Should I pursue legal guidance/eeoc complaint?

Tldr: after 6 years of excellent service my boss sought out complaints from other coworkers and lied in my performance review to keep promotion from Me. I’m a poc as well.

Long story and I’m sure I’m missing some details.

So I’ve never been one to be litigious or seek any remedy, hr or otherwise. Usually I would just do my job or find another one but I’m in quite a pickle and thought…hey maybe some strangers on the internet can give me some perspective.

So first and foremost I’ll say I work in a pretty stressful field in and of itself and make decent money. But in all that i havd, reported/documented, excellence at this company for 10 years. Glowing reviews, glowing accolades, multiple pay raises and a title change (not to management title).

Anyway, after 6 years (under this manager) of glowing reviews we were discussing promoting me. My manager asked me to come up with some titles (nov 22), which I sent in. I was then asked to create a job description which I did ask for help from my manager on drafting but was told, “you should write it”. Anyway, after submitting my job description my boss says they’ll review it (Jan 23). The job description has manager in the title.

So a month (Feb 23) goes by and I’m traveling for work. While away from the office a coworker of mine calls me and lets me know my manager is asking questions about me. I ask what kind of questions and am told:

Does he make you feel uncomfortable?
Have you ever heard him talking about you behind your back?
Has he made fun of you (person in a different protected class)

I’m a little surprised by this questioning and my coworker seems to think it was another coworker who submitted some complaints about Me after possibly hearing about my potential promotion, not from me. Anyway,I brace myself for my boss to ask me about it. Doesn’t happen

Later I learn that my boss asked another coworker similar questions but tosses in 2 new ones:

Have you heard him disparage firm management? My coworker laughs and is like no.
Have you ever heard him call our previous manager racist? My coworker laughs it off and states that’s a hard no, but adds that he believes that I didn’t care for my previous Mgr and that i thought prev Mgr didn’t care for Me.

Anyway. During this time (late feb 23) I inquire of my manager about the status of my promotion. My boss Never mentions anything about this investigation but says that promotions are being worked on and a couple are in the works. I continue working as normal and an traveling all around representing the company all over the country.

About a month later (mar. 23) another coworker tells me of some strange questions. this time nothing I haven’t heard. I email my boss this time and ask about my promotion. The response this time, “we will be discussing promotions during review time” (may 23).

In April of 23 I get a last minute invite by my boss to a meeting wuth our outgoing cto, incoming cto and a tech manager to discuss some new software. The meeting goes well I give my recommendations and I’m thinking okay whatever those questions were about they can’t be that serious if I’m being put in front of ctos and have been representing the company around the world.

May comes around and I get my review on the last day of reviews, actually after the review submittal deadline and Pay increase deadline. In fact I receive it at 855 am, while I’m on metro into the office, and am asked to discuss at 9. I do receive the highest pay raise possible and like most other reviews its positive in every (12 total) area but 1…..communication.

In communication my manager writes that, I was told in previous reviews that my communication needs ro be tempered in the office. That I often offer unsolicited comments to other people in the group and that too often my excessive communication leads to social communicatjons that they believe is inappropriate at work. They then go on to state that they think that I believe that I am being funny but my banter is not appropriate. State that they saw improvement in the padt but has resumed my old ways since returned to office. Also stated that they knew that I’d like to move to a “Sr role” which they supported in terms of my knowledge but would be difficult to act on at this time because of my communication issue., they can’t recommend for promotion at this time and that they’d Iike me to take course over the coming year to address these defects and until they see sustained improvement in this area. Also stated that multiple coworkers came to them with complaints of communication…told me all but ine coworker approached them with complaints about me.

Anyway all of this is a bit of a surprise to me. I’m very disappointed, obvi,and me and my boss talk for an hour. I ask about some of the comment and don’t understand, “offering unsolicited comments”, inappropriate banter, and ask for examples. They can’t give me any but offers “for example”s and “lets say”s….but I say when or where…and one example they gave was on a zoom call where, before the call started, I made a joke about how the network crashed….none of this happened in person nor at the office. It wasn’t rude or profanity or anything my manager said that my mgr just didn’t like that I brought it up.

Anyway I wound up asking about the investigation part and what that was about. WAS told they received directions from hr and cto….. we can discuss with them if you like. I say,I’d like.

We meet with head of hr same hour, very awkward lift ride down, and discuss. Hr asks what this investigation is about and I explain the questions….hr is a bit confused. “We only helped craft this one comment but we didn’t know about any investigation.” In fact, “we would have probably not handled it that way”, and “we would have let you know or got your point of view”.

Hr also asks, “you wrote multiple coworkers complained about him, how many came to you” My boss then kind of gets quiet and holds up 1 finger and says one. I’m livid at this point and say, so you went around and asked my peers these allegations from one person (interpersonal at best), believed them to be true and then spread damaging info to my peers and colleagues. Don’t you see how that could damage me? Cause them to feel I’m a problem?”

My boss says, they see how they could have handled that better and that they are still learning how to do “this”? Also stated that they didn’t know who to trust “up there” because they thought this was done in confidence. They said about racist question that they (my boss) was offended that I could say such a thing, which I never agreed ro having said. I told them and hr that if I did feel that way its more messed up that you felt offended about me feeling uncomfortable than wanting to understand why I might feel that way or what we could do to make me not feel that way.

Hr asks me what changes I’d like ro see to the comment and I say, “I don’t know you all had months to write this up and only gave me like a few minutes between reading it and having this meeting. I can’t dictate to you what your opinion about me should be but it should be based on facts and the truth. Also say I think that multiple people line should be changed.”

We then exit hr, I’m pissed still. Another awkward lift ride to our floor, this time we are incidentally joined by the incoming cto for our trip back up, they happened to get on at a seperate floor working on paperwork.

My boss then resubmits my review takes out the line about multiple people complaining, no mention of anyone complaining, and also changes the whole can’t support my promotion line to.
. . “He’d like to be promoted to Sr position which I support but I’d like him to take company classes on workplace etiquette which will provide him with the tools necessary when he takes on this leadership role.

Nothing about seeing sustained improvement or being revisited over the coming year.

Hr asks if I accept this one….I still say no. I draft a response but don’t send it and later in the day I send my response only to hr….i don’t accept this as it’s not accurate still.

Anyway,I ask hr for all of my previous evaluations. I legit don’t remember and was looking for when my boss asked me in the past to work on this. To my shock, all of my previous 6 reviews have been outstanding (5) or exceeds expectations (1- 2019) in communication. In fact, My boss writes in those previous ones how I’m approachable and the one they push new hires to in order to get the best experience from the department. I’m confused as to when this was ever brought up to me in the past. I ask hr if they have any supplemental material or submittal where it’s stated as such, they tell me they do not. I now have a meeting with outgoing cto. Should I get a lawyer or just see how this shakes out. I do feel as though Ive been and am being exposed to a hostile work environment.

Am I crazy here or did everything get crazy simply because I wanted a promotion?

Tldr: after 6 years of excellent service my boss sought out complaints from other coworkers and lied in my performance review to keep promotion from Me. I’m a poc as well.

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