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Hostile Work Environment Definition

Your Comments: Does Living Through a Hostile Work Environment Feel Like Being a POW?

So many of you replied to the my last article, about how living through a hostile work environment feels like living through a prison camp, that I decided to post some of the most insightful and heartfelt responses.  (I asked their permission too).  Some people think I went too far, but most of you were supportive of the point I’m trying to make: that feeling trapped by a bullying abusive boss leads to the same feelings of panic, desperation, and even PTSD that prisoners of war feel. The actual physical experiences are NOT the same. The feelings are very similar.

Without further ado, here are the comments — and please chime in with your own thoughts at the bottom of this post:

From “Johnec” who works with former prisoners of war as part of his own job:

“I work with former POW’s and while their experience is far more dramatic, the underlying damage is mental more than physical. It is similar (in my case concomitant with) complex PTSD exacerbated by a dysfunctional workplace.”

From DukeInTx:

“…After a few years, I started to call the [work]place Shawshank.  There are workers around here that wear t-shirts that pretty much say it all: “POW…Post Office Worker”.  I’ve become a foremost authority on hostile work environments and what it feels like to be a prisoner. I don’t wish that on ANYONE!”

Reader “Tom” thinks I went too far with the POW analogy:

“You know, I think it’s  a  real stretch to compare  bullying to a  prison camp.
1. You are  in prison, you have no ability to leave
2.This is not  war, it’s the  work place and we’ve had  assholes in the work place for as long as I’ve been alive
3. You can leave, nothing is  forcing you to stay in that environment and why should you? If you have any BALLS  at all you’ll tell the SOB to Stuff it and move on. No one is  forcing you to be  abused.
4. All bullies are  cowards, confront them and they back off.
5. You company will not help you. The HR people are gutless and have no  intestinal fortitude to stand up for employees, let alone take on a Manager who is out of line.  They are too interested in covering their  own ass.
6. Bullying is not protected in Title 7 and in discrimination laws, so who do you file a claim with?
7. Management  has  gone a  complete  180. In the 70’s, participative management theory was the norm, in the  80’s  the value of the employee and  their pensions and their worth was destroyed by Regan, in the 90’s we all became a  commodity and management could care less about our well being, in the 2000’s, all management cares about is more  with less and to hell with your personal satisfaction, so why not Bullying?  Who’s to stop it?”

I actually do agree with Tom’s points 1, 2, 5, and 6.  I disagree with 3 and 4.  Point 7 sounds about right and I don’t question that he experienced those changes over the years.

Here’s why I disagree with some of Tom’s points: I’ve worked with lots of folks who confront a bully and then experience even worse retaliation or get fired, because, just like Tom said, HR won’t help.

On point 3, in today’s economy people just can’t walk off the job when they are offended by a boss who won’t change.  People have families to feed and rent to pay and there are no alternative jobs out there.  Bullies know this, and are emboldened by this.  The bully’s attitude seems to be, “what can you do, leave for another job?! [laughter]”. So he continues bullying.

One thing Tom and I definitely agree on is that bullying is going unchecked and it’s damaging good people.

Mary Was Treated Worse Than a Dog

“I agree with you.  My last job was horrible once new owners bought us out.  When I look back on it I would not have treated a dog like they treated me. Each day was like a prison camp…you need the job and they know it…given them the power to treat you inhumanly. I was there 8 years longer than any one there..I am a smart educated women..but they tried to make me feel like I was beyond stupid. Complete alienation.” -Mary

Blog reader Jim thinks the P.O.W. analogy is not only appropriate, but forms the basis of a call to arms:

“Great way of putting it, POW!.  Those who have never experienced what it’s like
to be bullied, belittled, and verbally abused have no idea.  I experienced for years.  Inside of me, I felt like a prisoner.

On a daily basis I was being tortured both emotionally and mentally, so much so that I truly believe that this is why I’m now diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.  I know because of the great amount of stress and abuse that I was getting at work on a daily basis.  I was singled out and followed around and the list goes on.  Now I am disabled because of the autoimmune disease.  I even asked the doctor what can trigger a disease such as mine, and the doctor said was it could be stress.  The mental,verbal and emotional abuse that I was getting from my supervisors were so enormous that at one point, I just wanted to die.

Let us not give the Undercover Lawyer any grief about the POW’s and take this personal because he was only quoting what employees have said to him and how employees described their pains to him.  I am a living proof of that.

