Setting: I'm a 45 years old Iranian woman. A year ago I got hired in a hospital as a professional worker.

I got training in the morning and made a couple of friends. When I was getting trained in the afternoon, the co-worker was very rude and mean to me. She was same level as me and wasn't a manager. She was screaming at me and tell lies to my boss about me. I complained to my boss and they made her stop bossing me around and being mean to me.

A year passed. She said lots of lies about me to the co-workers and gossiped about me. There are 3 of us who work in the afternoon shift, the other person is super smart/genius. He was nice to me last couple of months but recently he makes me feel like nothing.

Recently, things have come to a head: My two afternoon shift co-workers have been working with each other for at least 3 years. For the last couple of weeks, they’ve both been sitting in a room and ignoring me, and they don't talk to me.

My boss called me to her room after a big computer crash, saying one of the surgeon complained that “you didn’t do your job last night.” I showed her all the attempts I made to fix the computer crash and the email that I sent to her regarding the difficulty. I also told her that I asked my guy co-worker to help me too. My boss —who is very nice—went and asked my guy co worker to make sure I tried. My guy co-worker told her that I’m dumb and not good for this job!

In the morning, I asked couple of morning shift people about the same problem that I had and they said if that had happened to them they wouldn't have known how to fix it either.

My boss warned me that I can lose my job since my two afternoon co-workers think I’m not a good fit. It’s a hostile situation, I don't know what I should do? I go to work on time, I do more than the other two, I always say thank you to them, never been mean to them…

What should I do at this time?

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    From your description of the events I'd say you're doing something that really pisses them off, and you probably don't even realise it. Without more details it's impossible to know. Have you tried to talk about it with the co-workers in question?
    – rath
    May 24, 2014 at 8:19
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    In what country and state are you working?
    – O. Jones
    May 24, 2014 at 12:46
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    How was that computer crash resolved? Your co-worker calling you dumb would not do the trick, so far as I am concerned. May 24, 2014 at 13:02
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    Why are your ethnic origin and gender ("45 years old Iranian woman") relevant in this situation and context?
    – amphibient
    May 27, 2014 at 19:50
  • If this is the USA, it doesn't sound like this meets the legal definition of hostile work environment. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostile_work_environment
    – Andy
    Apr 9, 2015 at 21:42

3 Answers 3


This is an unpleasant and difficult situation (as you know) requiring as much dispassionate attention as you can give to it. This will be hard: you will have to rise above the apparent prejudice of those around you.

Have courage! You will need it in the weeks to come.

If you are in the USA, your employing institution has a responsibility to help you sort out the parts of this problem that are the result of who you are. There are federal rules against discrimination based on national origin and age. It's especially important to hospitals to follow these rules: they take lots of federal money as Medicare reimbursements, and so they're doubly subject to these rules.

Your situation, if it gets worse, will turn into a big problem for your supervisor, the department head, and the hospital, as well as you. They are all probably wondering what to do about this, just as you are.

An early task is for you to determine whether you are actually doing your job correctly. Make an appointment with your supervisor, and ask for her help in this specific task. "I like working here and I want to do the best job I can. Am I performing tolerably well? Is there any area of my work that I must improve? Can you help me with this?" The point of this is to convince your supervisor of your good intentions and enlist her in helping you sort this mess out.

You should also ask for help with the other members of your team. You could ask for a three-on-one conversation with the "super-smart" colleague you mentioned and your supervisor. You could ask "why are you giving me the cold shoulder in our shared office? What is going on? I ask because I'm trying to do my best to do my job and help you do yours." If he says "you did something wrong" your boss should follow up by asking him to be specific.

You wrote, "they made her stop bossing me around and being mean to me." Who precisely is "they?" in this case? This problem has been around since the day you started working there. It's clearly a problem that has gone underground.

You could ask your supervisor if it's possible to enlist your human resources department to help mediate this team problem somehow. You could ask for shift assignments to be changed, or for this team to be broken up in some other way.

As you are making good-faith attempts to solve this problem, start keeping a log. You need to make notes of unprofessional conduct towards you, with person, date, and time. Make notes especially of junk people say or do because you're Persian, female, and / or over 40 years of age. Keep this in a notebook, not online. Keep the notebook on your person or in your pocketbook, not in your desk. Do not ever give the original to somebody, only a copy.

Hopefully you won't ever need to use this notebook. But if this problem doesn't get better you may need to lodge a workplace discrimination complaint with your human resources department. If you get fired, you can lodge the complaint with the proper authorities.

Here is a presentation on the subject from the US Society for Human Resource Managers.


  • Where in the ops question did it sound like her race or sex where the basis for the coworkers behavior?
    – Andy
    Apr 9, 2015 at 21:45

There is the forest. And there is the trees. The forest of this situation is it seems that the 2 afternoon co-workers have some axe to grind with you. And there’s not much you can do to change their point of view.

The best thing you can do is to document each incident in detail, but succinctly. Be sure to include dates & times as well as any other documentation you feel is appropriate.

Now with that in hand, go to human resources. This is truly a human resource issue & you need to explain as clearly as possible: You are doing your work to the best of your ability, but two co-workers are continually harassing you.

The downside? Honestly you might have been best to contact human resources 1 year ago when the first female co-worker would not let up. The key is creating a verifiable timeline.

That said, I have seen detailed & documented situations like this fall apart & you are basically fired or “asked to leave” because that’s just how the organization works. Additionally, you say you are Iranian, but it’s not clear to me if you are in Iran or elsewhere. Cultural safeguards in Iran might not be the same as in the U.S.

But like I said, even in the U.S. workers face a culling like this more often than not. And it’s not pleasant. But clear, succinct & level headed documentation can always help you in some way.


I think you need to stop worrying and start looking for a way out. Obviously, these people are against you no matter what you do. Why? For the same old reason - hostility against other ethnic group. If there's no rational reason behind being very angry at you then it's very likely that you were unlucky to work with a bunch of bigoted people.

If I were you I would act confidently in front of the co-workers and boss. Sometimes when you show fear people get even worse. If you show confidence you show them that there are boundaries which they may not cross. I would ask the boss what solution did the person who accused you of not being good enough for the job propose him/herself to fix the problem. I bet they themselves didn't propose anything at all but, of course, they are happy to run their mouth.

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    Hello! On The Workplace, our site's goal is to build a professional library of knowledge for future visitors who have problems navigating the workplace. Advising someone to quit their job is a big move; as a result, we hold these answers to a higher standard. Please consider an edit to your post to meet our site's back it up guidelines, and also see Is 'quit your job' an acceptable answer. Good luck. May 27, 2014 at 13:24
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    I might have missed something, but why do you assume her co-workers are of a different ethnicity? May 27, 2014 at 13:36

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