Bullying in the workplace - anyone else?

I’ve been working at a job for a year and a half now, and while the work itself is good, the company is awful, and I have a co-worker who, I’ve come to realize, is bullying me. She is very stressed out, and she takes it out on me. She gets mad at me about twice a week over things that I have no control over, and it really gets to me. She’s not my supervisor - she’s simply a co-worker at the same level as me, and has only been at the company a couple months longer than I have.

I’ve tried everything I can think of now - talking to her, fighting back to her, talking to three levels of supervisors, and nothing has been done and nothing has changed.

I have decided that this job with this rotten company isn’t worth the stress that she’s causing me, and I’m going to quit. I also realize that there isn’t much that management can do - if they go to her and tell her to be nice to me, she’ll find more subtle ways to make my life miserable. It’s also embarrassing for me to go to them and tell them that G is picking on me - I feel like a kid tattling to my mommy.

It’s a no-win situation for me - my only way out is to get out. It sucks, but there it is - this bad-tempered, mean-spirited woman is chasing me out of my job.

Anyone else have any experience with this? Were you able to fix it, or am I right in thinking the only solution is for me to leave?

Our Company’s Bully is called the Office Manager, I deal with her as little as possible. And if I have a problem with her, I go to the General Manager or the President of our Company.

Can you file a report documenting what you feel is her making a “hostile” work environment?
NO ONE should ever have to work where they feel uncomfortable.
Good luck.

featherlou, I know exactly where you are coming from. I have worked in the same place for 10 years now. I am lucky to be able to work from home and telecommute for the past year and a half. Before that though, my life was hell. It started out with my boss being downright abusive. My job responsibilities do not include meeting with the public, but during job evaluations, she would always say “you don’t smile enough” and “you never let anyone disagree with you.”

I was having some really terrible medical problems and had to miss work. The company’s sick time gave employees 6 days absence. After that, absences were considered unexcused. Even before I used up the 6 days, if I missed work and brought in a doctor’s excuse, she’d count it against me. At the time I didn’t know about the Family Medical Leave Act, but she was deliberately withholding leave from me and breaking the law. She really hated me and I still don’t know why. I mean, I can’t go into everything she did to me, there isn’t enough time or space here to do so. But she overlooked me for promotions, even though I was the best worker there (all of our work was checked and I consistently had the lowest error rate and highest production rate).

Overall, at this place, there is a power struggle. And people who find themselves threatened lash out at other people and engage in bullying. I saw it all the time. It is just one way to have power over another person.

It got so bad that I filed complaints with the EEOC. Going to the other managers did no good because they all stuck together. At one point, I requested a special keyboard (an ergonomic one) and brought in medical documentation stating that I needed it. Someone else in my department had already gotten one so I didn’t think I would have a problem getting one. Well, my boss delayed and delayed and we were getting brand new computers to use (which is why I requested the special keyboard) and the day came that the computers were installed and she still hadn’t made up her mind. Since it was truly harmful for me to use the standard keyboard, I told her that if she was not going to give me the new keyboard I may as well go home. Which I did. The next day she had me written up for insubordination and suspended for 3 days. I countered by saying that she did not warn me of that possibility when she told me I could leave the previous day, so my suspension was reduced to 1 day. So I had to use the standard keyboard and my medical condition worsened. This is a very long story and I apologize for its length, but I wanted to share it with you. I finally got the ergonomic keyboard when the other person quit and I took her keyboard.

Eventually, my boss left the company altogether. But the bullying from other employees still persisted. A good friend of mine who still works there is still experiencing it.

I am at an advantage where I can work at home and have minimal contact with those jerks.

I hope your situation works out. Unfortunately, there are assholes like this everywhere. I don’t know the magic formula on how to deal with them. If you can’t telecommute like I do , the best thing is to find another job. In the meantime, ignore her if you can. I know that is easier said than done. If possible, don’t stoop to her level. I know we are all tempted to lash out, but that is giving her exactly what she wants. If you ignore her, maybe she will leave you alone.

Good luck.