We all need to work together and STOP! the abuse and bullying in the work environment.  We need the huge corporations to better screen their employees, especially the big guns and the supervisors.  These are the people that think now they can toss you around like a rag doll and you are like dirt to them.”  -Jim

From John, Who Thinks My Analogy is a Bit Extreme but Makes a Fair Point:

“You’re right on. There are varying degrees of hostile work environment as there were POW camp experiences. And in most cases your analogy is on the extreme side BUT you make your point and we don’t need to argue the finer points of it.. In my experience there is the sense that you are “stuck” where you are, particularly in this economy. Getting out feels like escaping, with the resulting relief once you are past the ‘wire’.” -John

Reader Sharon Sees “War” Analogies to Her Own Work Experiences:

“I would agree with this. I felt like it was a war. Adversarial, mind games, and negativity. Many people like me have ptsd. Now if I am called to a meeting or a supervisor wants to talk my anxiety goes through the roof thinking its something bad. In any case whether it goes to court or settled out of court, whether money is recovered or not, it doesn’t make up for what it does mentally and emotionally.” -Sharon

Tabitha Wrote to Say She Supports the POW Analogy Because She Has Lived Through it:

“I agree 100% with your analogy as I’ve lived it, currently living through it and know it all first hand!  I once tried a different analogy, to show how I felt, as I was trying to paint the picture of “feelings”.  But, using this analogy to a senior male mgr did not work, as I pointed out that every time I see the tormentor, “it’s like seeing my rapist again”.  The mgr got so angry with me saying, “Did he rape you?!”  I said, “No, but that’s what it feels like when you make eye contact”.  He still was angry and said it was a horrible analogy, than I snapped back and said, “How do you know, have you ever been raped?  Well, I have!”. There was eerie dead silence, than he changed topics.  I agree with your analogy wholeheartedly, and actually this Fortune 100 company will be served papers this week.  Wish me luck!”

Debbie Pulls No Punches In Her Anger Toward Defense Industry Bullies Who Harassed Her

“Ugh. I’m sick of the goddamned whining from military people all the time.  You have every right to express yourself.  And for the record—not EVERY damn military person is a hero! I work in the DOD as a contractor and many are misogynistic, PTSD’d nutjobs that probably raped women and murdered plenty of babies when overseas. I couldn’t even state the ‘c’ word (shhh…college) or else they’d have a conniption because hardly any I worked with had even a basic degree.

Well, let’s just say I’m suing [Defense Industry Companies] for harassment which spanned 3 jobs in 2 years from the same group of maybe 5 individuals. These men destroyed my career.  I watched them do it to other women before I was targeted. It’s a game to them, so my violin strings have been cut long ago from their chronic bawling.

Maybe they should get a thicker skin—something female managers told me when I was pawed at from job to job. The DOD don’t like women that know this thing called ‘reading’.  After 10 years of being groped and being told it’s your lot in life to be harassed, just deal with it or else we’ll lose the contract….I had enough.

I mentioned that I had PTSD once to a manager (former NAVY wackjob) when enduring harassment and bullying and he laughed at me. Apparently it only counts if someone’s gunning for you (literally). Not all of us are dumb enough to enroll in a program where you could be killed for money. There’s no draft, so there’s no pity party coming from me.  I’d rather work a stripper pole than volunteer to be shot at, any day.

Military people don’t own the term PTSD, so they can suck it.  Bless you for fighting the good fight. Not enough people do it anymore.” -Debbie

John Left His Prison And Fought For Unemployment

“All in all-it was like prison-I retired and I am a part time teacher…Much better life…I will always remember how you helped me the day they pushed out the older guy-with the highest pay.
You told me -“AHHH-Another trick their doing”  That really helped me.By the way-They tired so very hard not to pay unemployment-Lie on top of lie-I took them to court-the judge smiled-and said-Gentlemen-you will pay this man unemployment for 18 Months…Too funny!” John

Jennie Also Had To Fight For Her Unemployment After Leaving An Abusive Workplace

“Doubt that you remember me, but we talked in Nov 2009 after I was fired for “misconduct”. Following your advice, I appealed the decision of the Unemployed Commission that I was not entitled to unemployment having been terminated for “misconduct”. Happily, I won that appeal. The examiner said that it was obvious that I was in no way guilty of misconduct.

I did not appeal the decision regarding the discrimination; I was fed up at that point. I wish corporate America were not such a dreadful place; sadly, it’s the pits.” -Jennie RN


Glenda Knows Segregted Plantation Camps in Hawaii’s ‘Melting Pot’

“I do not know about POW Camps, but, I know about Segregated Plantation Camps.

