Drained

I am so exhausted.  It has been another unbearable week at work and I really don’t know how much more I can take.

I have written before about how challenging my job can be.  It’s not just the hours and the stress invoked by having partners and clients constantly jumping up and down for things I cannot easily produce; it’s the vile atmosphere in my team where people rarely chat to each other and simply criticise each other and try to pull each other down (the youngest and most female being the main targets).  I have also mentioned that they recently forced me to work despite being off sick for a pregnancy-related illness.  As background, I had only tried to take two days off and I am not someone who habitually calls in sick, so this was unacceptable.

Several others in the team feel the same.  Actually, everyone in the team thinks the atmosphere sucks, but there are those who don’t do too badly out of it (the boss’s favourites) and those who are constantly pushed around (me and the other junior females).

There was recently a firm-wide survey requesting feedback into our experience of the firm.  The feedback from our team was extremely negative and apparently the partners were asked to explain to those higher up the chain why this was.  As such, a meeting was set up whereby we had to give feedback to one of the mid-level members of the team as to why we had rated the partners so low, and he then had to report back to the partners.  We had a meeting that went on for 1 hr 45 minutes and we gave lots of feedback, all of which was constructive rather than just having a moan.  I was naively hopefully that they might take some of our comments on board and start adjusting the way they work and they way they treat people.

I thought wrong.

We are getting a feedback session on our feedback session, but from what I have been told the partners went “ballistic” and denied that any of it was true and instead they have come up with a list of four areas where they think that the junior end of the team are not competent and where we need to start “doing better”.  WTAF? How have they turned a session, supposedly brought about in the interest of boosting morale and finding out why nobody in the team respects the partners, to yet another opportunity to criticise and de-motivate?!

So this week did not start well.  Later in the week another junior colleague quit.  They are apparently fighting to make her stay, but according to this colleague her resignation conversation took less than three minutes in which she was asked to explain why she was leaving, gave her reasons (mostly: unsupportive environment/feels she will get better experience and supervision at the new firm) and was promptly told by our head of department “You won’t get a better experience, but just go ahead and give your resignation letter to HR” before ending the conversation.  Nice.

Shortly after this happened, two of the partners had a meeting with the HR representative.  I recently had a meeting with her to discuss my pregnancy and possible adjustments I may need at work (which incidentally, sound like they will be ignored) and I mentioned the fact that the partner had told me I could not be off sick as there was work to be one.

Apparently, although I did not see it, in the partner/HR meeting this partner stormed out of the room and “had a face bright red with fury”.  The next thing I know, I was dragged into a meeting room with the other partner (head of department) and was told that they had concerns about my “transparency”.  According to him, they “never know whether [I] am off sick or working from home” and that “[I] need to record any absences as it goes on [my] record”.  To date, I have had two days of sickness.  I recorded a day and a half, because on the second day I was made to work.  That seems fair to me, because why should I not be allowed the benefit of a sick day and be allowed to get better, yet I’m also expected to have the black mark against my name and record it as a full day off? As for working from home, in recent weeks I have had two pregnancy-related appointments, so I have worked from home for the remainder of those days (the hospital is close to home, and work is 1.5 hours away).  Both of those days were cleared with him beforehand.

Unfortunately this accusation about my “transparency” is just a total lie and they are taking steps to smear my reputation, probably in the hope that I will just quit now rather than taking a (partly paid by the firm) year off to raise my child.  On top of this, I now have to have weekly meetings with the other partner (the one who told me to work and also said I may not be able to go to L’s funeral) to “run through my workload”.  This has been spun to HR as being in my interests so that they can check I am not being overworked.  Unfortunately, I know them well and it is just another opportunity to put pressure on me, monitor me and ultimately control me, as there is simply no way they will ever take work off me/tell people to back off me/take steps to protect me.  It is the paper trail to say “But look! We were trying to help her manage her workload, but she just couldn’t cope”, while telling me that I’m not working hard enough or that people think I am a liar (although “transparency” is a slightly less sinister way of putting things).

It is unbelievable.  For years, I have worked my arse off for that firm.  I have regularly worked through the night and over weekends for mediocre pay and zero thanks.  I have commuted up to four hours per day, or (for 18 months) paid for a flat in the same city (as well as paying my own mortgage and bills!) to be there at all hours to do the job.  I have juggled fertility appointments and used my free-time/annual leave to cover this, rather than taking sick leave.  For the last few years I have just about been breaking even financially and have sacrificed friends, family and (almost certainly) fertility in order to build up my reputation and to get trust from my colleagues.

And for a while I had that.  A year ago I was getting lots of compliments and everyone seemed to want me to work on their matters.  I was the “popular” “trustworthy” junior.

Then I had to take two weeks off sick for my operation and things started changing.

Then several months after that, I got pregnant.  Now suddenly there are issues about my “transparency” and my “low chargeable hours” (which is out of my hands, because the partners give out the work and have been loading me with non-chargeable work (which counts for nothing) for the past 9 months and not giving me access to the chargeable work (which is where you get the points)).

So right now, the situation at work very much sucks.  It is pure discrimination and it is unfair, but I am trying to avoid going down the discrimination route as the anxiety of it all may cause me to miscarry and then they will have won.

I know that, like any bully, this fear is what they are relying on.  That I will be too afraid to bring them up on their behaviour as I just do not have the emotional, or financial, resources to fight them.

So what do I do now? I am trying so hard to stay positive and to keep things in perspective.

