View Full Version : What has happened to me?

08-14-2010, 11:28 AM
I quitted in a company because I felt treated unfairly. But I don't know if you can really call this molestation, mobbing or harassment? And since I can't get over it - actually, I constantly think about it - I need help to figure what happened to me, so that I can leave it behind. Please I need some help and since it has sth to do with different cultures I need your opinions.

Shortly after I got hired, one of my bosses asked me when we met outside - during lunch breaks and when we had social meetings for the whole company - what plans I have for the weekend. He did this several times. I am not 100% sure what he really wanted. Perhaps it's common in the US, but the way he looked at me, while I was working, I assumed he was interested in a private relationship. But I am NOT sure. The man is American (so is the company), but genetically he is 100% Chinese. He comes from California and I realised from his talks and the pics of his friends that he grew up in an American-Asian community. I got the impression that he hardly has non-Asian friends even in the US. I wonder if this was the source of all my problems?

Well, even if I didn't know what he wanted, I knew exactly what I wanted: I had been unemployed for some months and I only (desperately) wanted to work, nothing else. He told me in a bar (again a company meeting) that he has no girl-friend, that he has problems to meet girls in our (European) town because he doesn't speak our language (he lives here since more than a year and can't speak 3 sentences). That it is also difficult for him to find a girl because he is Asian (his opinion - I don't think that it's realistic). He also said that he hates his former girl-friend. - I was practically a stranger and he told me these things! I felt SO uncomfortable while he was telling me all these things - and there were two male co-workers around listening. And then he abruptly asked me what I do this weekend. I didn't know where to look and what to do. He is the second manager in this company, so on a much higher level than me and the others.

Is this normal among Americans or Chinese people that they are so outspoken about personal things to strangers? Because if it is, then perhaps it all started with a misunderstanding and he had no erotic motives. I really don't know. Is it all a cultural misunderstanding?

Well, let me continue. I had the feeling that he was too focused on me. So I became reluctant. But I thought my behaviour was not very obvious. I was never offensive! Never. What mean did I do? I was always polite when he talked to me directly but I just tried to not be too close to him and to not communicate with him alone. For example when I went in a restaurant during the lunch break and he was there I always cared, that at least 2 people were sitting between us.

While the others didn't notice that I was avoiding him - HE noticed. And he became angry.

Now things got really ugly. When he entered a room, where I was, he immediately started to talk to others ABOUT ME. So he was standing one meter away and I heard sentences like: "This girl has her own way. She doesn't talk to me." Then he abruptly turned to me and looked at me for a second with a glance so full of fury that my blood was freezing. Then he turned back to the other person. I was shocked. I didn't know what to say and how to react. If it had been SOME co-worker, things had been different. I had defended myself. But he was my boss, he could fire me any time. And he was actually not speaking TO ME but to some other person (always a man). So my reaction was to leave and come back when he was gone. This ridiculous situation went on for months. The worst was that his reaction isolated me from the others. When we went to some social meeting he always let something drop like: "She is too good for me!" "She thinks she is better than me!" And most of my co-workers started to avoid me, I guess simply to show their solidarity?! I don't know. I was polite and supportive to everybody! But since these social meetings became so unpleasant for me I started to skip them. This didn't really help ...

Perhaps - and this is the thing that bugs me - perhaps my boss was thinking that I was avoiding him for being Asian? Could it be that he harbors a victim mentality? That he thought that I discriminated him? And even IF he thought so, was this the way to handle the situation? I mean if I was a boss and I believe that some person is avoiding me for racist reasons I would really fire this person immediately after an investigating talk! AFAIK esp. in the US the laws are very strict. Isn't this the way it goes? Then again - I noticed that he looked very interested when blonde women appeared in the office. I am blonde BTW and he never tried to talk to my dark-haired female co-workers. Actually they felt ignored by him and once even complained about it. Isn't it strange? Was I really wrong when I assumed that he wanted to start a relationship with me?

The isolation around me hurt. It felt like a wall. Only two people still invited me for lunch. One of the few women (we had only 5% women) and my direct supervisor. It's strange - we never talked about my problem. But I figured that he became very protective about me. But then he got fired and the new supervisor who had watched what had happened right from the start treated me as if I wouldn't exist. At the end I couldn't stand his behaviour anymore, I mean I was responsible for a big project and had to ask him some things, but he ignored me.

So I quitted.

It's really sad. Because I needed the experience so badly. I had switched my profession last year, and this was my first job in my new profession, and I was even good! Plus I loved the multi-cultural atmosphere in the company. So - again - I am unemployed. Too much time on my plate and still feeling hurt. Almost every day I recapitulate what has happened in this company, shaking my head. What HAS happened? Was it my fault? Was it all a misunderstanding? Or have I been the victim of an overly sensitive man and a masculine crew who were making my daily life so miserable? I want answers and I can't find them.

There are also some other things that I would like to know. It's about the way how employees are treated in American companies:

Is it common in the US that employees who had been dismissed are not allowed to enter the company's ground, even if they left in good terms? One woman (the one who was still nice to me) was dismissed since they had no new project for her. This is not avoidable, but then she came back some days later to fetch her plant. But they didn't let her in. So she had to phone one of her colleagues on the cell phone to bring the plant downstairs. Is this normal?

Also when people were fired, they had to go IMMEDIATELY though they were paid for the remaining weeks or even months of their contract. They had to stand up and go within 10 minutes and they were escorted by the supervisor to the door, as if they were thieves. Is this common in the US?

Oh my, I just want to leave it behind ... if only I could

08-14-2010, 11:36 AM
Sorry about your troubles Rabbit. I have no advice since I'm not American but I was just wondering....