Being that I live in Hawaii, no attorney wants to represent me
in a Civil Suit against the State of Hawaii Department of Education,
the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association and [the bullies].

But there is no discrimination issues within the State of Hawaii.
We have such a “melting pot” racial environment. Outsiders don’t know
until they live here to feel or witness the unfairness and prejudice
amongst the locals.

The people that get mad or upset about what you have said are the very
ones that are creating that “POW Camp” atmosphere and are in denial.”

Hawaii Isn’t the Only Place With Non-Traditional Race Discrimination

“I am one of many unemployed desperately searching for work. I have been searching for a very long time here in Miami, FL. I have found that especially in my area there is severe discrimination. Here if your not Cuban, they will not hire you, even if you’re of other Hispanic descent and are bilingual with an education. This is going on especially in super markets, warehouses and companies owned by people from Cuba and South America.

I am not racist but come on it has been proven to me right in front of my face. Unfortunately because I didn’t expect that, I did not record it.

How am I suppose find employment here if no one gives me that chance just because I didn’t come from one of these countries? I am totally fed-up with this type of discrimination. I wish I could move out of this city.”

Johnny Used FMLA to Fight Back Against His Bullying (and Unsafe!) Bosses

“I have been in the transportation sector almost 30 years, with careers in airlines and now with the railroad. We have severe crew fatigue issues. Then of course if we lose our ‘situational awareness” it is still our fault because of a rule violation.

I am documenting both train and airline accidents and how the abuse of hours of service laws have a dire effect on performance. Case in point:  Last week my job bids forced me to change home terminals. I had just had worked a 11 hour run from City A to City B. I then had to be in City A, before midnight, with the uncertainty of being called to work after my 10 hours of “undisturbed” rest.

I told crew management to add 3.5 hours to my rest period due to my 230 mile drive back to City A. I told them that I don’t include the drive time as part of my rest period in order to be in position for the next train trip. They REFUSED my request. I told them we can do it one of two ways. We can do it my way, or we can do it my way. But in the end we will do it my way. I told them this is the exact reason I have FMLA for myself. So instead of allowing them an additional 3.5 hours rest, I got an additional 12 hours, and never missed a day’s work in the process. I this point in my life, I will never take bullying and will do what it takes to stop it.” -Johnny

Sharon Believes the Servants in the Book “The Help” Are a Much Better Analogy Than POW’s

“Dear Curt,
Have you read the book or seen the movie, “The Help”? …about a white female journalist who decides to interview black maids in the 50’s, asking them if they want “change”…?

I think living through a hostile work environment compares better to the negro household employees in this book/movie than to POWs… I’ll tell you why…

POWs are in a known enemy situation that they fell into through no fault of their own. “Oh crap, I got captured.”  Maybe a downed plane or a misstep caused them to meet this misfortune.

But the maids needed a job, so they WILLINGLY went to work for “uppity rich white folk”, and were expected to do all the shopping, cook all the meals, wash/dry/IRON the laundry, clean the house, dress the children & be their nanny, & take orders, yet they had no voice in the household. They’re essentially the lowest life form present, yet they clearly run the place. Their white (captors… err…) employers expect loyalty and feign the same, yet look down on them as if they’re second-class, dirty, substandard, undeserving, lowly, etc. etc. (You’re not qualified, you have no degree, you cannot speak above your rank or address those in authority, and you HAVE no authority…)

These particular black women rode a bus from their neighborhood very early in the mornings, out to the suburbs to work for these rich white folks, and returned home after bathing the children and putting them to bed….. Which meant they left their own children in the care of someone else, their own household needs behind, and had to find the time to do their own housework late in the evenings when they came home exhausted…not to mention that they devoted time to their employers’ children for pay, while semi-neglecting their own. (Putting in extra hours as required, stressing the home/life situation.)

When they were together, such as on the bus, or on the porch in the evening after work, or perhaps to help with hosting a larger event for one another’s employers, these black women would laugh and curse and talk about their employers under their breaths, making fun of their shortcomings, quirks, etc., and also to talk about how pitiful and unfair conditions are. However, in the presence of their employers, they’re courteous, humble, don’t speak up, don’t talk back, never take credit for anything, and take whatever scraps fall their way. In the book/movie, one of the household employees finds an old ring on the property that she knows won’t be missed. She hocks it at a pawn shop to help pay for her sons to go to college (because she can only afford to send one without it), the pawn shop gets word back to her employers, and she gets off the bus one day and is thrown to the ground by two policemen who proceed to beat her shamelessly and slam her head against their windshield before throwing her into their cruiser and taking her to jail.

