Listen in as I talk with Erin Alexanders as we discuss what employers can learn from a complainant's point of view. Erin was sexually harassed in the workplace and the investigation and processes were not dealt with effectively. What can we learn from her point of view? How do we make sure that those who have experienced harassment in the workplace are supported, heard, and treated with respect and dignity?
A brief synopsis of Erin's story
"I have been a part of the trucking industry since 2015. I have witnessed and been a part of the female growth which brings a unique perspective to an industry that has been heavily dominated by male workers.
In June 2020 my employer in the federal public service terminated me during their investigation process (terminating employees during an investigation is a violation of their harassment-free policy) after reporting sexual harassment and an assault at work in the spring of 2020 among three separate coworkers. Not only did the events that transpired change the trajectory of my life, but the mistreatment I faced by both my employer and union amplified the trauma of what should have been a supportive process. Instead, I am learning that victimization and gaslighting in workplaces is not an isolated issue; there are systemic fractures across many employers that first allow misconduct in the workplace, and second, post-incident internal processes that leave complainants feeling alienated and with limited trauma-informed resources to handle workplace harassment. I hired my own legal counsel (after months of rejections due to being unionized) while navigating a corrupt system that employees are told is actually designed to guide and provide empathy to complainants.
Two years later, and after multiple substantiated complaints, there have been no reported corrective measures imposed in the workplace I was harassed and assaulted in. Ultimately, no closure. After being terminated, it took me 21 months to return to the trucking industry due to psychological trauma and being forced to self-navigate the complaint system and being terminated in the process. Since
For several months after my losing my employment, I suffered mentally by blaming a federal, unionized system that appeared to strive to silence complainants. Today, I prioritize owning my adversity—finding meaning in what I can control. The circumstances I have faced empower me to stand with survivors of workplace trauma and to educate employers on what it can look like when they are not impartial, supportive or trauma-informed. Some decisions I have had to make are risks that complainants should never have to make.
My advocacy is formed around promoting compassion in workplaces that spans beyond policies, legislation and collective agreements. I work to help employers understand that there is no shame in embracing the power of employees who find the courage to use their voices for safer, more inclusive workplaces; to confront workplace misconduct and systemic malpractice rather than ignoring complaints or failing to seek appropriate resources to handle workplace matters."
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