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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Mobbed in Health Care (Part 1)

by Silenced

After years of being back-stabbed and bullied by three on the shift I worked (they mainly bitched amongst themselves while doing very poor work and dominating the unit), I found myself left with one (one had quit, and the other was a union president on work leave). To receive full-time, I took the last's temporary position and was often partnered with the remaining bully (and good friend of the union president).

For nine straight months I held my breath while doing the work of two. I worked (and still do) in an aggressive brain injury unit, doing the personal care while simultaneously attempting to lower aggressive behavior (how ironic). Near the end of this nine month period, our shift RN became unit manager: a raging drunk with severe anger issues, and very easily manipulated to get along with the staff; however, I did not know that at the time.

I had worked with the bully almost daily from February, and by November, I took a stand with another co-worker who had had enough. We approached the new unit manager and relayed our angst in his office on the unit. New to our team were two women of the same ethnicity as the bully (and friends), one of them was brought over from evening shift after evenings having suffered her manipulative games (many relationships were permanently destroyed). Again, I was not aware of this at the time. I had had some minor relations with her, including going to her home to give massage (I had another business) to her and her husband. I had even done my part to get along with the original bully.

When the co-worker and I left the office, it was agreed that the unit manager would simply talk to the bully privately to not embarrass her and ask her to work the floor. As soon as we left the office, the two new female staff and "friends" said "how could you do that to her!". The next day is when it all started.

For the next 6 months, the three "friends" would not talk or work with me and my fellow co-worker, and would look miserable around us. I heard them gossip to a sympathetic (and exceptionally lazy) RN that I was a "reporter" who "watched them like a hawk" (not at all). I was told that this RN was trashing my and my (male) co-worker's name on other units. During this time our Unit manager hired a very dangerous (controlling/narcissistic/emotionally-labile) recreation therapist who upset all the staff, and quickly had control issues with me. Three of us begged the unit manager not to pass this person's probationary period, but he would not listen. When the rec therapist could not dominate/influence management (at all levels), she joined the three bullying individuals and the one RN who gladly gave her the praise and attention she craved. My co-worker and I just did our job as professionally as we could, and mostly ignored their games. I would note how they would twist their negative behavior around and blame the innocent to those who would (even just politely) listen.

At the 6-month mark, they (led by the evening's transfer) changed tactics. They suddenly invited my male co-worker into their group (divide and conquer) by giving him coffee, joining their breaks, and giving him positive attention, while complaining about me in the background. He took this line and sinker, and eagerly protected himself, saying "there's too many of them, and they are not about to change". They also upped their game-play against me by isolating me further (acting as if I was hated/abhorred, forcing me to do the majority of the work by "disappearing" at critical times, rushing in to slowly feed a few residents while leaving me to do all the serving, and never teaming with me or offering assistance.

I approached the unit manager again at this point, and mentioned their poor team effort and not sharing the work. He posted a teaming and work rotation that went ignored by them, and after a week was disposed of. The gossip now included how "controlling" I was. Three months later, I couldn't take it anymore. I approached the more communicative one of the original triad (the evening manipulator) and asked her help and understanding in correcting the matter. She gleefully said they were "playing games to stress me out" as I was "mothering" the unit, and if I didn't want to do a job, to just leave it, and it would get done by the end of the day. She also added that I was being a bitch. In front of the most aggressively silent of the triad (she'd leave a room if a came in to help, hum and lock a cupboard in front of me while I waited to access it, etc), I stated that what they were doing was cruel, but I thanked them for sharing, although I did not agree with it. I was distressed enough with this conversation that I mentioned it to my unit manager as to what was said. He immediately called them (the triad) on it, and they simply denied it, and called me "paranoid".

At this time, we had a new casual female employee who quickly joined the fun against me (but she'd tell me to just ignore their games). She became close with the rec therapist for their similar lifestyle choices (party, bar, male attention-seeking, high drama). Because I was so outcast, I only had the two remaining male co-workers (who worked together and didn't want to be involved as they'd listen to their rantings all the time - one of them the one they originally attacked with me, but was now "safe"), and the unit manager, who called me "the nicest person I ever met" and started pouring out his personal dysfunctional life to me. At this time, I wrote a letter to human resources (and the company owner's son) but my husband asked me to hold off and try to resolve it on the unit.

On Halloween, I decided for once to join other staff out and socialize. I joined my unit manager, the company secretary, and my original male co-worker (I'll call him silent Joe) out for drinks at a local pub. We met with other company staff there and had a good time, although our unit manager drank like a sieve. When the other staff left, he took us (me, silent Joe and the secretary) out to another sports bar close by. He got aggressively hammered, took off his socks, challenged the bar staff, and made loud fun of the VP of our company. When we left (at 10:00) he went to drive. Silent Joe did nothing and took off. The secretary and I attempted to call him a cab and rationalize with him to no avail. The secretary left, and he immediately grabbed me, kissed and tongued me while I held him off. He left after getting nowhere and drove. I followed him out of concern and watched him go to another establishment before I left. The next time I saw him on shift he looked spooked, but just said "my grandfather was an alcoholic, so deal with it". When this new casual saw my upset and swore I could trust her as she "wasn't like that" and asked if I was being abused at home, I just said no, that I was very concerned about the unit manager and that he was very inappropriate/kissed me. Of course she just laughingly went to the triad and two others with it. At this time, I had started not speaking to them as well, except when professionally necessary, and I always thanked them in the rare instance they were forced to help (which they never acknowledged or talked back). Some of the gossip I heard back now included how inappropriately close I was to the unit manager (the unit manager would routinely spend lunch or private outings with Silent Joe or the rec therapist, not me). To me, he would just look for sympathetic ear.

In November, he came to me distressed, asking if I'd said anything about Halloween. I admitted I had spoken to one person and he blew up in anger for 3 days, publicly saying things like "you're only as good as your last paycheck" and "don't let the door hit you on your way out". I emailed him privately explaining the entire event and his lack of responsibility which had me so concerned, and that my trust had been violated. He then called me, drunk, stating that he "loved" me, etc., and that his hands were tied with them, that if I couldn't take it, to just "get the fuck out". He then would apologize to me at work about his drinking.

{continued in another post}

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