There’s no excuse for discrimination in the workplace. And there’s absolutely no room for somebody questioning you whether or not you ‘really’ have a disability or are just ‘pretending’ to get around the rules. Sometimes, managers are very insensitive to their own employees’ needs and some don’t seem to have a sense of humor. And redditor u/xKatastrophex shared exactly how that looks in a viral post on the r/MaliciousCompliance subreddit. The redditor has been diagnosed with a hearing deficiency: it’s more than hard of hearing, but not enough to be considered deaf. So they wear hearing aids.
They explained how they were working at the cafe when the owner’s daughter demanded that they stop wearing their hearing aids, just because they had Bluetooth capabilities. Technically, the employee could play music through them. Not that they would. But they could. So the manager insisted that their employee didn’t need the hearing aids anyway because they weren’t “considered fully deaf.”
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You’d better bet that that sort of talk didn’t sit right with the employee. They complied with the manager’s demand, maliciously. And their superior regretted their decision almost immediately. Scroll down for the full story in the redditor’s own words.
Bored Panda got in touch with u/xKatastrophex who told us what happened next, how the cafe owners reacted, and how things are going at their new job in retail. Read on for our full interview with the redditor.
The redditor shared how their hearing aids caused a lot of tension with their manager, who demanded that they take them out
Image credits: Mark Paton (not the actual photo)
The employee followed the order to the letter, and the manager quickly realized they really messed up. Here’s exactly how things went down
Image credits: RODNAE Productions (not the actual photo)
Redditor u/xKatastrophex’s post went viral, getting over 28.6k upvotes. And other redditors were incredibly supportive of them and what they did.
The redditor told Bored Panda that after all the drama happened at work, they got to speak with the owners of the cafe, Karen’s parents about the incident. “They apologized profusely about their daughter’s behavior, and they reassured me they would have a conversation with her about it. It made me gain a lot of respect for them, but I lost my respect for Karen because of this. I ended up only working there for about 2 months during the summer since I was too busy with classes and marching band during school time,” they explained.
The OP told us that they “definitely didn’t expect” their post to get the kind of traction that it did and they thought it would be “another post that averaged around 100 upvotes.”
u/xKatastrophex shared a bit about how things are now. “With my current job [in retail], a lot of customers don’t realize I have a hearing deficiency and they get pretty upset when I ask them to speak up or repeat themselves. Over the years, the thing that I’ve learned that has made my life a whole lot easier is to pick and choose your battles when it comes to this,” they said.
“No one deserves to get yelled at or made fun of for a disability, so when this starts to happen I just simply refer them to another worker and walk away. It has saved my feelings from getting hurt plenty of times. Never apologize for something you have no control over and stand up for yourself when you need to! Although my experience brought out a beautiful instance of malicious compliance, looking back on the situation that’s the only thing I wish I would’ve done,” they told Bored Panda.
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“Most of the comments were saying I should’ve reported this cafe to ADA and/or sued. While I agree that large cases of discrimination should take this route, I felt no need to go through all of that over a 2-hour training shift. Yes, what Karen did was wrong and I should’ve stood up for myself better, but I had just turned 17; I was afraid of confrontation and I don’t think I even knew about reporting businesses to the ADA,” the OP explained why they didn’t take things further. What’s more the cafe owners themselves were good people.
“I also didn’t want to screw over the lovely business owners over their daughter’s one-time stupid mistake. I’m sure she got an earful from her parents because, after this scenario, she never bothered me again. BUT to anyone reading who is/has experienced continuous or severe discrimination, this is definitely something they should look into doing.”
According to the DO-IT Center, which empowers people with disabilities through technology and education, there’s often a lot of confusion over the terms hearing impaired, hard of hearing, deaf, and deafened.
“The term ‘hearing impaired’ is often used to describe people with any degree of hearing loss, from mild to profound, including those who are deaf and those who are hard of hearing. Many individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing prefer the terms ‘deaf’ and ‘hard of hearing,’ because they consider them to be more positive than the term ‘hearing impaired,’ which implies a deficit or that something is wrong that makes a person less than whole,” the Center explains.
Meanwhile, the term ‘deaf’ usually means hearing loss that is so severe, that there is very little or no functional hearing. ‘Hard of hearing,’ on the other hans, means hearing loss where there might be enough “residual hearing” that a hearing aid or FM system might be enough to help the person process speech.
“‘Deafened’ usually refers to a person who becomes deaf as an adult and, therefore, faces different challenges than those of a person who became deaf at birth or as a child. Deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing individuals may choose to use hearing aids, cochlear implants, and/or other assistive listening devices to boost available hearing. Alternatively, or in addition, they may read lips, use sign language, sign language interpreters, and/or captioning,” the DO-IT Center writes.
“People who are deaf or hard of hearing may have speech that is difficult to understand due to the inability to hear their own voice,” the Center adds.
People were horrified to read about the discrimination. Here’s what they had to say
Life coach Lindsay Hanson previously explained to Bored Panda during an interview that each and every one of us is responsible for setting the boundaries for what we’re willing to tolerate at work. If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, you always have the option of talking to either human resources or your managers about the things that bother you, whether small or serious.
“If you feel that there’s nothing you can do to change the situation and the company or people involved are unwilling to change, then you have to decide whether you’re willing to stay in that environment or not. A good question to ask yourself is, even if this toxic situation were to change, would I still want to work here?” she said.
According to the life coach, there are only two options for employees. Either they choose to find happiness or contentment in their position or they start looking for a way out.
“There is always a way to change your current situation—telling yourself you’re stuck feels very limiting,” she said.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time that Bored Panda has reported on an incident where someone discriminates against someone with a disability. Previously, we wrote about Paniora Nukunuku who has a fake leg, and how he had to deal with a rude woman who didn’t believe he should be able to park his car in the handicapped spot.