CEO Targeted and Terminated
I was formerly the CEO of a healthcare association with an operating budget of $1.4 million and 11 staff. During the six and a half years of my employment, I increased the operating budget by half a million dollars and banked another half a million in reserves. After a poor decision by the board (which I was not in support of), the reserves I had built were depleted. Upon assessment, I recommended restructuring parts of the organization, and received buy-in and support from the board. The restructuring required the elimination of a tenured employee, which is the beginning of my story.
I was completely taken off-guard when a letter, signed by all but three of my staff, was sent to the board accusing me of extreme (and untrue) unprofessional behavior, such as sleeping with board members, and physically hitting and verbally abusing staff. The board launched a full investigation, and I was found innocent of the accusations; however, the staff relentlessly continued a smear campaign against me and even filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. Attorney's were engaged to protect the organization and, ultimately, the board took a vote of no confidence in my abilities as CEO.
I spent over $5,000 of my own money trying to negotiate my continued employment with the board but to no avail. As a CEO, I was a contractual employee and the board terminated my contract, citing no cause. My attorneys advised me that there was no case against the board or the association but I could file a civil suit against the employees for an additional fee. Of course this was not an option, as my professionalism and career was a stake. While we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, the press alone would have been enough to cast doubt on my abilities as a CEO, preventing me from working in my chosen field. It is a sad world when people can make false accusations against you and not be held accountable for their actions.
I was unemployed for 8 months—the longest I had gone without working for my entire career—partially due to the economy but partially because of the depression and PTSD I suffered as a result of what had happened. I've been working for the past two and a half years for a very small association (only 1 staff person and myself) at less than half the salary I was making before, and I still suffer on occasion from PTSD symptoms.
Workplace bullying and mob mentality can happen to anyone, even the boss. Kudos to the brave people who experienced similar situations and the founders of this site.