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Do I have a case?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I'm in a situation with my workplace and it's come to the point that I think I might just need a lawyer, because it's become ridiculous. Here's a little back story, but this thing has turned into one complicated mess.

 

I'm a bus monitor on a special needs bus in a public school district. My job is to watch after the children on the bus, control behavior, etc. My bus driver has made a lot of comments towards the children that I felt were inappropriate. I began telling them to my sister after work when I'd vent, but didn't know if the comments could actually be something considered worth telling on him for. My sister is disabled and in a wheelchair and in university studying to become a paralegal and after a few conversations she told me I needed to complain to my boss because it was starting to become inappropriate, so I prepared to last week. Unfortunately my boss went out of town Thursday and Friday and I wasn't able to speak to him. I had to wait until Monday. 

 

Now on another side of this situation I had a conversation with my bus driver and asked him to please stop speeding over the speed bumps about a week previously. I told him it was jolting me (and I'm pregnant) and the children and in particular a kindergartner on the bus had hit her head against the window numerous times. He didn't say much, but brought me a cushion to sit on the next day and I relented. On Monday (this week) he hit a speed bump. All the kids yelled and it was so fast and hard, I did shout out, "Oh my god". When we pulled up to our transportation department that day, he stopped the bus before letting me off, came to my seat and told me that I needed to sit up straighter in my seat and when speed bumps came I needed to stand up and use the seat to brace myself. I tried reasoning with him and saying that perhaps he should watch the road for the bumps, because we go to the same place with them four times a day and they are painted yellow and had signs in front of them with a caution sign. He disagreed and started to become aggressive and saying that he didn't need to watch out for them and that sometimes he'd miss them and I needed to be prepared by bracing the seat. He didn't let it go and we couldn't come to a conclusion.

 

I went into my boss after that. I complained about both issues. He didn't seem too concerned, but said he would look into them. I was upset with his lack of help, but I figured once he looked at the video he would see my point of view. I asked him to please look into it without mentioning it to my bus driver because I didn't want any drama. 

 

The next day at the end of our route, we were preparing to switch buses, so another driver could drive me back to the Transportation Department and my driver could take another route. While we were waiting for the other bus, he came to the back of the bus and asked me whether or not I had a problem with him. He seemed visibly upset, so I said no, because I really didn't want a situation. He asked me again and again and again. I finally said, "Well, it depends, I have a problem with what happened yesterday." He then started on me that if he has a problem he talks to the person he has the problem with. I explained him that I tried to talk to him, but we were unable to come to a mutual conclusion. He then started to become very angry and completely started to go off on me. He started demanding that I start sitting up in my seat completely straight and stand up to brace for speed bumps, he told me I wasn't "fulfilling his needs", he told me that my pregnancy had nothing to do with my treatment at work and I wouldn't be getting special treatment, he told me he doesn't complain when he goes over a speed bump fast, he went on and on. He mentioned that his only job was to get the children safely to and from school and that doesn't include me and when I mentioned the fact that our kindergartner was hitting her head on the window on the bumps, he said that was "irrelevant". He told me he was my boss when I'm on the bus and he was in charge and I had to do what he says. Then he leaned over the seat and got in my face and I started to FREAK OUT. I asked him to step back, he wouldn't. He stayed in my face for about roughly two minutes. I even pulled out my phone and considered calling the police, because it was that "in my face" and started to scare me to the point I was shaking really bad. Luckily the bus that was going to trade with us pulled up in the nick of time and he backed off and started to leave. As soon as he got off the bus I burst into tears. 

 

