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Forums / Employment and workplaces / Please help - workplace bullying, advice/support appreciated

Topic: Please help - workplace bullying, advice/support appreciated

8 posts, 0 answered
  1. frances25
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    frances25 avatar
    1 posts
    24 November 2013

    Hi, This is long - sorry!

    I have found somewhere to connect with others who may understand. As it is hard to speak to anyone as some of my friends are parents at the school where I'm being bullied (so i can't talk to them) - I am a teacher being bullied by two of my colleagues (one is the leader) and now my immediate boss also. The situation began June/July when I first started contributing towards planning (I am a new teacher and was encouraged to take on more by my boss as she could see I was not being allowed to contribute much). 

    Things quickly went downhill ; undue criticism, refusal to work collegially, exclusion from conversations between her and other colleague (we all work on same year level), conversations stopping when I entered our shared office, ignoring my input/ideas/ talking over me at workshops etc/ belittling me basically. She would agree to do something for me, then not do it but swear she had "I'm sure I sent that email." etc I finally realised the amount of lying, backstabbing and deceit I was dealing with was unbelievable. I spoke to her directly (as proper procedure) and asked if I had done anything wrong/upset her etc and she brushed it all off. She would just mention a family situation or health issue occasionally as if that excused her behaviour yet weirdly seem to deny any wrong behaviour too. So...I went to my immediate boss and told her the situation. She listened, didn't say much other than she wouldn't put us together next year and that she would talk to the colleague.

    No follow up was made, however in the days following my talk with my boss in fact, the behaviours grew worse, snapping at me, leaving me out of conversations again, not allowing me to contribute to year level input or organsiation. I approached my boss who said she had talked to my colleague but gave me no further advice or feedback. After 10 days of this worse treatment I again approached my boss saying that (and emailing) I needed to have this situation resolved urgently, as obviously their talk with the colleague had only made things worse. My boss tried to set up a meeting with the 3 of us and totally ignored my request to avoid meeting with just the 3 of us as I felt it would not be appropriate without support person and I had to be very assertive to get a support person involved.

    An in-house mediation meeting took place after much stalling and time wasting.  The  'overall boss' spoke well and reminded my colleague she was not to override me, that we were professional teachers and should be able to countribute and work in a civil way. It was suggested follow up to ensure all would go well. My colleaguge denied all the behaviours during the meeting and blatantly lied about me, I had witness names to back up my claims yet she would give no names! No apology was given although I asked for one and she was prompted to give one - she didn't.

    Following the meeting, my 2 colleagues behaviours settled for a period of 6-8 weeks (3 of which were school holidays). then, around the time it was announced that they were working together again next year, there was a re-starting of the bullying behaviours (isolation/exclusion/refusal to collegially cooperate) from them both. I again spoke to my immediate boss who brushed it all off, saying I should think of the other persons feelings as I had made allegations against her and that she now felt she couldn't speak to me at all! My immediate boss also made unnerving implicit threats to me during this meeting (there was just the 2 of us) about 'who I had been seen talking to' and 'what some people had said about me' but would give no names!. 

    Things carried on badly, I had several days signed off due to depression (doctor knows it is through workplace bullying). I returned (thinking of my poor students) to the same situation, I was then 'set up' with another meeting with immediate boss and a colleague of hers (not told she would be present) and just because I asked for some assistance was belittled, had sarcasm used, she went back on an offer made in front of our overall boss and I spent the meeting in tears. I went straight to our overall boss and poured my heart out - saying I had had enough, that now my boss was behaving in a bullyin manner too. (There is a long history to her bullying behaviours but I had thought she would not repeat them with someone new this year).

     I have been signed off work by my GP for 4 days, seen a great psychologist on his referral who said it is systemic bullying in the organisation and that I need to remove myself from it to protect myself unless something changes rapidly. I am due to return to work Thursday. Physical and mental toll? Lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, disengagement with husband and children, social withdrawal, losing self-confidence, loss of appetite, etc I LOVE teachng, my students and their families are great. I also have some supportive, great colleagues who have seen what is happening (and some who have been bullied too) BUT how long can I go through this for? WHY should I be the one to leave what would otherwise be my dream job? It's all so unfair. I am awaiting union advice but I have had no contact from my boss or their boss since I informed them I was not coping with the situation and that was Thursday morning - great duty of care!

