Humiliated By A Bully Boss. I’m Giving Notice!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about quitting over humiliating write up:

Last Wednesday I humiliated at work due to a write up. The situation occurred during our “meeting” due to the write up. It is my responsibility to post the mail and send it out. The mailman, not our usual mail man, showed up almost an hour early and I did not have time to post the mail. I told my boss that I would take it after work. I have to pick up my kids and I stayed until 5:45 pm.

During my mad dash out of the office I forgot the mail. I also have a catalog log that I work off of to send out our literature. The log was not updated yet the catalogs were sent out. These are the two offenses that I was written up for. During our meeting I was told “YOU F*&%ED UP.” I was also called a liar because one of the girls, who doesn’t like me, told him the mail arrived around 10:30 when in fact it arrived around 9:30. I told him the time that the mail was delivered and he said he confirmed it with this particular coworker. He also knows that this coworker has tried in the past to get me fired or in trouble yet he chose to believe her over me.

I was so stunned that I could NOT say anything! I had this panicked feeling come over me almost to the point that I could not breathe. I just sat there stunned that he would talk to me this way. Then, the next thing I knew he is telling me that he was working on this coworker’s computer and heard my personal conversation, with my mortgage company. He actually drew a picture with two circles. One circle had the company name and the other said “personal.” He walked over to the board and pointed to the “personal” circle and said, “you have to learn to separate this, personal, from this, company name.

By this point I was completely humiliated! I could not believe that he actually drew a picture trying to get me to understand something. I am NOT stupid by any means!I was so upset about all of this I have cried off and on for the last four days. I talked to HR who has told me that I need to fill out a grievance form to give to the owner. And on Friday, Feb. 18, he came in two hours late. He was telling me to get some files boxed up by 1:00 and then had the nerve to send me a “reminder” email after he just told me to do this. At 5:00 pm while has was walking out the door I told him that I completed what he wanted me to and then some. His remark was “I didn’t think you could do all of that.” And then he said “Doesn’t it feel good to be proactive?” as he was insinuating that I do nothing. My husband was so furies over the entire situation that he wants me to file the report, call the Labor Board and quit. We finally came to the decision that I would put in my two weeks notice. I plan on doing that Monday. Is there anything else that I should be doing or not doing?

Signed, About To Quit

DearĀ About To Quit:

When your boss behaves badly, you should not react as a victim. Sure you are embarrassed and regret because you goofed up once or twice. Does that mean you are stupid, incompetent, and irresponsible? No. It is understandable that you want to get away from this boss who swore at you, called you a liar and lectured you on separating your personal life from work life. He behaved as a bully boss rather than as a problem-solving coach. That is his way of bossing. He needs training to realize that is not only ineffective, but also such bossing can be costly to the company. Replacing someone who quits usually costs thousands of dollars. You say you are about to give a two-week notice. Are you sure you want to? Finding another job often takes time. Learning the ropes elsewhere can be stressful. So weigh your decision to quit. What are alternatives to quitting? Might it be smart to bide your time and not quit until you find another job, then give the two weeks notice? It is sometimes easier to find a job while still employed. Might another alternative be, to wait until vacation time to earnestly look for another job? Get my point. Don’t let a bully push you out!

Do not rush to a decision. If you elect to postpone the quit decision, what else might you do? You have had time to think through what you might coolly say to your boss and what you might write in response to his write up. You can carefully prepare a brief letter, saying what you have described in this e-mail to us: That you have been a responsible employee and performed well except for a slip up or two. That you did make a mistake. That you apologize for it. That you did not lie about the time and that you don’t think you were wrong. But if you were incorrect, it was not intentional and another employee’s word should not be taken over yours. That your boss angrily swore at you, called you a liar and lectured you implying you were not committed to your job rather than behaving as a problem solving, supportive coach.

