Well This Is Awkward

I had resolved to myself that I wouldn’t have another job update here until I had something to actually update you with.  Well, there have been some developments…

There are 18 people in this building, so when someone leaves we take a pretty big hit.  With the current state of things, multiple people are considering leaving across almost every department.  One of our microbiologists quit while I was at the conference at the end of May, and one of our QA people is bouncing tomorrow.  Things need to change if this place is going to survive, but in order for things to change they need to be addressed with management.  Everyone else here has had a “disciplinary” meeting at some point in the last 6 months and therefore has some sort of mark against them.  While the official policy is there cannot be any retaliation or backlash for trying to confront issues the actual practice has said otherwise.  It is no wonder nothing has really been addressed, because everyone has been too scared for their job to say anything.

I, however, have a unique perspective on my employment here.  In that I’m not worried about them terminating it for a variety of reasons.  I also tend to be very protective, very den-motherly, and most of all I tend to be loud.  So, I decided to say something.

I set up a meeting with the site leader, who I report directly to anyways, to discuss some “concerns” I had.  I went and talked to my coworkers who I knew also were having a bad time, explained what I was going to do, and essentially took requests for items that I should discuss.  Afterall, if I’m going to potentially wedge my foot firmly in my mouth I might as well get it really stuck in there.

The 30 minutes my boss scheduled for me to be in there very quickly turned into over an hour, and 95% of what needed to come out came out.  I made it clear that I was speaking officially only for myself, but that anything discussed was being brought up because it was an issue amongst  the majority of my colleagues.  I’ll admit, that was probably one of the most nerve-wracking hours I have experienced.  Going to your boss and saying “here’s everything that’s wrong with this operation you’re running” is kind of terrifying.  But, it needed to be done.

We discussed what could change, potential timelines for it, and how he was going to proceed from there.  I left the meeting feeling much better, and decided to give him a few weeks to see what progress he can make before I decide to jump ship.

Then Monday came and it reached a new level of interesting.

I said about 95% of what needed to be discussed was discussed…I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here (and quite frankly I don’t feel like taking the time to check), but one of the issues I’m having at work on a personal level is that our new group leader appears to be hitting on me.  Like to the point where it is making my coworkers uncomfortable.  There’s nothing overtly inappropriate or offensive going on, and I certainly have not felt “harassed”, but it’s just so awkward that it gets super uncomfortable.  I hadn’t mentioned it to my boss because it was a personal problem and there are wide-spread issues that need to be addressed, and there wasn’t really anything “reportable” about what was going on, so I decided it could wait.  Except Monday came around, and the preferential treatment said group leader exhibits towards me (which I am usually able to turn down so as to not create any issues) pissed someone off.

The short version of the story is the stupid extra long project that makes me go in at 4AM is running again, and there was a massive miscommunication as to who was supposed to be in when to cover what shifts.  As a result, my coworker was going to have to work a 13 hour day, which group leader was totally fine with.  However, I thought that was really unfair to ask her to do that, so I offered to come back in the evening and cover the late night tasks so she didn’t have to stay the whole time.  This is when group leader steps in and says that it is unacceptable that I should have to do that, so he’ll come in instead.  Coworker was mad (rightfully so) that he wouldn’t offer to cover her ridiculous hours, but offered to cover mine.  So, she went to my boss and said “look, this is what just happened, here’s what’s been going on for weeks, everyone is uncomfortable, especially Jenn, you need to address this”.

I’d like to make it clear there has been no groping…I just found the card funny.

And so back in my boss’s office I was.  I explained what was going on, why it hadn’t come up before, the extent to which other people had observed things or been involved, and did my best to make it clear this was not a case of sexual harassment, just a case of the heebie-jeebies.  At this point, I sort of felt bad for my boss…I’m sure there’s no way he thought coming out to a site this small would lead to all these kinds of issues.

The widespread issues have yet to be addressed, which is fine all things considered.  He wants to talk to everyone, and has been planning to since the apparently “enlightening” exit interview with our microbiologist.  The issue is that the flirtation has already been addressed.  Don’t get me wrong, it needed to happen, but essentially the group leader “had no idea he was treating me any differently”, so now he has no idea how to talk to me anymore and it’s 18 levels of awkward.

Like super awkward.

Aaaaanyway, that’s that.  Hopefully I’ll have more exciting news soon.  What’s up with you guys?

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Posted on June 20, 2013, in Life, Work and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. WOW! I am so proud of you for stepping up to your boss! That takes serious guts! You totally win. 🙂

    Anyway, awkward about your team leader… I find it really unsurprising that there are few women in science because of how some guys feel like they can get away with making awkward comments in the science workplace… You’re right that the comments are never sexual harassment-worthy but enough to make us feel uncomfortable. UGH. Whyyyyyy does this still happen?!

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