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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Experienced a Casual Racist incident at my workplace.

Topic: Experienced a Casual Racist incident at my workplace.

14 posts, 0 answered
  1. asianaussie
    asianaussie avatar
    19 posts
    13 May 2021

    Hi, so I currently work for a spa company as a Massage Therapist, for a few months now. I happen to be the only non-white staff in this workplace. The staff have been professional, but I don't feel they like me very much.

    Things had been going okay until a few weeks ago, when a customer used a toilet in a squatting position and broke the seat. Additionally, faeces and urine was also left on the floor. I was called up by my boss, for a 'disciplinary discussion'. Usually warm and friendly, she sternly informed that a staff member had reported to her about me. She mentioned that the staff said that 'I was a Chinese student' (I'm actually Australian born), and so I needed to know and respect 'Australian conducts and professional rules', going on to talk about 'proper toilet usage' and 'interacting with others'. I tried to clarify and stand to her that I was not responsible, even going as far as to give her my shoe size as proof. She didn't believe me, saying 'she wasn't sure if I was telling the truth', and as a result, ordered me to undergo 'additional training' and also be accompanied by one of the front house attendants during massages and assisting with customers.

    Eventually, she reviewed CCTV footage and realised that it really was someone else, she apologised and backtracked on her actions, although she said it laughing and cheerily. But the damage had already been done. The whole team knows this and don't trust me, even some ignoring or scolding me to 'watch the mess' and 'remember to do this do that'. Although I understand I have only worked a few months, there have been others who started work around the same time and don't get the wariness and suspicion as I do. I've dealt with racial bullying, harassment and discrimination in my life, but this incident has really soured my trust with the company. Especially that they said in their T&C's that discrimination against race would result in 'action' and 'suspension'. Each day that I go to work, I feel shame, humiliation and outcasted, and I struggle everyday to feel like I fit in and trust the team again. I dislike 'standing out' as an 'Asian' and having some people point that out. But I can't leave because I'm on a 1-year contract, and I need money anyway to pay for my needs.

  2. Emmen
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    Emmen avatar
    388 posts
    13 May 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    Dear asianaussie,

    I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I've experienced workplace racism too and it's horrible knowing that you're stuck in that workplace with people like that! I understand that you need the money and you can't leave just yet. I wonder if you're able to hang in there and have a look around to see if there are, by any chance, any other jobs around for you? If you manage to get another job, you can leave and be free of this awful workplace. The contract should have a way for you to leave.

    If you're really stuck there, then keep looking forward to the end of the one-year contract so that you don't lose hope. Do something that makes you feel better about the situation. For me, publicly exposing these racist incidents on social media helped since I felt I was gaining control of the narrative. It helped when people expressed their support for me too, since I felt that there were people on my side.

    Big hugs to you.

    - M

    1 person found this helpful
  3. PamelaR
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    2740 posts
    13 May 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    Hello Asianaussie

    That's a horrible experience for you, I'm sorry you had to go through that. Though, there is no reason for you to feel shame and humiliation. You've done nothing wrong and can hold your head up high. My background is a mixture of Asian, European and Australian. I worked for over 50 years and thankfully never experienced anything like you have. Though my father had difficulties and was treated badly at times by my mother's family and work.

    You say 'their T&C's that discrimination against race would result in 'action' and 'suspension'.' Is there anyone above your boss that you can report the way you were treated?

    Kind regards

    PamelaR

    1 person found this helpful
  4. tranzcrybe
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    519 posts
    13 May 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    I agree with Pamela. It sounds like you have grounds for a discrimination claim. If you are only staying to serve out your contract, you may wish to seek compensation in that amount and walk away as full settlement.

    Failing any support for your request, you might ask that the company terms be honoured through the responsible party (your boss, for not pursuing due diligence to ascertain the truth) being duly actioned and suspended (along with an authorised letter of apology).

    You are undeserving of the treatment you are receiving presently.

