Editorial Note: The author of this submission to Dire Ed wishes to remain anonymous. The article was sent to me anonymously and so I am unable to independently verify its contents. I believe the author’s narrative to be genuine and so am publishing it as is. –Andrew R. Timming, Editor-in-Chief
I was a victim of workplace mobbing at my previous university in the UK. I can’t talk openly about it due to a confidentiality agreement I was forced to sign. The details surrounding my constructive dismissal I must take to my deathbed. But I am desperate for my story to be told, even though the mobbers will never face justice.
“I am desperate for my story to be told, even though the mobbers will never face justice.”
To make a long story short, I filed a formal grievance against my managers and spent the next several months at the receiving end of a vicious, unrelenting campaign of victimisation against me, which culminated in my involuntary resignation. What did I learn from my experience?
HR is sadistic. I genuinely think that HR enjoyed the systematic destruction of my body and mind. They are experts at manufacturing a toxic environment and creating a palpable sense of persistent job insecurity. Every email was carefully crafted to maximise panic and anxiety while at the same time being sufficiently ambiguously worded so as to prevent additional claims of bullying against them.
Unions are worthless. Unions are too often complicit in mobbing. In my case, the line managers against whom the initial grievance was filed were also members of the union. As a result, my union ‘representatives’ withdrew their help because protecting dues-paying members against charges of misconduct is more of a priority than pursuing justice against those same dues-paying members for their wrong-doing.
Never trust occupational health. Occupational health advisors are paid by the employer, not the employee. As a result, they have a vested interest in delivering an outcome for the employer in order to secure further repeat business from them. Because my occupational health records were all hand-written, the nurse was able to re-write them subsequently to fit the employer’s false narrative.
Very few of your friends will stand with you. Why should they? When they realise what happens when an employee stands up to management, they will do and say anything to keep their own jobs. In my case, management asked several colleagues to supply letters of support to them. These letters dragged me through the mud in ways I could never have imagined. As I read through each letter written by a former friend and colleague, it was like getting stabbed in the heart repeatedly.
The lies make you paranoid. This is the worst part about being mobbed. The stakes are so high that they justify a steady stream of lies from the accused and their ‘witnesses’ (see above). They will say you said things that you never said and did things that you never did. This will make you so paranoid that you will start recording yourself in the office hallways so that they don’t invent a false accusation by which to charge you with misconduct.
The effects of workplace mobbing are devastating, yet this is a common practise in universities. Virtually everyone who lodges a grievance is forced out in the end. I would not have survived but for the grace of God and the love of my family.
An Anonymous Academic
This article is published under a Creative Commons 4.0 License.