help me in a bullying case !

By 3 December, 2012 50

It is mid of night now, I wake up this time every day. I believe I am in a serious case of bullying, but who can help me ?

 I need support and help. I do not know what I should do. I need people to help me and give me advice, or to go to details with me to work out/present the case if I decide to talk it up at WorkSafeACT or someone.

I am not a strong fighter so things getting worse to such that I can not cope and my family is suffering. But I am sure this is bullying, and it can go to a shocking headline in Canberra Times.

This should not happen in the Public Service in this country, but it does. What is my legal right ? Is there something we can call fairness or justice ?

Sorry I can not give details here so you may not be able to give me any specific advice. Thanks in advance.

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50 Responses to help me in a bullying case !
#1
damien haas9:19 am, 03 Dec 12

Your APS organisation should have a Harassment Contact Officer – call Human Resources and ask to speak to them. It will be entirely confidential. They can tell you what your options are.

#2
davo1019:27 am, 03 Dec 12

First port of call read this.

#3
PantsMan9:46 am, 03 Dec 12

I would recommend Harmers Workplace Lawyers in Sydney (Canberra Lawyers are crap). http://www.harmers.com.au/Home/675/n/3/0/0/

In the short term, maybe take some time off (get a certificate from your GP).

#4
schmeah10:43 am, 03 Dec 12

If you are in an APS agency maybe contact your local union delegate as a first point of call to get an idea about where you stand. If you are still unsure, contact your HR department. I wouldn’t make contact with lawyers just yet.

If however, your interpretation of “bulliyng” involves private, one-on-one performance management meetings .. you and your payout will be just fine.

#5
EvanJames10:52 am, 03 Dec 12

The APS seems to have the worst, most insidious bullying. Some agencies are riven with it, and they maintain it by promoting people who are good at bullying. They reward it. Some agencies have very overt, loud bullying, while others (education springs to mind) have a lot of sneaky bullying.

The posts above all give excellent advice. Check it all out, as it’ll give you a good roadmap to where you are and what you can do. Your GP will give you a certificate for time off, but I’d suggest first doing your research, speak to the HR-nominated harassment officer, so as to get the issue “logged” before you take time off. Do it in the right order. Also, doing your ground work first will show you what you need to do in terms of evidence-gathering etc, which you need to do at work. If you’re off, then you’ll be stewing over what you have yet to do.

Do your reading, take the various recommended actions, and then see your doctor and get a time out while the wheels slowly grind into action.

#6
Leon11:09 am, 03 Dec 12

Bullying, like harassment, is very much “in the eye of the beholder.” The person who is doing the bullying does not necessarily intend to be a bully. Even if the bullying is deliberate, you should not be expected to prove that the person was deliberately bullying.

Start by accurately documenting the details of the relevant events. Without that documentation, your prospect of successful formal action will be limited.

Your prospects depend on the relative ranks of you and the bully. Bureaucracies tend to favor the higher-ranked person, who is perceived to be more valuable to the organisation. If you are lower-ranked, your best option may be to speak confidentially to your HR people or to a higher-ranked mamager, and arrange to transfer to a different area.

If you need to take formal action, I recommend first talking to your union and/or seeking legal advice. Unions and other organisations (such as the Tradies Club) often offer a free legal consultation.

#7
Pitchka11:15 am, 03 Dec 12

One upon a time, an under performaing public servant could be perfomanced managed out if their work continued to be of a low standard. Nowadays, this is almost impossible, so it seems that trying to bully people into resigning etc is the new performance managemrnt tool.

Im not saying its right, but its hard to get rid of the trash in the APS (and lets face it, there are hundreds of “the APS is over staffed’ type threads)…

Im not saying the OP is an underperformer, but in 9 out of 10 cases ive heard of in my 12 year career in the APS, the person having a whinge about being bullied or singled out, is your typical 9-4pm, 2 hour lunches, does sweet FA public servant (again im not saying this is the OP either)..

as they say, 2 sides to every story, OP is playing the victim, who are we to say he is?

#8
Masquara11:41 am, 03 Dec 12

damien haas said :

Your APS organisation should have a Harassment Contact Officer – call Human Resources and ask to speak to them. It will be entirely confidential. They can tell you what your options are.

Nooooooo! HR will INEVITABLY side with management and performance manage you out. Go to the union and a private lawyer. Do NOT trust HR!