This is where the similarity becomes even more gripping…
No one speaks up, no one steps out to help defend her, no one stands up against “The Man” because each individual fears for their own personal loss. They accept their place like minions without a voice. They know speaking up will get you punished or blacklisted or fired and worse. If one threatens to speak up, or has had enough, the others rally around to quiet her, saying, “Just let it go… there’s nothing you can do! You’d better be careful or you’ll be GONE!”

I was a bullied employee. I had a 9.5 year track record of having received the highest rating on every annual evaluation, of receiving EVERY SINGLE available award my employer offered. But my position fell under a rotating supervisor, transitioning out every three years, who came in with no supervisory training or employee management skills. I put up with the abuse for two years, although I complained often to superiors and to Human Resources.

Finally my boss jumped on an opportunity to throw me under the bus due to a mistake I made. Long story short, I was fired over an ANONYMOUS report of a policy violation which was never proven, never even investigated. Although I received a huge outpouring of support from peers and coworkers, nothing mattered. My superior called me insubordinate and falsely accused me, and 10 years of files, records, contacts, networking, departmental information, and customer relationships were deleted instantly… a real loss for the division, not to mention the personnel.

But that’s not the point…. The point is to say bullied and harassed employees are more like slaves than POWs… because as POWs there’s at least the hope that a bigger body (your country) will come along and rescue you. As slaves, you have no hope but to pray to God and hope something someday changes.

Give this comparison some thought, and rent the movie if you haven’t seen it…. it’ll be well worth your time.” -Sharon

If you would like to read the excellent book, “The Help” and evaluate Sharon’s comparison yourself, you can check out the book here:

Debbie Thinks My Provocative Analogies Give Abused Employees a Voice. Do You Agree?

“I think you are one of the few people who address the issue when other people prefer to ignore it or be dismissive about it. Your analogies are not crossing the line, nor are they exaggerating the issue of hostile work environment. It is through your writings and analogies, that people who have experienced this in the work place FINALLY have a voice.” -Debbie

So what do YOU think? It’s comparing a hostile work environment to the POW experience a valid analogy, or should comparing anything to the POW experience be off-limits? Do you recognize some of what you have lived through in the events and feelings described John, Glenda, Rose, Sharon and the others in this article? Give use your thoughts using the comments feature below.

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  1. I totally agree with the analogy of a hostile work environment equating to a POW experience, yet it may not be to the POW extreme but it does not mean this argument should in anyway be dismissed. I left a hostile, unhealthy environment a year ago. I now work in a healthy environment and I have had to do some adjusting and re-evaluate how I interact at work. I would say that I am recovering and it has been an interesting process. Thank you for this analogy it will aid me in my recovery.

  2. I think this website is a godsend for workers like me that needed
    support to get through the challenges of a hostile work environment when I didn’t know where to turn. I was fortunate enough to get out of the company that promoted such
    hostility to their workers. I am happy as can be!
    I now promote this website to anyone who ever needs the same support I did.
    THANK YOU Curt for having the guts to go against the grain and help people in the work force!
    Still a Fan,
    Maria G.
    BTW- I googled the definition of “Hostil Work Environment” and here is what came up:

    The phrase “hostile work environment” seems self-explanatory but in the legal sense, there are some conditions that must be met before the commencement of any litigation that will consider the claims of a complainant as harassment. A definition of hostile work environment here, will thus be in order.
    In general, a hostile work environment ensues when there is discriminatory conduct or behavior in the place of work that is unwelcome and offensive to an employee or group of employees based on a protected class status.
    What does this mean? In litigation, the complainant must be a member of a protected class under that state’s law (women, disabled, and a specific race) and the complaint should pertain directly to perceived discrimination that specifically targets that class. For instance, a boss who yells all the time may cause an intimidating or stressful work environment but as long as he does this in a general manner and refrains from making any discriminatory statements about a particular protected class, then he is not subject to harassment suits. He may be liable for other charges, however, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress.
    It is important to note further that the conduct or behavior must be pervasive and constitute a pattern rather than consist of one or two isolated incidents. Occasional teasing and offhand comments, which some may find offensive, do not qualify as harassment, nor does a single incident constitute a hostile work environment.

    An exception to the above definition is a case of sexual harassment primarily indicating an unwelcome physical behavior of a person in authority towards a subordinate. It would be reasonable to assume that this will instantly alter the work environment of the subordinate, and refusal to submit would result in negative employment effects. However, there must be some tangible evidence to support this as well as any other type of harassment complaint.

