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Work dilemma

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
For the past 4 months I've been temping at the local University, getting paid very well as a temp. About three weeks ago I moved departments to start working as the project administrator for a small team, working closely with the Project Director.

Initially I had my doubts about working within this area as a very old friend is one of the computer geeks on the project and I thought this wouldn't work out - could compromise our friendship. This has proved to be untrue, as we still get on very well, in fact we are getting on better than we have done in about ten years.

The problem is the Project Director. I just don't like him.

I'd heard a rumour before I went to work with him that he had been investigated for sexual harrassment within the workplace. Last week the woman who accused him told me what had happened - I've known her since I've started working at the University and have found her to be credible and not one for exageration. We have gotten quite friendly, as we worked closely together for a few weeks, and she knows I'm not a blabbermouth. Hearing this from the horse's mouth just makes me think how much more of a ba#&?*d he is. He had promised her a higher paid job within the project, then took her off on conference to Scotland and tried "it" on, she refused and told him to leave her alone. When they came home he then bombarded her home with telephone calls - sometimes up to 15 a day. She went to see his boss and asked about this job offer (refusing to speak to the man in question) to be told that there was no job.... She eventually complained about him after months of telephone calls and emails from him to her home. He was suspended for 6 months.

He has temper tantrums if things don't go as well as he thinks they should. I think it is the "little man" syndrome. The tantrums would be funny in a six year old, but not in a 40 year old man. I feel very uncomfortable when he has them in the middle of the office. His communication skills with me leave a lot to be desired - he has accused me of not doing things he has requested, when he hasn't asked me to do them. He shouted at me on Friday accusing me of messing up a meeting booking, when he was looking at the wrong information. I haven't been shouted at in the workplace for years!!! I felt very uncomfortable.

The project has recently received a new grant of half a million pounds, to be spread around the various partners. He has decided which of the partners will receive the monies, and is currently working on changing an audit to justify his decisions. While this is not uncommon in academic circles I find it smacks of favouritism and old-boy networks - and makes me feel uncomfortable, having come from a private company where we were very focused on fairness in our relationships with customers and suppliers.

A previous temp also left after a few months (to move to a different department) - however, she no-longer works within the University and came from a different agency, so I can't find out why she moved on so quickly.

Are my feelings of unease coloured by the sexual harrassment thing? Am I just being too sensitive?

Do I tell my agency that I want out? If I do request a move, do I just say it isn't working out? I fear that "rocking the boat" will move me down the pecking order with jobs through the agency, so losing the element of stability.
post #2 of 10
Gosh...I feel like I probably shouldn't be the first one answering this, since I have never been in this situation or ever worked for a temp agency, and I am sure there are alot of people here who can give you some really good advice on what to do, and i'm afraid my advice wouldn't be the best....but since I am online right now, and want to respond, all I can do is tell you what I would do....I don't think you are being too sensitive at all...having heard the story from someone you consider to be pretty reliable, it is understandable why you would feel this way. But I guess if it were me, I wouldn't request a move yet....if you like the job in all the other ways, except for this jerk, just hang in there....maybe it will get better...but if it is causing you an awful lot of stress, and the whole yelling at you thing would be enough to stress anyone out, then I would request the move. I guess it depends on how much you like the job, and how well it pays.
But if he EVER sexually harrasses you in any way whatsoever.....report it and get the heck out!!!! Or see a lawyer and sue his dumb @ss. He sure sounds like a butthole!!! (excuse my language)
Let us know what you decide!
post #3 of 10
Hmm I don't really have any great advice either, but having been harassed at work (when I was 16!) I would be tempted to just say move on... but thats not good advice for you!! If anything like that DOES happen to you, please DO TELL SOMEONE and move on, in the end I had to leave my job to make it stop, it wasn't nice.
As it is though, he hasn't done anything like this to you, but his treatment of you isn't acceptable, no-one should get shouted at and humiliated in the workplace. I don't know what this guy is like to talk to on a one to one basis, but maybe you could try letting him know that you don't appreciated being yelled at in front of people, and that if he has a problem with you or your work, to please inform you privately. Of course this may backfire depending on the type of person he his,... (he may go out of his way to do it in front of people then to bug you).
Really, I would say, keep going for now, but avoid him as much as is possible, say as little to him as possible, and see how it goes, if it is still causing you upset in a few weeks, then I'd think about changing things.
You could also go to another supervisor who you like and just let them know how he is treating you etc, then you will always have someone to support you if anything should arise.
post #4 of 10
Universities, like government agencies, frown very hard upon this type of un-pc behaviour (unlike many commercial organizations). They obviously considered it serious enough to suspend him for 6 months over the sexual harrassment issues.

I think you need to put what happened between this man and the woman who made to accusations to one side and focus on how his behaviour towards you is affecting you.

Does the position carry published grievance procedures? I realise as a temp this is a slightly more delicate process (as you are potentially expendible and it would be easier to remove you from the department), nevertheless, temps do have workplace rights and access to up the line grievance procedures should constitute some of these rights.

It all depends whether you are able to deal with this project director on an informal level and explain how his behavour is affecting you. If you feel this can't be done, and you're not prepared to continue with the situation as it is - I thik you first port of call should be your employer - namely the temp agency. To go about the director's head within his own employment environment might cause difficulties out of proportion with the problem. Are there any colleagues (such as the firend you mention at the beginning of your post) that you can confide in and hwo might be able to help?

