Crazy Black Women
They said we were incompetent, inconsiderate and irresponsible. They also used terms like, unprofessional and downright despicable. They are the management hierarchy at a shelter north of Toronto (Canada).
We said we were just doing our jobs, following protocol and raising safety concerns. We used terms like bullying, harassment, and reprisal. We were 5 hardworking black women, most of us had more than 4 years of loyal service at the shelter. It didn’t seem to matter. Within a few short months we were all fired or forced to resign from our jobs.
One of our sisters was new to the job and still on probation. Having no protection from the union, she accepted her dismissal and disappeared. Another sister, decided to fight back on her own. Almost a year later, her case is still in negotiations with management and the union. Three of us decided to lean on each other for support and fight back.
Crazy enough to believe in the promises of the systems of justice, we tried to stand up for ourselves and navigate through the means available to us; the union, lawyers, Labour Board, the Human Right’s Commission, agency policies and legislation. We felt that we were being treated unfairly and termination by management was strategic; as an act of reprisal, wrongful dismissal, and forced resignation due to bullying and harassment. We believed these forms of violence in the workplace come under the protected of Bill 168, the Canadian governments new legislation to address bullying, harassment and violence in the workplace.
Working Through Bill 168 is a collection of articles that chronicles our separate journeys through a maze of bureaucracy, barriers, gaps, contradictions and inconsistencies. Although our individual experiences, approaches and outcomes are quite unique, there are some common threads that bind us together ; the fact that we are all strong black women and the devastating impact of violence in the workplace on our health, our families, our careers and our spirits.
On November 30, 2011, BONDFIRES will post the first article in the series Working Through Bill 168. We hope you continue to follow this series and engage in dialogue with us via Comments and our Poll which will be presented in December/2011. To be sure you won’t miss a Post, remember you can always sign up for email updates. If you have a similar experience or have witnessed violence in the workplace and you would like to share your story(under 750 words), you can reach via email at Bondfires@yahoo.com .
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