Just as women continue to be treated unfairly in terms of being paid less in the workplace than their male counterparts, other discriminations still exist.
If you are a woman working in a male dominated environment, with a lack of respect for the females, you may find yourself subject to sexual harassment, belittlement, innuendo, inappropriate jokes, comments or behaviour.
You may feel that you cannot call their bad behavior into question because your male boss or colleagues think it’s acceptable to make such jokes or comments as they take them in jest. You may get accused of being over sensitive, touchy, too emotional or can’t take a joke. It’s tough, because if you make a complaint to a male boss or colleague, often you will find that they side with the perpetrator, worse still, they could believe that you don’t fit into the team, are considered a troublemaker and a liability. If this happens, they will want to get rid of you from the company and the team as soon as possible by setting you up for dismissal. If they do set you up, you could sue them for constructive dismissal and make them pay for their unjust treatment of you.
What are the 16 warning signs that you may be or have been, constructively dismissed?
- All of a sudden, your performance gets called into question and scrutinised.
- Your appraisals commend your sales figures and the customer feedback is positive but your manager says you are not pulling your weight in the team.
- You are being unusually or excessively blamed for things that go wrong in the workplace.
- People seem to be gossiping behind your back more than any usual tittle tattle and it’s making you feel uncomfortable whilst working.
- Your manager increases your targets to figures that are unrealistic or virtually impossible to attain.
- You sense a bad vibe from some of your team that you haven’t previously experienced and the atmosphere in work is getting progressively worse.
- Your manager is nitpicking at every little thing they consider that you are doing wrong, whilst making mistakes themselves.
- You feel bullied or ganged up on.
- You are being excessively monitored by management without reasonable cause.
- You feel that you are treading on eggshells to please management and the rest of the team, otherwise you get heavily criticised.
- Your manager gives you tasks to do that you have had no training for and you don’t understand what you need to do but you are told you have to do it as it’s part of your job. This is setting you up for failure.
- Your manager takes on more staff despite the fact of being over staffed or at full capacity.
- Your manager shouts at you or shows other aggressive behavior towards you.
- You are called to a disciplinary meeting, with no justifiable grounds as to why you are there, no offer of representation and no prior warning that there was an issue.
- You feel that the job and atmosphere has become unbearable, you dread going into work and feel that it has become impossible to continue to work there.
- You are fired on the spot with no previous warnings or a chance to put things right.
What action can you take before it happens?
If your complaining about being discriminated, is falling on deaf ears and there are warning signs that you may be constructively dismissed, usually the best course of action is to look for suitable work elsewhere and to leave as soon as possible.
Join a union. For a monthly fee, you get allocated a union representative who you can go to for help and advice concerning work related issues and employment law. They can help you to win compensation if you have been treated unfairly by your place of work or constructively dismissed, usually at no additional cost to yourself. They can represent you at disciplinary meetings, tribunals and get you legal representation in court. They will help guide you as to what to expect from the latter and what you should be saying and using as evidence in your favour. They will fight for your rights and for justice. Without the support of a union, it is harder to fight for yourself and to prove that it’s the company in the wrong.
Keep a day-by-day diary of inappropriate comments, innuendo and behaviour. Noting what was said or done, by whom, when, where and at what time. Along with what you said and did, what action you took and the outcome. This can often be used as supporting evidence, should you wish to raise a grievance or claim against the company.
Take photocopies of any documentation in support of your complaint to be used as evidence at a grievance meeting or claim against your employer. Take photos for the same reason.
If you feel bullied and your place of work becomes too much to bear, you could decide to leave the job without another one to go to. If this is the case, remember, you may be refused benefits. If you can prove to the job centre that you are being bullied, then they may still accept you to receive benefits. One option would be to go to the job centre before you leave the job, tell them about your circumstances and that you can no longer continue to work for your present employer and find out what you would be entitled to.
The secret to winning compensation for unfair treatment in the workplace or constructive dismissal is to be proactive, not reactive. Build your case against the employer, before they take action against you.
What action can you take after?
If you are part of a union, call them immediately to assess if you have got a case for constructive dismissal and proceed accordingly.
If you are not part of a union, some solicitors who specialise in employment law, may work on a no-win no-fee basis to raise a claim against your employer on your behalf.
Other solicitors, not working on a no-win no-fee basis, often offer a free half hour consultation.
Look into getting legal aid.
Apply to a tribunal but represent yourself.
Once you have stopped working, register without delay, for JSA, housing benefit and any other benefits that you may be entitled to.
It’s a sad state of affairs that such discriminations against women still exist in the workplace. The whole point of constructive dismissal is the employer will try to get rid of you no matter what the cost and if this is the case, I am guessing you wouldn’t want to continue to work for them anyway?
Remember, women have a right to be treated equally to men in the workplace. If your employer is illegally breaching that right, you are entitled to seek justice for yourself and literally make them pay for what they have done, by way of compensation. Don’t go down without a fight and perhaps they will think twice about discriminating against a woman.
Author: Sandra Bellamy, founder of beatredundancyblues.com. Sandra has worked in retail for over 15 years, 7 of those have been in management roles.
During her career, she was made redundant twice and each time successfully worked her way back up the ladder.
Sandra interviewed, recruited, trained and coached staff as part of hery management roles and was interviewed for jobs whilst redundant. It is from experience that she has gained insight into both points of view and is able to help others.
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by one of our Guest Bloggers and does not necessarily represent the views of Pay Justice Ltd. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article.