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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Bullying/Mobbing in Public Sector

I work for a local government as a middle manager. My duties include training and supervising junior employees. A few years ago a new employee was hired and assigned to our branch who's skills and performance were well below what was required for the job. However, she was able to continually charm myself and other staff into helping her through her workload. Over time, due to my guidance and training, her performance improved significantly (but not up to that of her peers). Meanwhile, she had also become very popular with most staff by organizing social events, remembering birthdays, socializing, etc. A warning sign I should have recognized at the time, however, was that there was always a small number of staff who had serious conflicts with her and didn't trust her.

Naively, we dismissed these incidents telling ourselves that she simply couldn't be the type of person they were describing. Another warning sign was her subtle but continual use of gossip to slowly discredit fellow employees that she considered competitors. A couple of occasions I caught her trying to discredit me to my own boss, but fortunately I had a close working relationship with him so nothing came of it and I accepted her apologies. But I was finally starting to wake up to who she really was and she knew it.

A couple years later, my boss was forced to resign due to poor health. She wasted no time going to coffee dates with the incoming boss (a nerdy guy who loved the attentions of a young, attractive female) and "educating" him on who the "problem" people were in the office. She also went to senior management claiming to be a long suffering victim of mistreatment by myself and my former boss (even though she had at one time nominated him for a "best boss" award).

She told the new branch head that I was a poor performer and lobbied for my firing and her promotion to my job. Through false allegations and slander, she gained the support of two of my co-workers who joined her in a viscious smear campaign against me, including claiming I had mental problems (a common bullying tactic I later found out) and had harrassed her by unfairly accused innocent her of dishonesty mutliple times. The new boss begain to strip me of my job responsibilities but claimed it had nothing to do with their smear campaign.

At this point, seeing my once excellent reputation in complete tatters and feeling totally isolated, I expected either firing, transfer to an inferior job, or demotion to be imminent. Each day I went to work thinking it might be my last. Luckily, I found a website about workplace mobbing and realized what was happening to me. I was also fortunate that a few long standing friends (with impecable reputations and influence) in other branches were aware of what was going on and witnessed it. They were able to provide me with advice and support and offered to testify to HR about what that they had witnessed the bullies say and do.

HR initially offered support and promised disciplinary action against the three bullies. I also provided them with info on workplace mobbing. Unfortunately, without explanation, things soon stalled and they only interviewed my bullies, myself, and only one of my supporting witnesses only after she insisted on it. And, no surprise, they concluded that it was all just a minor mishandling of issues by all involved and my allegations were largely just paranoia. My one witness was not referenced and they became very angry when I brought this up. They said mobbing may have occurred but they didn't have time to investigate it.
Nevertheless, HR and upper management realizing that I had the support from a few influential co-workers probably saved my job.

The main ringleader transferred out shortly after as did one of her allies.
Even though I hear stories of her continued use of gossip and slander against rivals and new conflicts with other staff, she has quickly won popularity with upper management in her new branch and recently won a promotion. I was fortunate that my new boss who supported her transferred to another city and I now have another excellent new boss who has known me for many years, and I have regained my status and popularity in my branch (but not the overall dept).

Looking back, I realize she initially used me to gain position and status in the branch. When she realized I was slowly seeing through her acts of deception and her gossip against her fellow workers, she turned on me as soon as she found people who she could charm and deceive into supporting her. I wonder if I would have been better off to pretend to be fooled by her like most everyone else?

I'm still subject to actions of my bully as she still works at smearing my reputation as evidenced by her friends and new coworkers who suddenly started giving me the cold shoulder. I also suffer from PTSD from the very nearly losing a very good job that I enjoy and almost losing my career. I also have ongoing fears that she or one of her allies might become my boss someday or that she'll manufacture new lies against me and renew her efforts to get me fired. Based on these websites, bullies rarely give up attacking people who they suspect are on to them.

Any advice on trying to overcome PTSD? I'm constantly in fear of a recurrence of what happened. Despite this being an excellent job with great benefits, should I look for another place of work?

Comments for Bullying/Mobbing in Public Sector

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GET OUT!
by: Melanie

I suffered through 4 years of workplace bullying and mobbing in order to retire early from my job. I didn't want to let them take that away from me. But now that I am retired, the pain is still with me every day. I was even told that usually the effects of workplace bullying exacerbate after you leave the job. Unless you are going to be throwing away a retirement pension and a lifetime of health insurance, as I would have been, I would get out of there and find another job. I tend to think that once bullying has infiltrated your workplace, unless there is a COMPLETE change in management, the bullying will never cease.

Are there others she has hit?
by: susan

Since she has moved out of your area for now - is there a way you can locate others that she has harrassed through her lies and slander? Maybe 2 or more of you can then present your experiences to HR?

