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3 years ago I joined a company as a Software Engineer (after 3 years of work in tech industry) in a EU country and after 1 month of their required training I was assigned to a team that barely codes (or you can say doesn't code at all) I never liked that team, I was obliged to stay in that job because I needed money.

Later on I asked to move to an engineering team and I was doing quite well, but I left it because the team kept bullying me a lot because I am a foreigner (immigrant) they were very racists that they talk bad about me in their language while I am sitting with them not knowing that it was my 2nd language, and they kept on that bad behavior even after I told them that I speak their language. Also when it comes to code, they ignore my pull requests, questions...etc and never gave me a review for my code despite the fact that I kept asking for reviews constantly (TLDR; I was never welcomed in that team) I opened up to my managers about this problem but they didn't seem to care at all, it's like they take the side of employees by blood, if you're from the same country, speaking same language then you're always better/right.

This made me sick physically and mentally and I am now in a position where I cannot decide what to do, I need to save my technical knowledge and I want to find another job but I am afraid to fall in the same situation where people will treat me like a trainee just because I am a foreigner and an English speaker. I'd really love to resign and take some time for myself as I have much savings to get me through the next years, so I can heal myself from the "emotional damage" that has been done to me, but I still need to stay in this country because my goal here is to get citizenship (for a better future), and the only thing that can keep me here is a work contract.

What can I do in such a situation?

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    The behaviors you are describing are very illegal in many parts of the world. They are also likely against company policy. Have you discussed what is going on with your management or the company HR department? If you have and nothing has been done, you may want to consult a labor attorney. But in either case, start looking for another position. It sounds like that company culture is highly toxic.
    – jwh20
    Mar 29 at 17:47
  • What country is this in? Mar 29 at 18:39
  • @joestrazzere the last paragraph has the question :) it's a matter of what to do in such situation.
    – stranger
    Mar 29 at 19:21

4 Answers 4

18

Not a minority, but someone with autism and wound up in a VERY bad situation, where they used it against me.

GET OUT, GET OUT ASAP!

Don't take a break, look. You don't want to spend a minute more than you need to be there. They will destroy your confidence, ruin your health, and cause you to question your sanity.

When you are not like everyone else, be it race, color, creed, or disability, you will be a target for bullies. Not everywhere, but it happens and the best strategy is to find a company that does not tolerate it. Your company has demonstrated they condone the bullies actions by doing nothing and has given you a clear signal to leave

Make connections, talk to people, and get a new job and leave them in the dust. Don't take time off, as you want to avoid ruminating and there is a risk that on some level, you will start to believe that their criticisms were correct. The best strategy is to get right back into your field and work where you are appreciated

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    Thank you so much for your words. I do not have autism but I am an introverted person, you were actually right because I took many days off as I couldn't bare with the situation, and I posted this question because I no longer have confidence in myself to pass interviews or to take an action ... but sooner or later I will have to do so for my own good.
    – stranger
    Mar 29 at 20:38
  • @stranger I am so sorry for your difficulties. Do some practice or take some online courses or update your skills with youtube videos, but stay in the game and build your confidence. Work on yourself, maybe see councilor or clergyman to talk it out/vent. Remember, it was not you, you did nothing wrong. Yes, I have been through a very similar situation myself, so I understand what you are going through. Don't ruminate or try to figure out what you did wrong or what you could have done differently. Just take time to heal, and recover. Mar 29 at 22:17
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    +1 Also, the OP should try to get as much information about new positions as possible before applying - the culture/diversity of the company, glassdoor reviews, prefereably first-hand accounts etc. Mar 30 at 15:04
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    As an autistic person myself, I wish that I could give more than 1 upvote to this answer. This is why I don't tell people about it. Also depending on the EU country on question, there may be legal avenues to persue. While all EU countries have laws against this behaviour, some take it more seriously than others. Apr 1 at 9:28
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If you have issues getting along with the locals on your own for whatever reason, then the best way to get support and work if you're a skilled professional is by networking with others in your community.

People who have been there longer and are successful usually have quite a big network you can leverage if they like you. Because by doing so everyone benefits. You get ahead in life, and their community is strengthened.

It's always best to turn a seeming disadvantage into an asset if you can.

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  • I do not have problems getting along with locals, specially that I worked with another team without any issues. The problem is it's either you do what you are passionate about by working with toxic people who will do their best to push you out of the team or you do unrelated work but with nice people. I am not the only one who faced this in the company, mostly all immigrants have same complaints.
    – stranger
    Mar 29 at 18:54
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    @stranger I've been in a minority in 4 countries, best to pick something to be passionate about that doesn't affect your peace of mind.
    – Kilisi
    Mar 29 at 19:20
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    "It's always best to turn a seeming disadvantage into an asset if you can." - Good idea. It will take a little time to implement that. Mar 29 at 19:23
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    @stranger it seems that you are regarding your both examples as a whole picture here. But this bad experience does not mean you will be treated the same way everywhere in Belgium. Do not get discouraged, keep your head up and start looking for other opportunities.
    – Wind652
    Mar 30 at 8:59
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Find somewhere better, and leave.

There are companies in Belgium that do manage to properly integrate locally- and foreign-born employees. I've worked in a few.

Look out for the enviromnent when applying. What is the lingua franca at the office. Are there many colleagues that don't have dutch/french as their native tongue?

Where are you located? You'll have better odds in and around Brussels compared to the rest of the country.

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First of all - this is not ok and I'm sorry it happened to you.

EU has strong employee protection laws and bullying is not ok in any jurisdiction I'm aware of. If you decide to stay and fight here's how you can do it:

  • start taking notes - date, time, and who said/did what. You don't need to record anything but having notes over a few weeks may help. Also document what impact does it have on you.
  • reach out with formal complaint to HR
  • if that does not help, consider talking to immigration lawyer. Depending on details, some may agree not to charge you upfront and only charge percent on compensation (this happens if they sure they can win the case)
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  • I am not a lawyer but to my knowledge, having a "mobbing journal" is first step to a strong case. OP said he has savings, paying a few hundred euro to a lawyer might worth very well at the end. I am not sure but perhaps a labour law attorney might be more suitable in this case.
    – s.alem
    Apr 1 at 14:26

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