Fired, bullied, now what?!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-2003
Fired, bullied, now what?!
7
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 2:30pm

I have a rather unique situation, and Im having a really hard time dealing with it. Hoping for some advice, comments... anything!

LONG story short...

Worked at a company for 6 years. No problems, what-so-ever, for the first 5... I was highly recommended by all, constantly being praised for my leadership and results, used as an example amongst my supervisors, NEVER on any sort of counseling, etc... until we were rezoned and I got a new boss... From day 1 I could tell she didnt like me. She told me upon meeting me that she thought I was someone else (thought I was a blonde girl, but I was brunette.). Obviously when they told her she was going to be supervising me, she had in mind who she THOUGHT I was. She told me over and over as weeks went by, that she wasnt impressed by what others had told her. She "frankly just didnt see" what they saw. I KNOW I was good at my job. I have never been a super confident person, and am very humble, but I knew how to do my job, and do it well. i was PROUD of my accomplishments! Well she kept finding reasons to write me up. examples: saying my store wasnt clean, when I knew for a fact it was. saying because a price tag fell off an item, that I didnt have pride in my store and obviously dont know what im doing. MANY other really ridiculous things to write people up for! Thing is, all these things, I was ON TOP of. More so than any other person, because I knew what she would harp about when she was in there next. But in her eyes, it still wasnt right. NOTHING EVER WAS! I could go in a neighboring store that she supervised, and see MANY things that I would get written up for, that others were obviously not. I knew in my gut, she was trying to get rid of me. I was very compliant, did everything with a smile on my face, didnt argue... I have never had a problem with authority or adjusting to new bosses. I couldnt win. On top of it, she was telling HER supervisor (that always held me in HIGH regards and used me as an example of how a store manager should be) that I was losing passion for what I did, i didnt care anymore, i had gotten lazy, etc. Amongst all this, I had 2 support managers that I started having problems with. First one, her brother hung himself and as much as she tried to cope with it, she slowly started going downhill. She started talking suicidal as well. Acting out, etc. So that was a hard situation in itself. The other, behind my back started sleeping with a subordinate. She eventually quit after confronted, but the sales associate started acting out as well. I recently found out he was going to MY boss telling her lies about me. That I was leaving my store unattended, would take smoke breaks outside on company time (i dont even smoke!!!!), that I wasnt doing my job, etc. This is someone I was working one on one with to PROMOTE and thought he was a loyal employee. So my boss, based on HIS allegations, came in one day (on my 6 year anniversary with the company, yes the day of!!) and fired me without ever asking me of these allegations. I knew what had happened, she wanted me out, and took the best opportunity. I contacted HR, I tried contacting HER boss.... NOTHING. NO ONE would even take my calls OR do anything about it. I was DEVESTATED! i had just gotten married and now I was faced with being fired. I tried to pick up the pieces and move on, but I was refused unemployment (my employer actually fought this) and to top it off, we almost lost our house because of my job loss.

OH it gets better!!

Few months later, I found a job with another retailer. It was amazing at first!! First few months, same thing.... blew away my supervisor, his boss, my peers, etc. I was new, yet others were being told to come to ME for tips of success. THEN, we got rezoned.... NEW boss. First day of meeting her... she says to me " I understand you know Lisa (name is changed), her and I use to work together. We are great friends." and smiled at me. My heart sunk into my stomach. I was hoping she would be mature enough and gave the beenfit of the doubt that shed create her own opinion of me. I had high praise, and hoped shed listen to that. I was dead wrong! Day after day shed call me constantly, email me, text me, come in the store... telling me how she doesnt think im in the right line of work. I dont know how to do my job. I need to rethink this career path. if i decide to have kids, im going no where in this company (i had NEVER even spoke of having kids). that I am at-will employment and can be fired any day, for no reason, and to REMEMBER that. told me that if she was me, she would NEVER be taking a day off.. yes u heard me, not ONE day!! i started working 7 days a /wk sometimes 16-18 hours a day...  i mean, t he list goes ON. So I decided i wasnt going to wait around to get fired by this woman, i went to HR after about a month of constant harassment. They acted understanding and listened to my concerns. The NEXT day I had her and one of her peers in my office with 2 final warning write ups. Things that she had TOLD me and my management team to do, then wrote me up for it. when I pointed this out, she lied and said she NEVER told us that. there was a list probably 10 items long of differrent things. I came in on my scheduled day off one day, was 5 minutues late (we cant enter the store without another employee, they were late and i had to wait for them) and she WROTE ME UP for it. when i explained to her the policy she said too bad. i was leaving there every day crying. i started drinking every night to cope. i made an appt with a psychiatrist (never saw one before), i was shaking in anger and dreaded going to work every day. Soon after those write ups, i handed in my keys and left. It was NOT worth it.

