My story isn’t about a supervisor’s bad day at work. It’s about months of abuse: yelling and put-downs in front of coworkers, withholding of information that prevented me from completing my work, and threats to my position if I didn’t cover my superiors’ mistakes, which cost the company thousands of dollars. The cost: my deteriorating health, which further worsened for two years after my termination while I had no health insurance, inadequate support for my two children, and relocation expenses when I was forced to move to a new town because we couldn’t afford to live in our old house.
During my time at a rapidly growing company, I had a folder over 1” thick of letters from customers who thanked me for the service I provided them. And I went above and beyond my call center representative duties. I managed redesigning the new employee training procedures, creating the training documentation and schedule and training new hires.
After two years, I proactively approached one of the owners of the company and asked how I could get promoted within the company. Since this owner knew my work ethic, he allowed me to transfer to any department for which I qualified. With his trust and support, I decided to go into sales. I accepted a position as Post Sales Coordinator.
It only took a couple of weeks for me to realize that things weren’t right in my new department. Members of the Accounting Department advised me that previously recorded financial information was incorrect — thousands of dollars of falsely recorded information — which I later realized was due to my team lead’s errors. I wouldn’t sign off on the inaccuracies. One client owed more than $10,000, but my team lead insisted that we write it off. When I asked how I wouldn’t get in trouble for that, she advised me not to worry about it. I went to my supervisor in hopes she could give me some advice. I even said “If you want me to write these amounts off because that’s what we’re supposed to do, then fine, but I don’t want to lose my job over someone else’s mistakes.”
Over the next seven months, I became the target of both the Sales Department supervisors AND my team lead, who all ignored my requests for assistance. I requested a meeting with them to address my concerns. They wrote me up for several reasons, none of which were valid claims. When I asked what would happen if I refused to sign the write up form, they told me that my position would “immediately be terminated.” So I signed and immediately scheduled a meeting with a Human Resources representative and my supervisor to discuss the frivolous claims. A rebuttal was to be filed, but the Human Resources representative was suddenly no longer at the company, and my claim was closed. I documented and saved all correspondence as evidence of abuse and sabotage to my position, but not once were my materials reviewed.
From then on, I was excluded from meetings and vital information. My team lead and supervisor would present my work as their own, communicating that I never completed my work. I was overloaded with work to the point I approached my team leads and supervisors because I was working 12 hour days, while my team lead refused to stay past 5pm. She frowned upon my work ethic, and the owners speaking highly of me only increased her feeling that I made her look bad. But I wasn’t trying to take anyone’s job. In fact, I emphasized that we were a team. I was simply trying to keep up with the demand and not get fired. Why should I not be good at my job to keep my job? Why should I have to worry how good is too good, because if I do bad, I’ll lose my job anyway?
The final straw for my bullies was when the company president asked me to schedule a meeting to discuss a presentation I created. I was excited and felt confident that my hard work paid off. While the president was impressed with my presentation, he was disappointed that we were so far behind in my department and could not implement the ideas I presented. They finally hired a new employee so we could get caught up. When the president soon had to leave town due to a death in the family, my supervisors terminated me, claiming I was a hard worker but just “didn’t fit in.”
I couldn’t believe they took from me — without reason — the job I’d worked so hard to keep. I asked for months if we could have a meeting with my team lead, my supervisors, and Human Resources to discuss my concerns. They never granted me that meeting. Then just like that, my three years with the company ended, after years of hard work and several reviews with such statements as:
Crystal strives to create productive working relationships.
She is always open to feedback regarding her performance and shows desire to make consistent improvements.
Crystal displays a positive outlook regarding her role on a daily basis. Every interaction with internal or external customers is always professional, courteous, and friendly.
She goes above and beyond, often volunteering to work extra hours in scarce coverage situations and assists teammates in any other areas.
After years of hard work, I joined the unemployment line.
Although I witnessed abuse happening to other coworkers, I never thought it would happen to me. I was too dedicated to the company. My coworkers felt that I was too much of an asset to the company for the supervisors to simply find a way to push me out of the company. But the same work ethic that got me promoted got me fired. The situation begs the question: should an employee bother to be loyal to his or her employer if their hard work will get them fired anyway? And how are my former employers getting away with their abuse?
Help workers by passing the Healthy Workplace Bill. The demand for unemployment benefits, MassHealth Insurance, welfare, food banks, credit debt, healthcare costs, and suicide due to workplace bullying will decrease.
