Home > Reflections, The joys of work, Workplace bullying > Bullying in the public sector

Bullying in the public sector

I have just finished reading The Bullied Blogger’s blog and, though part of it is fictionalised to hide her identity, it is riveting stuff.  The Bullied Blogger, a UK university lecturer, was being victimised and fought to bring her bullies to justice.  Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop though I already knew how it would end – no matter what happened, she would lose.  You see, her situation is one that is played out very often.PD*996698

In the UK, the public sector is supposed to be where all the employment laws are rigidly followed but this is often not the case. Working in the public sector can be a positive and rewarding experience if you work in an organisation or institution that actively discourages unacceptable behaviour in the workplace and protects employees from any reprisals for reporting inappropriate behaviour.

In recent times, bullying in the public sector has taken on a new form:  it is now ruthless, relentless and increasingly becoming commonplace.  I am not referring to one-off episodes of unacceptable behaviour but to a pattern of behaviour which, over a period of time,  is designed to demean and humiliate the target and make them feel worthless. It is awful to witness and even worse for the target. I have seen hard-working, enthusiastic, assertive colleagues reduced to broken, quivering wrecks due to victimisation. When I was going through my own experience, I read as much literature as I could on bullying –  “Stand up to the bully”, “Complain to someone higher up”, “Take out a grievance” they all said.  ‘Fight back’ was the general advice given.  You see, fighting back is okay when you are a child being bullied in the school playground but when you are an adult in the workplace, it’s gets a bit complicated because office politics come into play.  When the target approaches HR for help, HR all too often tries to cover up the bullying and if  the target continues to complain about the bullying, they suddenly find that spurious allegations have been made against them which require  ‘disciplinary action’. Those spurious allegations will pre-date the date of the target’s complaint about bullying to give the illusion of any disciplinary action being fair in the eyes of the law.  It is a tried-and-tested formula used to shut up the target. 

My suggestion to anyone in that position is that if you value your mental health, family life and career then don’t bother fighting. Put all that energy into finding another job instead. Get out of there before your sickness or employment record becomes so tarnished that no other employer will touch you. Some may see this as a coward’s way out but I see it as an opportunity to change your job while your life and health are still intact. You can fight your case all the way to an employment tribunal if you wish but even if you win the battle, you still would have lost the war. The  experience will adversely affect your health, your family life and your career and no amount of compensation or justice can make up for that. And after the ordeal, while you are busy trying to put back together the tattered remnants of your once happy life, the bully has already moved on to their next target, with no remorse for the damage they have caused in your life.

After-effects of bullying

I now refer to that employment as the place where my career almost died.
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  1. March 21, 2015 at 2:51 pm

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