Discrimination in the Workplace
Then came the presidential elections…..
In the social work field it is unethical to impose your views on politics, religion, sex etc on others so I somewhat expected the same respect on one's views to occur in a spa setting especially by the owner. Most people come to a spa to relax, not to talk about politics. On a daily basis I would have to listen to how amazing Donald Trump is and that everyone should vote for him. I, on the other hand, do not agree with Trump’s negative viewpoints and I believe that he has increased divisiveness among us and has brought out the worst in people. The hate and racism that was quietly stirring inside people is being brought to light because they now feel that it is acceptable to conduct this way due to Trump’s own behavior in the public eye. BUT I knew that political talk was inappropriate in the workplace so I tried my best to remain quiet and tried to ignore my boss’s daily rants. Clients would have to listen to my boss’ opinions and once she left the room they would express their frustration with Trump and also the fact that they didn’t wish to listen to all that chatter. All of the workers kept quiet and never told our boss how her clients felt because she IS THE OWNER. But now I’ve realized that nothing will change if everyone stayed quiet all the time, so regardless who the person is we all have a responsibility to speak up. Finally I had enough when she went on yet another rant with the cable technician about people on food stamps and Medicaid and how hard working people like her are being penalized by having to pay higher taxes. I finally walked away from my desk when she said “And Democrats, don’t get me started on Democrats… I HATE ALL OF THEM”. By that point I was shaking and my blood was boiling. As she spoke, the cable tech looked so uncomfortable as he nodded his head in agreement without really speaking much. That was clearly a sign for her to stop, but she didn’t. So once he left my boss went into the break room and I decided to politely approach her regarding the offensive remarks she had made. I told her that she didn’t know if that man was a democrat and she could’ve offended him and her response was “I don’t care who I offend. I’m speaking my mind and I have a right to do that”. I reminded her of the “I hate all democrats” remark and my coworker quickly tried to mediate by saying, “Well I think she meant that she doesn’t like democratic politicians, right?” WRONG!! My boss’s response was, “No I hate ALL democrats”. Well thank you very much because that means you hate ME because I am a democrat and socialist. (Talk about frustrated) Then I explained to her that I worked very hard to go to college to obtain a bachelor’s degree and I worked for 14 years straight only to move to North Carolina and have no choice but to apply for food stamps and Medicaid because I cannot obtain a full time job. I wish I could have a job that doesn't require me to apply for assistance but unfortunately it is very hard to find employment in Fayetteville, N.C. I also explained how gut wrenching it was for me while applying for benefits because I previously was a social worker who helped individuals obtain benefits and now I myself had to be on the other end, which wasn’t a pleasant feeling. Each time I have to swipe my EBT card at the grocery store a small piece of my pride chips away. Then I have someone like HER who was basically talking about ME, in front of me, to a complete stranger and my feelings were extremely hurt. She was at first unapologetic but after speaking with my coworkers she realized that she should apologize and she did. I was very grateful for the apology and it seemed sincere.
HERE COMES THE DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE.........
The next day, first thing in the morning, my boss is talking about the same topic once again while acting as if nothing ever happened the day prior. I chose to stay quiet and ignore her comments. Then a colleague came into work and confronted my boss regarding her discrimination towards African Americans. I had told her about the discrimination in the midst of anger while discussing my boss’s offensive remarks. Needless to say I was pulled into the discussion and my boss screamed at us and demanded that I say that I was lying. I refused to admit that because it would’ve been false since I was not lying. I gathered up the courage, which was very difficult to do, and repeated to her word for word what she has said in the past. She fired me on the spot. But in her words she said, “I’m not firing you you’re quitting NOW!” Did she terminate my employment due to myself and another person standing up to her regarding our concerns of "discrimination in the workplace"? YES! Was this a case of retaliation due to speaking against discrimination in the workplace? YES! After this happened more stories have come to light and coworkers are now reminding her of her racist practices such as not hiring someone because “she was too dark”. I know that I can’t change someone’s beliefs but I have to stand up for what I believe in. I should’ve spoken up sooner and I should’ve said more, but I didn’t. I could’ve gone back and given her an earful of how I felt, but I didn’t. I should have spoken up sooner and shouldn't have allowed her "superior" position to deter me from doing what I believe is right.
So many people put their heads down and ignore injustices, which is the reason why so many inequalities occur because not everyone speaks up. We all fear losing our jobs or dread other’s reactions but we cannot allow that to silence us. What does silence solve? Absolutely nothing! If it takes one person at a time to speak up against racism, discrimination and injustices to make the world a better place then I’ll include myself in that fight for peace and justice. I am now unemployed but I feel invigorated because I finally did what was right.