Workplace bullying - want to leave, but feel I cannot

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Workplace bullying - want to leave, but feel I cannot

Postby Popkin » Sat Mar 01, 2008 1:54 am

Hi,

Please - I need some sound advice, and words of encouragement: :(

I was the top performer last year, in the firm I work for, but mid-year one of the supervisors started calling me names and making insinuating and disparaging remarks about my character. When I went to my boss at least three times on different occasions to ask him to help put an end to this, the 'perpetrator supervisor' also made sure that I was moved to another part of the office. It was much harder to achieve my targets there, and my wages decreased by about two-thirds. However, by sheer graft and skill, I managed to keep my targets up (even though my wages never recovered).

Due to all of this, I eventually resigned as the supervisor still carried on his remarks, to other people about me. I signed on, felt very low, and hated having no job. So much that eventually, I went back, and made my job centre claim null & void (and didn't receive anything off the state). I did this, as my manager had not forwarded my resignation letter to HR, and I never received a P45, so thought that I had 'continuous employment'...

The first month was okay (no agro), but then it started up again from colleagues - this time from a few of the supervisors small sphere of influence and people he would go drinking with. So much so that I spoke to HR, who advised me not to go down the grievance route as this would involve her having to take witnesss statements etc., and it could back-fire as they could actually make allegations towards me. So, I wrote a letter of complaint to her and my boss, marking it private and confidential.

The day after my boss read it, I actually by accident, caught the supervisor (perpetrator) reading it. I was very upset. He didn't apologise and actually tried to make out that I had intruded into the office (even though the door was wide open, the office has glass walls, and both supervisors at the time were in the office - so if anyone needed them - like I did - they would have to had come into the office).

The next day, my boss apologised. Even though I told him that he had breached confidence, he informed me that he was allowing all the supervisors (4 people) to read my letter (of 7 pages with specific examples of the bullying I had received), so they could discuss it in their weekly meeting. My boss seemed to think that I was the problem, even though I reiterated that I had NO REASON to want to leave in the first place (as my performance was good, and I enjoyed my job). I also pointed out yet again, that the behaviour of the others had been UNprovoked - all I ever did was keep my head down and work very hard: that is why I produced such high results.

Instead of taking 2 weeks off, I have recently taken 2 months off (we can book our hours from week to week) as I have felt so angry about this whole situation. :evil: I have also been without pay, and I haven't received any payments such as sick leave, as I have not been 'signed off' work as I am not 'ill'. A few days ago, I actually sought legal advice and was told that had I NOT resigned last Summer, I could have resigned via constructive dismissal BUT now I cannot because I had actually signed on (and the law says that I had resigned 'by intent').

I went back to work on Wednesday, and heard one of my colleagues - who is going out with the 'perpetrator' supervisor - complaining to another one of my colleagues in a morose tone of voice, loudly enough for me - and everyone else - to hear: "Oh, X (i.e. me) walked right past me and didn't even say hello." This person is also making my life hell: she has told the boss stuff about me that is untrue (she actually told me so), and now this comment suggests that I am rude (which I am certainly not!).

It's a fairly small office (about 27 people max), and whilst I cannot bring myself to go in, I really do not want to be unemployed as I'm on my own and have a mortgage etc. I keep thinking that I shall never get a decent job: My absence has escalated since November, and now I am afraid of the kind of reference I may get from them. Overall, the work is very low level, and even though the boss gave me extra responsibility of training up underperformers, that stopped very suddenly - just as it was taking off - when the 'perpetrator supervisor' put an end to it and the boss allowed this. [My boss actually told me that there was a lot of resentment in the office as people were saying that I was 'not a supervisor' and that I was 'on their level.' These comments and the fact that my boss invited me to do the training but hasn't supported me, also suggests to me that he is part of the problem]. In other jobs, I have trained people and have received positive feedback on this; I also have about 10 years supervisory experience, and so it is really 'interesting' (and upsetting) to hear these negative comments in this particular workplace.

I want a career but the people I work alongside just seem to want to gossip and are set on ruining my character and denying me opportunities not only to develop my own career (and use this as a passport to leave...), but to help others and the company via the training I was giving. They could not fault my work, so they destroyed my self esteem. As a result, my absence has increased, so that at some point probably soon, they will have a legitimate reason for getting rid of me.

