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Workplace troubles--deep regret

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This it the shortest summarizing I can do. This is an extremely troubling problem and I deeply appreciate anyone who can offer any advice or relate. And regardless if you reply, I thank you for reading this, it feels good to talk about it.


There was a new manager hired at a retail outlet. After their 3 months probationary period the manager started harassing his employees (they were young, ages 16-19). I worked in a different department and were friends with many of these employees (one of them was my girlfriend--I know, dangerous territory). After hearing about the problems I told the employees to start writing down every incident of harassment. After one month we had four pages of 22 separate incidents of harassment spanning three departments and 10 employees, who all signed and dated it. I along with two other employees presented this information to the GM of the store. His initial reaction was very evasive, saying many of the employees are troublemakers (this is part because the harassing manager lied to the GM about many of the employees job performance) but he will take the complaints seriously.


A couple days later, two of the employees quit (including my girlfriend), they couldn't handle it anymore regardless of how the GM would resolve the situation. The harassing manager was not fired.


Four months pasted and in this time the harassing manager stopped harassing the employees who complained, but instead treated other employees the same way, his behavior spread. The catch his, his direct supervisor (not the GM) was friends with him, and often covered up his antics so the GM wouldn't fire him, and instead made the other employees out to be exaggerators and complainers regardless of the hard evidence to the contrary.


Based on what I saw, I conclude that the harassing manager was being covered up by their friend, the supervisor, while the GM had managing insecurities and was afraid of confrontation (he got nervous anytime he talked to employees about their work ethic, etc.). Both of those factors combined allowed a harassing manager to continue.


As the months went on the GM's attitude toward me completely changed, he went out of his was to seem like a boss, ordering me around, etc (he did act quite nervous around me too, almost as if he knew that I knew he failed as a GM). The harassing manager took every chance he got to complain about me to management. Eventually I got fed up and went to HR, sent them every document (including the fours pages presented to the GM), incident and name I had. They sounded interested in resolving the issue, but after our initial conversation I hadn't heard from then in about two weeks.


That's when I quit.


I was just so worn out, tired of the job, hated coming to work, my sales were down. At the time I really didn't care how the situation with HR panned out, so I put in my resignation. Within minutes of quitting the HR manager called me, asked me why I quit and explained to me that he and other HR people were flying in to talk to the mangers about the situation.


After I quit I learned HR still traveled to the store and met with the managers. No one was fired, and I heard nothing more about it from my former co-workers.


The reason why I'm posting is because I feel an incredible regret for quitting. It's been a year now and I've since moved on career-wise but I just don't feel like I was ever able to say my piece. I'm pretty sure the managers lied to talk their way out of letting such a liability continue to manage employees, and made every attempt to tarnish my incredible record there (I was in the top 2% of salespeople and only had a year-old write-up for being 10 minutes late).


The regret is incredible distracting. I spend hours imagining the meeting with HR and being able to confidently defend my position and the victimized employees. I often can't sleep, and any moment of relaxation my mind eventually wonders to my regret, and I start to fantasize again. I don't feel this is for revenge. I am incredibly sensitive to injustice and regret not following through and having people held accountable. And most of it is toward the GM, not the harasser--those kind of managers often bounce jobs as they get caught harassing anyway.


I try to tell myself all those HR managers (four of them flew in) didn't arrange a meeting to congratulate the GM but rather discipline him, however no one was fired (the harassing manager eventually quit two months later), and I can't help feel the managers smeared me and other employees to get out of it.


I know this might seem like a small thing to still think about, and that's the frustrating part--it is. I feel it really hurt my pride, and people were not held responsible; something I could have made sure of if I stayed (not to mention HR couldn't do anything even if they wanted to since I quit). Assuming HR did discipline the managers is helpful, and sometimes using that perspective I don't think about it for a day or two. However I don't know if that was the case, and if the managers did lie HR might have even told them they did a good job in resolving it--which seems to perpetuate my regret.


How the hell do I get over this? It's incredible frustrating. I avoid talking to my girlfriend about it, I know she'd feel incredibly responsible and guilty if she knew it still affects me like this. She has actually recovered wonderfully from it, something I admire. Any advice from you guys would be incredible.

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We have all been in a situation were we have been effed over by someone and had to walk away because we have exhausted all possible ways to resolve it.


We all lie awake at night going over things and trying to fathom a way to change what has already been done - its normal.


I can assure you that every dog has its day. But... You won't be around to see it happen. And most likely, you will be over it by the time it does.


