Workplace bullying and human rights

One of the most important conceptual breakthroughs in the struggle against workplace bullying has been to frame this destructive, hurtful behavior as a violation of human rights and human dignity.  A few weeks ago, AsianWeek magazine did so with a very nice piece that connected workplace bullying to the 60th anniversary of the U.N. ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Author Phil Tajitsu Nash cogently made the case and gave a gracious nod to some of us who have been involved in the anti-bullying campaign:

One response

  1. I am 63 years old. I was terminated from my job on September 11, 2009, two days after I received “Employee of the Month” and two $50 gift cards for outstanding job performance. I was called into an office in my department and accused of saying and doing things I knew I did not say nor do. When I objected, I was told to keep my voice down, which I did. The manager continued to raise his voice and make personal comments about me and, when I responded in kind, he was (apparently) offended. I told him I wasn’t going to argue with him, which was his intent, and he sent me home. Two days later, I was called to be told I was being let go.

    During my employment there, I was continually harassed by younger workers, required to do twice as much as they did, I was loudly yelled at by younger co-workers, I was set up to be fired on three separate occasions by my Team Lead, who managed to get me written up for violence in the workplace (!!!)—I am not a violent person, I just talked back to her and she claimed to be afraid of me. However, she wasn’t so afraid that she stayed away from me. And she got a big basket of flowers “for everything you’ve (she’d) done. But I certainly stayed away from her for the next two years!

    I wasn’t informed about meetings, not given information provided to team members during the meetings, and my schedule was changed after it had been approved without notifying me. One manager wanted me to sign off on a disciplinary action for using the computer for personal reasons. I refused, as I was sharing the computer with others and I didn’t do personal things at work. I have my own computer here at home and I didn’t want anyone in the company tracking anything I did because it wasn’t any of their business.

    My requests for transfers to other departments were usually ignored or I was told there was no opening in that department. In one case, I was told there was no full time position in the department I had applied for; then, a few days later, a younger, black women who didn’t want a transfer, was given the position.

    The one thing I was subjected to that was not handled as it should have been was when two younger male co-workers decided to have a “farting” contest for “my” benefit. Then one of them objected when I requested to go home early because of them.

    In this job, I knew more than the team leads. They would come to me for answers to their questions because they knew I always kept up with emails, updates, etc. I was nearly always in the Top 5 on the leaderboard for conversion rate and sales. Even if I didn’t agree with something the company wanted done a certain way, I did it anyway. They started requiring us to obtain “leads” for the sales department, which I absolutely hated doing, but I did it and earned rewards for it. I am not a person who cannot understand or be communicated with in a professional, courteous manner. Other co-workers in other departments told me they always knew if they needed anything resolved, they wanted to speak with me because they knew I would follow through and make sure the problem was taken care of correctly.

    I have much documentation regarding all these situations, and more, and I provided everything to the EEOC, who chose to ignore it and did not require the company to respond. The EEOC has since ignored two Congressmen who have inquired about this on my behalf. I notified them after I was terminated because the manager made reference to my “ongoing problem” from two years earlier, which is when I filed the original EEOC complaint.

    I have worked in call centers for 10 years. No more. Doing so took its toll on my health, my finances and my social life. They can blatantly get by with abuse of older workers. I’ve been required to keep a younger, male co-worker awake on the overnight shift so he would work; I received a memo stating how much toilet paper employees were allowed to use. I had “notes” taken by a younger, male co-worker and given to my supervisors to prevent me from being hired through a temporary job. I worked 9-1-1 and my co-workers would change the codes on calls I sent to dispatch and make derogatory statements to me; my supervisor told me she knew they were doing it, but she didn’t know how to stop them; after 11 months, I was fired because I “couldn’t do the job”. (Imagine!) I worked 4-1-1 and needed surgery; my manager told me to resign, come back in 30 days and they would re-hire me; when I returned, I was required to re-test for the job and then told I didn’t have the skills required; I had already worked there for 1 1/2 years. I worked for a private investigation firm out of my home and my work set the standards for the rest of the office; the president of the company told me since I worked from home, I should be willing to work more hours for less money; I furnished the computer, the phone, and any long distance charges were my responsibility; my supervisor told me if they gave me a raise, I would be making more money than he was and later told the unemployment referee that I had been written up for telling “dirty” jokes in the office, which was a total lie. I am a professional and would NEVER do something like that. The referee refused to allow me to respond to the accusation.

    So, I’m trying to find something to do from home. The stress of trying to work with today’s younger management people has just gotten to be too much. They aren’t qualified for the positions they hold, but they come cheap and that’s what matters to corporate.

    I have tried to set up at-home employment with legitimate companies, but it has taken much time and effort to accomplish what their positions require. Not only have I had to update my computer and buy a headset, their assessment tests are very involved and require much study to be able to achieve 100%. Some of them give you one time to pass the test. One wanted an “Ideal Match” and told me in quite an unprofessional way that I had been “disqualified”. Twice on the same day. I guess they didn’t think I’d understand the first time.

    So, I’m trying to keep my sense of humor about all of this, although I can’t deny it has been discouraging and has tested my self-worth and usefullness. I was online tonight and found someone hiring people to raise earthworms. Since I’m looking for a career change and it seems to be a lucrative opportunity, I did consider it. However, I type 85 wpm and would like to keep my skills up-to-date.

    I apologize for the length of this message; details don’t always come in short sentences.

    Thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences.


    Lindsey Goff

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