“I WAS HARASSED BY TWO DIFFERENT EMPLOYERS!”
ONE WOMAN SPEAKS UP ABOUT HER TWO TRAUMATISING JOB ENCOUNTERS.
What to do if you find yourself in the same situation.
“With the tough economic climate and competitive job market, I couldn’t risk turning down any opportunities that came my way. So, when I wrapped up my SPM examinations in 2005, I took up a position as a factory operator near my home in Kedah. Initially, it was an eye-opening experience and I was excited to finally earn my own income –as well as work alongside two very good friends. Plus, I was thankful that it would enable me to help my parents who, at the time, were still putting my two younger siblings through school.
MOLESTED ON THE JOB
Despite having to work night shifts, I wasn’t too bothered by it until one night when the first sign of trouble came in the form of a male technician, Amar*. He had earned quite a reputation for himself amongst the female employees for frequently harassing them. However, nobody had ever dared make an official report to the higher-ups.
On that fateful night, both of my friends weren’t working. While operating a machine, I heard him whisper my name from behind. Deciding not to pay any heed to him, I continued with my work until I felt him embrace my waist as he tried to push his body against mine. Shocked and enraged, I screamed, stepped on his foot, and elbowed him in the stomach. This alarmed him and he fled back to his work station.
Even though I was a newcomer, I was adamant in reporting this incident to the manager, who called Amar up for an investigation. Naturally, he denied everything but I was lucky that my manager insisted on checking the hidden cameras near the machines, which led to the truth.
Once I came forward, it set off a chain reaction as the other female workers found the courage to do so as well. Not long after, Amar was fired and arrested by the police, while I stopped working at the factory when I got an offer to further my studies.
A CHANGE IN ENVIRONMENT
Once I had completed my course in hotel management, I found love and eventually married a man who holds a senior rank in my industry. Another reason to celebrate came in the form of a job opportunity, as an assistant housekeeper, in a renowned hotel in Pahang. However, upon taking the job, I was a little shocked at how chummy and touchy the manager, Khairul*, was with another female employee – leading me to assume that she was his girlfriend. To steer free of trouble, I’d often finish my housekeeping duties before the hotel’s check-in time and would keep to myself – hardly mixing with other colleagues save for Bainun*, who was older than me.
Bainun did share with me that the hotel’s employees often didn’t observe boundaries when it came to mingling. Some of the men and women were even living under the same roof. Then, one day, Bainun and I were about to switch off the television that had been left on in a room when Khairul barged in and berated us for slacking on the job. He insinuated that we had been watching television, when in fact, we were doing everything by the book. Upset by his accusations, I spoke up and
commented on his inappropriate behaviour around female employees during working hours. Stunned into silence, he left in a rage.
AN UNJUST SABOTAGE
A week after the incident, I was informed by management that they had decided not to hire me after my probation period. I was told to either hand in my resignation letter or be fired. Convinced it was Khairul’s backstabbing that had led to this decision, I tried to defend myself by arguing that I had never once been late to work or committed mistakes.
When I returned home that night, I divulged everything to my husband, who listened in shock and immediately brought me to an industrial relations officer. After sharing my story, the officer convinced me that I needn’t worry and to attend work as usual – this wasn’t the first time it had happened and the perpetrator was none other than the same person.
Subsequently, the management team was warned by higher-ups to stop abusing their power. I haven’t had any other hiccups since, with the perpetrators in question going out of their way to avoid me. After a year of working at the hotel, I decided to stop due to a personal tragedy: my second child passed away due to a hole in the heart.
I sincerely urge every woman to read up on labour laws and to find the courage to speak up if you’re being harassed, whether sexually or mentally. Not only will this help you assert yourself to avoid being taken advantage of by your employer, you’ll also know your legal rights as an employee.”