After being bullied at work, what next?

One of the unfortunate realities of severe workplace bullying is that targets often must leave their jobs in order to avoid further torment.  For those who are debating that course of action, here are some considerations:

1.  What are your other options for employment?  (Remember, it’s easier to get a new job while you still have your old one.)  Are there people besides the bully who can serve as a useful reference?  Is this particular episode a sign that you should change vocations or professions?  If so, what can you do to make a transition?  A good career counselor for adults can help sort through the possibilities.

2.  What are your employee benefit options?  They may include using up vacation and personal days, accessing Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, filing a workers’ compensation claim, applying for unemployment benefits, and — in severe cases — applying for disability benefits.

This area is tricky business.  For example, “voluntary” resignations usually preclude one from claiming unemployment benefits, and it is questionable whether leaving due to bullying qualifies as an exception.  Talking to a lawyer who works with employee benefits may be useful before making any decision to leave a job.

3.  Do you have any viable legal claims?  As I’ve written many times on this blog, current legal protections are less than ideal, but possibly your situation might give rise to a lawsuit.  A good employment lawyer can help you sort through those options.

4.  How is your state of mind and your health in general?  Counseling and medical care may be useful, even necessary, in severe situations.  Be honest with yourself and do not feel self-conscious about seeking help.

5.  Do you have a cushion of savings to sustain you during a period of unemployment?  In some cases, a discussion with an investment advisor may be useful.

I’ve raised a lot of questions and provided no answers, in large part because the answers will be unique to the individual.  But hopefully I have set out some important food for thought for those who are facing difficult decisions due to bullying or similar forms of mistreatment at work.

32 responses

  1. Thank you, Dr. Yamada, for pointing out some reality checks. Although these are hard times for many people, being bullied on the job is still unacceptable. It’s difficult to say how much is too much for, as you say, it’s an individual experience.

    You make an excellent point about seeking help. Many of us are told to “be strong”, “just keep your mouth shut”, or “just hang in there, this will pass”. But asking for help from objective sources seems to make the most sense. Giving ourselves permission to admit that we are powerless over our work environment and asking for help is the BEST direction to go.

    This is the second employer (education) in the past 10 years where I am confronted with workplace bullying. Knowing what is happening to me this time is making a real difference, but understanding workplace bullying has not prevented it from happening to me again.

    I am seeing my doctor today about how the work environment may be affecting my blood pressure, my heart rate, and general overall health. I met with a counselor and am to meet again next week. I believe that, with their help, I can make a sound decision about whether to stay, take a leave of absence, or simply move on. It takes courage, no matter what the decision.

    I appreciate your guidance and thank you for all you are contributing to raise awareness of the damage done to so many of us by workplace bullying.

    • Michelle, I appreciate your comment, especially coming from someone who knows what this is all about. Best wishes, David

      • David,
        I was just bullied by the worldest largest accounting firm, and I am a top performing female exec. The bullies are 2 senior females in Human Resources. They engaged in defamation, discrimination, Character assassination, etc all behind by back for over 30 days. They actually put a 3 page document together full of misstatements and intentional lies (and the Firm refuses to give it to me) attacking me. Ironically enough, one of the senior HR people involved was calling me a bully to my local boss, and smeared my name at the highest level of the Firm , in addition to making inappropriate and misleading statements about me for over 30 days.

        At the center of the bullying is my boss, a very popular partner who has been sexually harassing me since March 2012 (over a year). Instead of supporting me in my claims, he turned the spot light on me so no one would question his actions. He also struggles with drug addiction including cocaine.

        My co workers have turned on me. And so has Firm leadership. My husband and I have a son at home with severe autism, and I am trying to stick it out in the position until mid October – when the Firm pays me a significant bonus check. I will not be able to replace my position at this compensation or benefits for my son in the local midwest market. My situation is toxic – and the Firm told me…”shut up” we can do whatever we want to you. I never shared the harrassing enviroment that I have been in with my boss – because no one would believe me and the Firm they already sided with HR.

        Text messages, instant messages and e-mails all confirm the sexual harrassment, drug addiction …in addition to the Human Resource Bullying.