If anyone can offer words of advice, I would so appreciate them - this whole situation brings me to tears. x [-o<
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Postby Rox » Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:47 pm

Hi Popkin,
this is a really unfair situation and must be very difficult. It looks as if you have tried very hard to resolve the situation - and to escape - without much satisfaction.
Workplace bullying is a nasty, insidious behaviour which is gradually becoming better understood by large companies. Many have a "whistle blowing Policy" to help assist with this sort of situation, although I suspect your company won't.
Although I know leaving is not an ideal solution sometimes there comes a point where, for the sake of your own mental health and well being it does become the best option. You sound as if you have a lot of skills/talents and experience in your field. One option might be keep your head down and carry on working to the best of ability (in order to pay the mortgage etc) but in the meantime to sign on with an agency or two and try and get some temping/locum work. This will take you out of the difficult position you find yourself in and also increase your experience whilst you look for something more permanent.
We all spend a large proportion of our lives at work and when it's getting you down to this extent it's time to take action. Try not to let it completely over take your life, find something else as quickly as possible and chalk it up to experience.
Hopefully some others may post different suggestions which might help. Hang on in there! X
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Postby greyhoundjoe » Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:49 pm

if i was you i would go to management and face up to your foes because the situation aint getting better now is it? no. you have to act NOW!!!!!!!!
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Postby Popkin » Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:54 am

Thank you both for taking the time to read my long thread - I am very grateful. Rox, especially for your rounded response. I think I shall try and sort out my cv and sign up with agencies, but what would I say of they ask about absence from work? :o They will still want to take references.

Greyhoundjoe, for also reinforcing the fact that I need to act now, and that the prob. won't go away as I cannot change other people. If I'm still there and it happens again (I really hope not), I shall invoke the grievance procedure immediately, and will not hang on, hoping for thing to change. :roll:
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Postby Bel Bel » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:30 pm

It is against the law to give bad refernce although a one liner saying popkin came to work would make it obvious that they didn't think much of you

Temp agencies tend not to ask about attendance and you can build up new references this way. Not all companies ask about attendence either and you haven't been off sick just used selective hours from what you say so I don't think it will be a problem

However I think your boss is too scared to stand up for people and goes with the masses and if he gives you a good reference he knows you will be a problem off his back so I think you will get a good one

The bullies will have to find someone else to pick on when you have gone so it will soon become apart you weren't lying. I know it doesn't help you now

good luck you have had a rough time and i hope you find somewhere where you will be happy
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Postby Popkin » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:10 pm

Thanks Bel Bel. Thanks for your words of advice and encouragement. Apparently, I've had about 3 weeks off since start Aug. :oops: I am a bit concerned about refs from temp agencies, as when I worked for a lettings agent I handled the post, and one letter came through on behalf of an ex-employee, and they wanted to know the no. sick days they had off....When I can get myself together, I shall approach one agency, and see how it goes.
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Postby Popkin » Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:39 pm

Today I went in, and am noticing that the management - who set the seating plan - are regularly putting me at the PC near the door but one. This means that I face a wall, with my back to the board and the managers office and the main desk (where once I used to work..). It means in effect that I cannot see anything that goes on in the office, and that due to the seating arrangement, there is only one other person I could talk to, if I wanted. The PC where I sit is furthest away from the managers office, and front main desk.

It's like being at school, and you are told where to sit, and they have put me at the back. :oops: What is most distressing is that they have - physically - restricted all contact I might have with anyone else. And what is more, it feels like I have done something wrong when I have done nothing! What I have done is to illustrate - in a professional manner - the distressing way they are treating me - and I get condemned for this. If they continue to allocate me this same PC, would it be discrimination? The ususal practice is for people to move about on the seating plan from shift to shift. [Having said this, the only other person they have kept at a particular computer appears to have problems unfortunately, with his personal hygiene, and they have kept him in a corner at the back of the office next to a window]. I really hate this 'them' and 'us' work environment - it's hostile.
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Postby misskrystal » Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:37 pm

You need to leave and find other employment. It doesn't matter about references or time off, when you feel as unhappy as you obviously do, you have to go.

If you're adamant about staying, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, explain the situation in detail and ask their advice. They will be better able to inform you of your rights than we are.