When did you first get interested in figure skating?

08-14-2010, 12:48 PM
Sorry you had such a bad experience, and that you quit your job over it. Losing a job is one of the most stressful things, studies show it can be on a level with divorce and other major events in one's life. Please don't blame yourself for any of this, there are people who cross professional boundaries and they are at fault, not you. I'm guessing you are relatively new to the US and cultural differences probably made you feel on shakier ground, but I think this kind of inappropriate situation can happen anywhere. It is especially uncomfortable when the person with the inappropriate behavior is your boss.

When initially you were made uncomfortable, you definitely should have reported the instance to Human Resources. All you would have to say to HR is something like 'I think this manager is trying to date me, and it makes me feel uncomfortable and compromises my professional relationship with him.' HR is then obligated to talk to him, and you have established a potential history of evidence should the situation become worse. Most managers would back down once they realize HR is tracking the incident, hopefully they won't try to retaliate against you and make things uglier, but at least you have the incident on record. I once had a boss with totaly uncontrollable anger and totally unrealistic expectations. It truely was the most miserable experience, to be screamed at and berated, and given totally unrealistic assignments not related to my area of expertise. After I left, the entire team reported him to HR, and he got removed from the the team's manager. HR is legally obligated to talk to a manager (especially if it's potential sexual harassment), and to treat you fairly. I'm not saying you definitely will get treated fair, but they have to open the discussion and you most likely will get some protection.

To answer your last 2 questions: Yes, some companies escort terminated employees our the door immediately, and they are not allowed back on the premises unless they have an appropriate escort. Not every company does this, but some definitely do. The reason is they are afraid someone will be caught up in the emotion of being terminated, and do something they shouldn't (destroy records, hurt someone etc). It seems very cold to do this since the vast majority of terminated employees mean no harm, but don't take it personally, they are just trying to protect the company.

Hope you find a great new job soon, best of luck.

08-14-2010, 01:27 PM
To answer your last 2 questions: Yes, some companies escort terminated employees our the door immediately, and they are not allowed back on the premises unless they have an appropriate escort. Not every company does this, but some definitely do. The reason is they are afraid someone will be caught up in the emotion of being terminated, and do something they shouldn't (destroy records, hurt someone etc). It seems very cold to do this since the vast majority of terminated employees mean no harm, but don't take it personally, they are just trying to protect the company.

Hope you find a great new job soon, best of luck.

I didn't know this!!! :wideeyes:
Thanks for the information and the support!

08-14-2010, 03:05 PM
I'm sorry to hear about this. That was incredibly unprofessional of him.

I'm Asian-American (Chinese) and I grew up in a conservative Asian household because my parents are immigrants. To answer your question, in my experience, it is uncommon to be talking about your personal life. My mother has always been strict about this. Family business and personal business stays personal. For example, I have scoliosis and my mother didn't want me telling people because she saw that was private. Of course, I told people (mostly friends and other girls who said they have it too) because I wanted to (she didn't approve at all) and because, when I was in high school, some of the fitness exercises in my gym class would bother my back. You couldn't sit out of certain exercises without a valid reason.

However, that said, I don't even think one should be telling a stranger about bad previous relationships, regardless of what heritage you come from. I understand if people want to rant or let out some steam but it's not something that I think should be done with strangers unless everyone was talking about bad relationships. In your case, it wasn't.

It's NOT you at all and I don't think it has to do with him being Asian. I've seen this behavior from people of all backgrounds. You mentioned that he pays a lot of attention to blondes, which means they're probably his type, and that you're blonde. This guy sounds like he was trying to rope up some pity and perhaps, thought that with his high position, you could possibly get pity from you or even a relationship. HE made it uncomfortable for you. The only reason why I think he got angry is because you indirectly rejected him and that he was embarrassed so he needs to make a big scene whenever you are around.

This guy is a grade A jerk. Your other co-workers probably wanted to stay neutral because they didn't want trouble from him either. For what it's worth, you are better than him because you don't go around practically begging for a relationship. He deserves to be alone.

I hope you'll find a place to work where you won't have to put up with this inappropriate behavior. Like FunnyBut said, should this ever happen again (and I hope not), reporting it to Human Resources is step one.

08-14-2010, 09:04 PM
FunnyBut is absolutely correct about the fact that some companies - whether and employee quits or is fired - will ask that person to leave immediately and not return to the place of employment. That is actually not all that unusual.

I'm very sorry that you had such a difficult experience. It is really not professional for someone to be sharing that kind of information in a workplace - particularly if they are in a position of authority. My current manager does not seem to understand this and it makes for a very uncomfortable workplace at times (though it is not as bad as the situation you describe). Though most Americans are probably more open than some other nationalities, particularly Asian, it does sound like he crossed the line and you probably should have talked with HR. Live and learn. It is only through time and experience that people learn professional behavior in the workplace - nevermind all the policies and the culture of the organization.

Again, I'm very sorry to hear of your experience. But in all honesty, this is probably not a company you want to work for so it gives you the opportunity to search for something much better. I wish you all the best in your search.

08-15-2010, 05:06 AM
It is fairly common in the US, when you leave a job (voluntarily and definitely when involuntarily) you are escorted out. Many places require an id to get into the building, so it is hard to visit. Sounds harsh, but needed for various security reasons (proprietary information or physical security).
The guy sounds like a jerk, and hopefully in the long run you will realize it is was for the best you are no longer there.
The question - what are you doing for the weekend, without the other odd behavior, would be normal conversation in the US. Then on Mondays, 'did you have a fun weekend'. In most cases that is just polite conversation. If I don't want to share, I just say I don't have any big plans.