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whentaniatalks: Institutionalised Bullying - My Story

Monday, 25 May 2015

Institutionalised Bullying - My Story

Hi Everyone!

There are two work place related topics I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time. Those of disability discrimination & bullying. I didn’t want to write them whilst at the respective jobs but wanted to post both simultaneously. As a result I had to wait until I’d left both jobs (March) & then life just got in the way! You can find my disability discrimination post here.

I have been the subject of institutionalised bullying in two work places. This is not something I am ashamed to admit & know that in both the cases I was not in the wrong. 

The first took place when I took up a position as a supervisor on a management training program at one of the big department stores. I was bullied by two different members of staff whilst I was there, the manager & the senior sales assistant in my team. I found out toward the end of my time working for the company that the senior sales assistant had previously been a supervisor & had been demoted. She was actually really nice to me outside of work, but in work she was spiteful! She did everything she could to undermine me & my work. She was also pally with the manager - I was doomed from the start!

The manager of the store was vile. Bossy isn’t the best way to describe her, she was a hard woman. There was no compassion in her. I tried to keep her informed of my conditions with the appropriate amount of information. In one instance she told me “you’re not special, you’re no different to anyone else”. This I find to be completely contradictory to what a boss should be - surely a boss should be looking at people as individuals with strengths & weaknesses, utilising the strengths & developing weaknesses. She was awful toward me. In addition I was changing my medication which was making things difficult. She made my life miserable. I came home one day & sobbed continuously. i told Dan that I couldn’t go back there. I’ve never been one to hide from problems, but I’d got to the point where I couldn’t cope with it anymore. My GP knew I was struggling with the changes to my medication. I went to him the next day & he signed me off work saying “I’m not having you go through this”.

The job I was waiting to leave before writing this post actually started REALLY well! I started there as a Christmas temp & really enjoyed myself! There didn’t seem to be any negativity & I was vary happy. Things became less rosy after Christmas but I didn’t have any problems. The problems seemed to start when we got a new assistant manager, though I didn’t realise it at the time.

My first experience of institutionalised bullying within this company was when charity month came around. This was being championed by one of the ‘Rising Stars’. We were all expected to bring in a bag of bits to donate. I hadn’t moved into the area long enough to have accumulated any clutter. My Mother-in-Law had some things she wanted to get rid of though so she gave them to me. I needed some help getting the bag (which included books!) in to work because of the weight. My Mum was due to be up that weekend & would hep me. I told one of the Team Leaders this & she was happy. I brought the bag into store & went to start my shift. I was ‘named & shamed’ in front of my colleagues for not having contributed anything. I burst into tears. I was close to marching to the front of the store, picking my bag out of the drop off point & dragging it to the nearest charity shop then & there. The Team Leader who was having to ‘name & shame’ was really nice to me. She hated that she had to do it - yet she did it anyway. When I spoke to the manager about this she said that it wasn’t bullying as the store & the ‘Rising Star’ championing charity week were being named & shamed. I’m sorry, but two wrongs don’t make a right!

The next problem I encountered was when I received a group message on Facebook from the ‘Rising Stars’ who was in charge of the charity month. It told us that there would be a sponsored bike ride taking place with an exercise bike outside of the store & that we were all to take part - NO EXCEPTIONS. The bike ride was due to take place less than 2 weeks before my knee operation. The thing that upset me was that I would have been the first to volunteer to do this. There was a member of staff who was a large lady. She was also very upset about this as she didn’t want to be laughed at for being the ‘fat lady on a bike’. I really felt for her. Her son was infuriated & offered to cycle in his Mum’s place. The Manager asked myself & another colleague half a week before if we were happy to do it. I told her that I would as long as my joints allowed but that it would have been nice to be asked. Her response to this was that she was asking. When I told her about the Facebook messages she said that no one would ever be forced to do something & that I must’ve misinterpreted the message. EVERYONE HAS TO TAKE PART - NO EXCEPTIONS is kinda difficult to misinterpret! What I should add here is that both these instances caused a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder relapse. I went to my GP the week before my knee op for something unrelated. She saw how it was affecting me & signed me off work.