Oh man, does she ever make a hostile work environment. She sits at her desk every day and curses and throws things around and is always saying things like “This fucking thing won’t work. I can’t take this fucking shit anymore.” in a really angry tone of voice. I mean always - she goes off like that a couple times every day.

We’re all under extreme stress at this company - it was bought by a megacorp, and their policy is to not hire enough staff and to expect the remaining staff to do fantastic amounts of work, but she doesn’t realize that everyone else’s jobs are harder because we also have to put up with her extreme negativity.

So, how does one go about making a case for a hostile work environment?

You don’t have to tattle on her, sometimes just telling the person that you will if she doesn’t desist works…

I think your problem is you look at this in the wrong perspective. Me, I’m a smart-ass but I’m guessing your not. However you may find this advice usefull none the less.
People who get pissed off so easily are just BEGGING to get shit from me. What I mean by this is, I will purposely do shit to piss off said person. Why? Becuase its fun to piss them off and to sit back and watch the show. This is especialy true if said person is on the same level as you becuase they can’t do anything (detremental) to get back at you.

So next time she goes on a rant just allow yourself to LAUGH at her and not be AFFECTED by her.

Remember anger is a weakness and people who show their weaknesses so readily don’t have a clue.
Come on try it! Its funny pissing people off! :wink:

I have no solution for you at all but assuming that featherlou is a female I thought I would point aout that recent research has discovered that workplace bullying unlike other forms is usually aimed at the most able members of the workforce. This is particularly true amongst women.

The traits of the targets include:

Refusal to be subservient

Technically more competent than their aggressors

Envied, and thus resented, for their cooperativeness and being liked by others

Report illegal/unethical conduct, whistleblowers

Vulnerable in some way (often have been previously traumatized in or out of work)

Being the subject of bullying makes you one of the elite.

Good luck.

Actually now that I look again at your second post, I can see a possible solution. Approach the people above her with you concerns that she is a f*cking nutcase - you are worried because she has these pointless tirades several times a day, “My God you wouldn’t believe the language. It’s like working on the docks.” Lately she’s started throwing things around, “I almost got hit in the eye by a stapler only last week. It’s scary sitting near her now.” If you are evil enough suggest that she may be setting up a case to sue the company, “Well other companies don’t let staff act like this without intervening…do they??”

Document it too. Key conversations with her, and your supervisors.

On your traits:
check (I can’t imagine her envying me, but I am cooperative and liked by others)
and check
Hmm, you may be onto something here. I just don’t get it, though - all I want to do is do my work and go home. I just don’t see how that threatens her.

SHAKES, that is an excellent perspective. At 55 years old, you think she would be able to control her temper by now, but apparently not. I just try to get out of her way when she’s on a rampage.

Any chance you can just ignore her? Or pretend she doesn’t exist? Most bullies will stop if they see that they aren’t getting a reaction out of you. Though some will escalate their behavior.

As other people have said, document every incident. If your company has a form for making statements, use it. Ask your HR person/department if they will file a copy in your file. Give one to your boss and keep a copy at home for yourself as backup. Make sure you state how her bullying makes you feel and affects your work performance. Once you have a raft of these documents (up to you to determine how many that is), tell your boss that you’d like to meet with the company EO officer and discuss a hostile work environment. Either they’ll take action and transfer or terminate this person, or they should go ahead and allow you to talk to EO.

If you get to talk to the EO person they should know what courses of action are available to deal with this. If they say that your complaints aren’t enough to deal with G, then point to her and say “If that’s the type of person you prefer to work at your company then I’m afraid that I’m not in the right place” and give your notice.

Best of luck to you.

Parental Advisory has it right. Take detailed notes, with times and dates. Keep a copy where the bully can’t possibly get to it. After you document 10 or so incidents, you can take your notes to the boss. Even if you don’t do that, you’ll have evidence if the bully ever tries to get you in trouble. Believe me, she will.