        Last month I went to my local doctor to get an anxiety and sleeping aid. At 44, it is the first time in my life that I have ever needed anything to cope with life. I lost 13 pounds in less than 6 weeks. I am devastated, humiliated and very angry.

        Debbie – July 2013

      • Debbie i Know what you are going through as i went through this as well and the only thing differrent is they didnt physically hit you. It is just as bad if not worse being attacked mentally. You need to get hold of yourself and not let them push you around . What i am doing now is looking at where it comes from with thses kind of people , minding my own business doing what i’m told to do with a big smile on my face as it is what makes their day miserable when you walk in with a smile on your face as they feel they didnt win because you my friend are using reverse psychology by being tough and smiling especially when they look at you . It pisses them off amd makes me smile . I am currently putting resumes everywhere within hopes to get out of where i am . I suggest you do the same apply to different firms so you are not a sitting duck until you get another job and the bonus check. Its worse if you wait until you are let go to get another job. Leaving on your terms as you found other employment is better. So apply everywhere you can to get a job no matter what it is as you have a child with needed medical care and try my way smile in their stupid faces , it works look through the mail and you will see i gave David info where to report people like these kind . Hang in there as i know what its like with no money and apply now for everything even if u have to go part time somewhere to get your foot in the door until October then advise you can go full time do it now

      • Ok Deb i found the info check it out

        I feel for you my friend. Please load the web address i found and see if there is anything that can help here. If it doesnt contact your Human Rights Comission possibly through the UN/ UNCR

        http://www.workingamerica.org/issues/rights

        To file equal pay or discrimination complaints, call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 1-800-669-4000 (1-800-669-6820 for TTY).
        If you’ve been sexually harassed, write down a record of the harassment incidents. Follow your employer’s internal complaint procedure. To file charges with the EEOC, call 1-800-669-4000.
        If you’ve been threatened, transferred or fired because of your union activity, contact the National Labor Relations Board at 1-866-667-NLRB (6572) to file charges.

      • Hi Debbie i do feel for you and the pressure is immense . The best thing you can do while keeping this job until October is start putting resumes out like crazy as its very hard to get a job out there it took me almost 6 months and the job i got was a nightmare from hell. So advice from one woman to another no matter what job it is that you apply for take what you can get for now as i feel they will try to fire u before October so as not to pay the big bonus money. So you have money apply to other places so you can get ahead of the game who cares what job it is mc donalds as they have full benefits something part time as they prob will try to fire you before you get that money . Im sorry i had to say that but the reality is wriiten is your story re read it ask why when who where and you will see the answers and when they do fire you at least you have another job. When i got fired last week i was smiling i couldnt stop as i already backed myself up and i could stop smiling as that job was a job from hell the pakistani manager was the worst manager i ever worked under. the doughnut/coffee shop is the worst place i ever worked so now you know why i was smiling lol do yourself a favour ok take care i hope it works for u

    • It seems as if leaving another job is not the option.. In this economic crisis where so many people are jobless, I think it is time for you to face and expose the bully and seek counsel from a good employment attorney. I am sure the bully has a paper trail of priors.

      Best,
      Bee

  2. Very informative article. I believe my wife is a victim of bullying at her job. She will be quitting soon because of this. And it’s A bad time for her to do that. I recently relocated to Virginia since my company uprooted from Texas. I had to relocate because I could not find another job in Texas. Anyway, my wife got layed off from her last job due to the same situation. But they did not offer any of the employees relocation packages. So she found another job in the Accounting field as a supervisor. But it didn’t take long before things went down hill. Firstly the person that was supposed to train her only trained her for two days, and told her that she was on her own. And then she was not given addiquate time to figure out how things worked around there. So when she tried to figure out things herself, of course things did not come out like they wanted, and that was the begining of what seems to me like harrassment. At first I thought she just needed to tuffen up and deal with it. But when they told her that she needed to pick her new hire and then choose a person of their liking instead of the person who she thought might help her out in the long wrong, things started looking a little more suspicious (They choose an employee who has been working there in another dept. for years. Someone that they knew, and was not qualified.) Then allowed that employee to go to school first thing in the morning during working hours. Company policy says if you attend school, then you should do it on your own time, with company reinburstment. So when that employee, after taking an hour and a half each day to go to school also wanted another hour for lunch breaks, my wife told her no, because she needed her there to help out. After that she has been scrutinized and told her work is bad, and also has been assigned projects which constantly being interupted with new work. These are projects that last all day. And I believe the managers know this. So, to make a long story short, the last straw was when her manager asked my wife for a file to be put on the network that was already put out ther by my wife, she told her no. This resulted in a write up that my wife did not want to sign because of the bogus charges in the write up. Anyway, there is much more involved then what I am able to type here. Don’t want to write everything, it would be too long. I don’t know what to do because now, my money will have to cover the house and apt rent since she will be out of a job. And I hate to tell her to go back because she complains about pains in her heart. Just don’t know what to do.