Let’s work together to make the workplace healthy.
My bullying experience started with retaliation and escalated to racial comments, exclusion, manipulation, and double standards. I was the Supervisor of the Year in 2010 and received many awards for my work. During the last power outage, I was the one who left a family function on my day off to get the hotel back on the right track. I took so much pride in what I did at the job.
I was an outstanding employee who was abused by the Director of Engineering (DOE). The abuse led to stress for me and my family. My wife had heart failure soon after the bullying started. I've been in therapy to deal with the problem. I’m 55 years old, and this man just destroyed everything I worked for. I had to empty my 401k, and now I’m trying a new way of life. It’s really tough, especially at my age. This man seemed to thrive on abusing people.
The DOE had been after me since he started at our hotel where we worked, when the regional general manager talked to him about the way he treated me. I don’t know why he disliked me. The only thing I asked him at the time was for a couple of days off to spend time with my son who was returning from Iraq. So the DOE told me on the phone while I was at the hotel on my day off to repair a broken water pipe that we need to go to HR when he comes in after the weekend. That’s when I called the DOE at another hotel that I was upset about his call. That DOE called the general manager, who told me she would take care of this problem.
Since that day, my DOE hasn't liked me. He's said things to me during work like “you're not Jeff’s boy anymore” and “you come in at 6am just to kiss the general manager’s ass” and “why don’t you call me boss?” He told me that black, Asian, and brown people are not as smart as whites. I’m Hawaiian, and he just came out with racial slurs about people both in the hotel and outside of hotel. He’s even used the “N” word. It’s a wonder he's still working with my company or anywhere. He is a bully. I told HR that he was a bully. They took no action. In fact, I believe that the DOE and the Director of HR (DOHR) have become friends. He has HR in his pocket.
The DOHR held me to different standards than other employees. When I was sick one day, I had to bring in a doctor's note. The DOHR said it was policy. Yet another employee took off an entire week for being sick and simply had to fill out paperwork to get vacation time to cover some of that time. One of the engineers told me that he felt that the DOE was trying to isolate me from other employees.
Co-workers were afraid to say something because we would most likely lose our jobs. I’ve seen him verbally abuse people in my department.
I was informed in June 2012 that the DOE is under internal investigation. But in April, I quit my job. It was too painful to stay. I feel sick a lot. I think of the abuse daily. Sometimes I can’t concentrate. I need to find more work. I’ve never ever in my life been treated so badly. I’ve been in therapy for three years because of this problem. I went to two attorneys this year, and both said I had nothing to stand on. That man could say or do anything as long as it wasn’t racial, age, or some other kind of discrimination.
I hope this law is enacted. We did it for the kids in schools, but we seem to have forgotten about the people who work hard for a living and just want to prosper in life. It’s a true tragedy. I feel badly for anyone who goes through bullying or any form of harassment. It has to stop.
From 1999 until 2008, I worked as an instructional paraprofessional for special needs students. Letters of high recommendation written by principals, teachers, and co-workers on my behalf are part of my resume packet. My supervisor, who I worked with for nearly 5 years, found her opportunity to bully me out of my position I feel in part because my work threatened her in some way. My rapport with the students and other faculty was not something she wanted to see continue to grow.
She began by humiliating me in front of students, by letting it be known that any authority the children may have perceived me to have was no longer to be. She blamed me for behaviors of students that occurred not in my presence, and at a different time of day, much later than when they had class instructions in my group.
These "bullying" tactics only got worse. She humiliated me in front of other staff by talking about me while I stood right next to her, as though I wasn't there. She wrote daily evaluations, manipulating every situation she could to her advantage, and then placed them in my mailbox at the end of the day. When I sought her out to discuss them and how she thought I might improve, she left the building! She left me with a student who had come from an intense needs program, never allowing me to view his education plan, never speaking to me about how to handle his behaviors, and then put blame on me for his not completing his homework and not passing spelling tests.
There were days at work when my name was never spoken by any staff person. No morning greeting, no good evening at the end of the day, and nothing in between. I felt like a stranger in a building I had been coming to for years. I moved to another classroom since I was given a new title — instructional assistant — led to believe there was a pay increase with the new responsibilities, which there was none. She was still the supervisor of this new position. One day I found in my desk a blackened, molded sandwich that I must have put in my old desk the year before and forgotten about. I felt like I was in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. This act was one of the most singular acts of cruelty I was forced to endure. I was shocked to find this neatly wrapped package of horror, strategically placed in my desk drawer.