    Another requirement is that the pattern of behavior has to be of a degree severe enough to cause disruption beyond a reasonable degree in the work of the targeted employee such as when he becomes disturbed because of intimidation or due to fear of loss of employment. The complainant must have reason to believe that such behavior patterns are likely to continue indefinitely. The rule elaborates that the conduct may be verbal or physical in nature

    While there are no references to federal hostile work environment laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws on age discrimination and disabilities discrimination embodies the prohibition of creating a hostile environment for certain protected classes. These include but are not limited to discrimination based on:
    The Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the initial recourse for discrimination cases in the private sector. There are also Fair Labor Practices agencies specific to states that may also handle complaints. On the other hand, the two agencies may decide to handle certain cases jointly. In either case, the purpose of these two types of redress is to ensure that the complaint has reasonable grounds before it is brought to court.

    The EEOC statistics show that of the complaints filed between 1997 and 2006, between 41% and 47% of all cases were dismissed because of lack of reasonable grounds. While it is unknown what portion of those dismissed complaints are due to a misinterpretation of what constitutes a hostile work environment, it would be reasonable to assume that this would be a significant portion. Based on the conditions for filing harassment complaints, a viable legal definition of hostile work environment applies.

  3. MWalker & Mgg7,

    Thanks to you both for your support. There would be no community here without people like you.

    MWalker, I hope your recovery can continue and that you steadily improve.

    Mgg7, Glad to hear that you broke free, and thanks for pointing others to our little outpost on the internet.

  4. I agree that the feelings of the POW parallel being targeted in a hostile work environment. There was definitely an inability at the time to make sense of what was happening to me. None of it made sense and I couldn’t believe it was happening myself. I was in shock. I didn’t think those things happened. And it all seemed like a bad dream from which I could not wake. I was both appalled and utterly confused as to why what was happening was being allowed to happen. I knew there were many good people, so when I grapled for help, I couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t help or do anything. Why would my so called friends turn on me? I could’t sleep. I couldn’t eat, or I gorged on comfort food. I threw up. I had diarhea. I couldn’t stop crying hysterically. The stress effected me to the point that I came close to physically dying. I have health conditions with which the stress interfered. Emotionally, there were many times that I almost committed suicide. I’m much better now. Over the last few years, I have had PTSD symtoms. There were nightmares in the beginning. The dream was a Christmas work party. In the beginning, all was happy and joyful. Then it was time to draw that piece of paper—–for your number in picking a present—-right? Nope, it was the name of the person to be targeted. It was me. They all had Christmas bags in their hands. From their bag, they pulled out stones. At first, they stared and moved closer and closer. I backed up to find myself in a corner where I couldn’t get to a door or past the people. Then they started throwing their rocks. That’s when I would wake up screaming. Repetitive dreams like that are no fun. Neither have been the many situations that triggered memories and I found myself in a talespin of panic and fear. Although such mental anguish has continued, it has diminished greatly as time has passed, and as I have received therapy.
    The truth is that I indeed was weak. I had no idea how to take up for myself. Nor did I ever conceive that I would ever have to deal with the irrational, crazy things that happened. In my mind, such things would never happen. Now I know it happens everyday to many people. But I was weak? Does that make it my fault it all happened? If you blame me for the harm others did to me, then is that much different than telling a rape victim that it was her fault she was raped? And what does it say about a society that practices dehumanizing the weak? I know my suffering is nothing next to the suffering of some. I agree that the degree of suffering of someone in a POW camp is greater. I think the suffering of the Jews in Nazi, Germany, was even worse than that. Hmm, so dehumanization in our society is so rampant that it is OK? OK, unless it is as bad as POW camps? And if you see someone being beaten, then you should look the other way until it becomes so bad that the person being beaten could die? That one thing is of a worse degree doesn’t mean something else that is wrong and creates similar feelings, but is of a lesser degree, is right! Bullying is wrong regardless of the degree. Treating each other with respect should be how we raise our children and how we live. Bullying for students in schools is suppose to be forbidden. Yet it is OK for the administration and the adults? If we model bullying behaviors as OK behaviors, then what chance do our children have to learn not to bully? Bullying causes unnecessary damage to people. It harms people in more ways than many realize. In job situations, it makes people so scared that they are scared to stand up for what is right. That’s why good people do nothing. If they do something, then they open themselves up to be harmed also. We need our jobs, so it is easier to not speak up and allow ourselves to live in fear. If we have to live in fear, then that does reduce the workplace to slaves who do not have say-so. If we settle for bullying in the workplace, then we also are losing our own ability to direct and create——-we do as we are told, and forget truly being productive citizens. Bullying harms us all—not just the victims.
    So, Curt, I appreciate how you continue to fight stopping bullying in the workplace. We need warriors there. I agree that the feelings of a person being abused by a bully definitely parallels how a POW feels (Isn’t a POW like the epitomy of someone victimized constantly by a bully?) . I agree that there is more freedom in a job than in a POW camp. But the abuse, dehumanization, and lack of respect involved with workplace bullies still causes unnecessary pain, suffering, and personal damage. Not only that, but in the bigger picture, we are modeling bullying to our children, and resigning ourselves to live in fear of the bullies. We also are losing that spark of creativity to be truly productive human beings. That spark dies when dominated by fear. Fear leaves us living for others to please them. It becomes a wall preventing us from reaching into our souls to find that spark of genuis and creativity that we need to share with the world.
    When a person says, “Well, all jobs have jerks, just deal with it”. Then that person is also saying it is OK to have bullies in the world to spread fear and harm people. Ofcourse the behavior of bullies exists, but do we really want to say it is OK? Do we want to condone it, or say it doesn’t matter, just deal with it. Bullying has been known to cause children to kill themselves. Is that suppose to be OK? Well,that’s children—–adults should handle it—–and now we are back to adults being poor models for children———–children who learn from what we do, not by what we say. Not to mention, even adults should not be damaged by bullies. Bullying can involve enormous injury. One’s health can be taken away by the stress. One’s ability to function can be undermined or impaired. One’s reputation can be unjustly harmed. One’s career can be damaged or taken away. One can be left financially ruined. These are real damages that should not occur. If one must lose one’s job, then that person should be treated with respect and dignity during the process. Truth and facts should be involved, but not lies, deception, character assasination, and rumors. My neighbor lost her job because she refused to lie. Her superior wanted her to say several of the employees were doing a poor job when their performance was fine. She wouldn’t be deceptive, so she got fired? Something is wrong with this picture. We condone it if we say it doesn’t matter, or it is OK.

