Harassment at work is an omnipresent thing in Emirates Airline. This is due to undeveloped organisational culture and lack of education among EK managers.
Emirates Airline had a bad luck (or bad HR department?) to get some people with “slave holder” mentality on top positions. And while this kind of mentality was certainly efficient in the disturbing times when people were forced to pick the cotton for their “owners”, these times are different and humanity agreed about something called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, it is possible today that some people reach high positions of VP, SVP, DVP, etc. still not being familiar with this Declaration. People with this kind of mentality are usually weak and always afraid that they’re not capable enough to cope with their responsibilities, so they use bullying and force, misusing their positions, to scare and threaten others, so that their incapability remains invisible. This is why I will write about harassment at work in this article which has the aim to raise the awareness of a workplace harassment in EK.
Workplace harassment is:
- the offensive, belittling or threatening behavior directed at an individual worker or a group of workers
- the odious dealing through pitiless, malevolent, hurtful or embarrassing attempts to undermine an individual worker or groups of workers.
Recently, matters of workplaceharassment have gained interest among practitioners and researchers as it is becoming one of the most sensitive areas of effective workplace management. In Oriental countries, it attracted lots of attention from researchers and governments since the 1980s, because a significant source of work stress is associated with aggressive behaviors at workplace. Third world countries are far behind oriental countries in that there are limited efforts to investigate the questions on workplace harassment. It is almost unseen and the executive leaders (managers) are almost reluctant or unconscious about it in the third world countries. Under occupational health and safety laws around the world, workplace harassment and workplace bullying are identified as being core psychosocial hazards.
This is a definition from Wikipedia. I would not use the term “Oriental”, since there are some really developed oriental countries (Japan, South Korea, China) which have implemented the concept of human and labour rights a long time ago. Nevertheless, I will use this definition and my case with former DVP EKAS Anoma Manuel as an example of a workplace harassment.
First of all, Emirates Airline has a policy on work related molestation of employees. Even if Ms.Anoma doesn’t read EK manuals, HR managers should know them by heart because they are the ones who write them. But it seems like EK HR high managers don’t read their own manuals as well.
For your information, this is the Emirates Airline Manual on Harassment which you can use if you are harassed by your colleague or boss.
C6-5 Avoidance Of Harassment
Context The Company’s overall policy is to act with care and consistency in dealing with individual employees at all times. This is given as one of the principles in the Employment Regulation on “Code of Conduct and Business Ethics”. Details of how this policy/principle will be applied, are given below.This policy covers the work place only. The Company cannot extend the coverage to outside the work place unless there is a very clear overlap or linkage between events and/or persons, so as to adversely affect work performance. 1. Definition 1.1 Harassment is defined as a regular and repeated pattern of behaviour between people, during interactive situations in the work/business environment, which is considered intolerable or offensive, because it is based on or includes forms of behaviour given in paragraph 1.2. 1.2 Harassment takes many forms including, but not restricted to, physical contact ranging from touching to assault, domineering and bullying behaviour, verbal and written interaction through offensive jokes and language, gossip, threats, distasteful photographs or pictures, mimicking, anonymous letters, emails, sms, telephone and mobile calls. 1.3 Harassment does not exist merely on the basis of setting regular or repetitive performance targets, unless the method of describing these is accompanied by forms of behaviour given in paragraph 1.2. 2. Policy 2.1 The Company accepts the right of every staff member to a working environment free from harassment and will take appropriate steps to promote and maintain such an environment. 2.2 The Company will not accept that any employee should give or be subject to any form of harassment. The Company will provide protection for employees who consider that they are being harassed. 2.3 The Company is opposed to any form of harassment being practised against its employees or potential employees on the grounds of their race, creed, nationality, gender, marital status, age, colour, physical or mental disability, religious or sexual persuasion, or as given in the Definition above. 2.4 The Company will provide the means to address problems as quickly as possible, and as near as possible to the level at which the problem arises. All reports will be treated seriously and without prejudice to employees or their careers. 2.5 An employee who in good faith, reports an incident of alleged harassment of whatever form, will not suffer any penalty for doing so. 2.6 Retaliation against an employee for having complained of being involved in harassment will be deemed to be harassment itself and will be treated as a disciplinary offence. 2.7 An employee who repeats harassment action after an initial warning, will be subject to disciplinary action which could include termination. 3. Required Action By Employee 3.1 Employees should ensure that they do not harass a colleague or colleagues. 3.2 Employees should report any form of harassment as outlined under “Definition” above, provided it is supported by recorded factual details of each incident. The report should be to the appropriate Line Manager or Manager Human Resources. 3.3 Employees who observe what they consider to be unacceptable behaviour, are encouraged to report factually on behalf of the harassed colleague.
