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Lost in Translation

Anonymous Toxic Workplace Stories are real and anonymous workplace stories. Gain unique insights and drama as we share firsthand accounts of toxic and traumatic work experiences. Discover the untold truths from employees who've lived through it all- as told in their own words.

Before graduating, I got my first office job working for a chinese company that sells nail products. I was excited, getting an interview to be the product photographer and graphic designer.

At the interview, red flag 1, they communicated over whatsapp never by email. In the interview room, the manager struggled to speakdo english, could barely understand him, someone had to translate for him. They spoke mandarin amongst themselves a lot, which isn't much of an issue until you realise that some of the people you'll work with, don't speak english and you'll have to use google translate to speak with them.

Red flag 2, they only asked for my ID and proof of adress your, no baking info, no tax, no uif not even mentioning that we'll be paid in cash on our employment contracts.

They also failed to mention during the interview that for probation we would have to work in their retail store in china mall, once a week while barely receiving any type of training in the office.

I Should've left during that probation period, if you've ever been to a china mall, you'll notice how cramp and unsanitary that place is. Not to mention, we just left a pandemic so I was concerned about being in crowds in tight spaces.

During this probation period, they didn't mention that we'd be under surveillance 24/7. To the point where the boss that would sit behind his computer surveillance at the front desk, he'd take pictures of the staff members and send it to the staff group for them to be reprimanded. You basically always had to pretend to be busy. They had a dingy storeroom with a broken ladder that a pregnant staff member walked up and down on.

One day, home affairs was doing their routine checks and came down on this mall while my team was working our probation. The top store closed down, hiding the china mall staff inside. Forgot to mention, the people working in these china malls are usually illegal foreigners that, get they exploited, working chinese labour hours. The girls were scurrying about, hiding in the bathrooms and low and behold, police come right up to me and yell, " Are you working here?". I said, nope I work in the office. But continued to be interrogated, they asked me and the owner if we knew the guy that worked for them upstairs, the boss flat out lied and looked at me and I repeated, I work in the office, I don't know these people.

One of our pregnant staff members came down from the top floor toof the bottom and was basically manhandled by the police for taking pictures of them. Yes it was traumatic, when we went back to the office our manager basically laughed at us for overreacting and I left my keys on the desk.

Why didn't I leave? My dad told me to wait it out, like boomers usually say, you should only leave once you can't handle it anymore. I'll never listen to that advice ever again, sorry not sorry.

Going back to the office the following week, they have us gifts as a half assed apology and we had a meeting where we all had to basically force that chinese man to apologize for not taking the situation seriously.

Fast forward after this event, this manager, was very indecisive, he had favoritism towards the chinese staff obviously and because he didn't speak proper english you'd get blamed for misunderstanding him.

Being 21, young, new to this type of mistreatment, me and that man would always but heads. He used to refer me to me and my teammate as "this girl and this boy" and I used to call him out on that.

I got a suspension the one day when they were late to pay us at the end of the month and weren't communicating with us on when we'd get paid. This was when I worked a public holiday and I almost panicked because I thought why now I have to go make a case. I called him out again infront of the staff, had an attitude about it. Looking back, I feel like with the knowledge I had and experience at the time, I was going to react that way regardless because of the treatment but right now I'd probably leave before I were to act out.

Do I regret speaking out? Sometimes because it lead to mobbing by the staff and the HR manager basically out to get me because I was constantly having issues with this guy.

He micromanaged, checked your hours constantly and added to the gossip in the office. Even speaking to other coworkers about my salary ect. When one of the long term experienced employees that stayed there for more than a year left, then most the staff had only been there for four more months or so. When she left, he basically bad mouthed her and her kids, even though she had been with the company for years and was the old person to stay after the last group left.

This environment was rife with backstabbing wow I learned a lot. One time, this colleage saw me taking pictures of my doctors note before leaving it on HRs desk and she accused me of going through her documents.