#9
MrMagoo11:51 am, 03 Dec 12

I am a qualified Harassment Conact Officer (HCO) and if you would like to speak to someone and if you are in the APS, find out who your’s is within the Deparment you work in or replay to me and I would be happy to discuss with you informally.

#10
beejay7611:54 am, 03 Dec 12

Other people have made sensible suggestions about courses of action. You sound like you’re really struggling, so I just wanted to add that you might find some mental health resources helpful.

MoodGYM and e-couch provide free, anonymous and interactive online help with depression, anxiety, stress and so on. Don’t forget you can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you wish to talk to someone. Suicide Callback Service also provide a fantastic service if you are concerned that you may not be safe.

Best of luck.

#11
Pitchka11:57 am, 03 Dec 12

MrMagoo said :

I am a qualified Harassment Conact Officer (HCO) and if you would like to speak to someone and if you are in the APS, find out who your’s is within the Deparment you work in or replay to me and I would be happy to discuss with you informally.

HCO at my former department was basically just a face and a name, and could never give formal advise, just advise of the process. I was a ‘buddy’ for someone who tried to make a harassment claim and sat in with her when she met with the HCO on numerous occasions.. HCO’s are a waste of time.

#12
Affirmative Action M12:07 pm, 03 Dec 12

After 30 years in the PS I reckon half the cases are genuine bullying & half are complaints by lazy staff who refuse to do what is reasonably expected of them then complain about bullying when taken to task for their non performance.

#13
Diggety12:41 pm, 03 Dec 12

Egg their house, slash tires, poop in their toilet tank… etc, etc.

Whichever public course of action you take; make sure you treat yourself to a bit of fun with some private payback – bullies deserve it.

#14
DUB1:12 pm, 03 Dec 12

Agree with the others re: Action course.

No offence, but to me it sounds like you did not even bother to simply google info available for victims of workplace bullying.

No offence again, but be a MAN and stand up for yourself, don’t let a$$holes to walk all over you. How do you have a family if you don’t have balls to defend yourself, dude?

#15
NellyBean1:35 pm, 03 Dec 12

Pitchka said :

as they say, 2 sides to every story, OP is playing the victim, who are we to say he is?

completely irrelevant, the OP isn’t asking for your sympathy or opinion.

It’ll be up to the relevant HR or Magistrate (if it escalates far enough) to decide.

#16
PBO1:35 pm, 03 Dec 12

I hate bullies and I do whatever I can to make their lives hell. If they are genuinly causing you grief and are intentionally doing it then it is game on my friend.

Most bullies are bullies because they have a weakness, a weakness that causes them to lash out at others so they dont feel or focus on their own issues. Find that issue and exploit it! If they are the product of abusive parents or guardians, say loudly for everyone to hear that it isnt their fault and that you understand that they are only acting out because they were fiddled with by an uncle or whatnot.

Or

Go to the butchers and get some organs like snouts, hooves, anuses or whatever does not get used and leave them around the bullies desk when they are not there and then start complaining about the smell and that it is not good to have rotting meat and offal in the office, this will make them seem weirder to the other workers.

Or

Maybe send an email from their PC and have some really saucy innuendo’s and some direct comments about the “alternate” lifestyle that the bully wants the email reciever to engage in (choose the email reciever carefully for maximum effect, choose the office victim as they dont need much to set them off.). Maybe mention “forced man-love” and non-consensual “greek wrestling”.

Or

Just be really cold and psycho to them when no one is around to corroborate their story, maybe say stuff like “snitches get stiches” and wink at them at weird times while mouthing the words “my left foot”, this looks like you are saying naughty.

Or

Make friends with their mother and get into a “relationship” and that will make you sort of their step-parent and that will really take it up a notch.

Be imaginative, there are so many funny ways to get back at bullies. Try saying that you have been sexually harrassed and go from there.

#17
MissChief2:01 pm, 03 Dec 12

Have heard of many instances of workplace bullying in the APS over the years and wondered why it was so endemic in the APS. Then recently I saw an article on top 10 work places for psychopaths and low and behold coming in at number 10 is the APS.

There’s an interesting article about workplace psychopaths at http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/blogs/work-in-progress/beware-the-workplace-psychopath-20110407-1d687.html

#18
kea2:10 pm, 03 Dec 12

Document document document document.. and document. Build your case. Outline incidents that happened clearly and without emotion. Also document the actions YOU took..

