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Hostile Work Environment?

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New member
What is the name of your state? Iowa

I've been with my company for two years now. During my interview I mentioned that I was looking for company that I could grow and advance in; they hired me for my current role. During my pregnancy, shortly after I started, I had asked for training with a specific type of billing process. My supervisor told me that since I would be leaving soon they would wait until I returned to train me. I spoke to an HR rep in confidence about this not wanting to stir the pot but slightly offended that I wasn't get the training I needed for my role. They passed it unknowingly along to the Hiring Manager who called in myself, my supervisor and her boss. My supervisor denied saying that and said that I wasn't receiving the training because others in my position hadn't been trained either.

Around the same time, I had mentioned to the same HR rep that I was interested in advancing to a specific spot. They advised me on who to contact in regards to a training program that the company had for this sort of advancement. I spoke to the training manager who gave me a brief rundown of the program and then I spoke to my supervisor about it. My supervisor and their boss informed me that I would need to go back to school for this position (the specific degree they told me I needed is not actually a requirement for the position; the position was recently listed without the educational background) in addition to gaining experience. I spoke to others who were currently in the position I was looking into to figure out what their backgrounds were and of course they asked why I wanted to know. I informed them that I was interested in the position. When my supervisor and supervisor's boss heard that I had been telling others about my interest, they had a meeting with myself and instructed me that I was not to go around and talk to others about my interest in advancement; I needed to talk to only them about this.

I took part in several email chains titled specifically around it being my development plan. I was tasked with searching for educational opportunities that would aid in my advancement along with coming up with the training and experiences that I would need to fulfill this role. I was then provided with a five year breakdown that I needed to put together with a combination of education and experience. At the time that this was presented, I was collaborating with a coworker in the position I was interested in; they were going to assist me in my advancement. I went on leave and unfortunately, the coworker left the company around the same time.

I had my one year review where I met with my supervisor and during that time they asked if I was still interested in the advancement. I mentioned I was but I still was not able to fulfill the educational component that they were requiring. That ended the discussion for a few months until I found another coworker in the position I was interested in and they were willing to help train me. They presented to my supervisor that I assist them with their work, since they were behind, and in return, they would assist with training me up to the intermediary position. My supervisor presented this to me as an opportunity; I took it.

It has now been over half a year that I have assisted this coworker and during this time I have requested certain training pertaining to both my current role and the one I would like to advance into. This training has not taken place. I recently inquired into a development plan in order to set goals and track my progress with the training/advancement. I was a bit frustrated to find out that a development plan had not been discussed with our training staff since I had started with this coworker. I was informed by our training staff that the development plan was between the worker and their supervisor. I politely emailed my supervisor and inquired about putting one together. I was informed then, that my supervisor was in the process of meeting with her supervisor and other department supervisors in order to put this together.

When another coworker recommended to the training staff and coworker's supervisor about my advancement within the company, it got back to my supervisor that I had been talking to others about my development plan. I was then called into a room with my supervisor for what I thought was an update on the development plan but it turned out to be a reprimand. I was told that I was not to talk to anyone about my lack of a development plan because it made me look bad. During that same conversation, my supervisor mentioned that my review was coming up in a couple of weeks and they had to talk to others about my performance. I brought this conversation up with the HR rep and they informed me that I needed to talk to the company lawyer (I called the lawyer after my next meeting involving my supervisor's boss and still have not heard back).

A week after this discussion with my supervisor, I was called in to my 2^ boss's office along with my supervisor. I was asked what I was talking to others about, I was informed that I was not to be discussing my development plan with others, that my development plan was mine alone and I was not to involve the training staff. It was not my supervisor's responsibility to put one together for me, it was brought to their attention that I had been standing in other coworkers' doorways talking, I was having closed door conversations and I was to stay at my desk. I was not seen staying till 6pm at night working on training or educational growth (although when necessary I was in at 6am), I seemed unappreciative of the opportunity I had been given, I did not seem happy/satisfied in my current role, I was making things up in the back of my head about what had been said in regards to my development plan, and my negative attitude was affecting those around me. My supervisor's boss then asked what my take away had been from our meeting and wrote the following in their notebook:

Negative attitude is affecting work and those around me.

Development plan is solely my responsibility.

I asked if my quality of work had decreased based off of what had been written down (which I did not say was one of my "take aways"). They did not give a direct reply but said that my attitude was affecting those around me, mainly the coworker I had been assisting and my supervisor. They mentioned that we would have a follow up meeting to this which I received notice for today (it is set for Friday afternoon).

I found out the following day that another coworker had been pulled into a meeting with our supervisor and our supervisor's boss. They questioned them if I had mentioned anything to them about my development plan. My coworker said they had briefly spoken to me about it but that we had also had other personal conversations. My supervisor's boss mentioned to them that if we were going to have personal conversations then we needed to go into an office and close the door. Our supervisor's boss also informed my coworker not to mention their conversation to my coworker's dad (my coworker's dad is our supervisor's boss's boss).

I have truly enjoyed working for this company up to this point. Now I am dreading going into work and facing my supervisors due to their hostility with me regarding this series of events.


Senior Member
Your supervisor's hostility has nothing to do with the legal concept of a hostile work environment.

I don't see a question expressed here, but I'm not seeing anything contrary to the law. The company is allowed to create a negative environment. The company is free to tell you NOT to discuss things with other workers. The company is within their rights to sanction you for disobeying their rules no matter how petty or counterproductive you view them to be.

If you find the job so unpleasant, find another. Unless they are specifically creating a situation because of your sex, race, religion, nationality, or some other protected aspect, they're free to make things unpleasant for you. You don't indicate they were discriminating because of your sex (and depending on the situation, being off for pregnancy may not be protected either).


Senior Member
I am going to mention something else. At least in the written word, you come across as quite demanding and impatient for advancement. Supervisors and bosses generally give promotions and opportunities to people who earn them by demonstrating good work ethics and abilities...and on their timeline, not the employee's timeline. You come across (again at least in the written word) as feeling somewhat entitled, and that wouldn't go over well with your supervisors.


Senior Member
Yes, attempting to advance by force is generally not going to make the supervisors and your managers feel you are the best person for the job. They are fully allowed to put you off, tell you one thing and do another, make promises they don't keep, and or write you up for or reprimand you for being excessively demanding about your advancement or any other issues. There's a curious sense of your being unaware of how anyone else may be receiving what you say and do, a lack of, shall we say, political and diplomatic skills that comes through in your posts.

Perhaps you should speak with a counselor who can help with your career advancement. Strolling in and presenting these people with a degree in whatever it was they said you'd need a degree in to get a certain position does not guarantee they'd give you the position. Demanding to be trained in some aspect of the job, and then complaining because you have not received such training is not really appropriate. They don't HAVE TO allow you to do anything. In fact, it would be perfectly legal for them to terminate your employment, in spite of what they've told you previously, or what they've done for others, just because you don't get along so well with some of your supervisors or you make them uncomfortable with your persistence and determination. If there is no opportunity for advancement presented to you in this job, perhaps you should put out a few resumes and check the waters on jobs that might offer more. It sounds as if you're being blocked there, or will be soon denied what you're working so hard to attain. Is this illegal, NO. But get the message and start thinking of other employment before they write it in your blood.
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