I compare the principal to the man who slapped the horse's backside while I sat upon it with a noose around my neck. I call this a clear-cut-case of workplace mobbing. Sad to be its victim, but as a survivor, I can write this so that it does not happen to another unfortunate soul.
I have been both witness to and victim of workplace bullying. My director has drastic mood swings; on any given day, one has no idea if she will manically laugh or look for someone to target.
I have witnessed her drive an employee to be fired. She systematically continued to find things wrong with everything this person did until this person became so nervous that she could not function any longer and began to make real mistakes. Once that happened, the director petitioned HR to have this person terminated.
The crime was asking what it took to qualify for the director's position. It was a question that was asked because our company has a strong policy of promoting within and guiding staff upward. This person only wanted to know what the qualifications were for future reference. However, asking appeared to threaten the director in some way.
I made the unfortunate mistake of asking HR about a position that opened up in another office. Word got back to the director, who started a campaign of attack that lasted for two weeks until someone higher intervened. She found errors in everything I did, though I did the equivalent of two full time jobs with a workload much higher than corporate recommends.
The director divides staff on a regular basis. If you are a favorite (which changes depending on any perceived sin you might have committed), you are safe. But if you are not, the director tells someone something out of context or outright lies in order to pit staff against you. She picks targets and makes their work lives so miserable that they quit, end up having stress related medical problems, or begin to make mistakes and get fired.
Currently, the director makes changes to her newest victim's work schedule that do not make sense and in fact make it more difficult to complete this person's job. The director accuses this person of spending too much time "socializing" with other co-workers — when his job requires communication with these staff members. She accuses them of meeting behind closed doors, even though some conversations require privacy. Even though this person always completes his work on time and accurately, she deemed his "socializing" a detriment on his work evaluation. Before I left for vacation, this individual considered handing in his resignation, as he can no longer take it. He has been rushed to the ER with chest pains, and his doctor suggests that he obtain other employment. I am afraid of what I will find when I return to work from vacation.
The sickest, saddest part of this whole thing? This is not a bank or a factory. This is a human service organization.
Robbin had a vision to work in the healthcare field servicing vulnerable populations in their homes. At her job, Robbin got along with several supervisors before a new one was hired. At first, she got along with this new supervisor. However, after six months, the relationship drastically changed.
Robbin and her colleague, who was twenty years younger and inexperienced, met with their supervisor separately to discuss their work performances. The supervisor told both that they were not doing their tasks properly. While the younger worker received encouragement and support from her supervisor, Robbin did not. Robbin's supervisor verbally attacked her for not following her directions and demanded to know what her problem was. Robbin said she was sorry for not following her instructions. However, the supervisor persisted in her attack by demanding that Robbin repeat her instructions back to her for understanding her job tasks. Robbin reluctantly complied with her supervisor's request but told her that she disagreed with how she was being treated by her supervisor. Her supervisor accused her of being disrespectful toward her and said she would have to meet with her director to discuss her behaviors.
Robbin contacted the director to report that her supervisor was treating her unfairly. The director was more concerned with how Robbin allegedly disrespected her supervisor than listening to her concerns. Two weeks later, the director and supervisor met with Robbin to discuss her work performance. The Human Resource Director attended the meeting and gave Robbin a written warning. After Robbin pleaded her case to the HR Director about how she was treated by her supervisor, the HR Director brushed away her concerns and told her to do her job.
For the next four weeks, Robbin endured verbal and email attacks on her work performance by her supervisor. A month later, Robbin met with her supervisor, the director, and the Human Resource Director for another meeting. This time, Robbin was terminated for poor work performance.
Despite receiving unemployment insurance, Robbin was not able to find a high enough paying job to support her family. Currently, Robbin is working in another field with low pay and lack of opportunities for advancement. While Robbin looked for sustainable work, her credit scores plummeted, and her debts increased due to not being able to pay her bills. A complaint is currently being investigated by the Mass Commission Against Discrimination for age discrimination.
The lesson of this story is "someone wins, someone loses" when workplace bullying occurs.