I explained to HR what happened. Nothing was done. 2 of my assistants and half the staff went to HR on my behalf and having witnessed a lot of this harassment and bullying.... nothing was done. I called a lawyer and he said because I am a straight, white woman, and she is a straight,white woman... i am not protected under any class for a harassment suit. basically i can do NOTHING about it. This was 6 months ago. I have heard from people who have interviewed for my old position, that this woman is bad mouthing me during her interviews. making up lies about why I got fired from my OLD job. telling them I was under an investigation that I was never aware of.

Its literally never ending and I just dont know how to cope with ANY of this! I cant find another job and personally I am scared of this happening again... i just dont know what to do....

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 11:35am

Very sorry to hear what these nasty people put you through.  Is it possible to consult a different attorney and consider hostile work environment?  Simply because you are white and straight doesn't mean you have fewer rights than a gay, disabled, minority. 

I am not familiar with the retail business and really don't have any advice other than perhaps you can sought out a different field so the future bosses/co-workers won't be so connected?  For example, if you have been doing clothing, could you work in stationary or something completely different?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2013
Sun, 01-20-2013 - 7:24pm
unfortunately... i consulted 3 different attorneys... all said the same thing... one lawyer told me, "unfortunately, there's no law against being a jerk". he told me he has seen this happen all too often, and unless i can PROVE they have done me harm, or i was in one of the protected classes (gay, diff race, etc) I really have no case. It will all be, he said, she said... or in my case, she said, she said... theres no way of proving anything because it was all done verbally. even though i have people who have witnessed her bullying, he still said that wouldnt hold up in a court case. i started seeing a counselor because it has been eating away at me. the one attorney said if i saw a counselor every week for months on end, i MAY have a case of emotional distress. MAY. problem is, the counselor i was seeing was always so booked, they kept cancelling my appointments and the next available one wouldnt be for another month or so. PLUS it was costing me $160/session... so i just couldnt afford it. i couldnt afford to pay that and have the case not be a slam dunk. i have tried looking for other jobs outside of retail (i graduated college with my bachelors 7 years ago) and because i dont have "specific" experience, noone will even give me an interview. as a store manager i had a HUGE amount of experience in SO many different areas, but because i didnt specifically work in an office environment, i am no good to anyone. i cant go back to retail because everyone knows everyone... thats how i ended up in this place in the first place... my reputation is tarnished and i honestly dont know where to go from here...
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2009
Mon, 01-21-2013 - 2:22am
Peachy I'm sorry this has happened to you and has brought you so much stress when you should just be enjoying being a newlywed. I think that this may be one of those blessing in disguise type things though, meaning that its a sign you're meant to do something else. Yes you were good at your job and enjoyed it before the new bosses entered the picture, but the powers that be have put you in this situation twice and I can't help but think that's a huge hint that you're meant for something else. Is there another industry, line of work, career path, etc that has always sparked your interest? Now may be the time to do a little more research and see what you uncover.
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Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Wed, 01-30-2013 - 7:34pm

Hi,

First of all, I don't know what type of attorney you're consulting, but you need to find one whose at least willing to write a "cease and desist" letter to the HR director of the company your former boss(es) work for. Basically this letter says, "My client has documented bad mouthing by her former supervisor (her name). This letter is to inform you that you are hereby notified to cease and desist all bad mouthing of (your name) or XYZ company may be subject to litigation. In return, my client agrees not to say anything negative about her former supervisor or your company."

I had such a letter written and sent to a former employer where I experienced much the same you did. Now, I will tell you, it took a long time for the pain and hurt of this experience to dissapate, and I had to work around what to say about why I left or how I handled reference checks here. But, eventually, I got free of the vindictive person in question.