    Thanks for listening: Reggie

    P.S.
    We do have an emergency fund for such occations. But I did not want to use it because of some unfair treatment of my wife.

    • I was in a vindictive situation like this and taking the high road with a bully doesn’t work. My advice, get out and save your self esteem.

      • You are so right Cecilia and I would if I didnt have bills to pay as I’m the only one holding everything together. I have applied around and finally i have another Job but i still have to keep the one where the Bully is as i still need to keep fulltime hours .
        So where the Bully is , is now only 2 days a week shift as of course he has cut my 44 hour a week job to 21 hours and of course always the weekend.
        I have now Intimidated him as he will not speak to me directly and goes through another person to ask for something.
        I spoke to him directly as he was having a hissy fit and I said his name in a stern calm voice and advised him what i did , and he just flipped out , I smiled and he was crying for the other Manager to come and check what i just did. This guy is something else and sinking himself everyday that I’m there. Today the other Manager called in sick as she is tired of his crap too.
        So i have 32 hours with the new job, and only 16 hours with the old job so i will stick it out so i can get caught up on bills for a while .

  3. Reggie, I’m sorry to hear what you folks are going through. No magic answers on my end, unfortunately, other than to think things out carefully and not make rash decisions. Gary and Ruth Namie’s The Bully at Work (2009 edition) is loaded with helpful insight — it’s the book I suggest to individuals (and their families) who are going through bullying situations.

  4. I stood up for a co-worker in her grievance against our boss who was a bully to everyone in the office. Out of 6 people, 3 coworkers said to my coworker keep your mouth shut and deal with it. The other three said to my coworker to report the abuse. I followed up with my own grievance against the boss. HR never reported the finding to me about my grievance again the boss. HR wanted my coworker to continue working for the bully boss but when my coworker filled a police report for the boss assaulting her and went to our security department the boss “resigned.” I was told, as were all my coworkers, if we ever talked about this to anyone, coworkers, family, or friends it would be grounds for dismissal.

    • That is so wrong as they cannot dimiss you for what the Bully did to everyone and definately file charges on the assault even through the Human Rights act will tell you , you are right . The only reason the company is saying that is because they can be sued as well for not doing something with him in the first place and probably have had complaints before i definately would pursue legal action. It takes a lot of GUTS for a co worker to stand up for another and you should be extremely proud that you helped someone in need and if the company threatened the co-worker you have the right to sue for lost wages and mental anguish or even for the threat of being unemployed .
      Dont take this lying down as if there is more than one person who has stood up , the only reason the company told you to never speak of this again is because they are either embarrassed, dont want to be sued , or friends with the guy who resigned still trying to save his butt.

  5. Seek for help!!
    I am a short asian woman. I was bullied by my workmate during the work, she is much bigger size than me, and she grabbed my neck and throat, told me: what do you want?. Now 3 days have passed, I have heard anything from my work about the invesgation. Where can I get help from? Please.

  6. I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to find a job very similar to the one where I was bullied but I had to sell my house and relocate my family out of state. I left Utah and moved to Oregon where I now have similar pay, better benefits, nicer home and most of all a very nice boss. These are tough times but I think it is important to start a job search if the bullying gets too bad. Just make sure it’s what you want and know that you can get out and your situation can be better.

  7. I was working in a kitchen and their manager , was under neath behind me punching me in the buttocks and legs , no one stopped her and it wasn’t anything I did , she must have just been certifiably a cracker nothing upstairs in the brain dept as who does this? So the next day i called my boss and told him what happened the previous night and all the waitresses said i was a liar. He said he didnt believe me and she would never do this. i said the dishwasher seen the whole thing. I let it go , went into work that evening and he fires me and told me he called the cops on me.So i called the police to see why he would call them on me as I am the victim. The police no report was made and asked why so i told them what happened and they said they would take a report and investigate. The workplace didnt have cameras so i was pretty well screwed and no one would speak up.

