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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

The Price of Integrity

by Lynne
(Elgin, Illinois, USA)

Over the course of 17 years of employment at a hospital, I was on the receiving end of bullying, harrassment and descrimination at the hands of not only my coworkers, but from management as well.

The first person that I will aquaint you with, let's call her Sharon, was the first to initiate the attack. Sharon is a control freak. What Sharon can't control, Sharon will destroy. Sharon was the self appointed leader of our department lemings. As long as you subscribed to her manner of thinking and behaving, you were set. If, however, you chose not to agree with her, or if you worked at an equal or better level than she did, you signed your own death warrant.

Sharon would love to ridicule you behind your back to her followers. She would spread rumors about your having an affair with a married coworker, even though it wasn't true. She would tell the supervisor that you were shirking work duties even though you were doing twice the work of anyone else there. She would give you the worst work to do and save the easy jobs for her cronies. She would constantly criticize your work even though the doctors found it to be more than adequate.

Sharon, however, liked to bend the rules a lot. She would her timecard on a regular basis to pad her paycheck. When I discovered this and told management, they did nothing, even though hospital policy stated that this was grounds for immediate dismissal. I took this all the way to the top and nobody would fire her.

Another bully, let's call her Faith, was even worse. Faith was so moody. The entire department was affected by her moods. If she was in a foul mood, everyone paid the price. She would snap and snarl at everyone and we all had to stay out of her way. When I would not let her push me around, she started a one woman campaign to make my life miserable.

Because I work in a hospital, any medical care that I receive there is open to anyone's perusal, despite electronic monitoring. I was going to have elective surgery for a knee problem, and before I had my surgery, I had an MRI done. Apparently, the minute my scan was done, the MRI technologist who did the procedure, made a point to go and tell Faith that my scan was "normal". Faith proceeded to tell the entire department that my scan was "normal" and that I didn't really need surgery. I was just looking for a way to get off work for a few weeks.

My daughter works in that same department and came home the night after my scan was done and said that people knew my results. I hadn't even heard from my doctor yet, so the only way that everyone knew was because Faith took the information that MRI tech gave her and spread it around.

This is a HIPPA violation. Because it was done with malice for the sole purpose of maligning my character, it was a firing offense. Not only that, because the the nature of the violation, Faith could also be fined and/or jailed for this. The hospital did nothing. However, the hospital chose to write my daughter up for discussing my results, even though by law, she was the only one allowed to do that. They sent me a clear warning to cease and desist. I got it.

A new department supervisor came on board a few years ago. This person, let me call her Julie, was hired to do a job that I was qualified to do. I was not considered for it because of the department politics. I realized that I'd never be promoted, so I resigned myself to just being a good employee and doing my best for whatever person was hired for that job.

When Julie was hired, she was told by Faith that I was a troublemaker and that I was a consummate liar. Julie knew that I had done her job in the past and was passed over for promotion, so she felt threatened by this. She did everything she could to make sure that I knew that she was the boss. She micromanaged me and regularly lied to the manager about me. I caught her in a few lies and went to management about them, but nothing was done.

Our hospital had a program by which patients could recognize an employee that gave them superior service. I received hundreds of these awards. Julie commented regularly how she never gets them from patients, and pretty soon, the program went away in our department. The excuse given was that the supervisor didn't want the patients to confuse the awards with the satisfaction surveys that were sent to them.

I had asked repeatedly over the years to get the training in some of the procedures that our department does. These procedures are part of our job descriptions, but nobody would train me. Finally, after I went to the doctor that oversaw our department, I got the training that I needed. However, every time I would start one of the procedures, Julie would come in and take over, making me look inept to the patient.

Finally, last fall, Julie started a series of events that finally culminated in my termination. She misunderstood something that I had said and decided to start disciplinary actions against me. When I was taken into the manager's office, Julie literally told me that if I had made her mad, so she started looking for everything she could use to get me in trouble. This was said in front of the manager. Even after I explained what I had said and how it was misunderstood, nobody seemed to care. The manager allowed her to go ahead with the witch hunt, even though it was based upon lies. I was told that this was the first of the three events that will be used for termination.

Hospital policy states that if I did something that was against policy, that I was first supposed to receive a verbal warning. That didn't happen. Moreover, I didn't do anything that was in violation of hospital policy.

A month later, I went on vacation only to find that I was set up during my absence for another discplinary action. I supposedly didn't properly document something, that EVERYONE fails to do on a daily basis, with Julie being the biggest offender. I was brought to Human Resources with the department manager and was told that one more incident, which could be absolutely anything would result in my termination. When I explained to HR that I had not violated any policy and that the person accusing me of this was the worst offender of all, it was ignored. Again, no verbal warning was issued.

The final incident was when a patient failed to have the proper order for an examination. She got through scheduling, registration and our own receptionist without anyone realizing this. By the time I finished taking care of her, I discovered that the order was missing. Department policy is to obtain a written order within 24 hours if given a verbal over the phone. This was done and everything was in order. However, this incident was used as my final offense and I was terminated.

Even when I pointed out to Human Resources that the hospital failed to follow its own policies and procedures when Sharon and Faith weren't fired for outright firable offences, and that the hospital did not follow its own policy regarding my issues, they simply ignored me.

It never occurred to anyone that nobody gets through 17 years of employment with excellent yearly evaluations only to come up short over a span of three months for no apparent reason.

The bullying continued as the hospital denied me unemployement compensation. Even the appeal process for the termination and unemployment issue was a waste of time. The appeal process is in place only to meet EEOC requirements.

I spoke with three different employment law attorneys, and they all said that I should sue simply because the hospital didn't follow their own policy. This is all well and good, but 6 months later, I am still unemployed and cannot afford to sue.

The hospital's effective bullying, toxic and hostile work environment has cost me my livelihood, reputation and will eventually cost me my home if I do not find work soon.

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