  2. Stephen123
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Stephen123 avatar
    145 posts
    24 November 2013 in reply to frances25

    Hi Frances may I say first of all it sounds like you are doing all the right things. The main thing is you are standing up for yourself and you have gone about it exactly the way you are meant to. I worked for a government agency and was bullied for years, I allowed this to happen without a fight and I developed a major psychological injury that ended up with me being medically retired and believe me you don,t want to end up down that road. I recently found an excellent site called injured workers support network that has some excellent articles about the extent of bullying in the workplace and the damage it does. You have done the right thing involving the federation and getting a gp involved. Gather as much evidence as you can and keep a diary of the bullying behaviours. Bullying is estimated to cost upwards of 15billion $ a year. I believe bullies are very mentally ill people that need a lot of therapy but they will never admit to this, they were probably beaten as children. You are being very courageous France's you are following all the correct procedures just hang in there. Bullying is a poison that needs to be eradicated. Well done for standing up you will save a lot of heartache for people that come after you. It is a sad fact that it is usually the bully that gets left in the same area and the person being bullied gets moved on. This is wrong and the bully should be made to recognise their despicable behaviours. The sooner managers realise their responsibilities the better. Document everything Frances and beware of your supervisors they,ll just want to smooth things over.

  3. suric
    suric avatar
    1 posts
    13 December 2013 in reply to frances25

    Hi Frances,

    I have a similar experience to yours with 80/90%things being the same.

    I was constantly bullied at work by my leader. I complained several tea to her but in vain. She would constantly criticize my work, would say I took too long to complete my work? Micromanaged me, asked me to go and get things done from another department when the same things could easily be done over the phone.. Basically made me do whatever she desired. She humiliated me several times in front of other people from my team. I was denied leave a few times and was told I need to give a month's notice to take leave for half day or one day. Other people in my team even applied a couple of days before the leave and they were approved their leave.

    She made me feel useless, said I was not upto the mark and she would like me to improve. One of the girls in my team noticed this behaviour and checked with me every now and then to see how I'm coping with this. The other girl on the other hand started disrespecting me . I felt so demotivated and depressed that I started ignoring myself and my family. I would think on Friday about next week's humiliation and be upset all the time. 

    I complained to her boss but he sided her,  I had heard from a few other employees in my department that my leader was very close to her boss but I thought as this is work related he would be fair. I was so wrong. 

    Three weeks ago my leader and my colleague who had become disrespectful for me were talking indirectly about me and my leader was bullying me again. I was feeling dizzy due to tension. I called up my husband and told him that if I stay at this workplace any longer I will commit suicide. He asked me to resign  and so I quit my job. 

    I told my leader I'm resigning and she did not even ask once for the reason. I kept working till after 2pm and said to her I wanted to go home as I was not feeling well. She asked if I was coming in the next day and I said yes. I was asked to bring a medical certificate for leave from 2pm to next day.

    i felt terrible and went to my GP and told her everything. She asked me to stay away from work and my leader for 2-3 weeks. I have not gone back and don't feel like going as well. I feel like I'm in shock and trauma because of all this. 

    Just thought I'd share this to let you know you're not alone . Hope your situation improves soon.

  4. iamsotired
    iamsotired avatar
    73 posts
    14 January 2014 in reply to frances25

    Hi Frances

    I have also been in the same situation and as a result I am mentally very I'll however, I can stand with pride that through everything that has been thrown at me. I know that I have acted with integrity and a focus on my students.

    i have stayed at the same school as I can walk there and I feel I know who are the people not to trust. Most places unfortunately have a bully or two.

    a wise person reversed my thought by stating that these people who attach, undermine and try to sabotage everything we do, are very insecure and jello use of our dedication to our students and the positive responses we receive from our students.

    i do not have advice as I am also trying to prepare myself to return to work after time of from a number of very negative interactions with a fellow teacher and principal.

    all I can suggest is focus on what is important to you and keeps you safe.

    take care you are precious as a teacher who loves teaching and cares 

  5. Rani
    Rani avatar
    5 posts
    18 January 2014 in reply to iamsotired

    Hi Frances

    I think you have done all the right things and I agree with the advice given above.

    If you are still open to some other thoughts on tackling this and have it in you to keep trying to improve your workplace environment;

    • Clearly, it is not safe in your workgroup for people to talk about their concerns, discomforts, relationship strains, such a being bullied, etc.  Someone up the chain of command (hierarchy) is responsible for your workplace culture.  A head person or head office Departmental executive. I'd let them know of your experience and ask for their help to change it and make it a safe place to speak up.  You can say words to the effect that you understand they have this responsibility under the law.  I wonder if your union or local MP could help on this?
    • When communicating with them or anyone involved really, I'd encourage you to get clear on your two strongest feelings and say, 'I'm feeling X and Y' could you help me with this situation please.  Let them feel your emotion.  Don't try to be brave and hold in (suppress) your emotions; if you feel like crying, do that - but you are just asking for help.  Don't criticise anyone or feel you have to explain and justify your feelings; just state them and ask for help. More heart - less head!
    • Read relevant, helpful books.  Two I've read recently that I can recommend are; (i) 'Bullying at Work - How to confront and overcome it' by Adrea Adams and Neil Crawford.  (ii) 'The Question Space' by Gail Foster.  The first has a particular focus on bullying in your profession - tho' it is about the UK, you might find that focus helpful.  Overall, it also explains in some depth why bullies bully.  A comment above is spot on; they need to work through some childhood baggage with a therapist.  Gail's book is the best I've read on how to look after yourself.
    • It is sad to read the statistics but most bullied people leave their employment. If that is an option for you, obviously it is better to do that before the bullying makes you sicker. You are right, it is not fair.  When you feel ready to, you might choose to do something to try to make sure that arrangements are put in place to ensure teachers are not bullied and others do not have to endure the demeaning and unfair treatment that you have received.  In short, look after yourself now and fix the unfairness later.
  6. Jessina97
    Jessina97 avatar
    1 posts
    25 January 2014

