We've learned the value of taking the long, detailed version of our experiences (often a list of every incident) and condensing our stories into a brief summary for multiple uses. Legislators will only read a paragraph or two; attorneys want the short version of what has happened to us; higher echalon personnel want to hear the facts minus our emotional responses (we recognize the need to share our emotional responses in a safe environment, away from the workplace, such as with a counselor). To help you with this process, we recommend wrting a three concept paragraph.
Begin with an introductory sentence of what kind of environment you work in and in what capacity (naming your employer is optional but not recommended, especially if you still work there). Next, give three concrete examples (one or two sentences each) of situations you want to describe. Finally, use your closing sentence to summarize and include the fiscal impact or estimated cost of the situation in dollars to you, to your employer, and to the general public ie tax payers.The following true stories are examples of how to share your story. "The names have been changed to protect the innocent", just like in the old "Dragnet" show:
Another Target of Workplace Bullying:
Before it happened to me, I used to think that employees who were given a hard time by their bosses probably deserved it. As long as I worked hard and took pride in my work, I had nothing to worry about. I was wrong. I became a target shortly after a co-worker made a false allegation against me. My manager began a campaign to drive me out of the workplace by replacing my duties with menial tasks, denying time off, refusing to speak to me except to reprimand, writing me up for minor and contrived infractions, sabotaging my work, enlisting others to monitor and criticize my work, and physically intimidating me. I am still hanging on after several months because I cannot afford to quit and job prospects are slim in this economy. No one in a civilized society should have to endure such mistreatment to earn a living. Krystal
A Federal Police Officer...
Like many folks, I would have never imagined that this would happen to me. I am a federal police officer. I recently transferred to a new position. I would have never believed that I would become a target. After a year of stress I am currently trying to resign and move on with my life. Even that task has been opposed by my bully supervisor. He wants to teach me a lesson by firing me. I had to hire a lawyer to resign. I'll find out next week if I can resign. Note I have been with the same department for 28 years without any issues until now. I had to seek counseling for stress and I came close to losing my family. Every morning I wake up and say to myself that I can't believe this happening. This has truly been a nightmare. Trevor
An English Teacher...
I am an English teacher, injured by an abusive school superintendent. He was a serial bully who practiced psychological violence with impunity. Within 10 months my bully dismantled my successful 20-year career working with immigrant students. I was stalked, physically threatened, and terrified by this man who stripped me of my First Amendment Rights. I was given an arduous workload and treated differently from my colleagues. I was an outstanding educator. I am now disabled with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. My PTSD has converted to myoclonus, the involuntary contraction of voluntary muscles. Under normal stress I become spastic and my speech becomes distorted by stutters, slurs, and tremors. After 7 years of painful litigation, I was awarded $150,000 for Worker's Compensaton with no “hush clause.” My Freedom of Speech is not for sale. I am a shadow of my former self, but I work voluntarily as an advocate for other targets and an activist for legislation to promote a bully free work environment for us all. This bill would compel employers to finally recognize and stop work abuse which is presently legal and ignored in our culture. Shirley, A Disabled Teacher
Worked for the largest private University...
While working for the world’s largest private university for over 5 years, I observed and experienced exploitation, bullying, and systematic discouragement as a way of doing business. After being lured by false promises, “Come early, stay late” (and you’ll earn a lot more money), and finding it to be a lie, I launched a class action lawsuit to be paid overtime for the extra hours we all worked. The lawsuit took two years to settle, but then, within weeks after the company settled out of court and agreed to pay overtime nationwide, I was “released from my employ”. I was under the care of a therapist for over a year, spent 3 months out on medical leave, and battled depression as I put my life back together and found other employment. A conservative estimate of cost in legal fees, medical expenses, and lost company income equals $562,500 with personal cost of over $10,000 to me. I am so glad I found the California Healthy Workplace Advocates to help support legislation to stop this kind of treatment.
We all deserve a bully free workplace.----Elizabeth
Worked for a HUGE, well known clothing manufacturer...
