TLDR: my line manager prefers to give's me a higher workload and smaller deadlines, asks me to coach his new hires but then questions my professionalism in front of the junior team members, shows favoritism for the female colleagues.

Backstory: my previous manager has left the company and a recently hired manager was assigned to our team. I work in IT outsourcing and usually, we had only 5-7% of female workers, it's quite common here. Several people left with the old manager and the new manager approached me and said that we are going to hire more female workers now as our balance doesn't look great and I agreed fully.

So we started the hiring process. The final two candidates were quite different, a male who had proven ~10 years of experience and a young woman with a model look and barely relevant experience. I let the manager do the final decision as he would be mentoring and teaching the new hire. At least I thought so... I'm a senior and I have proven success over the years in this company and great feedback from other people, so when he asked me to coach and to be the mentor for the new hires I agreed.

We were working in an open space and I was happily surprised that the new manager said that we are going to move to a new space so that the other manager's teams from other departments could sit together. There was not a single male. The manager works in another office and when he comes he often organizes dinners and invites his subordinates from other teams as well. At some point I found myself being the only male with him in the company of 15 young women. I think it was one of the first rings that I didn't pay attention to.

Over time I noticed that I was given more and more workload and shorter deadlines. Quite often I found myself being a scapegoat when the team's performance dropped to one of the worst in the company. Our 1-1 usually has bad outcomes and my professionalism and performance are questioned. This had an effect on my raise. Occasionally he shouts at me.

I've already contacted HR and told him about the situation and that I don't wish to work with him but that's a serious accusation so HR asked to leave as is or come with some proof as there is no other team that I can move to. An ex-colleague said to me that this manager has some family problems now and the pieces fit together. I cannot discuss this case with anyone else as he is quite high on the hierarchy ladder. I like this company and I worked here for several years, but this is becoming very toxic. Can I do something about it except leaving?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 6:44

4 Answers 4


I've already contacted HR and told him about the situation and that I don't wish to work with him but that's a serious accusation so HR asked to leave as is or come with some proof as there is no other team that I can move to.

I'm sorry to say but if HR is saying such things, it is clear that they are aware of the problem and willingly dodging it. There is no way that an entire department would essentially fire everyone and hire only young inexperienced girls and leave you there as a scapegoat without HR being aware of the ongoing process.

At this point, leaving is not your only option, but none of the other options are nice:

  1. Empty chair policy/strike

Essentially don't do your job. When confronted about your lack of work, tell them the simple truth, that you are overworked and given responsibility for people you shouldn't be responsible for, and blamed for their lack of input.

Tell them in no uncertain terms that until your manager takes responsibility and correct themselves, you intend to not work again. Raising a stink like that is sure to bring massive trouble, but the worst trouble you can get in for is getting fired. Which you are already on the way to.

If what you say is correct and your department relies on your (over)work, they will realise that they have more to lose than you, and even if your line manager is high placed/untouchable, no amount of placement is going to help him when he crashes his department, especially for what seems to be outright sexual reasons. He'll have a lot more to lose than you do.

  1. Convince HR (unlikely)

Proving it, as they say, would essentially be to prove that your manager is hanging you out to dry after his harem of young female employees couldn't do what they were hired for.

It's not impossible to take your workload and show to them that you have much larger amounts of work than you used to, or that you have more than others on your team.

Written emails with deadlines detailing your work and the responsibilities placed upon you should already prove largely that you are doing more than your part. But honestly, I really think HR already knows and lets you sink in their place.

  1. If you have contacts/friends in other departments, check with them if it truly is impossible to move there.

HR might be outright afraid of dealing with the can of worms that is your manager/department, or it might just be lazy. Going to them with a fully prepared dossier on how you could move to another department, what role you could take, and how you want to move there, might deal with the problem if they're lazy.

Otherwise, you should expect to find another job after the usual ritual of "look, threaten, go".