    I then got hired by another company well known company and the workers have bullied me there as well even fracturing my fingers.Then mental abuse , stress and now the owner playing games wanted to shift me to another store thats tough to work in , or else im fired i have done nothing wrong except my job.

    • Gosh, I will admit I am very moved by your story, Terry. Mental anguish is so life draining and can result in diminished mental health status, work performance, and a host of other ailments.

      Being physically assaulted is an all-time low, though, I must say. I wonder if there is any way in which someone in this kind of situation can secretly video/audiotape the incidents.

      Having said that, I realize that in most states the laws require that all parties need to be privy to and agree to being taped. It might help to check in with the laws In your state.

      Unless I am mistaken, I thought I recalled a highly publicized situation where a young girl videotaped her tormenting experiences at a school, I believe, and even though I think it was illegal to videotape the incident, I recall that the offending behavior was addressed, as the mental/emotional abuse was so horrific.

      What can a person do who is vulnerable to physical assault in the work place with no witnesses being willing to come forward? That kind of situation hits an all-time low.

      • I’m in Canada , and all businesses are required to have cameras this guy slipped through the cracks . You wont believe this Im working for a well known company that has coffee as their main product and they have played games mentally and physically been hurt there as well by a co worker smashing my fingers with a steel rack for no reason. She got promoted to supervisor . Ive now been transferred because the manager has problems with me doing my job too well

      • I will say, Terry, I have noticed that doing one’s job too well is a common complaint of insecure supervisors.

        Was your most recent injuries beyond the camera’s view? Also, does Canada have anything on the books that even marginally protects employees from abusive employers/supervisors?

      • You will not believe you when i tell you this that The Manager said to me this morning at 8;30 am on May 14th 2013 called me a stupid baker , are you a stupid baker , i dont need a stupid baker for no reason to me just bullying me . So i said , please call another baker in as I’m not feeling well. He said ok you can go now i will put this as a sick day and i will need a doctors note. Can you believe this .

  8. The place I worked had no cameras and so he got away with it .
    The new place i work does have cameras no sound i believe so they rely on other co workers but he did say it loud enough for other customers out front to hear

    • I am so sorry for your woes, Terry. An employee should not have to endure this kind of treatment, and yet, we do.

      Where are the laws that protect our hard working members of the work force. I don’t know how these people live with themselves, I truly do not.

      I know a veteran who works for BJ’s and he says that he has to endure endless mistreatment at the hands of his supervisor. This person fought for his country only to return to engage in a fight for his integrity as a civilian.

      These perpetrators seem to have no conscience, they truly do not.

      I am saddened to hear of your plight, Terry. Our prayers are with you.

      • Thank You so much as just your comments , are helping mentally physically as well. Everyone should come on your site and place their comments as it is gratifying to know someone out there cares.
        I feel for the guy , who works at BJ, who fought for his country. That company should be treating someone who is brave and has the stamina such as he would have , to withstand what he endured in war, with respect and dignity. Maybe that Supervisor should be sent to war and come back see how he endures to find a job.
        Why do workplaces create such drama, and wars amongst their employees. Its always the ones who work hard trying to get ahead or just trying to make ends meet.

      • Now I looked at the sheet I logged on for products, I see the comment on need to smart bake after the Manager called me stupid last week and then 5 days later puts it in writing OMG this guy is something else. How did he ever get to be a Manager is beyond me . Yelling all the time bossy demanding threatening Human Rights Comission needs to hear this story. What do you think Yes or No . He can’t just get away with it !!!!!!!!!!!

      • I feel so badly for you, Terry, as it seems as though you are in a situation where the manager is making your work life a living nightmare.

        I wonder if David could comment on this issue. I would think that it would be helpful to explore what the legal protections are in your province, as I understand that you live in Canada, correct?

        From my personal experience of trying to advocate for myself, periodically, and really trying to pick my battles, so to speak, I lost my job, anyway. So, I am not the best person to provide wisdom in your situation.