    Im hoping that you have been able to reach a conclusion, but I just ready this and I am constantly shocked and saddened by the amount of bullying in the workplace. ANd shocked rthat in most cases it seems condoned if not encouraged. I was in a very similiar situation last year and in August resigned due to my health being severely effected, physically and mentally. I got a payout and was marched out the door on the same day, after 10 years of full time employment where I had never done anything but work my butt off the company. It became too much in the end and when it became apparent that I no longer seemed to have the support from my manager (I was manager of a radiology clinic - successful business entity) I with much sadness resigned. I was the best thing for me and my health and from that aspect I dont regret it, but I also feel like she won. I was a confident, smart, trusting, loyal person. But after months of constant passive harrasment. By this I mean, encouraging staff that were under co management to "spy" on me and feed back information (most wrong and full of lies), constantly undermine my workload, question my decisions & pick on small little issues which meant at least 10 phone calls a day for issues that didnt need to be bought up or could have waited. I would not be given relief staff because she felt that "my numbers and workload did not require help when staff wrere on leave"

     She left me feeling that I had no where to turn and Being my area manager, my person that was meant to "support" me and "assist" me was the last person I could go too. I eventually was given 4 weeks off from my GP after 6 mths of ongoing illness (which I was also highly critisised for even though I had 12 weeks of sick leave owing) I started to improve, but with some of my girls being loyal too me, it was bought to my attention that she and the PGM had been down at the site proboing the girls for information and going through my work. When I returned I was immediately lied too and was told by the PGM that "the girls had approached him". 

     I could no longer take it and I quit, givng 4 weeks notice whcih they refused and made me leave that morning.

     It has left me pretty battered. Trust is gone and the saying there is no loyalty in business now echoes in my head. Apart from the mental scars, I am now in fianancial hardship and about to declare bankrupcy as there is NO work out there right now....

    It is so sad that this behaviour is most common in the workplace amounst so called ADULTS!!! And there is no real life linbe for the employee being bullied because by the time it comes to a crunch, you have no fight left to figh thte BIG BATTLE and we all just walk away and they, the little nasty scabs, get to continue their behaviour!!!

     Sad :(

  7. Suzanne
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Suzanne avatar
    1 posts
    28 January 2014 in reply to frances25

    Hi Frances,

    Firstly, I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through such a horrible time with people you work with.  Like others posted here, I too have gone through bullying that was relentless, hurtful, and damaging to my mental health.  Like you, I went through all of the appropriate channels with no favourable outcome.  After months and months f this I became extremely suicidal, weighed 39kgs, and resigned for the job I loved (and had worked bloody hard to get).  Thus, can I say how much I admire your strength, courage to continue fighting, and sheer determination to stand up for social justice.  You go gilr!!! 

    Always remember that bullies are simply insecure, jealous, intimidated and often socially incompetent individuals playing our their deep and unresolved emotional issues on people they see as stronger than they are.

    You deserve better, and a better path will unfold before you.  Stay strong and move forward with pride and stoic determination to win.

    All my warm fuzzies to you,



  8. waynef
    waynef avatar
    1 posts
    11 April 2014
    I experienced workplace bullying for just over two years,I have been sworn at with the most vulgar words critisised over my appearance and disabilities,had my deceased mother used as critisism towards me.I've had frozen foods thrown at me mashed potato and pumpkin put down the back of my shirt and then rubbed in I was punched in the back of the head whilst the supervisor watched on for working too hard,I was constantly blamed for others mistakes even on my days off,on my last day I was framed over something the supervisor did she turned it around and said I did it which turned the manager against me,I tried all internal processes to sort it out and eventually gave up and resigned.I constantly had information withheld preventing me from carrying out my duties,The manager see's and hears the assaults to her mainly disabled workforce but turns a blind eye as the person doing most of it is the supervisor and they are best friends.I have depression and anxiety so I do not have the mental toughness to fight them nor do I have the funds,I have asked several times over the last 12 months to be given my right of reply even this week I did that,I asked to be put in contact with the board of directors and all have fell on deaf ears by the manager all this from a non profit food supply company to the elderely where you would least expect it

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