    I admit I was weak and made a good target. But that someone could easily harm me doesn’t mean that they should have harmed me. Bullying is still not OK. But I do choose to learn how to be less of a victim, and more of a creator. I am also very grateful to Curt for all he has done and continues to do.

    Thank you, Curt. You have a great cause. Bullying in the workplace may not be as dire a cause as ending hunger in the world, but it is every bit as important. If we do not fight to keep our human rights, then we may not be able to get those human rights back after we lost them. Now is the right time for people to work together to end bullying in the workplace. I truly appreciate the help you gave me a few years ago, and I’m very glad to see all you do to help people.

  5. Marie, You do NOT need to “admit that I was weak and made a good target”. There’s nothing to “admit” because you did absolutely nothing wrong. You do not share in this manager’s culpability one iota!

    You are right to say that “bullying is still not OK” and I applaud you for choosing to be more of a creator and fighter. Hopefully this site can continue to help you and others take up the legal weapons they need to fight back.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story to encourage and empower others!

  6. bullied4-2long says:

    Does Living Through a Hostile Work Environment Feel Like Being a POW?

    I have not been a POW and can not relate my bulling to it. I do have an extensive past history of a disfunctional child hood I can and will relate it to! With such an unfortunate childhood I am committed to putting my children first. I find myself putting up with a bullying boss to be readily available to my children!

    I have 19 years in my current profession. Years of leaving jobs because of bad situations leave me with no long jevity at this point in my career. I have had a clean record my entire work histiory. No HR issure or disapline record ever. Until my current place of employment. I acturally had two jobs prior to being hired at my currrent place of employment. My annual review from both prior jobs left me with clean reviews! Prior to this caree I started earning money at the age 9! Yes , nine years old. Because I had to work. No food in the ice box or cubbards or refride! Why? Because my mother who suffered from bipolar was unstable to physically maintain a job and mentally to think clearly to get us help like welfare! At nine years old my mother suffered a nervouse breakdown after years of demostic violance by my father. She struggled to raise my retarded brother who suffered his brain damage from my father shanen baby! Yes, my grandmother pulled my mother away from my father but that didn’t stop him from druken rage and attacks. To include kidnapping me from my grandmothers home in the early morning right out of my bed fleeing past my mother and grand mother with me in his arms as our family dog barked in chase! Wow, now that I typed this out I guess I was a POW! Domestic Volience was the war and I was the prisoner. I actually was taken accross state lines and at time was hid in the shed when the police came to look for me. The drunken violence endured from my father and mentally ill episodes of my mother could keep me writing para graph after paragraph but just know it was bad! To enclude a mentally ill woman running the steets naked and jumping out of moving cars. Yes, all in front of me! I will clear this up my mother was able to have me return to her prior to the nervouse break down.

