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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Filthy Temp

by Marie
(Chicago, IL)

I don’t really know how to begin this. It’s going to seem far-fetched, untrue, and paranoid to most people. I still don’t know if it was some delusion on my part because the behavior of all involved is so ridiculous and uncalled for that it is difficult to believe anyone would behave in such a manner. My workplace bullying ordeal began shortly after I began a data entry position at a criminal background check company. I started as a temp, in a 3 month “probationary period” and was hired permanently before the three months was even up. I worked fast and accurately, and later was told I was the most productive employee they’d had in that department. Ever.

Anyway, even before I was hired on officially I started hearing bizarre statements just in the vicinity of my hearing. Two girls I’d never seen before in my life glided by. They gave me a dirty look. One told the other, “Don’t worry, the temps never last. She’ll be gone soon.” Odd. Whatever. Maybe they were talking about someone else.
A few weeks pass and I hear, “I don’t believe she’s still here!” The tone is very bitchy. “Doesn’t she ever bathe? Look at her hair? Ew.”

More time passes. I’m hired officially. I frequent a certain chat room and have for many years. I shared my grievances with those online because I’m starting to get really upset. My previous position at another company dealt with me interacting with many I guess you could call diva types. Very attractive women who knew it and had that air some such people get, but they were pretty decent overall. I mentioned my appearance and hygiene being insulted in my regular chat room and stated online that I’d dealt with much more beautiful people than these in the past, and they really needed to just shut-up.

The next day at work things really escalated. “She’s calling me a pig?” Which I never did. People were glaring at me. When I went to the washroom whoever was in there would say things like “Aren’t you in the wrong bathroom?” Then giggle. I took my purse into the restroom, obvious code for me that it was that time of the month as I never carried a purse usually. When I came out I heard someone say, “Is he putting them in his ass to pretend?” I assumed this meant a tampon, but I could have been wrong.

My boss, the OWNER of the company ceased speaking to me. He used to come by my desk every now and then for chit chat. He began using the fax machine in front of my desk and whispering things to me. Things that stand out were “lose weight” and “you live in a hovel.” Once he came out from the mainframes in the back with the IT guy loudly saying “Yeah she used to be hot, but not anymore. I guess he likes ‘em big now.” Then looked at me. He walked up to the fax and fumbled with it. “Don’t start crying.” Then he retreated to his office.

As time passed a foul smell began encompassing my desk and I assumed it was all my fault. I began bathing obsessively. Showering twice a day. Using alcohol wipes in the restroom, febreezing my chair, reapplying deodorant every other bathroom break, wiping down my desk with Windex daily, etc. As you can imagine this made things worse for me. The comments about my hygiene escalated. It seems they’d found something that really bothered me and decided to run with it.

I was 220 pounds when I began the position. Sure for a woman and most men that is huge, but it’s still no excuse for the treatment I received. Once out in the parking lot after work some girl screamed “LOSE WEIGHT!” began laughing hysterically, and slammed her car door shut. Within seconds another girl drove her car so close to me she nearly hit me. These people seemed to find this behavior hilarious. By the time I walked out, yes I walked out, almost two years later I was down to 175 pounds. I only mention this because the manager of the other department, mortgages and house deeds or whatever they did over there, would walk by my desk and say stuff like “She just gets bigger every time I look at her.” With this comment it was hard to tell if he meant me or the boss’s kid. But I heard I should be fired because I was a “Walking heart attack risk” and I was driving up their insurance premiums.

Back to online. I mentioned I used to suffer from bulimia in my regular chat room. The next day the girls in the office made dry heaves and retching noises when they passed me by. Lights were turned out on me in the bathroom. At that point I noticed a red flashing light in a vent in the ceiling. Don’t know if it were a camera. Never found out.

New temps were hired. They would actually whisper “bitch” at my back (they sat behind me). Then walk out. The boss came over and wandered aloud why all his hires keep walking out.

The civil records guy and a girl who had worked in the department for years seemed to be gossiping about me. She’s just shy seemed to be their consensus. Which is true, but everyone else continued to harass me for reasons I never was made aware of. And this girl, I don’t know if it were intentional or not gave me directions that eventually led to my dismissal (I was asked back and set up to work at home by HR after my initial walk-out, which I accepted childishly out of spite to “get back” at those trying to push me out of the office).

While still in the office, a girl from the mortgage side of things would call when I walked by the civil records guy, put on speaker phone, and tell the civil records guy to “tell that bitch to get out of here!” She almost screamed it. She did this more than once and sounded completely enraged. I still to this day don’t know most of these people’s names. But they sure had a problem with me.

Eventually, while still in the office I made the mistake of checking my personal email during some downtime. From thereafter all my email was read aloud by the boss. I eventually just start writing absurd made up things. Saying I was attending orgies at the Hilton, been arrested for hate crimes; as he was Jewish I made them anti-Jewish hate crimes. Rather than catch on I was making stuff up they either believed it or decided to pretend to believe it, and acted accordingly.