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Sleepy21
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    13 May 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    hi there,

    are u okay? If you think it's workable i'd think reporting it would be an idea... u deserve better. what an awful way they are behaving and thinking that's funny and not taking it seriously. so wrong and harmful.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. asianaussie
    asianaussie avatar
    19 posts
    18 May 2021 in reply to Emmen

    Hi Emmen,

    Thanks for your message. At this stage I'm going to hang around in here but I've started looking for other work opportunities in the meantime. While it's too soon for me to leave at this time, I've been using the spare time out of work to do the things I really want to do, and I've recently joined a group called 'Asian Australian Alliance', which supports Aussie Asians like me and addresses these issues. I share and discuss on their forums, I don't share on my social media though because the management are likely to be looking upon it and would likely take action if they saw these.

  7. asianaussie
    asianaussie avatar
    19 posts
    18 May 2021 in reply to PamelaR

    Hi PamelaR,

    Thank you for your message, I appreciate it. The reason I feel shame and humiliation is mainly upon being reminded of the times I had been treated badly because of my ethnicity, but I've been trying to work on overcoming it.

    For reporting it, I only know so far there is a Head Office to report to, which is in a different location from my workplace. I don't really know much about the HR here, as it's mainly a franchise with situated shops around my state. However I've emailed the Head Office (which is within my city) about contacting HR, I'm waiting to get back to them.

  8. asianaussie
    asianaussie avatar
    19 posts
    18 May 2021 in reply to tranzcrybe

    Hi tranzcrybe,

    Thank you for your message. As mentioned with Pamela, I have contacted the Head Office about seeing HR, and I'm waiting to get back from them. In the meantime I've also contacted my trade union and Allied Health association about this, for advice and support on what to take next.

    1 person found this helpful
  9. asianaussie
    asianaussie avatar
    19 posts
    18 May 2021 in reply to Sleepy21

    Hi Sleepy21,

    I don't feel okay mentally, but I'm okay overall. I know I'm not the only one out there and that there's many people who remain silent about this, out of fear of being called out or fired by other workplaces. Unfortunately though, without this being addressed it gives more power to those who think it's okay to treat people like this. I've contacted Head Office about HR and my Allied Health Association about this already, I'll see what happens next.

  10. missep123
    Community Champion
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    678 posts
    18 May 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    asianaussie - I am so sorry that you went through that, honestly that is not okay for that to happen.

    I'm half Japanese so as a fellow Aussie Asian my heart really broke for you.

    I am really glad to hear that you reached out to HR though and that it sounds like you are being supported with the group you joined.

    I'm also really glad that you reached out, despite the very sad situation. Please know that you are not alone and what happened is not okay. It sounds like you are a very dedicated, kind soul and no one deserves to go through that. Please continue to reach out here, we are here for you!

  11. Sleepy21
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    3716 posts
    18 May 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    hi there

    it is horrible what happened and although u have pain from it, thanks for sharing that u are okay overall. u are doing so well in the face of something so bad. I have to admit i have been through something similar. I relate to the okay-no-okay feeling. Thinking of u.

  12. bluenight
    bluenight avatar
    88 posts
    19 May 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    Hi asianaussie,

    I feel upset with what is happening with you at work, your co-workers sound racist, ignorant among other things, I think you deserve so much better, I hope you are able to secure employment somewhere else. They don't sound like a good company to work for at all!

    It also shows that you have strength and perseverance to continue to work there despite the way you were treated. I'm here if you ever need/want to chat.

    All the best,

    Mark

  13. jaysak
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    jaysak avatar
    1 posts
    30 June 2021

    Hi AsianAussie,

    I'm so sorry to hear about the blatant racism you've experienced at work. It's disgusting how they handled the situation and blamed you without investigation and making ignorant assumptions. You can report racism through the Qld Human Rights Commission - https://www.qhrc.qld.gov.au/complaints/report-racism

    That might also give you some leverage when dealing with your company and your contract, if they try to terminate you. It sounds like you're doing everything you can to find a better workplace and I really hope you find a supportive and positive place to work.

    I've also experienced racism and bullying in the workplace and it can really affect your mood and your health. Your health is the most important thing - please look after yourself and surround yourself with as many nourishing and meaningful experiences as you can to balance this toxicity in your life.

  14. missep123
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    678 posts
    9 July 2021 in reply to asianaussie

    Hi asianaussie,

    I wanted to check in and see how you were doing?

    We are here for you!

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