Good luck to you.

surrender your dignity, self respect and self esteem once you are on City time
by: Anonymous

My job, I would say, is being a target for bullies and of course management make the things worse, it does not matter what the "tax payers" or 'residents" tell you on the phone all you can say is "thank you and have a good day!" so I have to "unplug" my mind and become a sort of machine, any thing no matter if I am right or wrong, is used against us, because that is the City policy related to customer service, is kind of a modern slavery, surrender your dignity and self esteem you are here to be abused by tax payers and residents without consequences, welcome!!

Bullying and Victimimization
by: Harvey

I sympathize with the persons impacted by bullying much more now since I have been a victim since Oct 2012, especially in the public sector. I am still employed by a corrupt and malfeasant entity called the ... However when I was so overwhelmed with the deliberate malfeasance of my employer I decided to offer all my skills and abilities to my employer. Instead I should have recognized the signs of bullying. First it was the lack of suitable work, and then finding a union in bed with the employer. The employer had promoted the union reps despite lack of qualifications. Then I became a legal whistleblower which meant that I complained within my chain of command and then as State Law requires took the appropriate steps. The result was that I was suspended on 10/2012 and still being paid however my employer is doing whatever it takes to force me to resign. They have actually engaged in computer trespass of my computer and cell phone, and engaged in progressively worse workplace violence including an attack on me. After I was suspended there are strong indications of vehicular stalking and even vandalism to my home. The water bowl of my pets has even been tainted. To find an attorney seems impossible because the field of work I'm in provides employment to most of the competent attorneys in the area thus they won't get involved because of the potential loss of clients.

Revenue Commissioners Ireland
by: A distraught mother

As I sit here I look at my husbands empty chair as he died nine months ago and wish I could share my worries with him. Nine months ago as my son in his late twenties, sat beside his dying father's bed in hospital, I thought that my son did not look a bit well. When I asked him if he felt ok, his sister told me to stop worrying about everyone that I had enough to worry about. My husband got to the stage that he had to be overdosed on morphine to stop his heart as he was drowning due to his lungs.
When it was all over, for the first time in my life I understood what was meant by the sound of silence, as the silence in my house was deafening. My son was renting a house with other males on the other side of town. He went to work in Revenue every day on the bus. A few weeks after we buried his father, I was contacted by our family doctor to come to his surgery as he said my son was with him. I almost vomited with fright as I did not know what to expect. When I arrived at the surgery my son was sitting on a chair trembling all over and his face looked grey in colour. The doctor was very angry and pounded his fist on the table and said he has seen it so many times the way bullies operate and asked me if I knew that my son was very badly bullied over the past year and a half, in his job in Revenue.
I said no, that I noticed that did not look well a few months earlier but I thought it was because his father was dying. The doctor told me my son was on the way to work and collapsed on the bus and he was afraid to let him out on his own in case he committed suicide. He wrote a letter and told me to bring him to the hospital. He attended 13 sessions at Pieta House and the doctor every week. The bully is a 35 year old woman who was transferred from the west of Ireland to oversee a project in my sons building. My son and a woman of 60 were asked if they were interested in being involved in the project and they said yes. So they were in a room all day on their own with the bully, while the rest of Revenue were dealing with tax issue in the huge main offices. No one on the outside even knew what the project was about. The bully first started bullying the woman who after six weeks could take it no longer and had to leave. This woman reported the bullying to a boss in Dublin but was nothing was done. My son was on sick pay but after a certain time his sick pay went down to half and he could no longer pay his rent, so he had to come home. He asked for leave from work to try and recover but they refused it and told him he could not get leave after being sick. (Although they were the reason he was sick) The person who bullied him and the boss from Dublin came to my husbands funeral and shook hands to me and my kids. It is only since my son came home that I am finding out the extent of the bullying. My son was always very bright as a child and after reading something once he knew it. The bully was taking all his work and passing it off as her own, waving her finger in front of his face and screaming like an anti-Christ. My son endured this for a year and a half because he said she was his boss. I saw a young man who has played music on stages all over the world and on the Late Late show in front of thousands, being reduced to a person who could barely function.
He spent money every week on certs from the doctor, on trips to the Civil Service in Dublin to see their doctor, while the bully kept every penny of her salary and was not reprimanded in any way. My son was forced back to work two weeks ago and has not been paid a penny since. I have been giving him money from my small income for the past two weeks, although the Public Service are supposed to have Employment supports in place, to help staff to return to work. Both my son and the other woman that was bullied were moved to another building while the bully is left in their building. My son has been put into a call centre being trained with new people in PAYE which he knows already, as he has been in Revenue for a few years. If the doctor had not rang me that day my son could be dead now and we would have thought it was because he lost his father. It has caused so much stress and upset in our family that I have not got the chance or time to grieve for my husband. The head of Revenue is getting paid €180,000 per year for what, to employ certain people to drive honest, good people to commit suicide.

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