I had lived in Sweden for nearly a year in the past. People started whispering “Go back to Sweden.” Suddenly I was “disgusting “and “belonged in jail” because I was “inhuman” and an “animal.” The go back to Sweden chants started happening OUTSIDE of work. Sometimes I’d see two of the girls from work outside or INSIDE my apartment building. Things I said in private or wrote on my home computer just for myself, as I’m doing now (I guess I may post this), began to be repeated to me at the office. Comments were made aloud about my previous night’s activities. As though they had been listening or watching. Things were getting really weird and really making me question my sanity.

The boss walked by one day and his cell phone played Kirstie Alley saying something like “I’m fat” in a whiney voice. I guess it was a ring tone from “Fat Actress”. Later that day he and the mortgage department manager walked by and seemed to be repeating a chat room conversation I’d had. “Why are you fat?” “Hey! Leave me alone! I like to eat!”

The accounts receivable woman would have conversations by my desk in which she declared to the only girl in the office that was friendly to me that I was a “Slob” and why couldn’t she see it. She really seemed to want to get my one ally against me.

I started going out on job interviews in the morning to escape. I didn’t start until almost noon so I had plenty of time. I came to work dressed up as I just didn’t care anymore (we wore jeans, the boss often had on shorts and flip-flops so I stood out). The boss came by once and simply said “I wouldn’t hire you for simply wearing that shirt.” Then just walked away.

I resorted to wearing headphones to block everyone out. My immediate supervisor took away all of my work. I was banished to filing all day. I’d come in and she’d loudly say “WHY DOES SHE KEEP COMING BACK?”. When I went to the bin to grab “input” as we called it (this was a data entry job), she’d quickly grab the ENTIRE pile then walk away, leaving me to suffer with work I made up for myself (organizing their grossly disorganized filing system).

After a few weeks of this I was getting quite fed up. The only girl friendly to me stopped by the fax in front of my desk, looked at me, and whispered “TAVISTOCK.” I’d never heard this word or name before and just stared at her. She then engaged me in small talk for a few minutes.

After I googled the term at home that night I was even more confused. Did she believe this stuff? Was she messing with me too now? It was just too much. I walked out a few days later.

As I stated earlier I was asked back to work, set up with a home office, and things went fine for nearly a year. Then I was informed that I was doing something wrong and had been since day one (the girl I mentioned earlier had indeed given me incorrect directions). My work was taken away entirely but I wasn’t fired. Which was more than odd? I was at home. Why would I care? I just played videogames half the day, chatted online, watched TV, exercised and still got paid. This went on for nearly a year. I did have “work” checking the data entered by new hires, but it didn’t take up much of my day. Eventually I was told that there just wasn’t any work left (they hired three people to do stuff I could have done on my own), but I just went with it to get the unemployment. So now that’s all finally over. I still don’t know what prompted the treatment I received from my in-office co-workers. At least it’s over and done with. It may not really sound like much, but this treatment was DAILY for almost two years straight. It really starts weighing on a person.

Comments for Filthy Temp

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From a Fellow Victim
by: Anonymous

Thank God you are out of there! I admire your new found confidence and the fact that you have overcome these worthless idiots who because of their own inadequacies chose to bully such a lovely, harmless human being. You can be proud of who you are and that you came away with a real sense of perspective as it is so hard when you don't know why? Onwards and upwards for you and you deserve it. Be Lucky.

Re, Filthy Temp.
by: Sarah

How on earth did you put up with it for two years? I think I would have lost my sanity after six months.

You have been mobbed, but I think it always starts with one person, or ringleader. It's surprising how sheep-like people actually are. I think this tendency to just follow the pack is one of the worst aspects of human nature.

That said, I'm glad you're out of that place. It sounded awful. Good luck and all the best.

Chicago is like this all over
by: Anonymous

You were MOBBED same way as I was.
You are trying to do your job, these people are trying to make sure YOU CAN NOT.

The smell comments is a labor thing like you stink because you don't go along with them.

I was severely harassed and intimidated and still can not believe working adults can behave like this and THE THREATENING LOOKS is a ploy to SCARE YOU and they set you up to fail over and over and over. CHICAGO IS BIG TIME TROUBLE all over.

The accounting departments are the worst .They are trying to screw stuff up. THEY HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB. The mortgage thing is about FRAUD they want to get rid of you so they can commit fraud take your job and LAUGH at you and they call you PARANOID you are not. But management doesn't do much.

I have also temped
by: Maxine

And I can tell you, that many temporaries simply are not liked in the workplace. I was never bullied as a temp, but I was often treated with disdain. The client companies will make up total COMPLETE lies about you, in order to justify to the temp agency why they don't want your services anymore. The real truth is, they simply don't need you any longer, but would rather put the blame on you, the temp. I no longer work for temp agencies.

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