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sweetsweetstephy's avatar

What should I do in about this work problem?

Asked by sweetsweetstephy (338points) November 8th, 2011

I work in the cafeteria at my school. Today, I overheard one of the chefs, “D,” talking to one of the workers “C,” and they were talking negatively about another worker, “M,” while he was there, literally ten feet from where they stood. I’ve noticed that he is treated badly: the same chef treats him like he’s stupid and is always yelling at him or about him. I think a big part of this superiority complex of hers is that the he doesn’t speak English all too well (though he can understand it). I talked to “M” afterwards and he told me they were always like that, and that he didn’t care to do much about it so as to not cause any problems.

Afterwards, another one of the ladies (“L”) asked me about what “M” and I were discussing. After telling her, she confirmed that they were always like that, but that it wasn’t just with him. She said that this chef talked about everyone there and treated them the same, and that the main chef, “P,” also partakes in this treatment,treating them more like animals than humans. And I realized it was true- I have seen him yelling at some of the workers there for the most minimal of things and

Anyway, I have seen this treatment with all the staff there- the ones whose primary language is NOT English (“C” is the only one there who speaks English primarily, and is never yelled at). They get pushed around, yelled at and treated like they’re dumb, which really, really bothers me. The only person (“P”) I can think of even mentioning it to seems to be a part of it. I want to do something about it, but I don’t know what. “L” said that even though there were negative aspects, there were also positives, and that while she did wish she could do something about it, it could be much worse, and it wasn’t worth it because the workers like their job for the most part. Given that, I don’t even know if I should do something. Which course of action should I take? Am I even in a position to do something about it? I’m only a student worker and not a permanent staff member.

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7 Answers

Poser's avatar

Sounds like a hostile work environment. It should be brought to the attention of “C” or “D’s” supervisor. If that person is involved, go up in the chain of command until it is resolved. It doesn’t matter that you are a student worker. If you see a problem, it is your responsibility to see that it is taken care of.

Judi's avatar

A lot of it depends on your personality. I make waves on principal, sometimes putting myself on the slab, but I have a daughter who would never do that. (And another who is even more hard nosed about her principals than me.)
Is there a school counselor you could confidentially discuss it with? They may be more aware of the school politics and be able to give you better advice than any of us here.

snowberry's avatar

What country do you live in? What can be done depends on whether their behavior is illegal or not.

marinelife's avatar

This is a difficult situation. If you just report what you have witnessed and not talk about what other people have seen, you might get management to look into it.

Go to the Head Chef’s boss. You could ask who he reports to (probably the principal or an off-site Director of Food Services).

Remember to stick to just what you have observed and to speak only about your experiences. Something like “It really bothers me that X and Y teat the non-English-speaking employees so badly.” I get sick to my stomach when I hear their tone of voice and the words they use to these workers.”

Don’t drag any of the workers into it. Don’t mention that you have spoken to them.

Just say that you were wondering what the school’s policy was because you found the work environment so awful.

koanhead's avatar

In some US states you can make an anonymous complaint to the state’s Department of Labor (or local equivalent- it will typically have “labor” in the name) about such things. Your complaint needn’t be anonymous; such states also sometimes have “whistleblower protection” laws which prohibit employers for retaliating against workers who report infractions, but workers sometimes are uncomfortable revealing their identities in these situations.

In the US, only certain states have such protections in place. Outside the US it will vary by country. If you are interested, and willing to reveal your location (I’m guessing you are in the US) I’d be happy to help research the correct agency to contact.

If you are in the US you might find this link useful:

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