Getting to the top position at one’s employment is difficult for most people, but its often even more difficult for women to get positions of power, for various reasons. Unfortunately, even when women make it to the top they are still subjected to a hostile work environment created by colleagues or subordinates who are not willing to take directions from a woman. Though great strides are being taken to equalize the work and power balance between men and women, the reality is that women are often subjected to harassment and discrimination at most positions and offices.
A lawsuit filed by a former director of the Minnesota department’s health regulation division claims she was wrongfully fired after she raised concerns about a hostile work environment. In her lawsuit alleging retaliation, she alleges that she repeatedly informed senior leaders about bullying and harassment in the department she was overlooking. She was berated, reprimanded and ultimately terminated from her position as a result of her complaints. She filed an 11-page written complaint and she was fired three days after filing it, just one day before she was supposed to meet with someone from the Legislative Auditor’s Office. At one point, she alleges she was told she lacked the stamina to complete her job because she was a woman.
The Office of Health Facility Complaints is an office within the health regulation division that investigates allegations of abuse and neglect by senior health care providers and in senior care facilities. This division was under fire last year around the time she was dismissed because the OHFC had fallen seriously behind on its investigation of complaints-employees were so backlogged that they began throwing away written complaints into recycle bins without reviewing them, causing complaints to go unreviewed for months. As a result of this, an independent investigation was conducted into the OHFC, the finding of which was that the office was marked by a dysfunctional culture with few written policies.
Though we would like to believe all workplaces are free from bullying, discrimination and harassment, the reality is that this is not the case and raising concerns about a dysfunctional workplace should not result in a termination. Employment law protects employees against retaliation and those who think they’ve been wrongfully terminated should consider speaking to an attorney about their options.