All was ok when I first returned to work. I had to attend a medical for my teaching job. I told my retail job that my appointment was at 2pm so I couldn’t work the afternoon but was also unable to work the morning shift because of the timetable of the train I had to catch to get there. I wrote this down for the Assistant Manager who was responsible for the rota. Guess what!?! I was scheduled to work the morning. I spoke to the Manager, who told me that she told me that she would have to arrange cover for my shift & that I would have to have it off as unpaid. By this time I was fed up with my employers. I stood up for myself - reminding her I was contracted to work 8 hour a week which meant that as well as me being available for these hours, they was also required to provide me with those hours. My Manager informed me that it was in the diary that I couldn’t work the afternoon & as I had not told them I couldn’t work the morning she was under no obligation to to provide me with an alternative for this shift. I told her what I wrote down for the assistant manager word for word. She went away & switched my shift with someone else.

From this point on, the Assistant Manager created reasons to undermine me. Again, I didn’t realise it at first. I dreaded going in to work, not knowing whether I’d have a good day or a bad one. Then the pattern became apparent - the bad days were when she was working, the good were when she wasn’t. I don’t know what the Manager said or did to her about the mistake with the rota, but the Assistant Manager made me pay for it. She would find a pair of socks in the changing room in the last hour before the shop shut, when I had to be out on the floor tidying ready for the next day. I thought I was getting complacent because I was unhappy, then I noticed that the Manager never had cause to complain, in fact, she only ever had compliments about my work. I hated my last few months there. I dreaded going to work incase the Assistant Manager was working. No one should have to go through that. 

Bullying is not ok. Whether it’s at school, work or anywhere else. I want to send out a message to anyone going through bullying at the moment. No one has the right to make you feel bad about yourself. However they do it, for what ever reason they do it - BULLYING IS WRONG. Stand up for yourself when you can, move yourself out of harms way when you need to. What ever you do, remember IT”S NOT YOUR FAULT.

Tania Xx



At 25 May 2015 at 10:24 , Blogger Lovelaughslipstick x said...

Aw doll this was powerful stuff. Sorry you had to go through that - a lot of your words rang true with me there; retail seems to be notorious for bullying. Glad you've come through it, fought back and been brave enough to share your experiences with others - no doubt a lot of people will be helped by this post xx

At 27 May 2015 at 23:28 , Blogger Tania Jayne said...

Thank you! I'm glad it came over that way - I often struggle with explaining emotions. I'm sorry you've experienced some of it in your own life. Retail really can be vicious! Xx

At 28 May 2015 at 12:05 , Blogger Grace Allen said...

Its awful that you went through this girl BUT so inspiring to others that may be in the same situation! Noone should ever have to feel victimised like that. I've only just started blogging and this has made me realise I can be raw and honest in my posts so thank you for sharing! xx


At 28 May 2015 at 16:33 , Blogger Tania Jayne said...

Thank you Grace! I'm so glad I was able to inspire you! It's not easy putting yourself out there, but I've had nothing but positive responses from posts like this. Good luck, I'm looking forward to watching your blog grow! Xx

At 7 June 2015 at 21:49 , Blogger Rebecca Ellis said...

Oh goodness, this is very upsetting! What you experienced is completely unacceptable, and shouldn't have happened regardless of who you.

I remember one of my first jobs was working as floor staff for our local bingo hall... when I started I was very lucky to know a good portion of the staff from school and I loved my job up until one of the girls decided to slander me in the work Facebook chat, I was completely humiliated and decided to call my boss to say I was quitting my job... although he insisted I was one of the best workers he had, he asked me to send the proof and names of whom was involved, which I did reluctantly... this meant that because I was the new girl when I did go back to work I was singled out, and nothing was said about how I had been spoken to. I refused to take anymore shifts after two weeks and luckily now I work with my Mum as a Care Assistant and she's very supportive! x


At 11 June 2015 at 14:55 , Blogger Tania Jayne said...

I was saddened to read of your experiences Rebecca. When you enjoy your job & something like that happens, it can ruin not only your confidence & self-esteem as with all bullying, but also your enjoyment of your job! I don't think your boss handled the situation very well at all. I'm so glad you're now in a job where you will not have to experience this again. Thank you for sharing your story. Xx


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