“She had her agenda – to get rid of me”
Q: Can you describe what form the bullying took where you worked?
Tracey: My bullying experience was psychological. if you have seen the video, “Tracey’s Law,” you will see that I was an emotional wreck when I finally left my job of nearly 20 years after being bullied for only 6 mnoths. I was a high-level employee, an office manager, and my bully was new to the institution. She had her agenda – to get rid of me but to have me quit instead of firing me (even though I was employed at will). She isolated me from co-workers by putting space between us and telling me I was not allowed to talk to any of them. She gave me time-relevant assignments to do without the necessary resources to complete the task efficiently. She lied about me, talked about my performance (or lack thereof) behind my back, and alienated me from coworkers I had been with for nearly 20 years. My bullying was thoroughly and successfully psychological.
Tracey: Since my bully was a new hire, and my supervisor, I sought out different ways of working with her that I thought may be more successful and, in turn, she would see me as somebody who could really help her in her new role as Chair of a large department. Having been there for so long, I knew everybody and what their roles were, how they worked, etc. I went to some employee development, had one-on-one consultations with the university employee development department, and finally spoke with Human Resources – my biggest mistake. They would not listen to me and continued saying that I was having troubles simply because I was not used to her style of management. However, I had three supervisors before her who had different management styles and I adapted well to each of them. When I was confident they were not going to help me in any way, I had to use my last resort and reported that my bully was falsifying her timesheets. So much for the whistleblower law! After that, it was clear she had been spoken to about that because the harrasment got worse and worse. I was becoming more and more distressed and depressed.
Q: How did you cope during that time? Where did you draw your support from?
Tracey: I didn’t cope very well during that time. I had nobody to talk to in the department since they were all told not to talk to me. I drew my support from my family and from searching the internet for “workplace bullying” and found some resources there. Much of the information and steps the Institute for Workplace Bullying had laid out did not or would not help me. I had already tried what I could try and I was documenting information about my bullying experiences, but Human Resources was not going to be of any help to me at all. I met with my family practitioner and she suggested I take some time off to get myself together (I was an emotional wreck at that point and very depressed). I finally agreed and ended up taking a leave of absence that lasted 6 mos. When my six months had expired, I was told I needed to return to my job or resign. I was still traumatized and did not believe that anything would change upon my return, so I resigned.