My view is this. You didn't lose. The company you worked for lost, because they kept on this liability and lost a good worker. I can imagine that this guy is going to pick on the wrong person and not only will he suffer, but the company will too.


By obsessing about your old position, you are missing out on the excitement of your new one. Don't let the b***ards grind you down!

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It seems like often times when people feel the system has failed them, they take action into their own hands. Creating groups, causes, initiating legislation. Maybe you would like to work for the FCC to help other people in similar situations?


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It will not change your previous situation, but I think what's really eating at you is that you left something unresolved. Personally, I think what you did was awesome. You really put yourself out there to fix the situation, but it's hard to push through all those barriers entirely on your own. So give yourself a pat on the back for that. After all, the guy did leave 2 months later. Maybe they didn't announce it, but perhaps his termination was a direct result of how he treated employees and the action you took.

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Instead of feeling regret for what happened, I think that you should be feeling proud of yourself for taking the steps necessary to stop this manager from harrassing very young employees who probably had no idea how to resolve this issue. Even though you didn't hear anything from HR following your complaint to them, keep in mind that they wouldn't have been in a position to share with you what course of action they would take.


Although the official word was that the harassing manager quit, it's more likely that he was terminated and as part of settlement they agreed to call it a resignation. If four HR managers flew in, it was definitely taken very seriously. The GM was probably able to keep his position as he hadn't done any of the actual "harassing". He didn't handle it correctly, but they would probably give him a warning and coach/educate him on how to deal with similar issues in the future. If he was hired as a GM, they saw something in him that they like and would probably prefer to keep him and work with him rather than repeat the hiring process.


I know it's frustrating to not be able to know exactly what went down, but the company handled it properly by not sharing with you. In the meantime, maybe you should look at a career in human resources...you'd probably be really good at it.

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You first need to understand that a corporation's primary goal is to make money, and as a corollary, to not LOSE money thru things like lawsuits. It is one of the first things you learn in business school... So don't expect fairness or caring from a company, because their goal is to make money and preserve capital and all their decisions flow from that.


That is not to say that there aren't some companies with very high morals as well who do strive for fairness, but they are usually smaller companies and exceptions to the rule.


If you instructed individuals to gather evidence etc. and went to HR with this, their first thought will be, uh oh, here's a troublemaker gearing up for a lawsuit that will cost us money. So they fly in their lawyers and experts to find a way to protect themselves from lawsuits, NOT to be 'fair' to the employees. They don't want a lawsuit from you, and they don't want a lawsuit from the manager either alleging unfair firing or bias. And the LAST thing they want is to get in the middle of a big 'he said/she said' battle where they have to hire lawyers to straighten it out.


So there is a good chance that that manager was helped out the door to shut him up and quiet down chances of a lawsuit. Sometimes they will even offer enticements to get him to leave, if he'll sign something that says he won't sue. And legally, to show they don't have a hostile workplace, all they have to do is to show they stopped the behavior, by any means possible. And they don't have to tell you what they did or what settlements they made etc.


So no, it was absolutely not fair, but a company is not a moral organization founded to be fair, but to make money. So you are looking at it from the wrong perspective, expecting fairness and justice in an area where the people are going to shift into high gear to protect themselves from lawsuits, and to quietly get rid of people they see as troublemakers or potentially people who might sue them. Even if you're a great worker, you're not worth the risk or trouble in their minds.


I have seen companies be very rude to people trying to get justice for themselves, because they just don't want someone crusading or a potential lawsuit. So they might move the problematic manager aside or settle with him to get him to leave, but they will also do nothing to encourage other 'crusaders' in their ranks because they see it as trouble, and they will frequently give crusaders crappy jobs and short shrift to try to get them to leave because they don't want troublemakers.


So you have to see that what happened to you wasn't unusual at all, but a common way corporations protect themselves. If you want justice and kindness, you have to look for it in other areas of your life. Or next time, don't go to HR expecting them to be a fair parent, go to a lawyer and let the lawyer handle it because companies do understand lawyers and will make settlements to keep you from causing trouble.

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There have been plenty of times we have felt that we could have handled a different situation differently or as we like to put it, the "what ifs". The best course of action is to try not to regret about the past. Regret is a feeling that can lead to even more despair, and it's mainly about things we cannot change. This person is no longer a part of your life, so don't make him to be.

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Thanks a lot for the replies. Since posting I've noticed I've thought slightly less about it, and I hope it continues to diminish. It is helpful to know this is somewhat normal. I realize coming to grips with things I cannot change is important, and all of your replies have helped with that.


Thank you again.

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