My Experience With Workplace Harassment
Hey everyone! I know I’m behind a day with writing but I had to take some time away to re gain focus. I’ve been extremely stressed with my job and what’s been going on there, which is the reason I decided to write this post. I’ve written about how to deal with stress, surviving the morning shift at work and reasons why working retail sucks (all of which currently apply to me). To check out those posts you can click below.
For those who are new here, I currently work retail. I work from 6am-11:30am. I requested reduced hours because of the stress I’m experiencing and previously worked from 6am-1pm. I’ll keep this post focused on my harassment though. I started my job back in March of this year and originally had no problems. I would come in to work and get my job done, talk to a few people here and there and generally left feeling good. But I’d say around August (I’m not completely sure though) is when I noticed new workers. I was happy because we are completely understaffed and need all the help we can get. I did notice that a lot of the workers were male and looked to be middle aged or older with a few guys who looked to be around my age ( I’m 23). As all women know, it’s pretty normal for guys to look at you. Yes, even stares are considered “normal” (although annoying and creepy after a certain time). So I eventually started noticing the guys always looking at me as I would push my cart full of inventory through the store (I stock the shelves at my job). The looks became more constant and became full blown staring, I also had no way to avoid these guys as they were scattered throughout the store. I of course ignored them to the best of my ability as I didn’t want to cause drama by telling them to leave me the hell alone. As time went on, they started to say Good morning to me. Now this doesn’t seem harmful but when you’re actively uncomfortable around someone, the last thing you want to do is talk to them. I always said Good morning back but avoided eye contact. The hope was that they would catch on that I was avoiding interacting with them. They never caught on.
Now, I work in the back stockroom by myself for a majority of my shift with the exception of people walking through to go to the back of the store into receiving. It’s really nice working alone until you have guys coming by to have unwanted conversations with you. These guys were hired to help load heavy items like carseats, strollers and cribs into the stockroom where I worked which also meant I had yet another way I couldn’t avoid them. At one point there was a guy (who no longer works there) who would just stop and stare at me as I was working on the ladder. Extremely creepy and looking back at it, if he was actually crazy he could have easily hurt me. Another guy would constantly talk about how good I looked ( I mentioned that I was dieting), which at first was flattering but quickly turned creepy. Then they started coming up to the break room whenever I was eating. I thought it was a coincidence the first few times but when I noticed it repeatedly happening, I changed the time I took break. They eventually caught on and would still come up when I was in there. It got to the point where I would just go sit in my car for lunch and eat.
On top of already feeling stressed with the amount of work I had to do, these guys made me dread going to work. They made more work for us ( putting items in the wrong spots) and we constantly had to fix their mistakes ( and still do). About 2 weeks ago, one of the younger temporary workers ( who I had gotten in a disagreement with a couple days prior) decided to throw something at me. I don’t know if he was joking or actually wanted to get a reaction out of me but I was fed up. I started packing up my stuff, told my manager to talk to him and as I was leaving I started bawling (embarrassing but when I get mad it happens). She pulled me aside and I told her how for about the past month these guys were making me extremely uncomfortable. I left work early that day and when I came back the next day the guys were still there. They tried apologizing but I didn’t want to be around them in any way, shape, or form.
Last week is when I finally got the news that they were removed from the store to ensure I felt safe (woohooo!) and comfortable. They only fired two guys and though I still feel uneasy with the rest of the temporary workers, there’s not much I can do. Everyone who knows me says that I’m quiet and they’re right. I don’t like to cause trouble which is why I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. I was shocked to find out that my other female coworkers felt the same way, but I was the only one who complained to management. I feel extremely lucky that nothing worse went on since I work alone in the back and they could have easily groped me or worse if they were dangerous guys. My message is always go with your gut instinct. Mine told me there was something off about these guys and it ended up being right. If you ever experience harassment, it doesn’t even have to be at your job, speak up. Don’t let it escalate like mine did. If you’re worried about being a snitch, what’s more important: Your comfort or theirs?