At age 59 and single, I became unemployed from my 13-year job with a highly credible and respected clothing manufacturer – an icon in the apparel industry. I'd worked my way up in Product Management to a team position responsible for generating a third of the company’s annual revenues. My performance and strong work ethic established me a favorable reputation among peers and upper management. In 2000 I became the target of a psychologically violent supervisor with a known history of bullying. I immediately reported the first incident to my manager, to HR, and to the company nurse. In retaliation my bully gave me an arduous workload, redefined my training, denied me training, and created false disciplinary action and performance evaluations for 2.5 years that were contradictory to my professional behavior and credibility. I was discriminated against, treated differently, and isolated from my peers. My psychological and physical well being deteriorated. After 10.5 years as a valued employee, I became documented as unprofessional, a poor performer, unable to meet expected standards, and unable to get along with others. In 2003 I was WRONGFULLY terminated and unemployed for 1.5 years. My financial stability and medical coverage were threatened, as my health needs dramatically increased. I continue intensive, one-on-one and group therapy as I try to resolve issues of depression, anger, fear, humiliation, guilt and shattered self-esteem. Participation in group therapy sessions brought me face to face with countless other working people unprotected from legal recourse, suffering, and dealing with harassment in the workplace. I am shocked at how common work abuse really is. Sadly, Lilah
Never had a bad review until...
To make a long story short, I have been ostracized, criticized, bullied, brow beat, had accusations levied against me and then told I could not go in search of the truth. I’ve been lied to by my supervisor and other sworn personnel, but then it’s only my word against theirs. I have brought up safety issues in public buildings along with many other items, presented them to my supervisor in the form of an email, only to never receive an answer. When liability issues and the amount of work I was attempting to handle began to have an effect on my physical and emotional well being, I began seeing a psychologist. My evaluation/step increase was withheld for 5 ½ months and then after I kept pressing the issue, I received an evaluation that reads more like a character assassination. My 2 prior evaluations from my previous supervisor’s had been stellar. I also had been awarded employee of the month and given a special award by my peers for dedication to my profession. The fact is some people are corrupted by power and if there are no viable avenues of protection against the unethical abuse of power, individuals and organizations will continue to suffer in innumerable ways. We need legislation to protect us. Steven
A California State Employee
I am a prior state employee, constructively discharged in 2004 for "Whistle blowing" on a state department. A racial comment was made about me to a coworker; after I approached my supervisor about the comment, she began blocking assignments. Management labeled me an "outcast" and coworkers began ostracizing me. I wrote to the "chain of command," asking for assistance but continued to be shunned by management. After several requests to be transferred from the department, management moved me to another supervisor in the same bureau, who continued bullying attacks! I interviewed for another division, was offered a position, but the manager slandered me to the hiring department head, who then withdrew the position. The work environment became so unbearably hostile my only recourse was
to leave. To make matters worse, I became privy to fraudulent activities amounting to hundreds of thousand of dollars. Management tried to hold me accountable for a 5 million dollar error that had a derogatory affect on the neediest of Californians, but I refused to participate. I tried to reinstate, but am blocked to due to a negative evaluation in my personnel file. To date, no department will hire me. In my opinion, the state needs to address the mismanagement in state government agencies, as no one is "managing the managers." Lynn
An Educator... Still this Devastating Bullying Trend Continues... I'm glad to know that there is a grass-roots organization formed to combat this kind of abuse. Cost to employer: Loss of untapped talent that could potentially correct internal flaws in workflow and increase productivity; failure to retain people of integrity, people who actually do their jobs. Inaccuracy in accounting measures, which translates into loss for both the customer and at the bottom line. Competitive advantage lost in the global market. Cost to target: A fragmented resume inaccurately reflecting stability and work ethics of a potential employee; loss of employability based on slander and liable that Bullies get away with. Talent and career path is stifled because of bully’s insecurities, therefore loss of potential income.
"...being bullied can just overwhelm the whole person. The person who hasn't healed at all can't tell the short version or create a narrative. As a historian, it is the most telling feature for me, the way in which the story becomes a shattered mass of shards, each one a painful sliver of something much bigger, too unbearable to be described." Katherine Hermes, Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates Coordinator
When working in accounting and HR at a Palo Alto tech company, I was relentlessly harassed and bullied by my younger, female supervisor. I was humiliated daily, in front of coworkers, over mistakes that she, herself had made. She assigned time sensitive tasks to me without critical access to required resources, all while she received awards for my accomplishments that she took credit for.
I was ultimately terminated, after 18 months, despite breaking company records for collections ($1.3M in 1 month) and while grieving my father’s passing overseas. I am left broke and with several diagnosed stress-related health issues resulting from internalizing my abuse, all in order to keep my job during a national recession. Five years (and 2 college degrees) later, I remain unemployed. It is difficult to honestly and acceptably explain why I left my former position. I am unable to seek any legal recourse for my losses because my harassment, however damaging, was not the result of my being a member of any legally protected classes. ------Violet, Sunnyvale