Gosh, is this a blatant list of self-affirmations or what? Of course everyone believes they’re especially bright and noble. For fun, start a thread called “What’s Your IQ?” or “Were you one of the smart kids in school?” and watch the numbers get bigger and bigger. IQ threads are the source of more fishy numbers than an Enron balance sheet.

Victims of bullying are typically willing to be subservient. People who refuse to bow to bullies are the one who tend not to be bullied.

Being the subject of bullying does not make you “one of the elite.” It makes you the victim of a bully. You aren’t special. If you want bullies dealt with you have to do something about it.

If you want something done about it, featherlou, the first thing you should do is change your vocabulary. Don’t call it bullying. Call it harassment, because

A) That’s exactly what it is, and
B) “Harassment” tends to get an employer’s attention. “Bullying” makes you sound like a kid.

Harassment, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t have to be sexual in nature. Personal harassment is a serious matter and exposes an employer to liability if not dealt with. You should not have to tolerate such nonsense; it’s unfair to you and to your employer. The other posters are correct; document absolutely everything. If it’s not written down it never happened. Bring it to your boss and tell him you want to go to HR with it, or want her/him to go to HR with it if need be.

Thanks, RickJay - that’s good advice. I was calling it bullying because I’m just so stunned by it - I have never experienced this before at work, and I didn’t know what the hell to call it. All I know is it feels terrible and I would like her to stop.

I have been documenting the stuff she does for my own purposes - to remind me of why I have to look for another job, but I can easily show the list to management.

Go to HR. Does your work have legal counsel on staff? Most megacorps have at least a couple of attorneys working for them on site. You may need to start over, going through the chain of command, to prove that you have sought resolution to this problem to no avail.

I’m surprized that featherlou’s antagonist has lasted so long at the job. In my experience people that unhappy or unable to behave in a civil manner at work (IOW a ‘bad fit’) tend to be shown the door. What kind of work do you do? Like others have said, see what Human Resources says before leaving.

I had to work with this god-awful witch when I worked at my last job. She had no life, no significant other, no kids, no grandkids… NO HOBBIES. She thought about work all day and night because that’s all she DID!

She was a rip to me, and was one of those people who don’t want anybody else to know how to do their jobs. That way she looks superior. Everyone (EVEN THE DIRECTOR) was intimidated by her, so nothing EVER got done about the problem.

Anyway, I finally decided that it was not worth it to me when she basically accused me of shorting a $5,000 deposit by $10. $10 exactly. SHE was the one who took the deposits to the bank, and I had counted that money over and over and over again. I have no doubt that she took out $10 to make me look bad.

I got employment elsewhere, and when I left, I wrote a letter to my boss detailing the reason that I was leaving. I mentioned her by NAME. Then I carbon copied my letter to every member on the board. The people who’d worked at the office for YEARS begged me to do this, because they said they couldn’t keep help for more than 3 months at a time! I quit right around a year and a half ago, and I’ve seen them advertise for jobs NUMEROUS times in the news paper.

I did forget to mention that I would have spoken to the board BEFORE quitting, but she was the person who took the minutes at the board meetings. (She sucked up to the people she knew were important.) Can you imagine how awkward that would have been?

Anyway, at that job, I was about to get a raise, and I was even going to have my own office. BUT, I decided that the money just wasn’t worth it. All I could think about was how stressful it as to work with her, and I was just going nuts.


featherlou, I had the same type of scenario. I was implementing an HR system, and one of my users was hella bitchy. She’d make all kinds of mistakes and blame me for them. In a really mean way. So I sat down with her and her boss and told her that if she treated me like shit, I wouldn’t work with her. If she had a legitimate complaint or question, phrased in a civil manner, I’d bend over backwards for her.

After that we became great friends. I found out later that her husband beat her just about every day. In front of her son, and she didn’t know how to get out of it. I could understand why she might fly off the handle at work.

That sit-down with her and her boss was one of the smartest things I ever did.

I’m working as an accounting clerk, which is the same job she does. Just today, our mutual supervisor said she wished G would just quit if she hates the job so much. Um, hello - you’re her supervisor - maybe you should do something about this?