Look for a job immediately, threaten to leave when you've found a good one, see if they're willing to make efforts to keep you, and go ASAP if not.

P.S If anything, looking for a job openly instead of doing your job during your work hours is threat enough, productive for you, and perfect to see their reaction.

  • Thanks for the extended answer. I think you hit the spot. I actually followed option #1 after a couple of incidents. At that stage, communication was rare and dry. #2 is very unlikely as the manager has an influence on the inexperienced HR as well. #3 another line manager started to work with me on certain tasks to complete the company goals. But that's unofficial and the person doesn't influence performance review or anything else.
    – Dmitriy
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 19:10
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    @Dmitriy Ignore the performance review or any such thing. Simply contact that person and ask him directly if you could work with him for good. Be open about the problems in your department if he asks, but only if he asks(if you bring it forth yourself, you're making him take a responsibility in your dpt). If he's interested in having you at all, try to draft a transfer procedure and clear cut job you could do with him, and submit that transfer procedure and new job to HR, with the clear message that either your manager changes, you go to another dpt, or you leave.
    – Mahboi
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 14:00

Quite often I found myself being a scapegoat when the team's performance dropped to one of the worst in the company. Our 1-1 usually has bad outcomes and my professionalism and performance are questioned. This had an effect on my raise. Occasionally he shouts at me.

You're not thinking clearly. If a friend was stuck in the same identical situation, what would you advise that person to do?

And if that friend tells you they tried going to HR, and that HR threw them under the bus, but that they're still hoping there is a solution around the corner (and that they were still hoping for a promotion). What would you think?

You'd probably think that this person had the Stockholm syndrome.

One solution is to do something like this (will link to the Youtube version once Leon uploads it). And yes, I'm aware that I should be describing what he should be doing directly within this StackOverflow answer (instead of simply linking to a video). But I've told people that they should network and look for a job, and I've described the process as thoroughly as I could. But simply saying it, that's usually not enough.

When someone has the Stockholm syndrome, you have to actually show them how to look for a another job. If you don't actually show them, it's going to take them an additional six months to a year before they even start the process, or worse, it may even take them until they get fired before they start.

Can I do something about it except leaving?

Once you have job offers rolling in, and/or once you have a large enough emergency fund in your bank account, then you can decide whether you want to make more noise about this issue. But to be honest, by that point, (once you have those other offers rolling in), you probably won't even feel the need to try to fix this issue anymore.

Because let's face it, the company already knows what's going on. HR knows. The other executives already know to a degree. It's just that nobody high enough has the guts to do anything about it right now.


How i see it, if this is the answer you got from HR, nothing will be changed from inside and you main option is to leave, but

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer :)

Depending on your location, you may have a legitimate gender discrimination claim Document what you can, and see a lawyer

In the meantime, while you are looking for a new job, slow type of work would be your choice.

"Paper mill generator":

Every assignment should require clarification up to a smallest detail, email of course.

Every "trainee" should get bulk of the work with you standing over their head pointing out smallest of the mistakes verbally and followed up by email to them and manager with potential fixes etc

Good luck, if you can , keep us posted


First of all I commend you in feeling uncomfortable in this situation and wanting to speak up about what may be unnecessary gender distinctions. I did not say discrimination as I am unfamiliar with the legal framework in the countries involved. Other than limited roles where gender and / or family status is a business requirement, role of gender should be minimized at work. Distinctions between "female norms / male norms" in general are unhelpful.

I am surprised this is partly occurring in Western Europe as I understand how Eastern Europe may be more traditional. I would focus on how the boss's behavior interferes with your work, such as increased workloads and the unprofessional shouting. Such behavior detracts from your ability to be productive. If your boss counters with that the female employees has no issues in how he interacts with them, you can state how such interactions make you feel (ostracized, unwelcome etc). In this way, you are not calling your boss as being wrong or unethical, but stating your own objections.

What your company is doing is a legal risk that puts your company at liability. Does your company have a legal team?

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