“Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
how I keep from going under”
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious 5
On morning while at work, my supervisor asked me to come into his office to discuss something. After going through the daily morning pleasantries, his demeanor then changed and he went on to accuse me of something I didn’t do. He stated that he knew I had done it because it “sounded” like me.
I need to go back a few months and days before this to set the stage. We have an employee in our unit who can only be described as a “dog-fucker”. He is extremely lazy. Here’s the paradox. He spends more time and energy trying to get out of doing his work, than he would expend if he just did his job. My supervisor assigned another employee, a Black co-worker to mentor this dog-fucker. It’s important to note that this mentor and I are the only two Black employees in this unit. When my supervisor told me of his plan, I advised him that this plan wouldn’t work and gave him my reasons why. About three weeks later, the Black employee emailed the dog-fucker and supervisor stating he was no longer going to mentor him. There were some serious issues and the Black co-worker rightly determined that the dog-fucker was setting the stage to go off on medical stress leave and lay a complaint of workplace harassment against him as the basis of his stress.
This is what led to my meeting with the supervisor. He was of the opinion that this Black employee wouldn’t have written that email, in such a way and withdraw from the mentoring the dog-fucker, without first speaking to him. Therefore he knew that I was the one who had actually written the email because it was something I would do and the contents of the email “sounded just like you”. The truth is I had nothing whatsoever to do with it. I only knew about the email after it was sent. I asked my supervisor if he had spoken to the Black employee and asked if I had written the email or had advised him on what to write or had anything to do with it at all. He answered that he had and the Black employee had informed him that I had nothing at all to do with it.
After a heated discussion where I proved that I had nothing to do with the drafting of the email, my supervisor then stated that maybe I had inadvertently influenced the Black employee by my opposition to the mentoring program. I explained that I had no discussion with any of the employees in the unit about my opinion of the mentoring program, as this would have undermined his efforts. I then asked if any of the employees had informed him that I had expressed my opposition to the program to them or to anyone else and he stated no one had. So I rejected this theory.
My next question to my supervisor was if he believed that this Black employee hadn’t written the email or was influenced by someone else, there were five other co-workers in the office (all white), so was he going to interrogate them also to get to the truth of the matter? He stated he was not… that he was only concerned if I had anything to do with the drafting of the email. WTF!! I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. I told him that because I was Black and the mentor was Black, didn’t mean that I had any influence on him and whatever he decides to do.
Well… then the shit really hit the fan!
Let me briefly summarize what then took place. My supervisor contacted the manager of our unit, as well as Human Resources and the Union and falsely claimed that I had accused him of racial discrimination and harassment. They then instituted the workplace harassment policy… on my behalf… although the policy clearly states that if I wanted to make such an accusation, I would have to do it myself in writing to a manager not a party to the allegations… which I didn’t do. The next day, my supervisor then brought me into his office and read a prepared statement that I had made an allegation of racial discrimination and harassment against him and to let him know what he could do to resolve this issue.
I was stunned but refused to play his game. I informed him that in no way did I make any such allegations. Further, I was aware of the policy that such allegations would have to be made in writing by myself to his manager and this was a clear conflict of interest, breach of our workplace harassment policy, as well as an abuse of process for him to bring me into his office to discuss this. I told him I knew he was only doing this “to cover his ass”, because if I wanted to make this an issue of racial harassment and discrimination… due to the way he went about dealing with this issue, first by accusing me of something I didn’t do, then stating that I was the only one being investigated in regards to an issue involving another Black employee… I would have a legitimate case against him.
I refused to get involved in this workplace harassment
sham procedure. I informed him and subsequently our manager, that this wasn’t a racial issue, which would have let him off the hook in my opinion. This was clearly a case of my supervisor exercising poor judgment, making a bad decision and when the mentoring program failed, instead of taking responsibility for it, he was looking to use me as a scapegoat for its failure. It was an issue of a lack of honesty and integrity on his part, which was further demonstrated in his violation and abuse of the workplace harassment policy to discredit me.
A few months after this incident while on parental leave, I was contacted at home by a co-worker who informed me that there was a rumor going around that my supervisor had contacted our Union and told them that he had brought me into his office to “call me out” on something I had done and I responded by playing the “race card”. Once I returned to work, I contacted the Union and those who were identified to me as spreading this rumor. I didn’t get into the details of what had occurred, but I made these points known:
- If my supervisor had stated that I had played the “race card” in any dealing he had with me, then he is a liar. He is the one who “played the race card”.
- If I do something wrong, I always admit and take responsibility for my error, so I never have to “play the race card” to avoid any repercussions.
- I am intellectually and ethically superior to my supervisor, so I would never have to “play the race card” to gain any advantage over him.