Against my better judgment, sometime back, I let the company representative talk to my client at a mediation. I am always interested in trying something different. The employer suggested the company rep talk directly to my client, the employee who had sued that company. Always interested in trying something different, I thought, “let’s give it a try.” The meeting did not last long. After just a few minutes, the representative started pointing out all the things the plaintiff should have done differently: she should have called the HR hotline, she should have done this, she should have done that. He was blaming the victim.
We see that blaming the victim thinking when former Director of the FBI explains a difficult meeting with Pres. Trump. The President asked him to let up on the Flynn investigation. Mike Flynn, he assured the Director, was a “good guy.” So, when Director Comey testified to the Senate last week, he was asked several times why he did not prevent that one-on-one meeting? Why didn’t he insist on someone staying in the room? Dir. Comey is a big, tough guy, after all.
Pres. Trump placed Director Comey in an untenable position. Mr. Comey did not arrange the meeting. He was not the supervisor. He was still new to working with a new president. Like my client, the victim of extended harassment, she was not the boss. She wanted to make a difficult relationship with her boss work. She did talk to HR, but did not call the HR hotline. She tried to resolve her problems with her boss as quietly as possible. She hoped to save her job, not end it. As did Director Comey.
The Director was honest. He said he was a coward. Maybe, he would handle it differently if there was another such meeting with the president. All victims of an overbearing boss try to make it work. And, all victims of an overbearing boss shrink from the challenge, at first.