My name is Susan, and I am a 47 year old Navy veteran who held the position of Director of Sales at a healthcare company for two and a half years. I built and managed a sales team of seven. My team was cohesive, highly successful, and exceeded sales goals.
I have been a victim of workplace bullying for over one and a half years. Leadership changes created an environment where people were no longer free to share ideas, speak openly, or challenge management without fear of retribution.
Bullying in my workplace started at the top when a new Plan President was brought on in December of 2009. When she came aboard, her goal was to build a team of her own. In order to do that, she needed to manage people out, and the targets were obvious to everyone. Her dictatorial, overly critical, verbally abusive, and unprofessional behavior was too much for most to bear. As a result, five senior leaders resigned, as the stresses were overly abundant. My manager was the first, and she left in March of 2010. The most recent leader left in June of this year. All of these employees were replaced with “hand-picked” former employees of the Plan President, including my NEW manager. All are protected by her and bully their direct reports.
When my new manager was brought on a year ago, he continued the bullying with more intensity and much more frequency. He verbally abused me in private, in front of my peers, AND in front of my direct reports. He lost his temper very quickly when employees asked him questions that he couldn’t answer. He misdirected his defensiveness towards me, began shouting and, in the end, it was always my fault. He counseled me on behavior that no one else perceived. I continuously received overly harsh criticism and an additional workload and was not included in major issues or decisions concerning my team. My manager reacted to my addressing these matters with denial of the behavior, made no apologies, and turned the tables on me calling me “intentionally defiant and insubordinate” when challenging management’s direction or strategies that I attempted to openly and collaboratively discuss.
Determined not to quit, I held steady and managed the best I could. Then on February 1, 2011, my manager put me on FINAL warning for thirty days. That day, I knew I needed to make serious decisions of how to address this career-limiting punishment for my professional, physical, and mental well-being. The stress created from this hostile and toxic work environment affected my personal relationship with my husband, and I frequently experienced severe headaches and chest pains. I did research and learned there was actually a name for what was wrongfully done to me and a bill proposed in Massachusetts against bullying in the workplace.
Through the company, I filed a comprehensive, 25-page internal dispute with no immediate resolve. In fact, they didn't know how to address the serious issues I brought to their attention against senior leadership. NO ONE returned my calls about my complaint after numerous conversations I had when following up with HR reps.
So what could I do? When you are put on FINAL warning, you are not eligible for an annual increase or able to apply for or request a transfer within the company. I was professionally paralyzed with no options to get out for 30 days. When the 30 days were up and my FINAL Warning was NOT lifted, I chose to challenge through the corporate HR dispute and appeal process available to me. This process is a ridiculous joke designed to make employees feel like they’re being heard. Sadly, I was not, and my employers took my career hostage.
The Sr. Management Leader investigating my dispute only interviewed the managers I had named in the dispute. This person did not question ANY of my witnesses who supported my side of the story, only receiving Sr. Leadership’s side of the story - those I had complained against. Management supported management. It was the equivalent of a criminal being accused of a crime, and the police only investigated and interviewed the criminal, not the witnesses. In the meantime, my manager continued the bullying.
This unjust FINAL warning that was supposed to be closed in 30 days had stayed open an additional four and a half months. It had become perpetually open-ended, and every day I wondered if “this would be the day I would be fired.” That day finally came.
When I made a formal complaint to HR on July 1, my manager was contacted on July 11, and I was terminated on July 12. The message rings loud and clear to those left behind: if this manager targets you, you WILL be bullied regardless of meeting or exceeding your sales goals. AND when you are on a final warning and then terminated from this company, you are automatically not eligible for re-hire. Therefore, the real crime committed by this workplace bullying is grand larceny. Two and a half years of my dedication, exceptional performance, and record-breaking sales were stolen from me. Now unemployed, how do I seek another executive-level position and explain I was wrongfully terminated, and my boss was a bully?
The reason this bill is important to me is because there needs to be legal protection in the workplace. The Internal Dispute and Appeal Process through my employer has been long and drawn out with the hopes that I would just give up or quit. There are no impartial facilitators or investigators. It’s designed to support upper management decisions, right or wrong, and does not fix the problem or correct the bullying behavior and environment. We all know that children are legally protected in schools against bullying. Why can’t adults be protected in their workplace? Without legislation, the bullying WILL continue. Making workplace bullying illegal is the only way we have to send a message to corporate America that it will not be tolerated and needs to STOP!