    I have been bullied in the work place for 4 years! Yes , Tom 4 years! I have not choosen to leave because I work 7 minutes from home and with the economy I choose to stay! Working close to home keeps my gas use to a minimal. I can also respond to my children needs quickly. If they need to be picked up from school or camp ill.

    Because I choose to stay at my place of employment it helps me not to feel like a victim. It is hard to deal with but I find ways to survive. Like any bullying situation obviously I avoid the bully (my boss) as much as possible. I reached this place of survival by on line forum like this. One of the best survival messages I came accross was don’t be a victim . The worst thing you can do is suffer in silance. It can effect you for the rest of your life. I was strong enough and brave enough to go to HR and report my boss. I wittnessed many employee suffer the same treatment as I . I took a stand and was ready to loose my job for it. I alway say the best gift my mother gave me was leaving my father. To walk away !

    I can say all the on line forums preparded me for waht I was about to endure after putting in a complaint to HR.. Yes, HR was on her side. Yes, I endured retribution for the next three years. Until she finally was able to get me put on a final warning for saying a curse word! Not to her and I was in a privat area. I don’t have a habit of cursing. She was able to get two people write statements againsst me.
    I am telling you the bullying was so bad other employees went home and told their family stories. Came back to me and said my husband said you should get a lawyer.

  7. Bullied4-2Long,

    Wow, you have been through a lot, and from a very young age. Great job standing up to your boss. If the boss does retaliate, be sure to say that it was because of one of your protected classes.


  8. bullied4-2long says:

    Thanks for the reply. I had to run the kids around to camps and rushed throught my post to get them off in time. I did and have ha retaliation from my boss from the time I put the complaint into HR. I do not fall under a protected class. I choose to keep my self as clean as possible at work as not to give my boss anything to have on me. She pushed and shoved verbally and emotinally but not able to get me on lateness , all offs or other potential termination issues. I did not again complain to HR as not to aggrivate the situation any more. It was clear HR is on management side.

    To sum up my post. My disfunctional childhood conditioned me to be able to tolerate such bullying. I don’t like it and it is not easy . I am just not as sensitive as the average person.
    I made the choice to find hope in others seeing my boss for the monster she is when bully myself. Hope they would not stand for it and report her. Her behavior did spilled out publically. My boss is now under direct supervision from upper management! Sad it took four years and they still maintain her in the same position with the facts infront of them they just send her for coustomer servise training! She should be relocated!

  9. Private Party says:

    One poster said “On a daily basis I was being tortured both emotionally and mentally, so much so that I truly believe that this is why I’m now diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I know because of the great amount of stress and abuse that I was getting at work on a daily basis. I was singled out and followed around and the list goes on. Now I am disabled because of the autoimmune disease. I even asked the doctor what can trigger a disease such as mine, and the doctor said was it could be stress. The mental,verbal and emotional abuse that I was getting from my supervisors were so enormous that at one point, I just wanted to die.”

    This is so true.
    After One and a half years of trying to deal with an abusive boss (who DID manage to attack me based on my status as a protected class member, but has since kept her continual abuse to “mere” bullying) I have been diagnosed with a fatal autoimmune disorder. My doctor says it is rare, and he says I have between 2 – 10 years- treated or not. He says stress can cause this, as can exposure to the toxic chemicals we work with every day with no OSHA protection (if I told you why that is you’d know what industry I’m in, and I’d rather not share that much) . I contacted my union, I contacted the facilities “No tolerance for retaliation for reporting an attack vs. a protected class”. What a (very unfunny) joke – they all did absolutely nothing but waste my time. There are no words for how I feel as I head off to work again tonight to shave yet more off my life, taking from the limited time I have with my family.
    I’ve dealt with the PTSD on my own. Soon my body will give out and I’ll get to deal with the lethal autoimmune disease (since I’ll lose my insurance) on my own. This would be all the more ironic if you knew what the industry I work in is.
    Yes, there are many aspects of a hostile work environment that are like to those a POW experiences, including development of PTSD, and ultimately death. I’m (temporarily) living proof.