You can hear my whole story on the audio record from Termination Appeal Meeting with Ms.Michelle Carswell and Mr.Mohammad Mattar.
Long story short – the whole “molestation situation” with Ms.Anoma Manuel began when I have “replied to all recipients” in the e-mail which I got from admin, notifying me that I have to go to the training on my day off otherwise “penalty applies”.
This is the point where Ms.Anoma showed a serious lack of knowledge about labour rights and her staff’s contracts (this is nothing new, since Ms.Anoma also didn’t know that her staff has a 7 hours shift without a break. You can hear that on the audio record from the Open Forum).
Uneducated and weak personality managers are the huge sore point of Emirates Airline, because they make this gigantic company look like a concentration camp. At the same time, there are many, many check in agents, for example, who are much more educated and better mannered than former DVP EKAS and many EKAS managers. This situation was the core of the catastrophe which happened in EKAS. That department is ruined, so now a new DVP Walter Riggans has to repair the damage. He started with cancelling the new “ABC” check in and boarding system which was implemented forcefully while Ms.Anoma was there.
So, Ms. Anoma called me for a meeting several times “to talk about my e-mail” and several times she cancelled the meeting. I don’t know if Ms. Anoma is aware, but this is a pure psychological harassment (intimidation) – employee has to prepare for the meeting with nobody else but the very DVP, and DVP is prolonging the stressful situation by delaying the meeting. By doing this, Ms.Anoma showed very severe disrespect for her staff. Third time when Ms.Anoma scheduled the meeting, I called sick due to heavy headache and nausea. At the same time I was constantly “warned” by my supervisors and duty officers that I am “monitored” by the management.
I went to the forced training, under the stress, and I didn’t agree with the trainer that we “have two options in the company – to find the happiness inside or to resign”. I disagreed in a very civilized manner, but majority of trainers and managers in EK are not aware of the concept of “civilized discussion” and the fact that “if you are not with me, you are against me” is not true. (Local) trainer complained on me, and Ms.Anoma was happy to give me the warning, although all the witnesses from the training confirmed that there was no arguing at the class and that we were just discussing Richard Branson’s thesis about the importance of staff’s happiness.
ASM (airport services manager) who gave me the warning told me that it is “from Ms.Anoma” and that she told me that this time “I have to schedule a meeting with her” if I want to talk about my warning. This was already even beyond bullying, as it was, by my opinion, a pure revenge because I didn’t come to a third scheduled meeting with her.
I left it as it was. I didn’t go to Ms.Anoma and I kept quiet, continuing to do my job. But, I was already under the huge pressure, shaken by meetings, interrogations and stress.
I have got my final warning for a (local – this is important thing to say, because staff is often given a warning when a passenger with a western or local passport complains on staff) passenger. Passenger went against my instructions aggressively, I told the staff that passenger is not checked in and not to check her in, because I have instructed her where to go, and the passenger made a whole drama which nobody, from a supervisor, via duty officer, ASM and MAS (manager airport services) COULDN’T RESOLVE. This speaks a lot about management capability. Hysterical passenger got an upgrade, and I got a final warning, although I was just doing my job (guiding the passengers to the right counters), I didn’t offend or yell at the passenger. Many passengers know that if they make a fuss, they will get everything they want, so passengers use that strategy a lot. Management, on the other hand, doesn’t want to take the responsibility and stop this practice. Instead, they are wasting company’s money and punishing staff.
Ms.Anoma was happy to arrange this warning as well.
Only after all of this torture I came to the Open Forum and asked Ms.Anoma about her salary. After all the “inappropriate behaviour” that she consciously did, mine was almost benign, provoked by serious bullying that Ms. Anoma and EKAS management conducted over me.
This is a pure example of a ruthless workplace mobbing and I hope that it will serve to all managers and staff to get familiar with this concept as it is very harmful for such an ambitious company as EK is.
Paradoxically, the final move on this whole story was made by HR management which didn’t make a tiniest effort to respond to the complaint of mine, let alone to take some actions. They fired me instead. And wanted to put me in prison.