And finally say how distressed this whole thing has been for you and that you apologize for your mistake and feel your boss owes you an apology for his bully behavior. Say if your apology is accepted and your boss gets some anger management training, you want to have a good working relationship with him.Once you have prepared this sort of letter, make three copies–one for HR, a second for your boss, and a third to keep. If you have the courage to do so, go to his office and tell him what that you are responding to his write up and what you have said in this letter. He probably will not like that you report his behavior. But you can then say, his behavior also deserves a write up. Do not hesitate to use the word bully boss because that is the way he bossed. And you are right to feel you deserve an apology for the way he has bullied you rather than been a coach in correcting your mistake. Or you can avoid confronting him face to face and put a copy of your letter in his mailbox. Check with your husband to decide if any of these alternatives make more sense than giving a two-week notice tomorrow. Whatever you decide, do your best not to become obsessed about this. The temptation is to play the tapes about it over and over in your mind and to spill your distress to co-workers, neighbors and family. You have done the right thing by talking with your husband and going to HR, and you may want to do so again to seek their advice before you give a two-week notice. Soon it will be time to shake it off such as with regular exercise, a good book, singing in a choir, and counting the blessings of family.Work is hard enough without a bully boss, so you can choose fight or flight.

Building an effective and supportive working relationship with a boss sometimes required that the bossed must train the boss on how he/she can boss more effectively. Think WEGO. P.S. Possibly you will want to show HR our answer to your e-mail question. (After you re-read it and make a few corrections such as in the first sentence to add the word was so that is reads I was humiliated at work).

Follow Up: Yes, Sir, my husband & I both agree that I should leave my job. This sort of behavior goes on regularly. And I was told by HR that he has gone to her and accused her of NOT keeping up with my vacation or sick time. And he approached two other dept. heads in this matter. He has accused myself, HR and the Accounting Manager for being at “triangle of friends” who do their best at protecting and covering for me, NO TRUE! They have both told him that is not true. He also sits at the coworker’s desk, one of the ones who harassed me in the past, and listens to what I am doing and if I am talking to my mother or husband.

The two coworkers that I have mentioned also harassed me while I was pregnant with my baby who had a tumor behind his heart and lung and who have done so for the length of my employment. She actually told the owner, after I left for a doctor appointment at Texas Children’s Hospital to have an ultrasound and meet with A Pediatric Cardiologist and a Pediatrician Surgeon to discuss the matter, that I just left for the day!

My husband and I are prepared financially to do this and I did have a job interview last Monday and should hear something tomorrow. This kind of “bullying” has always been his “management technique.” I have asked a coworker in the same dept. if she is treated like this and she has said yes also. She said that he talks to her like she is in “Kindergarten and stupid”. I have been there for five years and this sort of thing is common around my office. My husband actually wanted me to go in Monday and quit after his comment on Friday afternoon about “doesn’t it feel good to be proactive.” I talked him into a “two week notice” and he said that if he treats me badly at anytime during the two weeks to just leave.

Honestly Mr. Gorden, I just cannot take anymore! I am tired of crying and getting upset about the way that I am treated. And I am NOT the only one. We have had five people quit in the last two weeks. Two of the employees were new hires and had only been there three to four days. And two already found new jobs and one left for lunch and never came back. As I have found I am NOT the only one who feels this way. And the fact that I get extreme stomach cramps and am nauseated right before I have to leave for work and continues all day. Once I get home the stomach cramps go away. I believe it is because I feel safe and I know that my husband will protect me from anything bad. I have three sons and the two oldest ones ask me why I am so upset and “why does your boss make you cry?” Anyway, as much as I have prayed about it I knew this day would come.

And I have to say I feel very confident in the decision to leave a hostile and “bullying” work environment. Also, is what he did legal?

Reply: You have thought this through. So may the wind be at your back and sun on your face. To the best of my knowledge, there are no laws in Texas about bullying being illegal. In fact only a few states have ever considered such legislation. A journalist interviewed me this past week about that topic. Some other countries have pioneered this kind of law. Only protected classes (race, sex, national origin, age, disability, religion) have laws that make verbal harassment and a hostile environment illegal. However, some companies have policy statements that make disrespectful verbal and nonverbal acts by co-workers and bosses subject to discipline and termination. So possibly, someone will crusade in this company to make bullying cause for corrective action. Usually, it is not until several accidents occur at a cross road before a stoplight is installed. It is past time at your soon to be former workplace to put a stop to this and any other bully managers. During your pregnancy and child’s tumor, your company should have gone the second and third mile to lend you support rather than make things more difficult for you.May your next place of employment use your talents and be family friendly. You are blessed to have a supportive family. The spirit of WEGO begins at home.

William Gorden