Michael (not his real name) had no idea I was waiting in my attorney’s office ready to witness my attorney depose him and his female bully accomplice. The legal conference was on the second floor and I was already sitting comfortably in the waiting room.
When Michael saw me after he got off the elevator he looked shocked and rivers of perspiration were streaming down his face. I just smiled at him and politely said, “hello”. For nearly two years, I was harassed to the point of exhaustion. I had spoken up about perceived nepotism and other prohibited personnel practices that were occurring in my former government agency.
I took action to hold my bullies accountable for mistreating me and for their deplorable behavior towards many other employees. I had written up most of my casework and had hired an Employment Attorney to be my voice at the Formal Hearing. Not everyone has the resiliency, courage or the tools to hold workplace bullies accountable for their behavior. It feels good to hold someone accountable for unacceptable behavior.
As I sat across the table from Michael, he was not so formidable or able to create harm in my life anymore. He looked scared and I felt a little sorry for him because as a Life Coach, I know that many times bullies have been mistreated themselves or had poor mentors in their lives. Nonetheless, I had enough of the bullying and discrimination experience and I was tired of people following me to the bathroom to ask me advice on what to do about the perceived nepotism that was happening in our workplace. Qualified employees were not being promoted. It’s sad to witness employees who have advanced degrees or years of work experience working at the bottom of the pay charts.
I nonchalantly walked over to the refrigerator and offered Michael a coca cola. He was very passive and could barely look at me. However, in the workplace—he had been a tyrant to me. At the time, I had over 22 years’ experience working in Human Resources and I was keenly aware of what was going on in my former government agency.
So, I provided some guidance on what could be done with each of the employees who spoke to me in private. None of them took any action to help themselves. Were they scared to take action? Probably so. If you have to bring home a paycheck to support yourself or your family, it can be quite intimidating to speak up if you think you could be fired.
Workplace bullying is not illegal, but discrimination is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In my case, I was denied a Reasonable Accommodation I needed to be able to perform the essential functions of my job. So, I filed a disability discrimination charges and later, retaliation charges against my management. I had a victory in the end.
However, there are numerous ways to reduce the impact of workplace bullying. I will share some suggestions:
First, document everything that is happening in the workplace and keep it in a safe place. You may need to share this information later if you have to contest workers compensation, litigation, or provide evidence to support your claim. Keep good records and never keep them at your job.
Second, it’s wise to have a savings account or financial means if you get fired or need to leave an abusive job. It’s not hard to put a little money away each paycheck. One of the easiest ways to cut back on expenses is to limit how many times you eat out at restaurants. One of my favorite financial gurus is Dave Ramsey. He offers all kinds of free tools on his website for budgets and getting out of debt. https://www.daveramsey.com
Third, always keep your resume updated. If you decide to look for another job, you may have to tailor your resume. Pay attention to the skills sets that are listed on the job announcement. Be sure to add that to your resume if you have the qualified skills. Stay optimistic and it helps to understand that if you don’t get the job you want, there may be a better job or path for you.
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