Dear Gabriella Driver, Head of Training,
I remember Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State very well, as I lived in the States at the time Bill Clinton was President. Powerful woman whom you quote on your website where she says: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”. Granted, you quote her a little bit out of context here where she was saying this in her support for Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Presidency, and unfortunately quotes like this are supposed to brainwash women to vote for a woman based on gender. But, decent try. And then you held a grievance appeal’s hearing.
I had 10 Grievance hearings, incl. Appeals, Disciplinary and Dismissal Hearings. I know, I know, the Head of HR said that I “exhausted the HR department”. Sorry about that, but on a serious note, I was traumatized and also tried to raise issues of discrimination. But you know, out of all those hearings with 20 people (OPs managers & HR people) only 3 were men! It took 17 women, were I wonder was I too strong for men? Or was this a cheeky plan to use women against women? In hindsight I think, I hope there is no hell! But like I said, decisions should not be made based on gender. So, I give the benefit of the doubt again. 😉
The reason I checked out your website was because I couldn’t find any info on you via the internal system as you were new in Pret and your role hasn’t been entered into the intranet system yet at the time. So, I just googled you. Before you were instructed to do the appeal’s hearing regarding the PBP I raised a grievance against, another person was supposed to hold the hearing. But that person was already informed throughout all the times as he is over the OPs managers from my areas, and as I read the email correspondences between him, OPs managers and HR about me after I applied for my file. He would not have been impartial and I couldn’t believe to be taken for a ride like this… again! But no one who did any hearings was impartial, no matter how much they say they were impartial, doesn’t make them impartial! I wanted to inform myself what “impartial” person HR has come up with now. When I received the information of your name, as the other person was removed from the process after I voiced my concern on his “impartiality”, I just briefly checked who would be holding the hearing. You were all instructed by the top person of HR, you can deny it, I have the emails, the twists and turns that happened where one hearing manager was gobsmacked about the terrible treatment I received and later turned direction etc. I wrote it somewhere else that I still cannot make up my mind if this is material for a thriller or a comedy!
And not even you were impartial as was revealed in how you conducted the hearing. Because you were new in Pret and had to prove yourself. Who in their right mind would rule against an HR PBP in a new employment! You wouldn’t make yourself friends with HR. But thanks for your effort and I am sorry for the time it must have taken you to get your head around my complex situation. And thank you also for asking me how you as the new head in your department can bring improvements. I do really appreciate it and know you are working on some things with LiWa, one of your Development Manager’s help who did an unbelievable thing, but you know all that as you are her boss, and what she allowed to be done via her I brought in my open letter to her.
By the way, was it your idea for LiWa to do my disciplinary hearing giving me a sanction, since she is part of your team and you guys know her story as she also has a personal picture on her work phone about it, while on her personal phone is no picture? If it was your idea, maybe you meant well. But for her to do the disciplinary because she lost her brother in a similar way I did, meant she was not allowed to be in personal contact with me as the hearing manager. But she secretly was, which ended up confusing and distressing me further. And if it was your idea and you thought it a good idea, it actually achieved the opposite. Because this was the meanest thing, whoever came up with did. It was like 2 people going through a place full of aliens, and the two people speak the same language that the others don’t understand. And these two people are not allowed to speak to each other, except for the one person to sanction the other. Can you see how mean this is?! In one of my open letters to the Director of HR I called what you guys have done “perverse”, that is the best word I could come up with how this feels to me.
Only with distance, in hindsight, research and communicating with people who survived all kinds of abuse and manipulation, do I realize that this was “gaslighting” that happened to me via your Development Manager and the corrupt HR department. If she really had a brother who died similar to mine, I will never know and I don’t care to know anymore. If she had a brother who died, I hope she realizes one day how foul this was of HR to step on her and my dignity like this, and for her to allow her dignity to be pulled through the mud like this.
But back to the hearing with you. Remember when you held the hearing and I gave some background of what happened up until that time I raised a grievance against the PBP. I told you my story of what happened (as if you weren’t briefed by HR before!) and when I came to the part where a line manager shouted at me, and I broke down in tears, and he sent me out in this state to do customer service and I was completely distraught and also paralyzed. Having a nervous breakdown right in the shop as this was also 2 days before the first anniversary of my brother’s unexplained death. I told you all this in the hearing. When I shared with you that I had a breakdown, to my utter shock you asked me if my GP can verify this breakdown, for which my colleagues were witnesses and even gave evidence in investigations for grievance hearings.
I want to apologize to you for writing an email to you some time after your hearing outcome rejecting all my points and evidence I brought in, an email I wrote to you that made your stomach turn, as you later explained in the investigation for my disciplinary hearing. Your stomach didn’t turn because of what I wrote, as I didn’t write anything bad, but it turned because of the fact that I wrote.
And I also want to ask you if your GP can verify that your stomach turned.
I also was distraught at your conduct in the hearing when you pointed to all the evidence I brought in, granted it really was a lot of paperwork I brought in. Sorry for that. But you know why I went so out of sync bringing an overload of papers in? Because in my first 2 hearings when I was completely new to the HR process of grievance hearings, I came with nothing. I had written evidence, but I didn’t bring it in because I didn’t know how a formal hearing worked. I was naively thinking that HR would listen to my concerns and help me. Boy oh boy, would I have to learn the hard way and learn fast! So, unfortunately I went a “little” over the top. I think they call traumatized behaviour like this being “hyper vigilant”. I became a person constantly on a lookout to protect myself in an extreme traumatic time.
And at the end of the hearing you pointing at my evidence, the file I brought in saying while laughing a little, “Do I need to read all this? Just joking” and you smiled. Maybe you can remember that I had a perplex look on my face, because I was speechless at this and just thinking to myself ‘a head of a department is having a laugh’. Mmhhmm…
And then you couldn’t stomach an email. Cheers to that!
Thank you for reading.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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