If you ever decide to file a complaint on harassment (I hope that after all that happened with my complaint, HR managers will not dare to fire harassed complainants again), this is how it should look like (remember to read the Manual first and to mention all the parts of the Manual which were violated in your case, describing the way they were violated and all the events). I also hope that outstations’ staff will not be endangered by Ms.Anoma Manuel’s and her bosses’ bullying behaviour, as much as hub staff was.
If Emirates Airline is serious in becoming the biggest and the best airliner in the world, they will have to stop the practices where their own management (including HR managers!) violates company’s manuals.
This complaint was sent to (former?) SVP HR Sophia Panayiotou, SVP HR Masooma Hassan and EVP/COO Adel Ahmad Al Redha.
Dear Ms Sophia, Ms Massooma and Mr Redha,My name is Dragana and I work as a check-in agent. I was regruted abroad and my profession is graduated HR Manager with a master degree.Forgive me for not being specific in chapters of the Employee Regulations Manual below in the text since I only have a copy of couple of relevant pages with me in the moment of writing this e-mail.I would like to file an official complaint of harassment over me done by EKAS DVP Anoma Manuel in accordance with:No 1 Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 2. General Guidelines – 2.3.2. Gross Misconduct – Discrimination or harassment of employees or member of the publicI would like to report serious violation of Employee Regulations Manual done by DVP Anoma Manuel in accordance with:No 2 Employee Regulations Manual – Chapter missing – 1. Personal Conduct – 1.2. Employees are prohibited from using their position and authority to further their personal interest.No 3 Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 3. Disciplinary hearings – 3.2.2 For formal hearings the employee will be given written notice as is reasonable given the nature of the misconduct and the preparation time required. This, however, will not be less than 24 hours so the employee can prepare for the hearing. The notice will contain details of the alleged misconduct.No 4 Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 4. Disciplinary Action Sequence – 4.2 Written warningNo 5 Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – 4. Disciplinary Action Sequence – 4.3 Final written warningNo 6 Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – Section C6-3 (C) – 1. Appeals – 1.2. The employee will be given five working days (from the date the decision is conveyed) to appeal against the decision in writing to the Appeal Authority. If a written appeal is not received within this period, the action taken will be deemed final and binding.No 7 Employee Regulations Manual – Disciplinary – Section C6-3 (C) – 1. Appeals – 1.6. The Appeal Authority will generally give a decision within 5 working days after the hearing.And I would like to seek your immediate protection from torture that I am exposed to at my working place in accordance with:No 8 Employee Regulations Manual – Chapter missing – 12. Respect for the individual – The company will act with care and consistency in dealing with individual employees at all times.I have already asked an appointment with a Group psychologist, since I am feeling depressed and very stressed out.I will try to explain what happened, although this unbearable situation is lasting for almost half of a year now, with culmination in the last few days.As you may or may not know, in answer of every day complaints and resignations of staff at EKAS department, DVP Ms Anoma Manuel organized Open Forums for all staff to give them “opportunity to be heard”. I was attending the last forum in series, which was conducted on 21St of July. During the forum I asked Ms Anoma several questions. My feeling was that I was ignored, bullied and silenced during the whole timings of the forum.After the forum I was called for the Disciplinary Meeting. I was notified that the reason is “Inappropriate behaviour”, without any other given details. I have assumed that I am called regarding my participation on the Open forum. Now, I have an audio record of everything that was happening at the forum, so everyone can conclude and decide who was behaving unprofessional and inappropriate during the forum, that is a separate issue. But this is the moment when I want to report that the Disciplinary procedure from the Employee Regulations Manual (No 3 in above text) was violated. I should receive any written notice about Disciplinary Hearing 24 hours in advance. I have received a text message by Shaher Banu on my phone at 3:02 pm inviting me for the Hearing on the next day at 12:00 am. Since I had duty yesterday from 5pm, I saw the message only when I came to the airport at 4:50 pm.When i reached the airport I have opened my e-mail and I saw an invitation for a Disciplinary Hearing from Shaher Banu (with Mr Rami El Samra and HRM Amanda Maxwell in cc). I have replied to that e-mail, explaining that it is impossible for me to come at 12am next day, since I am working until 3am, that I need my sleep and I need time to find available witness. Mr Rami El Samra answered my e-mail, notifying me that I will be released from my duty at midnight. I answered to that e-mail that it is still impossible for me to prepare psychologically and to find my witness. Mr Rami did not send any reply after that.Around 9pm I have got the call from RTC notifying me to go to MAS office. When I went there, MAS notified me that Ms Anoma sent him an e-mail in the early afternoon about my early release. I have told to MAS that I have already notified Mr Rami about my difficulties to attend the Disciplinary meeting. MAS sent e-mail to Ms Anoma and I stayed at my duty until 3pm.Now, this is a very painful and stressful situation for me. I was not given a legal notice for preparation and I was feeling forced to come to the meeting (after my tiring night shift), although I did not have time to find my witness (given the fact that most of my friends and colleagues are afraid to be witnesses because of the constant latent threat that they will lose their jobs if they support me).I am also feeling prosecuted and punished for saying my opinion on the Open Forum that had an aim to enable staff to tell their opinions and ask questions. This is outrageous for me, I am not used to this severe violation of my right to express my opinion in a polite way. I am shocked by this Disciplinary Meeting invitation since I did absolutely nothing wrong and I have a proof for that. I consider this for a ruthless harassment at my working place.Reading Employee Regulations Manual, I found out that I haven’t done any of Misconduct or Gross Misconduct acts.I am constantly punished and called for meetings and hearings for the last couple of months. It is happening since I have expressed to Ms Anoma my desire to be treated as a human being and not a slave.
