How a new boss drove an advocate to suicidal thoughts

I am a former employee of nine years of a nonprofit serving individuals with disabilities. I assisted developmentally delayed adults in their homes to become more independent in the community and their home.

The bullying began after some shift changes. At the same time, we got a new residential manager. My bully, an older woman, wanted things done her way and when she said. Since I worked in a different way, she didn't like me. I worked a 36-hour week by myself most of the time. I went to working with her on two of those days, a total of eight hours a week.

She also had a fellow employee who worked at the home who she was friends with. She would call her during our shifts to complain about me, saying I was lazy, did nothing, and played games with the ladies. (The reason: she did all the work. When I asked what I could do to help, she'd say "oh, you're fine, dear" in a sweet voice.) The fellow friend employee usually relieved me at 12am and would be less than kind or quiet and ignore me.

These two worked together prior to shift changes, which I assumed they were upset about — not me. Wrong! The older one continued to harass me on our shifts by yelling at me as soon as I came in the door or slamming around the kitchen and then slamming the door when she left, scaring our residents.

When I complained to the manager, I was told I was a liar. I told my manager daily about the incidents, and she assured me she would take care of it. When I asked her what she did, she lied to me to appease me. I learned that the manager and my bully would make fun of me when I wasn't there. They made fun of my mental state and left a flyer for me for an in-service on how to be less emotional at the workplace.

When I found that my manager was lying to me about what she had done, I went to the Executive Director, whom was less than compassionate. She directed me to someone else. They helped me to a point, but the woman would come to the home whenever she wanted and bully. For example:

  • Ignoring requests. The new manager would tell me she had handled things the first time and that it wouldn't happen again.
  • Micromanagement. She'd come in and ask me what I was doing for the day. She'd ask me: wasn't I supposed to go out with the women? Why were we home? I was the only worker in the home with four residents on Sundays. I could not leave anyone alone. They were in my care. If one of the elder women of the home didn't want to go anywhere, we didn't go anywhere. Yet my bully would complain I wasn't doing my job and that I was being lazy. I'd asked for help on Sundays, and the manager would tell me she was working on it. They hired someone, yet that person would only work half a day and wasn't certified to take people out or watch them alone.
  • Insults. The bully called me a liar for complaining to the boss, saying I was lazy, too emotional, and not capable of doing the work, yet my previous shifts were three 18-hour shifts that I worked most of by myself. (I would come in at 3pm, assist the ladies with coming in and from the day, and do daily chores like laundry, showers, and cooking — all under scrutiny. I helped residents be independent, whereas the bully just did the chores for them and treated them like children.)

My boss didn't want to lose the bully because the bully did most of the boss' work. The boss would clock herself in on Sunday mornings and never show up. When I called, she had an excuse each time, and the HR director asked me if she was coming in those Sundays. I said no. When she complained to the director, she told him to mind his own business.

At one point, a resident stood up for me by telling the bully she was the problem. I loved those residents.

I was not the only person she bullied. I put many names on my complaint to the EEOC of former workers whom she had bullied.

All I wanted was for someone to tell the bully she was behaving poorly, and it was affecting the residents in their own home. I wanted the bullying to stop.

I was doing my job, and no one seemed to care what went on in the home during shifts. The residents were often afraid to speak up because they were afraid of the bully.

I experienced a lot of physical complications because of this treatment. I had loss of work due to exacerbated fibromyalgia symptoms, excessive migraines, and even a gallbladder attack that required surgery. I became suicidal and started therapy when I started thinking of how I would kill myself.

I have since left this job of nine years due to physical injury of another matter. Since then, I struggle to find adequate employment for my financial needs. My employer didn't suffer much except they lost a very caring, compassionate, and empathetic employee.

I took my issue to the EEOC, and they decided for my employer because of the age of my bully: 74 years old.

I am still angry and believe they decided wrong but decided to move on rather than try to fight their decision. They didn't seem concerned in the long run.

I want workplace bullying legislation to pass because good people who work hard for a living need to be respected in their place of work.

Businesses need to start taking this issue seriously.


Share your workplace bullying story. Email to [email protected] in one page along with an optional photo:

Where did you work and what did you do?
How did the bullying begin? What tactics were used?
How did you feel?
How did it escalate?
How did your employer react (or not react)?
What was the impact on you?
What was the impact on the organization?
Why do you want workplace bullying legislation to pass?
What advice do you have for others going through bullying at work?

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