Ultimately, this is what I need to focus on:

  1. I am pregnant.  After dealing with infertility, this is all that matters to me (except the health of my family, BT and the cats).  I have won the jackpot.  In a way, dealing with discrimination is a good thing, because it has ONLY happened because I am pregnant.
  2. If I lose my job, I will be fine.  Yes, my pride will hurt.  Yes, I will be livid because it will be 100% unfair and after years of giving everything and getting little in return, it will be completely unjust and I will question why I even bothered sacrificing so much for them in the first place.  BUT, I will still (hopefully) have my family, BT and our house.  I will also find some other form of job, even if it is just something to pay the bills.
  3. I have the control to come up with an exit plan.  I may be tied for now, as there is no way I am letting them bully me out of my maternity rights, but ultimately I do not need to stay there.  There is no benefit to me in working for them.  I am no longer under the illusion that I have anything to gain by being there (except the average salary and money into a pension, which I can get in many other places).  They have bullied me into a position whereby my confidence has gone and I am a (fat) shell of my former self. But deep down it is there somewhere.  That drive and determination to succeed and be good at my job.  Deep down I KNOW I am not a bad employee as I have never had any employment issues in the 17 years I have had jobs.

So for now, I need to remember: It’s not me, it’s them.

I just need to keep my head down and focus on what is important.

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12 thoughts on “Drained

  1. This is horrendous, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with all this. I can understand you not want to add to the anxiety by challenging the discrimination at this point. But I also don’t want these horrible people to get away with treating you like this! As I said before, I would try to keep a dated record of all these incidents if possible, so at least if you did decide to confront them, or if this kind of stuff were to escalate –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Waking Up! The three messages made my laugh. That’s usually my trick 🙂

      You’re completely right and I am keeping a note of everything (and forwarding emails of evidence to my personal account, and I need to start taking personal attendance notes). Part of me wishes I was stronger and could just threaten (and pursue) legal action. But we just don’t have the money, and more to the point, I know it would create incredible levels of anxiety at a time when I am trying to stay as calm as I can. Which is obviously what they’re banking on…

      Thank you for your understanding and for continuing to be supportive. It sounds silly, but it helps that there is someone confirming that this is wrong and that it’s not just me over-thinking things.

      x x x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry your seniors are being complete dicks. There are many other companies who will respect you for your hard work and harnesses a true 365 degree feedback culture. As for making you work when you are sick that is crazy and stinks of discrimination. Even though I can have two days of self certified sick leave at a time I always get a sick note from the doctor for HR just in case, even if it was only for one day. It’s a pain in the ass, but it covers my butt for the future. This really sucks to hear, but I love that you have positive things to focus on…it always helps to have some kind of light to help you get through these crappy times – hang in there! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dani! I’m trying to hang in there, but it’s pretty damn hard. It’s just the unfairness of it all. It also makes me so angry that they are putting me under this type of stress when I am finally pregnant (and they know what a battle I had to get pregnant, so should understand why I want to be very cautious). I am just trying to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel though.

      How are you holding up? I’ve been following your updates on IVF Vol III. I really hope it’s third time lucky. You’re such a trooper for picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and getting back on the IVF wagon so quickly! I have so much respect! x x x

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  3. What everyone else said. I know that it’s difficult to fight back (I know! Really!) but you are in a strong position to sue them (not that you’d want to) and they know that. Don’t give in. Keep your health a priority. Log everything and if you have to get out of there, do… But make sure you go to the doctor and get a doctor’s note to say you need to be out of there. You need to be “whiter than white” (terrible expression!) and be able to justify everything. As Dani says, get a sick note. Don’t take anything for granted and CYA (cover your…) x 1000. Believe me, they might be awful but even they know it’s against the law to discriminate on the grounds of pregnancy. I generally keep a file on things just in case. Oh and on the forwarding of emails to personal, make sure you aren’t breaking any rules there. (If you can log on from work, it’s better to upload to personal rather than forward emails where there’s usually a rule and monitoring on such things. Or take a picture with your phone or whatever.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nara. Like everyone else, you are so right. Especially the part about being whiter than white (which I agree is a terrible phrase!). I also think what you and Dani say about getting a sick note for everything is so sensible. It goes against everything I believe in, because I should be allowed to have the odd day off when I’m genuinely sick and not have to clog-up the NHS/GP surgery getting a note just because my bosses are arseholes…but I clearly DO need to protect myself. I also hadn’t thought about the whole forwarding emails thing. FFS. I wouldn’t put it past them…

      Anyway…another day down…small steps 🙂 x

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      1. My docs were really sympathetic, both the surgeon (Dr Fit!) who did my hysteroscopy and the GP and the various fertility docs. They all gave me sick notes no questions asked and even willingly signed me off for 2 weeks when I probably only needed one to recover. And I had about 2 weeks off for the miscarriage. Also the occupational health doc (who my work insist on us attending if we have more than X weeks off – I think it’s 2 or 3) was super sympathetic and lovely, and even sent them a letter saying I had unspecified abdominal surgery and needed to be London based on moderate hours (ie no overtime) for the next few weeks. She basically said she’d sign me off / say I needed to be on minimal travel for however long I wanted. She wanted me to go for counselling but I said no!

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  4. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. As you know I went through something similar recently…I apparently had been labelled by my boss as a ‘disruptive influence’ which is laughable. I agree that the legal path would be a lot of stress. If you can keep your head down for a few more months that sounds like a good plan. Can you go on maternity leave early?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know you get it! I can’t believe they said that though?! I know I don’t “know” you, but from what I’ve read I have never thought “Wow, Wonky sounds like a disruptive influence”. How bloody awful as well, because you have no way of defending yourself without…you know…arguing and turning into a disruptive influence…!

      I could go on Mat leave early, but that would mean less time with the baby. Firstly, I want to spend as much time as possible with the baby. Secondly, we’re really worried about how we will afford childcare when I go back to work, so the longer I can put that off after the baby is born, the better financially.

      I really hope you’re having a decent week 🙂 Take care x x x

      Liked by 1 person

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