  10. LOL…so great to rum across your email! Oh yes, I have been in those environments. They are becoming more and more as the world changes. Sadly. I use to tell my friends that I felt like I went to Vietnam everyday. It was so grossly hostile with no boundaries and no hierarchy. Many incompetent people running people and their positions with no knowlege base to even manage the professionals they were managing. Which, sadly, again, led to incompetent people ruining very bright, competent peoples careers! Any they get away with it. This is running rampant nowadays in many workplaces. The gen-x ers are witnessing and becoming a part of the hostile work environment! It use to be about creating the best and most efficient toaster possible. One that would last forever, like westinghouse. Now, its all planned obsolesence with both people and things. Integrity, compassion and loyality are lost. Lost within the internet of grand globalization and Insurance companies and drug companies and all the rules/laws now governing so much of the “little people”. so to speak. Guess what? The little people ain’t little. They are bigger than life with way more substance and knowledge than half the sociopaths running corporate America. They wouldn’t know how to communicate and or live without their greedy hands in the biggest piece of the pie. So, yes, the hostility and corruption within work environments today is beyond what some would believe or imagine. No guarantee, no trust…………no loyality…….all a thing of the past. Sadly.

  11. dekoshia says:

    I was fired for what i believe is retaliation on the part of the HR manager and plant manager because I complained about previous incidents where I felt singled out and picked on by hr and my supervisor and I asked my plant manager to review the situation and he never responded. So i called the external HR department that the company uses and reported this information that I felt singled out and picked on and was written up and the hr manager and supervisor did not follow policy when doing so and I sent the email that i sent to my plant manager to the external HR department and a month later I was fired for a bogus reason saying I falsified my time sheet and didnt write my right time down when returning from lunch “late” that the hr manager saw me at (not the 1st time she saw me here). Because this is a new startup company there is no time clocks and we fill out timesheets on a computer and turn them in. All operators were told by the supervisors to put a set time in for lunch because we never went at the same time everyday and every employee still does this. Time sheets are checked and signed by our supervisor before they are sent to payroll so I feel i was fired for something everyone was told to do. I was hired on August 2011 and policy was not written until December 2011. If this was apart of policy to specify our exact times instead i feel management was negligent in telling us to change the process that we were told to originally do and negligent in making sure my time slot was filled correctly if i was not doing it right because there have been many times in the past where my supervisor reminded or came to me about PTO time that i forgot to include or incorrectly putting filling out the time sheet all together. The Hr manager called my supervisor after she saw me and when I returned to work he told me it wasnt possible to get to the location and back in 30 min. even though i did many times for over 3 years so I knew where i could go and couldnt in 30 minutes. I think the HR manager was mad because we had a previous run in and I reported her to the plant manager and external hr dept. Im denied UI for this false reason what can I do and can I go to EEOC? The HR manager had seem me in this location before but we were on good terms then. She smiled singled me out and spoke and everything. This time, after we exchanged words, practically raising my voice, she looked at me and turned her head this time and acknowledged that she didn’t wanna speak but I spoke to her anyway. She has a reputation for being under handed as we worked for the previous company prior to this and a lot of people did not want to take the job because of her reputation from this previous company and how she is. After writing an email to my plant manager asking him to review a situation/write up (which is the procedure in policy) he never responded and never spoke to me again or even looked my way where in the beginning before this incident he always spoke, joked, and held a friendly conversation and addressed me by name. Now when passing or anything he always turned his head when I approached. When fired He and the HR manager were the only two in the room but in the past when i was written up it was always just my supervisor or hr and my supervisor. I have never seen a case where the plant manager takes part in a firing. I don’t have any complaint where I was discriminated based on any of the classes because the HR manager is Black as well or because Im homosexual, because of this am I not entitled to file a complain with the EEOC? And how can i appeal and win my UI showing the reason for firing me was bogus and incorrect because I have a witness saying I was back to work and from lunch on time and this info was given to the plant manager and all of the supervisors as well.

  12. Goldilocks says:

    Curt, for anyone who think the comparison between a hostile work environment and a POW is taking a bit too far must know nothing about either one. My uncle was shot down over Vietnam on July 14, 1967. He was an Admiral in the Navy who plane led bombing missions whose tour of duty was to end in 10 days. He was MIA for a couple of years but finally was freed and came home during Operation Homecoming in 1973. I have been living through a hostile work environment with a bully boss for about a year. The only difference

  13. Goldilocks says:

    Sorry for incomplete post above; FYI: 99% of the time posting a comment fails 🙁

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