When a T-Mobile employee complained to human resources that she was being sexually harassed by her supervisor, the company’s response was shocking. T-Mobile told her to just stick it out and threatened to fire her if she discussed the situation with her co-workers.
This is unacceptable. We are calling on T-Mobile to change its illegal corporate policies that abet this abysmal behavior and to protect its workers from sexual harassment. T-Mobile must make changes to ensure that something like this never happens again.
T-Mobile’s corporate policies prevent workers from talking to each other or outside parties about problems at work like sexual harassment. Other rules forbid T-Mobile workers from talking to each other, the news media and even government agencies about the terms and conditions of employment.
In March, an administrative law judge ruled that gag-order policies against workers at T-Mobile across the country are illegal. The judge ordered T-Mobile to rescind these policies, notify workers that the policies were illegal and are rescinded, and inform workers of their rights to speak out about working conditions. To date, the order has not been followed.
The company claims that the ruling was “about a technical issue in the law that relates to policies that are common to companies across the country.” and that no worker was actually negatively affected or harmed by them.
Angela’s story shows that this not true. These gag-order policies put workers at risk everyday.
Angela Agganis spent nearly eight years as a customer service representative at the T-Mobile call center in Oakland, Maine. When she complained to human resources that her new supervisor repeatedly touched her inappropriately, the company told her to stick it out until she could switch supervisors, forced her to sign a confidentiality agreement and warned her that she could face discipline up to and including termination if she talked about the harassment with any of her coworkers.
Angela did not agree with being silenced. She refused to give away her right to talk about working conditions or continue working for the supervisor that she feared. So she resigned.
In August 2015, another judge found that T-Mobile violated U.S. labor law when it forced Angela to sign that confidentiality agreement and threatened her with discipline if she spoke about the matter with her co-workers. Unfortunately, the judge ordered T-Mobile to correct this policy and notify workers of their rights in only two locations.
T-Mobile should do the right thing - and let workers know in all its locations across the country that this policy is unlawful. The company should rescind this policy and let its employees know they have the freedom to speak out – to each other, to allies, and to the government – about sexual harassment and other conditions of employment.