If you feel you want to move on - tell the agency the whole story. Don't simply say that it's not working out. They need to understand that you are no way responsible for the situation.
post #5 of 10
I don't think you are being too sensitive. But I say, try not to worry/think about it, until/if something happens to you or that you see.

About a year ago, I had to deal with this, I worked with a guy a "friend" who was stalking me, long before I even realized it, and I reported it to the company, they did very little to help, and I knew that he had also harassed a couple other co workers and my own fiance.
Long story short, I wound up quitting and leaving state on a whim to get away from this pshyco, because the company wasn't doing anything, or anything fast enough.
About a month or so later, they finally fire the guy cause 2 other people have stood up and come forward against him.

So... unfortunatly, IF you feel like ever saying anything about this man, you should probably do it with a group of people IF you except the company do to anything about it.

I had another co-worker who was accused of sexual problems on the work place as well. I don't know if they were true, and he was a freind of mine, he was also my TL, or a form of boss to me. After I left I found out he got fired for further sexual harassment charges.

If you like your position, and your a good worker, and it's nice pay, you shouldn't give it up, fight for it. But just be very careful and patient on how you go about getting this man out of there, or being sure the company makes him obide by all their rules, aka, no harassment, not loosing his temper, etc.
And record/write down any problems you have with him, any time you witness him loosing his temper, or you hear him say something inappropriate to another worker.
post #6 of 10
You must keep a record of his outbursts and tantrums. He is creating a hostile workplace. If these outbursts are wittnessed by others make sure to include their names in your notations. If there are any security cameras in your work area, perhaps you could persuade HIS boss to view an outburst. Make sure that you include as many details as possible, like what the outburst was based on, what you did in response, how the situation was resonved. What the mistaken assumption was on his part, and why it was wrong. Make sure to include time and dates. This way you can go to his boss and tell them how much it means to you to work for such a great place and how much you enjoy your job. You just want to bring this one problem to their attention. If they don't know then they can't fix it. It will also make you feel like you are doing something to fix the situation, not sitting helpless. Best of luck!
post #7 of 10
Becareful when listing the names of "other" people. You do not have to tell your company who also witness what. I only gave one name when I filed my first report, because I was given permission and I had to make it clear right then that, that person had nothing to do with it.
If you name names, even of innocent people, they could become very upset.

I know the 2 people who were also being harassed by the same guy... I talked to them off the record, and they were annoyed with his antics but they were too worried about loosing THERE jobs to say anything about it. So for the sake of them, I left their names out, until they got up the guts to protect themselves and report them, just a shame that by then, it was too late for me.

You have to know/sound exactly like what you are talking about. If your like "Um, I'm not sure, or I don't really remember." It might back fire on you, and you'll turn into a liar. Sure they have to record your complaint, but they might not believe you, or take any action about it, if you don't sound like you really know what's been going on.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys for all your advice.

I've decided to stick it out for the time being, but I've put my permanent job-hunting head back on. He didn't shout at me today HUZZAH! But he did "tut" at me in the middle of a large meeting! I know this is so trivial, but I'm used to working in a "respectful of others" organisation. I think that is the crux of the problem - he doesn't seem to respect anyone. My friend who also works there told me that he had to have a serious talk with him last week at a conference, as the boss had publically humiliated him.

I have started keeping a record of his outbursts.

Maybe he is just pre-menstral all the time
post #9 of 10
First of all, I agree that you should talk to the temp agency you work for. Explain to them that you really like the job and pay but you have to put up with a hostile person. Give them examples date and time ect.Ask them how you could handle situations better. Definitely write it down! Keep a log. My boss sometimes "loses his attitude". Often times it's not about me but things that are on his mind. You have to have a tough attitude sometimes tward those kind of people. Just shrug it off. He'll realize he's an idiot soon enough especially when your right and you point it out, don't rub his nose in it and be polite.(even then sometimes they'll find something to bitch about).Don't be embarassed when he yells at you or has a tantrum! Realize the people who are around you and work with him, realise he's a real ass!If anything, they feel sorry that you have to put up with him!Ask him questions if he is too vague! Here's another great tip! If he asks you to do something write it down in front of him! That way you can show him what you've done.It helps remind him of what he hasn't told you,and helps him remember what he would like you to do. That way he can't come back on you and say you didn't do what he asked! This works awesome with my boss! Never put up with sexual harrassment! EVER!I've been an administrator for two years and sometimes you have to deal with stuff that you'd rather not. Just remember YOU keep everything together and your important. Wether he sees it or not!
post #10 of 10
I agree with talking to the temp agency about how you feel. When I was at my last job (wont mention because you all know), I worked with these 2 jerks. They were always talking about sexual things. One night I was talking to the one about something, and all of a sudden he burst out laughing. Well the other one had made a sexual gesture behind me. I didnt see, but he did it again. I told him to not mess w/ me because my husband worked on the same shift, and he knew who he was. His respons "So, what." It didnt really bother me, but then I told hubby & he told me to tell my supervisor, which I did ....... Well, super & these 2 guys were friends, so I think all he got was a slap on the hand! A tech also made a sexual remark at me and I went straight to the supervisor and told him. This guy, had the deceny to confront me to tell me how sorry he was and how he wished i would have come to him first. It's amazing how people can get away with this type of behavior. Something like that is called for termination, if you ask me.
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