We’re getting nearer the end now.
I worked at Panda Express. I loved that job. I was good at that job. My boss retired, but before he did, he warned me that his replacement didn’t like me. He hinted that it was because of my skin color, but wouldn’t say it out loud. It was at Panda that I fell and hurt my back, but we may have waited to long to discover it, and we’re still waiting to see if i can get worker’s comp for that injury.
Because my new boss was pre-disposed to dislike me (starting about Feb 2012), and because I was hurting so bad, going to work started to make me anxious… a lot. The anxiety has gotten so bad that, long after my time with Panda is over, I still have panic attacks. I still find myself hyperventilating for no reason. I don’t struggle with Major Depressive Disorder but I absolutely struggle with major Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s crippling. I’m afraid to go into public and be seen falling, or hurting, or wincing or having a panic attack. I have real problems (medically, not morally) with the constant questions about my problems… and real problems (more morally than medically) with “My cousin’s boyfriend’s roommate’s ex-sister-in-law had that problem and she…. so you just need to do that)
Anxiety is a problem. It’s the reason I’ve failed so fully in letting those close to me know what is going on with me.
Panda eventually fired me in a case of (in my opinion) clear discrimination. My attorney though so too, but because a couple of people refused to testify (they still work there, so I understand) and stand for the truth, the lawsuit stands stagnant. I think i have 1 month left to move forward, and then it dies. That hurts, because truth needs to be out there. You won’t see me go to a Panda Express, Haibatchi San, or Panda Inn, not because they fired me, but because they covered up and ignored clear discrimination for months. Their Human Resource Department actively hid evidence that showed the discrimination, and failed to follow up on repeated claims of discrimination from others (not just me) – and nothing is going to happen to them because there are some people who do not have the courage to stand. I’m not saying that I don’t understand their cowardice. But to you of whom I am speaking: know this, your failure to stand means that this will happen again to someone else. I stood. I lost the best job I ever had because I stood. You sit and keep your heads down hoping that mine was an isolated incident. It was not.
Now, unless some of those who have previously reused to testify come forward now, this case is dead. I know. It sucks. It causes panic attacks to talk about it, so i really don’t want to. Yes, they discriminated against me. Yes that was morally and legally wrong. No, without testimony of those who remain silent, there isn’t enough evidence to move forward. The law is really not on the side of the victims of discrimination when the perpetrators are big businesses. I’m not sure the legal solution to that.
I won’t ask you to stop going to restaurants owned by Panda Restaurant Group, but I do want you to know why I don’t.