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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Mobbing In A Union

by Spike
(New Jersey)

I'll try to make this as short as possible. A few months ago, some people got transferred to our department where I worked. They where not part of our group but we had to share a small room. One of them was this older guy who had a reputation for being a "quite guy" who wouldn't talk to nobody. He always had this weird sounding cough which bothered one of my other coworkers but not me. However, he came in sick for about 3 days and when he coughed he would do it directly towards me and he didn't cover his mouth. I got a bit scared since I didn't want to catch what he had and told my then supervisor, "Can I tell him to please cover his mouth when he does it?" Well, the next day I decided not to tell him anything, but someone, not sure if it was one of his coworkers or my supervisor told his supervisor had told him.

So that's when he started to follow me to the bathroom every time I went. If I got up to do something he would get up at the same speed and walk towards me "to do something". Every time I was not looking at my monitor he would then cough REALLY hard and loud and again towards me. In the bathroom he would go to the toilet next to where I was and kick the one next to me or just stand there silently and not do anything. I was told by someone in my department "don't confront him cuz he can use what you say against you". Big mistake I should have confronted him. This happened a few months.

One day my supervisor told me that she wanted to order some wall divisions but that the Union would then want to know why, so she or upper management decided to put some cardboard boxes between me and him and told people, that they where there because I was cold - the funny thing is, it was VERY cold there but the boxes didn't helped too much. It got WORSE. Two of his co-workers decided to watch me and every time I looked at my phone or talked to one of my coworkers they would not stop coughing. When they could do it, I thought that they where going to get me in trouble with my boss but that was my mistake.

He got even worse coughing LOUDER, slamming his drawers, if I was eating he would start making these weird sounds along with the usual, since he knew why the boxes where put there, but he told people he didn't know and that I was that put them there "just because he coughed occasionally" Right. Even thu it was management that put them there. Again, he would follow me to the bathroom sometimes now or he would be "walking" by the entrance waiting for me so that we would "meet by accident".

One day, I finally told my supervisor all that was happening after the boxes where put there. His supervisor finally decided to move him, but then the other people on his side got worse. And one of my co-workers told them why the boxes where really there. So now, they would start coughing the entire day non-stop but only when I was in the room. I decided to apply for another floor but the people there where already waiting for me. And this coworker knew this and didn't tell me. I wanted my old job back but it was not possible.

I then got transferred to ANOTHER floor recently and now the people there are targeting me with the same "joke". I overheard one say, "just because they coughed?" I have no idea what they are telling people that I did but this is really getting to me. Right now, in this position, work goes missing from my files and I am given the hardest work to do. I was not properly trained, it seems management there heard the story - again their side - and just don't care if I do my job or not. I can't quit my job because I am drowning in debt and will loose my health coverage.

The only reason why I think these people hate me so much it's because I am gay and probably made this a part of hatred. I once heard one of the ladies say twice "batty" as in "batty boy" under her breath when I passed by her and one this new floor I work in, one guy said "dumb faggot". There was also a this guy that also worked with them and some times I seen him at the lobby talking to many people on different floors about me. He even was on that floor I got transferred to first talking to the people there and said to me, "you ok buddy?".

The only advise people have given me is "don't quit until you find another job, and ignore them" But picture this, 5 or 8 people coughing LOUD the WHOLE day but only when you are around them, then laughing as you walk away. My new co-workers also don't talk to me unless I say something to them and even when they do, they don't look at me in the eye. Please give me some advise. I'm even seeing a therapist but she also told me "well, as annoying that is, that is their desk and work space and you can't say what they can or can't do" So, am I the problem here? I don't know what I did to these people or this guy.

Comments for Mobbing In A Union

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There's ways around it :-)
by: Anonymous

Hi Spike, I know exactly how you feel, I get the same from idiots who seem to have their life goal set on being irritating. Don't just rise above it - deal with it, then rise about it.

If you don't respond the anger will bottle up inside you. React and respond, but make sure you give them a response they don't like - what they want is your attention, so give them attention :-)
they might change their mind.

In a hostile workplace where gossip counts as truth you is very hard to stand up to all of them - you need to target the main bullies one at a time - the others are very likely to back off once they see their stronger peers break down. Try not to get aggressive-defensive (so that you're still approachable to people who don't dislike you - it's hard to see sometimes but there's always gonna be somebody in that office who doesn't hate you).

People who use the coughing/throat clearing to wind you up usually start harassment when you have a cold or if you have a smoker's cough, they usually mimic or react to your symptoms to make you uncomfortable and self-conscious, then they just carry on using that to carry on winding you up.

Target the m*therf*cker who started it -

if he or she gets a cold, cough every time they cough/sneeze, or clear your throat in return when they do it to you. keep doing that until they get uncomfortable.

if they have any distinguishing habit (biting nails, scratching their head, fiddling with pens/pencils, doing certain things at a certain time of day), repeat their actions to mock that characteristic until they feel uncomfortable about it.

make innuendos about their looks, lifestyle or attitude (don't say anything directly, express opinions about things on TV/newspapers to make fun of who they are, what they do and how they behave).

Make (indirect) jokes about their behaviour, (indirectly) ridicule it every chance you get - i bet there's one or two people in your workplace who are bothered by that hostility. I noticed that when I stand up to a bully in a workplace, sometimes other people come forward (who probably had the same treatment from the said bully).

People who gang up on someone are weak and insecure - they're too scared to stand out so they follow the herd. People like that feel the need to prove themselves by intimidating other people - it makes them feel in control because they can't deal with their own problems.

If there's people there you get on with (or could get on with), with time and effort you'll find a way to deal with the troublemakers and put them back in their place. But please don't stay there just to stop yourself from feeling like you're running away - you could walk into another job prepared & informed, people will think more carefully about how they want to treat you if you know what's going on and you're ready to deal with it.

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