I thought that I would see justice served and be commended for my honest, righteous conduct. However I was the one who was punished for my action!
When I had an annual performance appraisal session with my supervisor, she was very pleased with the quality of my work, especially with my sole involvement in a complicated inter-company data exchange and process case. She smiled and said: “The Saturday’s overtime last week, you can claim that you worked on Sunday”.
I took what she said as if she wanted to reward my good work with extra bonus for my overtime. Overtime rate is one and a half on Saturdays and double on Sundays. I also noticed she didn’t look at me and was blushing while saying it. Was the blushing a sign of nervousness in her acting to appear truthful to me? It was this boss who always coldly stared at me when we met on the walkways at work. It was her who seldom smiled at me. It was this team leader who invited others in my team to lunch but not me. It was her who refused to engage with me in personal conversations I initiated at morning teas. Why now the kindness?
Actually, I thought that she was enticing me to commit a corporate crime. The company had a website where staff could dob others in for corporate misconduct. I was suspicious that she was trying to set a trap to accuse me of fraud.
I went and reported her behaviour with the section head. I was surprised to hear the section head said: “That’s a small thing!”. When I insisted that I could have been prosecuted because my automatic electronic attendance details would have been different to what she had told me to claim and that there was nowhere in the overtime claim form to say that my boss endorsed me to claim on Sunday instead of Saturday, the section head then said: “Well, if they found out, it would be just” and he made a gesture of slapping his wrist then left the room.
I thought the section head must have briefed my superior about my meeting with him, because since then she threw me angry looks or I was met with her furious facial expressions. I went back to see the section head to ask for a team transfer citing my fear of persecution from my superior but the section head refused. His reason was that my fear was unfounded and due to task design, assigning me to a different team was not possible.
I had to work in a hostile environment with my boss for a year. My applications for training were refused and I was given heavy workloads. When the new section head arrived, after hearing my story with a grin yet no condemnation for my superior, he moved me to another team.
During my time in Australia, I have experienced that migrants are often judged harsher and not easily forgiven than the locals. In this case, it was the local who encouraged a migrant to do the wrong thing and the migrant didn’t want to commit the crime. Yet when I told my Australian colleague, she was astonished: “Why did you report her? She just wanted you to have extra money!”. Obviously, this must be a well-known corporate practice for recompensing good and loyal staff! Another Australian colleague just gave me an unbelievably perplexed look and didn’t comment on my story!
I wished I had had a voice recorder with me at the time of my boss making the suggestion of fraud. As my section head wasn’t on my side, it would be hard to press for an investigation into my boss’ misconduct.
In my company, if an annual allocated fund is not used up, future allotment will be smaller. Looking back, I think my boss may have wanted to spend all on whatever had been allocated for her team’s staff wages before the new financial year start the next month by offering to pay me more for my overtime. However, her wrong action could steer an inexperienced graduate, an ignorant migrant or a greedy staff into the wrong path of defrauding the company and incriminating themselves.
My boss never lost her job!
Sin alert on conscience patrol,
She reports on the villain role.
She’s then bullied in work hellhole,
Innocent soul, innocent soul!
Migrants are set in archetype,
Of criminals in media hype.
Yet here who is enticed to swipe?
Who wants to gripe, who wants to gripe?
by Don Hankins.