A Workplace of Bullying (A Personal Story)

I have talked and heard from many people who tell me that bullying certainly continues after school into the workplace. I have had my share of unpleasant people to work with, one who was certainly a bully, but I never really had terrible workplace bullying experiences that I felt I couldn’t handle. Jane Keeler wrote me with the below story, which is interesting in that her bullying continued from school to the workplace. She wrote her story of bullying in her school days on her blog called Jane’s Daily Blah. Her story makes me wonder about how many people who suffered with childhood bullying find it continues for them into the workplace. ~ Alan Eisenberg

A Workplace of Bullying

Any time I come across a story of bullying, it really resonates with me. In March 2007, I read the book Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons, which inspired me to write a blog post about my childhood bullying experience. It received quite a few comments from others with similar experiences (you can read it here: http://janesdailyblah.blogspot.com/2007/03/odd-girl-out.html )

While I have certainly thought a lot about the effects that my childhood experiences of being bullied have had on my adult life (trouble standing up for myself coupled with general anxiety disorder), I recently learned that – unfortunately – bullying is not something which ends upon reaching adulthood. As such, I was wondering if you had done any research into adult bullying.

(Let me preface my story by saying that I am a 32 year old college educated professional. Other than the experience I am about to discuss, I am on good terms with all my previous employers, all of whom have told me that I am welcome to return any time.)

In 2009 I spent eight months working for a woman who was a bully. She was the director of a small non-profit. She bullied me, my coworkers, the board of directors of the non-profit, and members of the public. This woman repeatedly told me and my coworkers that talking to any member of the board of directors would result in immediate termination. She also made a point of telling us how much the board loved her, how she was close friends with board members, etc. The only people to whom we could report her behavior were the board members, and she made it seem that if we did so, they would take her side and we would lose our jobs.

The eight months I worked at this non-profit were hellish, and I went home most nights in tears. I suffered from constant verbal abuse, unreasonable demands, and was required to work nine hours a day with no break, while only being paid for eight (I was told that this was a requirement, and that if I didn’t do this, I would lose my job.) When the boss decided that she wanted to fire one of my coworkers, she informed me that since she didn’t want said employee to receive unemployment benefits, she was going to make her life hell so that she would quit – and she did just that, harassing the poor girl until she walked out in hysterics and never returned. On numerous occasions she threatened members of the public with legal action (often telling them she was on her way out the door to meet with her lawyer, when this was a complete lie) to get them to agree to her demands.

The eight months I worked at this non-profit were the worst of my life. Quitting that job – even in the middle of the Great Recession and in a part of the country with over 10% unemployment – was one of the best decisions I have EVER made. I only wish I had done it sooner. After quitting my job, I wrote a 30+ page statement detailing my experiences which I submitted to the board of directors. My former boss was fired roughly a month after that for “failure to adequately perform her duties.” Following her departure, the board discovered that she had used the organization’s credit card for personal purchases totaling thousands of dollars, the organization’s bank account was overdrawn, numerous checks had been written to various family members of this woman for unspecified services, and every single account (electricity, internet, payroll taxes, etc) was in arrears.

After her termination, my former boss began friending all of my friends on facebook (people from other cities, states, and countries, with whom she had no connection whatsoever) and she began making comments about my incompetence as an employee, and my stupidity. Additionally, she made numerous cryptic comments (ones which were obviously directed at me, but which did not explicitly state my name) which I found to be not just harassing but downright terrifying. In these cryptic comments she threatened me, my family, and my animals. Unfortunately, I was told by local police that because she did not use my name explicitly, they could take no action. She also began a smear campaign on community internet bulletinboards, smearing me, my coworkers, and (mainly) the board of directors. (This was done using an internet handle, but it was obvious to all involved that it was her.)

In the end, the board did not seek prosecution against this woman for anything. They told me that they didn’t prosecute for “fear of the negative publicity it would bring to the organization.” My belief is that they declined to prosecute for fear – not of publicity, but of her!

Unfortunately, the moral of the story seems to be that bullies win.

~ Jane E. Keeler

9 thoughts on “A Workplace of Bullying (A Personal Story)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Workplace of Bullying (A Personal Story) « Bullying Stories -- Topsy.com

  2. A story like this is why I stay away from sites like Facebook. I think these bully bosses get their credentials from the same place idiot drivers get licenses: from a Cracker Jack box. I’d love to launch a cruise missile at the offending Cracker Jack factory to cut off the supply. Maybe Facebook should be renamed “bullybook”.

  3. The thing is, I love facebook. I have friends in a lot of different countries, and I am once again living overseas… it allows me to interact with them in a community-like environment. (Quite a few of them took my former boss to task for her behavior on facebook last year, too.) It’s an excellent medium for community and communication… it’s just unfortunate that it can get so misused.

  4. I know of Jane Keeler and I know the “boss” she is speaking of in her posting. In fact, I have know this woman much longer than Ms Keeler. She has colored her story to fit her own version of reality. I have no idea if she was bullied as a child, but I am quite sure that this “boss” did not do any of the things she has said.

    This makes me wonder if her feelings of harassment are just thin skin and lack of social skills. And if her workplace experience was so horrific, why did she take it for 8 months?

    I know the whole story behind this “boss” and the accusations of the non-profit board of directors. Most of these accusations were rumors and not based in fact. The police investigated for several months and none of them were proven to be true. That is the real reason no charges were brought.But that doesn’t stop whiners like Ms Keeler from going on and on about her imagined abused by this “boss”.

    I think Ms Keeler needs to look inside her own motives for not moving on with her life and letting this whole thing disappear. Stop the smear campaign. Pull your big girl panties up and deal with your own shortcomings.

    • P. Simpson you are an awful, mean-spirited person. Maybe she stayed with the job because she needed money? Ever think of that? Not to mention saying things like “thin skin” and “big girl panties” sounds like things a bully would say. You are a horrible, ignorant person.

  5. I think P. Simpson may be Ms. Keeler’s former boss. In any case P. Simpson sounds like a real piece of work. The police do not investigate embezzlement. They are not equipped to do so. It takes a paid forensic accountant and is most times a civil matter unless of course the FBI becomes involved which would be special circumstances.
    Also it has been my personal experience that most bullies are corrupt and stealing is quite common. Must be that exaggerated, warped sense of entitlement.

  6. “P Simpson” is showing us exactly the type of narcissistic and blaming mentality of a bully with a full-blown personality disorder.
    As long as this person gets away with this behavior, the behavior gets worse. Many narcissistic bullies transition to full-blown criminals, doing things such as stealing, or even murder. It is in society’s best interest the stop bullying as early as possible.

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