You are well within your rights to stand up for yourself, even if it means starting the grievance process at work. It doesn't matter whether you have witnesses, you will have evidence of your complaints. Until then, document everything that happens.
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Postby Popkin » Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:00 pm

Hi misskrystal. Thank you for your advice. Originally I was hoping to leave when I was 'ready' i.e. after a certain period of time (as I've dipped in and out of jobs over the last 5 years), and built a good track record of results (the job is targetted), also with minimal absence etc. not when it suits them / them booting me out on their terms.

Having said this, I now know that I need to leave now, and you're right about time off - there's never really a good time, so why not make it now? :roll: I'm only now in the process of trying to 'get myself together' (I felt a bit more hopeful today, and less tearful and panicky), so that I can sort out my CV.

It's interesting about what you say about the grievance procedure. My boss has said to me that when he has asked the 'perpetrator supervisor' as to what happened, or stories are always different. Of course they would be - he is trying to save his own skin! :^o

Thank you for your comments, which I really appreciate. I shall keep reading them as encouragement to myself, as I don't really have anyone else to turn to.
Btw: I'm so glad I found this site. x
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Postby Bel Bel » Tue Mar 04, 2008 11:50 am

Remember the longer you stay there the more it could damage your self esteem.
I think you should get out asap for your own mental health and well being
We are at work more hours than we do anything else, except sleep so you need to be happy.
Your boss is a wimp who is taking the easy way out
I wish you the best of luck and I think you will be fine once you're out of there
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Postby Popkin » Tue Mar 04, 2008 12:44 pm

Hi Bel Bel,

My self-esteem is already shot to pieces. :o I think that's why I can't seem to get myself together to get the cv done, and to leave. Yesterday evening my long-term close friend told me he was relocating for a big career promotion at work. He'll be moving out of the area, to Wales/Bristol, where his folks are. I won't see him again as there's nothing here for him, and I couldnot afford to visit him - I'm on such a low wage.

I don't know many people where I am, even though I've been in the area for about 10 years. I think over the years I have withdrawn as a way of coping. The few people I have known has moved on (for better prospects) and out of the area, and I'm being left behind. I feel absolutely abandoned. Ideally, I'd like to move away for a change of scene / new life too, but I don't think that's a possibility as it's not financially viable (I'm poor), and my work profile isn't desirable, where an employer from say, another County would want me to move.
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Postby Bel Bel » Tue Mar 04, 2008 3:32 pm

All the more reason to move on asap
A new job will boast your confidence and give you an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends
You can go on line for tips about your CV
You could consider a complete career change one with training on the job like prison offier, these are being advertised on the underground with very good salaries even whilst training
Perhaps a visit to the job centre to have a chat with a careers advisor
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Postby holz » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:05 pm

I think you are in desperate need of some information and advice on how to handle this situation. I am assuming you are over the age of 20, I would suggest you find your nearest nextstep centre. nextstep offers practical help and careers advice about learning and work options for adults aged 20 and over, whether you are in work or unemployed. I know I sound like an advert, but I work closely with the organisation based in Cornwall and I can assure you they will be able to help you.

If you type in nextstep in Google along with your county, your local nextstep website will come up. Phone them and make an appointment to see an adviser, believe me you will feel so much better about your situation afterwards.
If you tell them everything you have posted on this site they will be able to help you plan what to do next by giving you all the options available so you can choose the best one for you.

You shouldn't have to put up with these working conditions, it’s not fair on you and it can't be good for your emotional and mental well being.

Please let me know how you got on, I have been in similar situation like this myself and speaking to a personal adviser was the best thing I ever did.

Take care xxx
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Postby Popkin » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:53 am

Thank you for your support, holtz. I discovered today that the Asst Manager is leaving tomorrow. Her job is being advertised internally, and there is a poster that is headed 'Promotion Potential': '...if you think you have what it takes....then go for drinks after work with X & Y (the supervisors) who will let you have more details'. No respectable company would advertise a position in this way, and I feel sickened, as I AM promotion material - only not for or in this company. Also I DO have what it takes - I have managed a service before - only because both X and Y have personally treated me so badly, I would not wish to work with them.

I have used connections before, and think I shall consult them again once my cv is in place.

Thank you for your advice - the support is great x
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Postby ***BB*** » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:34 pm

Get out of there and go work for a company which has grown ups running it. And go and get urself a promotion whilst ur at it

As for the all the other rubbish u have put up with i.e., money issues, i would seek legal advise for this from the citizens advice bereau! Cant hurt anyway! Im sure u are not allowed to take pay cuts........i may be worng but worth lookign at what ur entitled too!
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