My first post on here!!!
TLDR is at the bottom, but I really would appreciate anyone who reads the whole thing.
I’m trying to be as nonspecific as possible because a lot of my coworkers are the types to be on this subreddit.
For some background:
I (21yo black femme) have been working in a large chain food service establishment for about 3 months now. I kind of like it, but I have 1 major issue. I applied for, and was hired for one specific role in the kitchen that’s pretty integral to the service. I was told that I would be doing some cross-training so that when we were busy and/or low on servers I would be able to fill in, and I was fine with that. But in the 3 months that I’ve been there, well over 50% of my shifts have been serving shifts. Maybe even 75%. Every time I’ve asked about this, I’ve been told that it’s because of the holiday rush and soon I’ll be back where I belong. The holiday rush is long gone, but I still keep getting server shifts and empty promises. I've only gotten good feedback about my performance in that role, and I do it professionally elsewhere for pretty high-profile clients, so I don't think that I am the problem there.
Now to the part I need a bit of advice on:
Last week, one of the… less popular managers called me into the office and asked me how motivated I was to be there. I told him that I would be more motivated if I was actually doing MY job. He completely dismissed that and told me that now we’re not busy ENOUGH to give me that kind of shift. He then went on to say that I do my job well with not many mistakes, and I help out when asked to, but that they “don’t know where my heads at or how I’m feeling” and that I’m “an enigma”. When I asked for clarification he brought up a couple of situations where I was asked to do something and I guess my response was dry? But I did what I was asked with no attitude or backtalk.
He then handed me my first ever write-up document detailing a COMPLETELY unrelated (and relatively minor) incident that had occurred earlier that day and told me I need to be contributing more to the team. I was still confused about what exactly the problem was, but I signed it anyway because I was flustered and just ready to get the whole ordeal over with.
I’ve never, EVER gotten a complaint about my demeanor or service from a customer. I have a pretty friendly relationship with most of my coworkers and even some of the managers. They offer to help me out without being asked to and vice versa. I’ve even hung out with a few of them outside of work. And this is the kind of work environment where being kind to your coworkers is a big deal, and everyone knows who the assholes are. If people don’t really like you, then you’d know it.
So a whole meeting just to say I do my job but you “don’t know where my head is at”? He couldn’t even commit to calling me rude, because that’s simply not true.
I am one of two unambiguously, 100% black women on the entire staff. There are maybe 5 black people total. I am the ONLY obviously black woman working back of the house. The entire time I was in his office, it felt like he was just calling me “the angry black girl”. And a few other people (from all different races) agree with me.
And then a completely unrelated write-up? That just seems like he’s covering his tracks in case I go to HR, which I am kind of considering.
On top of that, it’s been a little over a week since this happened and I still haven’t gotten any shifts where I belong. Yet I’ve seen extra people working in the kitchen for at least a month now, so I KNOW the shifts are available. Overall it just feels like something is not right.
I’m just not sure how to approach HR, or if it’s even major enough for them to take me seriously. But I also don’t want to wait for anyone to call me “an enigma” and write me up again because after your 3rd write up they can fire you. It would be just my luck that while I’m in the process of talking to HR after my second write-up, I get another one, and now boom, I'm fired and it was all for nothing.
I am no stranger to being labeled angry black girl, but this is the first time it’s been done in a professional setting, where I can actually do something about it. This is also my 2nd “real job” that even HAS an HR department, so this would be my first time dealing with them. Plus I did sign the document, so that might raise an issue.
If you read through all of this thank you so much and I would welcome any advice. If you’re going to say that I’m just pulling the race card to get out of trouble then you can stick your comments where the sun doesn’t shine. If you’re going to say that race doesn’t matter and is too divisive an issue then you can do the same.
TLDR: White male manager at my (21yo black femme) food service job said I seemed unmotivated, that I’m “an enigma”, but couldn’t name a single concrete issue with my quality of work. Essentially labeled me (the only black woman in the BOH) with the “angry black girl” trope. Then handed me a completely unrelated write-up for a pretty minor issue, and told me I needed to contribute more to the team. Was also dismissive of my concerns about my role and duties.
Is this grounds to contact HR? How would I go about that?
Edit: said something not so nice about a manager, didn't want to seem like an ass.