I got back to work and the boss told me that he spoke with my bus driver and felt that the incidents I reported weren't very big deals after investigation. Keep in mind: He insinuated that he SAW the comments on the video surveillance and after talking to my bus driver he felt they weren't big concerns. Even though he told me that sexual comments were absolutely 100% intolerable and one of the situations was the bus driver teasing one of the high school students in front of all his peers for watching "late night movies with girls in them" (porn, obviously) and that is why he missed the bus that morning. His reply to that was, "The bus driver says he has that kind of relationship with the student and they often joke about girls." He then started turning things around on me. He told me that I needed to sit up straight in my seat at all times and mentioned a post I made on facebook mentioning my bus driver (not by name) and a conversation he had with the children. I liked the children's response to what my driver had said, so I posted it. My facebook is private and I thought it was sweet and no names were mentioned. It did make my driver look like an ass, but nobody on my list knows my driver's name and I've never mentioned it. So basically my boss dismissed all of my complaints that I had for the past two to three weeks and told me he'd look into the video of my bus driver yelling at me and getting in my face. I felt a little wronged, especially for the children. He said no parents had complained, but the problem is that on my high school route ALL of the children have mental disabilities and sometimes his comments might not be completely understood. I personally still think that doesn't make them right and that is why I'm so fired up for them, because I can protect them when they might not be able to protect themselves. 

 

Today, I waited until my boss had left and decided to speak to the man who is in control of video surveillance and discipline. I wanted to find out if he watched the videos. Come to find out... the last three weeks of video aren't there. The camera hasn't been working for three weeks. I have no proof and he said that it's a "he said, she said" and I should accept the outcome. 

 

The outcome is that I've been switched to monitor another bus. I was switched with my bus drivers wife, who asked me last week to switch with her, but I refused because I'd lose about $300 (I only make about $600-700 now) a month because the hours weren't as good. 

 

And on top of this, both my boss and bus driver are friends outside of work. When I first met my bus driver he invited me to a get together at the mason lodge. I was curious about masonry as was my husband so we decided to go. Our boss was there as well, invited by him. He's a mason as well, but he's from a lodge out of state, so he's begun visiting the local one after being invited by my bus driver. 

 

Does any of this seem fishy? Do you think I should pursue this? I'm a little outraged and mind-boggled right now. The driver hasn't been written up, reprimanded or anything. And I've ended up being the victim. And now that his wife is on the route, I worry about what will happen with the children, because I honestly don't see her complaining about his attitude towards them. And I want to keep this short, but the children have been totally talked down to by him on numerous occasions. I might reply to this thread with a few examples, but I'm not sure how wise that would be if I really end up taking this farther?

 

(I guess I could also mentioned this man is a total sexist as well, but I let a lot of his comments slide, because I though, "oh, he's just an old man, I'll let him be")

 

post #2 of 30

I didn't want to read and not respond, though I don't know that I have any great advice for you.  It sounds like you've been put in a really uncomfortable place at work, and I can understand wanting to see whether you have any legal recourse for the unfair treatment.  If you're serious about consulting a lawyer but not sure it's worth the money, you might consider looking into free legal clinics in your area- perhaps there you might get some help outlining whether you have any legal issues worth pursing, and what exactly they are.

 

Good luck.  I'm sorry you've had to deal with that jerk.  

post #3 of 30

I'm not one for suing but this situation is bullshit.  I think consulting a lawyer isn't a bad idea just to get yourself in the clear and get the focus back on him.  He yelled at you because he knows he's wrong.  Why fly off the handle if you think you've done nothing wrong.

 

If you really feel you must sue, consider suing the person, not the school...KWIM?

post #4 of 30

Are you part of a union? If so, go straight to your union rep. If not, can you get in touch with your boss's boss? At the very least, your complaints shouldn't be dismissed, they should actually be looked into. 

post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchensqueen View Post

Are you part of a union? If so, go straight to your union rep. If not, can you get in touch with your boss's boss? At the very least, your complaints shouldn't be dismissed, they should actually be looked into. 

I'd start here.

This seems unacceptable to me but I'm not sure whether or not you'd have legal recourse, but I'd definitely escalate it higher within the company as well as go to the union if you're part of one.

So are you now making $300 less a month????? greensad.gif
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately we don't have a union. I was spoken to this morning by one of the men who works there, but not the boss (he is in charge of video surveillance and discipline/suspensions of students) and he started out by asking me where I was born and grew up -- he apparently didn't realize I was actually born in the United States... A lot of people assume that because although I am Russian-American and have lived in Russia, I was actually born in the US and I spent a lot of my life here. My husband is totally foreign though. Anyway, he went on to tell me that this country was founded on Christianity and that we've moved away from that, but all the laws reflect that. And then he basically went on to ask me not to sue... 

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 

And that same man who told me yesterday that the video recordings for the past 3 weeks weren't recorded told me today that they have until the 25th now. So change of story. 

post #8 of 30

I would go higher up=- and higher up and DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT.  I am so sorry you are in this situation- how sad for you and for the kids.

post #9 of 30

I'm sorry you're going through this! I don't have any advice for your work situation, but I do think you should report the bus driver to your state. I worked in a group home with developmentally disabled adults and it was mandatory to report abuse/mistreatment if we saw it. In my state calls can be made anonymously so retaliation doesn't occur. The Child Welfare Office ought to be able to handle it, and perhaps the bus driver will be fired or retrained.

 

I hope your work situation improves!

post #10 of 30

 

 

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Edited by mattemma04 - 4/21/12 at 2:40pm
post #11 of 30

And go to Human Resources re: hostile work environment.

post #12 of 30

Holy crap.  I wouldn't let this go.  Document it. 

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by elizaveta View Post

 Anyway, he went on to tell me that this country was founded on Christianity and that we've moved away from that, but all the laws reflect that. And then he basically went on to ask me not to sue... 


 

Uh...what? headscratch.gif I'm not sure what that might have to do with anything.

post #14 of 30

But it's a warning that he's a loonie and won't be of any help. So perhaps in that respect it might be useful.

post #15 of 30

Have you talked to the school at all? I'd think they'd be very concerned about that bus driver. Can't being jolted be seriously harmful to certain special needs kids? I'm thinking kids with down syndrome who frequently have neck issues. One mom was telling me how being badly jolted could kill her son with DS so she doesn't let him on trampolines and such.

post #16 of 30

You've had no luck with the higher-ups in this organization.  Time to get real.

 

First, contact a member of the school board and explain what you have witnessed as regards the driver's behaviour towards the children and his driving.  His inappropriate comments and the child being jolted into the window on the bus. 

 

I'd not mention his behaviour towards you as I think it could come off as pregnancy hysterics (I'm NOT saying that you are hysterical, just that that is how this jerk may turn it around on you!).  Let him cut his own throat when he self-defends himself about "what-did-she-say-I-said-to-her?"  If asked, you can tell them.  But, you can also say this isn't about two adults at odds, it is about the children and his unsafe driving and his on-the-edge innuendo.

 

Tell them that you have had no satisfaction as regards your reporting him to your superior and that you are considering going to the police.  Then, DO IT.    

 

Report him to the police for driving in an unsafe manner.  Also, he is waaaaaay out of line in making sexually suggestive remarks to minors (I'd mention that to the police, as well.). 

 

Also, what about contacting the parents of these children?  I would be furious if I found out that the driver was not taking care while driving my child.  If they are sn, they may not be able to express their fears or possible injuries due to his driving.  You say he is making "inappropriate remarks" to the children.  This is wrong. 

 

Your job is to protect these children.  Call their parents and call the police. 

post #17 of 30

I completely agree about the school board.  I hadn't thought of that.

post #18 of 30

Keep going up the chain until someone responds and document everything. Is there a human resources dept within a school district? If so, I'd start there. Sorry you are in this position! This is completely unprofessional, uncalled for and out of line. 

post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all your replies! I did contact a lawyer and I'm expecting word back from two of them to see if anything there works out (literally all of the others I've called represent the school district or don't deal with this type of situation). For now, I'm starting to write up letters to send Human Resources and probably the Student Board as well and work on gathering all my documentation together. I've been told that if I'm not on the job I have the rights to visit the parents house and speak with them, so I think I'm going to start making some visits, especially to the one boy who had the sexual comment made towards him, because he's had A LOT of comments made towards him, especially directed towards his disability. The driver told once that he needs to turn into "Speedy Gonzales" because he was frustrated that he was going too slow and he's often expressed frustration (always in a "joking" manner, which people think makes it okay) about his slowness getting out of his seat and up and down the stairs or to the bus from his door or school, another time he parked the bus abnormally far away and when the boy complained about it, he told him, "oh the exercise is good for you" and that same day with the sexual comment he told him if he missed the bus again he'd make him RUN to school... And this particular boy has a physical disability with his legs. He has a difficult time walking... irked.gif He's not just being slow on purpose, it's difficult for him to walk.

post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 

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