Apologies, Nijole, that I haven’t looked at this part of the forum recently and I missed, until now, what has been going on with your employer.
I have LOTS to say about it and am FURIOUS at Anglicare’s response to you but that won’t necessarily help you, right now, so I will focus, firstly on their response in the context of the launch.
Firstly, let me respond to the practical side of things… In terms of our flyers and publicity I had already kept it vague and mentioned ‘partners share their experiences’ rather than naming any individuals. This, I felt, captured the dramatised stories that we included in the day as well as your participation on the panel (if that is still able to proceed) but also leaves it open so that these things can change and we would be the only ones that would know about such changes and we wouldn’t have to alter our publicity.
In regards to your participation in the launch, going forward, the options as I see them are:
1. Participate as you planned to and find ways to comply with Anglicare’s demands:
If you want to continue and want us to find a way to work with these restrictions we can and will. We can give you a pseudonym (and allow you the opportunity -or me, as the chair- to introduce you saying that this has been enforced by your employer, against your will and that you would personally prefer to be named, and use this as a very real and relevant example of the stigma that is experienced by partners. I’ve done this before on a radio interview and it worked).
In terms of images, we can very easily ‘ban’ participants from taking photos or videos and then the people we have organised to take them, on behalf of PartnerSPEAK, can be instructed to not record your image or we can edit your face/voice from the video if you do decide to participate in the panel (again, this is something I have done before and just had my silhouette included in the newspaper).
2. Choose not to participate at this time (or participate in a less public way):
Work is work and our ‘rights’ at work are not always simple. Even if it is your ‘right’ to do as you wish outside of work and even though your employer may be ‘discriminating’ against you, you may not have the energy to tackle this fight at this time.
If it is best for you not to participate on the panel, at this time, I completely support you in that. Only in the last couple of months you’ve still had some difficult and shaky times so if the stress of going forward will be more significant than the benefit, for you, of being involved please wait for another time. It can be incredibly empowering to speak out when there is so much pressure not to but only if the time is right for you. If you do decide to go ahead, we will support you all the way and, equally, if this is not the right time, we will support you in that.
3. Challenge Anglicare on their demands:
I’m with Juliet, without researching the legalities more deeply this, to me, also seems like discrimination and I believe that Anglicare is not entitled to dictate what you do as a ‘Nijole’ outside of work. YOU have done nothing that would bring ‘adverse publicity‘ to an employer. As a community service, such as they are, they are meant to support people who are vulnerable or exposed by the actions of their family members/spouses. Yes, your ex, if he were employed would bring ‘adverse publicity’ but how does speaking out against his actions and the affect they had on you bring any disrepute to Anglicare?!
I was once fired (in the UK) on similar claims (different social issue but my employer claimed something like ‘disrepute’) and I fought it and won. [Obviously, refer back to my comments in point 2. this could be a big fight and might not be the right time for such a fight].
The way Anglicare is treating you is exactly why PartnerSPEAK has an advocacy arm and why this is important enough to be the only direct service (face to face, not on-line) that I have included in our service offerings. I believe that if it became known in the community sector what Anglicare is saying to you that they would bring ‘adverse publicity’ to themselves. IF you do decide to challenge them on this, I am willing to act as an advocate in a formal capacity, a representative of PartnerSPEAK, and support you to challenge them on this.
Maybe, in the first instance, contact the legal services that Juliet has mentioned and see what they have to say about it (they’re the exact same links I would have suggested)!
I wanted to respond to this issue, separately, will come back to my ‘to do’ list in my next post.
Strength to you, Nijole.