        I do think that finding out what your legal protections are, if any, would be a critical first step. In the U.S., there doesn’t appear to be any protection against bullying in an ‘at will’ workplace setting.

        Can you start looking for other work? Of course, that would mean putting your current job down as a reference. Perhaps, there is someone in your workplace that would be a supportive reference on a job application.

        Do you have any thoughts about this matter, David?

      • I am so sorry to hear you lost your job and yes I believe your comments matter a lot ,as you must have gone through a nightmare before you lost your job.
        I looked up this site for American Workers rights , You Need To FIGHT back my friend dont take this laying down as I myself am backing myself up with documents and documenting everything that happens in that place. The person I work for I truly and honestly know is a certified Nut as he is yelling everyday at everyone and like a bull in a china shop with destruction.
        I have Human Rights Comission In Canada and they have laws that help, also Bullying Laws are in place in Canada but the best course of action is the Human Rights Comission. In the United States it falls under the UN human rights.
        It is dispicable that you lost your job , it seems to me that they discriminated against you as I believe you are the Soilder who fought for people’s lives in the war, am I correct? It takes guts to do that, be proud that you are alive , and fight like you never fought before to stop people like your old Boss ,how many others suffer as we do . It’s not easy. Maybe ask the government for help on starting your own Business and you can employ other Soilders coming home .
        I feel for you my friend. Please load the web address i found and see if there is anything that can help here. If it doesnt contact your Human Rights Comission possibly through the UN/ UNCR

        http://www.workingamerica.org/issues/rights

        To file equal pay or discrimination complaints, call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 1-800-669-4000 (1-800-669-6820 for TTY).
        If you’ve been sexually harassed, write down a record of the harassment incidents. Follow your employer’s internal complaint procedure. To file charges with the EEOC, call 1-800-669-4000.
        If you’ve been threatened, transferred or fired because of your union activity, contact the National Labor Relations Board at 1-866-667-NLRB (6572) to file charges.

      • I do have about 100 resumes out and i am going to drop off the current job listed on my resume as I am not getting to many hits with it on there.
        I applied to Target as they are hiring too. In Canada you apply online for jobs at the job bank.ca and i think the old way is good too taking resumes out there.
        I am going to hit the shopping malls tomorrow ,and the next day factories and other places small and big as I;m not even getting my 40 hrs anymore per week.
        This Job is making me feel Physically ILL .
        Also Lowes is over here too ,I applied to them too. So hopefully there is something out there for me and you to David .
        I worked in Call Centers too try that as they generally offer Training and overtime too I am going there tomorrow too as It was pretty good there .
        I left one as the site closed , went to another and that site recently closed after 12 years and that’s why i took this awful job in a pinch, gotta pay the bills right?

      • Thank you for the links, Terry. In the United States, there is some workplace protection for some employees that pertain to protected class status.

        For those of us who do not fit a protected class status category, there are no laws to protect us from common everyday bullying tactics that employees are abused by. That is why the Healthy Workplace Bill has been and continues to be introduced into state legislatures across the U. S.

        Currently, I think there are 21 bills attempting to make it through the legislative processes. I appreciated your second link, as well. I can save them for future reference.

        As for the workplace I was in, there wasn’t any union protection. I worked for an ‘at will’ employer, which essentially meant that an employee can give notice at any time for no reason, and so can an employer.

        All of my documentation doesn’t mount to a hill of beans unless I remained employed and waited until the workplace bill passed (eventually). And even then, my supervisor would have to engage in her typical bullying behavior (which she would do, as she cannot control herself) and then, and only then, can I use all of the prior documentation to support my complaint after the bill finally passes.

        As for me, I was fired before the bill will be passed so, therefore, any prior issue cannot be brought forth and I do not/will not have any issue that I can hold her accountable for.

        Good luck to you, though.

      • For the soilder who lost his job i dont know if this will help

        Veteran-Owned Businesses | SBA.gov

        http://www.sba.gov › … › Thinking About Starting a Business? › Business Types‎

        SBA.GOV site – U.S Small Business Administration. Forgot your…Small Business Loans….Many states and other organizations also provide loans to veterans

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,007 other followers

%d bloggers like this: