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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Mobbed in Health Care (Part 3)

by Silenced

The next working day, I approached our old unit manager who was working on another unit (she's a social worker by training) and told her everything that happened, including the unit manager's drunk behavior and threats he had made against his former wife and kids (his wife had dumped him for his best friend while locking him out of his house). She said I should file a harassment charge against all of them except the two male co-workers, and that she would assist me in getting a new position. She called me in the next day (she couldn't get me into a position I'd applied for)and said she would have to approach higher management she trusted due to the threat against kids, and that my silence until now only enabled him. I went with her and relayed to higher management that part of it (was not allowed to mention the staff abuse, as it was supposedly "dealt with"). Within a week, the unit manager became suspicious of me, and asked me directly if I had said anything that might jeopardize his job as management was suddenly watching him and making him uncomfortable. I was told by the old unit manager that the company would help him, and that he was told to go to AA and get counselling.

I went on holiday for one week. When I returned, the unit manager had openly joined the gang, and the gang held nothing back (thank goodness, we had a new, temporary RN who gave me respite and an open, sympathetic voice but was too intimidated to say anything). The unit manager would make mocking faces at me, and say things like "wow, it's so quiet in here...it's a chemical thing" around me, and spouting off about "Occam's razor". One day, after a staff meeting, I went to the office around the corner instead of off the floor for my break while five of the gang members remained with the unit manager. From the office I heard them loudly laugh and complain about me. The casual said "thank god for you guys...if I didn't have your help, I'd have no help at all", the manipulator said "Did you see her get this resident up and she was fussy?" and, "Do you see how all she has is the two male co-workers to hang around with...I almost feel sorry for her" (she repeated this twice with different emphasis, and that I just "wander" alone). They were all laughing, and when they went downstairs, the remaining bullying RN loudly repeated my name in a mocking tone. I walked out of the office to the dining area where the unit manager and RN sat and put my yogurt spoon away. The RN smirked and the unit manager sat stiff with his back to me in an "oh shit" way after telling me he would watch for this behavior and deal with it. I left and came back after break and openly addressed my work with the "casual" in front of the unit manager. I asked her to communicate and be respectful. The unit manager then followed me, saying "I didn't know they were like that, this is the first time", etc., and then said that I had "embarrassed" the casual. I discussed nothing with him and reported the event to the facility leader. When she addressed this with the unit manager, he said "it was dealt with in an adult manner" and that was the end of it. After this, I made a work error, not knowing it was policy as all my fellow co-workers did it, including the gang members. While I helped the dogmatic male co-worker who disrupted my work to help him when the other gang member couldn't be bothered, I broke a policy with a resident (but she was very safe). This was what the manipulator was waiting for, and she approached me triumphantly while I helped the dogmatic. She said, "don't you know it's policy?" and "the facility leaderfires people for that". I told her I did not know it was policy, but would look into it, and then asked the RN and unit manager about it (they also said they didn't know, but phoned education and told it was). I was told by the unit manager not to worry about it, we'd have a meeting as many didn't know, and that the manipulator "wouldn't say a thing". The next day, I approached the facility leader who scared me with her angry silence and a strained "I'm busy". I held on for a week, while the manipulator suddenly acted like a drill sergeant, loudly (almost yelling) my name, followed by constant criticisms. The original bully said I got "caught" and people get "fired, fired, fired" and how I alone must accept responsibility. The casual came at me one day after I talked politely to her, calling me a "mental mess" and that I'm about to get it. I saw the rec therapist loudly complaining about me to OH&S (I'm a committee member), the facility leader and the unit manager. The silent triad would only gloat. I broke down.

I could not sleep, I couldn't stop shaking, I got off the bus 10 blocks too soon without knowing it, I burst out crying often in private. I stated to the one rational RN that I was resigning after the manipulator's last barrage, and she stated "then they've won, don't let them harass you out of here". The two male co-worker's asked me not to leave, as it was the manipulator who was the gang leader and real problem. I asked them if they'd said anything to management, and Silent Joe said he did "but they weren't listening". He would not detail what he said. I met with the human resources employee who also said to think about it, as I wouldn't be fired for what I told her I did, and I had spent so many positive years with the company. She held onto my letter. I left a copy of my diary spanning the last 6 months when I'd first approached higher management and it went to the company owner's son. I asked to be allowed to resign as the situation was not being dealt with properly. I then told my doctor for the first time, and she said to quit immediately. I told her I had no other work, so she gave me a two week work-stress leave. I had no idea this would go automatically as a WCB claim. While filling out my claim, Silent Joe and the sympathetic RN signed a witness statement outlining the abuse.

Just before I left, an evening co-worker approached me and asked if I was ok. I broke into tears and said I was not. She asked if it was the manipulator. During my two weeks off, she'd privately call me to see if I was ok, and gradually the story came out of all the abuse and havoc this manipulator had caused on evenings. She also told me the unit manager had sexually harassed her and showed up at work drunk on two occasions. She had also reported the unit abuse and was laughingly passed off by the unit manager, who hung out socially with the people she reported and gossiped about everything. She said the manipulator was crowing at work, stating to staff that "maybe I was suspended". She also said that the male RN who was away on sick leave was the manipulator's best friend and silent partner (same ethnicity) who would blame me for everything, and say I was "lazy" and "deserving" of it to others on the evening shift who shared his language. She had told the others that she had never had a problem with me, and not to believe it. She kept me emotionally intact, perhaps even alive. I was also told that both the manipulator and the casual were pressing the unit manager for a full-time position.
After I stopped shaking, I spent my entire time researching about what I had gone through, and found out about the workplace mobbing phenomenon. I helped me immensely.

WCB simply dismissed my claim under "employee conflict" and mobbing was of no interest to them. I talked to a psychologist for a work assessment, and he only listened to my story, stated "it's only work, give them the middle finger and walk out", and that I was not mentally ill, but he could not say a thing about them without proof/his own assessment. He then charged me a lot of money for his listening time, and asked if I wanted to take a psychological assessment test for more money. The mobbing articles had warned me not to go this route, and my emotional needs were desperate for a supportive ear, and being believed, nothing else.

My claim was dropped by WCB. In two weeks, my unit manager called to see if I was coming back. I asked what changes were made on the unit. He said nothing was wrong, everyone was happy and getting along great. I asked if there had been an investigation. He said there was none. I said I would give it a try, but the bullying had to stop. It did not.

{continued in another post}

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