When is corporate harassment more than just harassment?

Since when was it left up to me as an employee to be HR’s Google on how to treat and react to employee transgender or gender nonconforming issues? When I transitioned at my company, I was told by the head of HR that they are willing to learn and that the company will be willing to learn. But then they expected me as a trans person to out myself when I came into my job as a trans employee and to lead training, or to be some helpful information that is constantly at their disposal. They seemed extremely frustrated with me when I did not promptly return their emails asking me questions that could be easily looked up on Google. I refused to train the HR department on how to treat trans people. When I reported harassment in my own mostly male infested department, they wanted to treat me like the company’s poster child and that I had all the answers to the company’s LGBTQ+ issues. When I reported some of my coworkers for harassment, the HR manager had no idea how to enforce policies that were put in place to protect me as an employee. Moreover, since my transition, it was suddenly thrust upon me that I had to educate HR and the rest of the company on how to treat LGBTQ+ people. To explain policies that should be or have been in place. I don’t ever remember seeing that in my job description and I don’t think it’s covered under the and anything else required clause of any job description that I have ever seen.

Here is the situation at issue.

I was the one that was put under the microscope and was treated like I had to prove that the harassment even happened. To me this was akin to a rape victim having to go over the story and to relive what happened again and again. I have been at this company for almost 7 years and in a profession that I have been in for almost 40 years. In March 2019, all the developers except for one were moved into glassed walled offices. I was not given much of a chance to pick my office setting, unbeknownst to me, It had been predetermined. It made it easy for my boss to watch over my shoulder and to see what was on my computer monitors for months. To me I could not figure out why that suddenly the company didn’t trust me to do my job. During the first few days of being in this new office, I would ask my boss if I could move my desk because I felt uncomfortable and uneasy that people were walking in the hallway just inches from the front of my desk. This made me very uncomfortable and nearly impossible for me to concentrate on being a software developer.

July 29, 2019, it all came to ahead for me emotionally. The pressure of the job, the environment and the everyday harassment finally caught up with me. I had what the psychiatrist and my therapist called and a cute anxiety attack. This was my first go around with this type of feelings. The doctors had told me after finding out of my environment that it was very close to what police and soldiers call PTSD. I was put on a two-week sick leave and saw doctors and a therapist for the two weeks. During those two weeks I was able to come to grips with what it happened to me. I was given medication that would help me curb the anxiety and depression. The Monday that I returned to work was in itself a source of anxiety as I was not sure what I was returning to. I was glad to see that it had been like I just returned from a two-week vacation, or so I thought. By Wednesday of that week, I had people asking me if I felt better after my trip in the ambulance. This now reinforced my feelings of self-loathing and embarrassment that stories were getting around of what had happened to me. And almost 40 years that I have been in an office environment I’ve come to realize that bad news travels exponentially faster than good news. I did my best to downplay the stories of what it happened to me. I asked people to please stop passing information around and to help me stop the office gossip.

Now that 2 weeks have rolled past and I am starting to receive the bills for things that insurance didn’t cover, I went to HR and asked them if they intended on putting this under workers compensation or how I was to deal with the thousands of dollars in co-pays that I was now facing. I went to the Insurance person in HR with these bills, and she assured me that she would investigate it and gave me the impression that she also thought that this should be covered under workers compensation. Now it was another two-week waiting game of not getting the last weeks emails or voicemails returned from her. Now I had to be proactive because the doctors’ offices in the hospital was now threatening to turn me over to collections if the bills were not paid for or at least given information from my employer about it being moved to workers compensation. I approached a senior member of a completely different department and he advised me that maybe I should go and talk to the person that oversaw lost management. I agreed with him and sent an email to the head of loss management requesting a few minutes of his time. Only a few minutes past after I sent the email when I received an email from him stating that he had time for me at 3 PM that day. I replied to his email stating that 3 PM would be fine, I hit the email send button. I sat back in my office chair and hoped that maybe the bills that I was now facing would be taken care of in a fair and what I deemed, a correct way. The head of loss prevention did not disappoint me, he reacted in a selfish and demeaning way toward my request. He sat back in his chair once I explained the situation with a smug look on his face. He explained to me that workers compensation did not cover things like this and that the company had no intentions in paying the co-pays or anything to do with the medical bills. Again, I was going to have to fight my own employer to do what most people would think was right and the correct thing to do. I explain to him that I thought it was only fair that the company take care of these bills because the doctors and my therapist had clearly stated that it was due to how I was being treated and my work environment. Once I realized that this conversation was futile, I grabbed my purse and got up and left his office. I was frustrated and getting ready to break down and cry for the feelings of being betrayed by a company that I had given almost 7 years of my life to. 

In conclusion of this quite lengthy rant, here I sit staring down thousands of dollars of medical bills that my employer refuses to pay and that they clearly had a hand in creating. I am sure that I will have to endure continual harassment if I should stand up to their unclear and gender bias policies.