows you more opportunity and I hope everyone can take advantage of the one good thing America has extended to our people.

To all of you natives out there who are proud of where you come from and what you are and try your best to preserve your culture and enjoy reaching out to others who are trying as well, I am very proud of you and I thank you for helping me make sure our children and their children will be proud as well.
.

I wondered why the general manager was not contacted immediately myself. That would have been my first step the day I returned and was told I no longer worked there. I would have called before I left the meeting. It's unfortunate that people of that caliber have been placed in supervisory type positions. Anyone willing to date an employee that directly reports to them should not be in the position to start with.

As far as the comments made to you, they should have never been made. However, the first time you were uncomfortable should have been addressed. It leaves the door open for the person to think it's ok to continue to do so either because it doesn't bother you or because you won't stand up for yourself. And the last thing you want to do as a Native American female...or female in general...is to give the impression you will not stand up for yourself. Keep that in mind in the future. Sometimes it's worth "making waves" just to get the point across to someone.

I do believe alot of the comments made here...even though they aren't necessarily in agreement with what you believe...are on track. When you walk out...you probably will not be invited back. As difficult as it is to stay...that needs to be kept in mind if you make the decision to leave. I would not make racially funny comments (even with friends) at work. It's an inappropriate place to do so. What if other co workers heard and were offended or customers even. If this manager had heard you and your friend in the past...he can use that as his defense. I can hear it now..."Well, she and "so&so" joke all the time. I was just joking with her and at no point she said she was offended. I thought it was ok to joke with her because they do it".....I bet that exact defense will be used. So just keep in mind because if you do go back, especially to the same store, he will be out to get you and will be looking for such things.

I do commend you for contacting the general manager and not letting things just slide. It will bring to his attention issues in his restaurants that he needs to be more aware of. I do believe offering your job back is a way of trying to pacify you so that no other further action will be taken. If I went back...I would take the transfer unless that manager gets fired which would be the best situation.

This thread actually really bothered me. Not sure why. I've been thinking about it for two or three days. I think it's more that I don't think I've ever been in a situation where I felt someone was being racially insentive to me. I don't know if it's because I just don't think of things in that way or I have just been lucky. I think I may just be insensitive to such things. If someones acting like a whacko toward me...I just think "jeez, what a nut." Not...that person must be acting like a moron to me because I'm native, black, or hispanic. I think we about that a sometimes....every race needs to think about that.

Last edited by Blackbear; 11-13-2007 at 03:45 PM..
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:36 PM   #19
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Siouxner Sweety said: As far as my jokes with the other manager (my friend of quite some time), it is the same thing as him telling "n jokes" to me and then someone else hearing it and "thinking it's ok." If you heard two people of a different race who were good friends making jokes about each other say something to that effect, would YOU really consider that an open door to make the same jokes? (Possibly if your IQ was less than adequate...) And the "jokes" made by my manager and myself were things such as him calling me Pocahontas or Sacagawea or me making fun of him for always eating so much damn chicken...nothing that would be considered insulting.
Actually hon... ANYONE within the workplace can complain about racial jokes being told or complain of sexual harrassment even if it is not directed or said to them. An example is someone hears you call a friend your N***** can actually make a complaint of racism, or if they see you and another co-worker making out, can claim sexual harrassment. And a manager can't just throw out the complaint because they don't feel it was justified, it HAS to go before a board or the manager is'nt meeting with compliance of the law. That usually means, you're out of work at the very least temporarily until the whole thing is resolved and you still might get the shaft. Believe me.. I had to take this course 6 times, once every year at my last job... here's a link to know more.
http://www.womanabuseprevention.com/html/harassment.html

Quote:
Zeke says: Sure!

But being directed to actually work (sweep the floor?) does not indicate hostility. Pressing this racially is a big can of worms, where her position can -- readily -- be denounced.

At best, just to make this irritant go away, she gets her job back. Is that really what she wants?

I don't think so... If what she wanted was her job, she'd still be there.
Are you under the impression that all women cry and run away every time that they are told to do something they don't want or something?

No if someone has to leave a workplace before a shift because the treatment brought them to tears that's just unacceptable. I'm sure you might have trouble understanding this because men don't deal with the same situation in the same way, but the majority of women are'nt going to punch their boss in the face and say I quit. In fact most of us don't quit... we just need the escape then and there. We can and have put up with alot at jobs, so to be driven to tears... it's not a good thing.

Not only that but as Skillet said...
Quote:

these are her words in her original post "I was then told that I would be allowed to pick up shifts this week and would be put back on the schedule the following week. I had "picked up" a shift for tonight, but was told that I must speak to a manager who closed tonight."

she left and was told the above after she left...
To be told you can come back to work and then be fired in this manner I believe is illegal and can be considered retaliation.
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:53 PM   #20
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I'm sure you might have trouble understanding this because men don't deal with the same situation in the same way, but the majority of women are'nt going to punch their boss in the face and say I quit.
I appreciate the insight. I have -- readily -- been caught in similar "failure to empathize" thought patterns in the past. Perhaps I have spent far too much time with women who would advance on the offender, whipping out a finger, and initiating a conversation beginning with, "Oh, Hell no..."

Thanks, again.

BTW, Weshomenom: It appears that a perfectly defendable post of mine got jacked, too, so don't feel discriminated against. :)

Last edited by Zeke; 11-13-2007 at 04:02 PM..
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