Plain and simple, if you're good at your job and a new person comes in KNOWING you're good, and they feel threatened, they're going to find a way to get rid of you. And, unfortunately, most companies aren't willing to stick their neck out legally and address the problem. They know you, the individual can't do much if you are fired or quit, so they let the chips fall where they may. It can be terribly devastating to your self-esteem.

I strongly encourage you to keep seeing a counselor. You don't have to see a $160 an hour pyschiatrist. You can also find good help in a community mental health center or service. Call your local United Way to find out where.

I do encourage you to consider a change of careers. If you've worked retail you have ALOT to offer other employers. Lots and lots of transferrable skills. You just need to recognize that to start. 

Do you have a Goodwill Industries near you? If so, call their headquarters and ask to speak to someone in their workforce development staff. Goodwill's mission is to put people to work. They need good retail workers and managers for starters! They also understand and work with people every day who have a barrier to employment, i.e. a bad experience with a past employer. There's no shame in going there. Trust me, I know, I work as a financial counselor for Goodwill. ;-)

I also encourage you to get a great book: "What Color is Your parachute," by Richard Bolles. It's thick but it's fantastic.

More questions? Need ideas? Email me at wisdomtooth2020@yahoo.com

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2007
Tue, 02-26-2013 - 2:58am

Peachy - I know I'm coming into this a month later but I hope my words will help you or anyone else who reads this down the line. First, know that none of this is your fault. Second, know that nothing you could have done would have changed the situation. There are people in this world who are unhappy with themselves and spend all of their time and energy bringing down those around them in order to feel better about themselves. For those of us who are high performers, have passion for our work, and value our co-workers and a happy work environment these women are absolute poison. I have experienced your scenario at least four times in my career. I thought at first that it was me. That I was doing something to provoke this type of behavior. But I know that I am not alone. A capable, intelligent, smart and humble woman is incredibly threatening to another woman who has issues with insecurity. I am normally a very high performer who earns awards and accolades at my job. Looking back now, I'm amazed at how quickly all of that goes downhill when I end up working with a poison person. Three were my managers, who nitpicked and badgered me until my self-confidence was shot and I was ready to quit. I got smarter with this last one and started documenting everything she told me so I could prove that she was lying. That just made her try harder. One was a fellow manager who failed at getting me fired, and then started in on my employees. After a year of that, I landed in the hospital with a stress-induced heart attack. And that was my true wake up call. What I realized is that you can't predict these poison people. All you can do is not allow them into your world. I have an agreement with my husband that the next time I run into one I am quitting on the spot.And I am the main bread winner, so you can imagine how important this is to us both. I am the type of person who wants to always do her best, and who thrives on teaching and encouraging those around me to become their best selves as well. I'm just as happy when a co-worker wins an award as when I win them myself. I too am afraid that one of these poison people is lurking around the corner of any new job I might take, and so I'm working to start my own business so that I have control over who I spend my time with. The key for me is to simply not play their game. Realize that you choose how you will live your life and who will be in it. I'm proud of you for leaving that last job. It takes courage to walk away from a bad situation. Many times we feel like if we just tried hard enough, we could make it work. That's only true when both people WANT it to work. And these poison people don't. They simply want to win by beating you down. The truth is, you might run into another one. And if so, you know what to do. But I still believe there are many more good people in this world than bad. You could be hesitating to take a job that could be an absolute dream. I still have self-confidence issues becaue of these poison people. I doubt myself when I shouldn't - probably because there were times I believed I was as stupid as they said I was. The only way to come out on top in these situations is to believe in yourself and not play the game. Find an environment where you can thrive and be successful. It IS out there. You can find it. I'm pulling for you!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2013
Thu, 04-11-2013 - 12:10pm

As Ivily said its wonderful  that one can make about $6500 in montly by uploading music/video clips on HomeProfit, did you read the page at  cutt.us/Career

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-14-2011
Sun, 11-10-2013 - 11:00pm

Sounds like workplace bullying or something called gangstalking. There is a book about mobbing in the American workplace. Mobbing is another word for bullying or gangstalking. You could check that out. There is a lot of info on the internet about gangstalking.  And groups for it, too. People have done this type of bullying to me and my family and friends all our lives. They single out certain people and bully them their entire lives. For some reason.