Faces of DFEH – Cyndee Solomon

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Discrimination and
harassment based
on gender

Cyndee Solomon was a probation officer working in a traditionally male occupation who loved her work. Unfortunately, her supervisor was still harboring feelings of rejection from when he knew her in high school. In the workplace, he singled her out for harassment and discriminatory treatment and wrote her up for doing the same thing that her partner was not written up for. When she complained to his boss, he retaliated against her and threatened to transfer her. An attorney told her it was time for her to contact DFEH.
What was your experience that led you to seek out help from DFEH?

My supervisor and I went to high school together and he would tell our colleagues that he had asked me out, but I turned him down. He would single me out, treat me differently from my male colleagues and made comments to humiliate me or put me down. People working with me saw it but didn’t want to get involved. So I went to the union. After I complained to the union, my supervisor’s boss threatened to transfer me in retaliation for filing a complaint. I eventually requested a transfer myself, as I could no longer work in the department under the circumstances. The Internal Affairs department waited until my supervisor retired to substantiate my claims.

How did that experience affect you?

Well my husband and family had to deal with my stress from work. My husband worked in the same department and wanted to get involved. So, I had to stop venting to him. I felt I had a target on my back and experienced such anxiety. I had so much stress and anxiety that I had to go to counseling. I continue to be cognizant of my surroundings and really don’t trust management.

What do you want people to take away from your experience?

I want people to believe in themselves, take notes and keep a record of what is going on the job and don’t give up. Also try not to let your work ethic be compromised. Continue to take pride in your work and trust yourself, even when people are singling you out.

What do you want people to know about discrimination and harassment based on gender?

I didn’t know about the support and help that is available at DFEH for employees who are being discriminated against. Seek out help and support when you are in a hostile environment and being treated differently because of who you are.

How was your experience with the DFEH?

The attorneys at DFEH helped me understand what was going on. They not only listened, but they heard me. They prepped me, they fought for me and they were my rock. I finally feel vindicated.