- Ms Anoma is forcing me to come to work on my days off.
- Ms Anoma is giving me shifts of 12 hours with one hour break (which gives me the chance to eat only once in 14 hours, including transport).
- Ms Anoma is giving me the whole shift of 7 hours without any break.
- Ms Anoma is making me attend trainings on my day offs, and then, if I do not show up, she is taking 500 dirhams from my salary to punish me.
- Ms Anoma is giving me only 5 hours to sleep, depriving me from my sleep.
- Ms Anoma imposed rule of fear at the airport where everyone are afraid of warnings and terminations.
- A few days ago my e-mail account was restricted for communication with all grade 4 and 5 staff. I am not sure who did this, but it is a very serious attempt to isolate me from my friends and colleagues.
- I have a lot more issues with Ms Anoma, but the most important one, which violated Employee Regulations Manual is when she violated Written Warning procedure.Recently, I had an issue with a passenger who would not listen to my instructions, behaving aggressive and dangerous. In accordance with company safety rules, I have instructed the staff not to check in the passenger and, since the passenger was shouting on me, I expressed my intention to call a police to protect myself. After this issue I was called for hearing, because passenger complained on my conduct. Several procedures were violated during this process:1. My hearing was held IN FRONT of the passenger, so I did not have a proper chance to defend myself.2. My solo hearing was not held on the same day when incident happened, but only several days later, in the presence of HR manager.3. I have got a written warning for this incident (explanation was that “I have no right to refuse anyone’s check in since I am not security and that I have no right to call the police.” When I have expressed my feeling that I was psychologically attacked by the passenger, I got the answer from my ASM that “there is no such thing as a psychological harassment in this company”).4. I had a witness to this incident whom nobody called to tell her perception of the incident.5. I have got the copy and a notification about this Written warning on 20th June (Friday), but the Warning was dated 18 June. Since I had 5 days to appeal, I was left with only ONE day to send my appeal and I have a proof for that since MAS agreed to sign my actual date of getting the warning.6. I had Appeal Hearing Meeting regarding this warning, where I have presented new evidences that procedure was not respected accordingly, in front of DVP Anoma Manuel and HR Manager Amanda Maxwell. It was around one month ago. I haven’t got any reply on my appeal, although the legal dead line is 5 days, as written in Employee Regulations Manual (No 7 in above text).Since I have not got the answer to my appeal, this warning should be erased from my HR direct, but it is still there.Ms Anoma Manuel is misusing her, almost unlimited, power to haunt me, bully me and scare me.I am just a grade 4 staff and my hands are completely tightened. It is hard for me to my voice to even be heard, because my position is so much lower than Ms Anoma’s. I am tired and depressed of fighting for my voice to be heard. I am exhausted, and before I seek protection from my embassy or from some court of law (local or international), I have decided to ask you to stand in my protection, because I have no one other. I have left my whole life in my country, my parents, my friends and my job in order to come and work for Emirates. I have explained in this e-mail which parts of Employee Regulations Manual Ms Anoma has brutally violated and I have concrete proofs for all of them.Please, help me.Sincerely yours,Dragana