If it falls within racism, sexism, agism and any other documented ‘ism then their actions have crossed a line then you have the moral high ground, but this does not always mean justice will be served.. Courts and Tribunals are impartial and will only find in favour of the party that fights the better fight, regardless of who is wrong or right so you need evidence on your side.. which brings me back to Document document document document document.

Also, it sounds like your confidence has taken a real beating too.. remember that physiology and psychology go hand in hand.. keep your eyes up, chest high..

I saw my brother go through 10 years of bullying at school, he was the kid with coke-bottom glasses and a quirky sense of humour.. he didn’t take up karate until he was 18 or so and I tell ya, he is a different kid.. he now passionately works with other kids who were in his situation.. practising some form of discipline might sound cliche, but the sense of self-worth that is instilled during the process of training certainly helped my brother.. and you might find yourself less and less in such situations..

#19
Pitchka2:36 pm, 03 Dec 12

NellyBean said :

Pitchka said :

as they say, 2 sides to every story, OP is playing the victim, who are we to say he is?

completely irrelevant, the OP isn’t asking for your sympathy or opinion.

I wasnt giving him either… I believe there is more to this story than some random public servant being bullied for no reason whatsoever.

#20
Conan of Cooma2:53 pm, 03 Dec 12

Pitchka said :

MrMagoo said :

I am a qualified Harassment Conact Officer (HCO) and if you would like to speak to someone and if you are in the APS, find out who your’s is within the Deparment you work in or replay to me and I would be happy to discuss with you informally.

HCO at my former department was basically just a face and a name, and could never give formal advise, just advise of the process. I was a ‘buddy’ for someone who tried to make a harassment claim and sat in with her when she met with the HCO on numerous occasions.. HCO’s are a waste of time.

Every HCO I have encountered so far in my workplace has been a powerhouse for the rights of the victim. That said, APS aren’t all one big happy family.

I totally agree with the comments about avoiding HR. I have discovered that HR are not there to manage the organisations Human Resources, they are only there to prevent legal ramifications for the organistion they work for.

#21
Pitchka3:03 pm, 03 Dec 12

Conan of Cooma said :

Pitchka said :

MrMagoo said :

I am a qualified Harassment Conact Officer (HCO) and if you would like to speak to someone and if you are in the APS, find out who your’s is within the Deparment you work in or replay to me and I would be happy to discuss with you informally.

HCO at my former department was basically just a face and a name, and could never give formal advise, just advise of the process. I was a ‘buddy’ for someone who tried to make a harassment claim and sat in with her when she met with the HCO on numerous occasions.. HCO’s are a waste of time.

Every HCO I have encountered so far in my workplace has been a powerhouse for the rights of the victim. That said, APS aren’t all one big happy family.

How many have you seen? whats your problem?

#22
NellyBean4:12 pm, 03 Dec 12

Pitchka said :

NellyBean said :

Pitchka said :

as they say, 2 sides to every story, OP is playing the victim, who are we to say he is?

completely irrelevant, the OP isn’t asking for your sympathy or opinion.

I wasnt giving him either… I believe there is more to this story than some random public servant being bullied for no reason whatsoever.

That sure looks like an opinion to me.

Of course there is more to the story, if you read it again you’ll find OP hasn’t even given his own side to it, let alone given any indication that he is being singled out for no reason.

He’s not asking for us to decide if he is a victim or not, he just wants us to point him in the right direction to get help. You can have your opinion, but it isn’t helping anybody.

#23
buzz8198:57 pm, 03 Dec 12

I guess there is always the Colin Dunstan approach to this problem?

#24
thatsnotme9:07 pm, 03 Dec 12

Just thought I’d add, that aside from dealing with the issue at work, you also need to look after your own mental health. Waking at midnight every night, and your family being affected by what’s going on – it sounds like you could use some help.

If you’re in the APS, consider using their Employer Assistance Program (EAP) and getting the chance to speak to someone for free to help you through this. At the very least, if you manage to learn some strategies for dealing with this while sorting out who you need to speak to to make it stop, you’ll be ahead.

Pitchka said :

Conan of Cooma said :

Every HCO I have encountered so far in my workplace has been a powerhouse for the rights of the victim. That said, APS aren’t all one big happy family.

How many have you seen? whats your problem?

Congratulations Pitchka, for so succinctly demonstrating exactly the type of attitude that the OP may be struggling against.

#25
ACanberraGuy4:10 am, 04 Dec 12

Thank you for all responses. You offer lots of knowledge in this area, I wish I had it earlier. If so, I would be in a completely different situation. I was completely an idiot in this area. But your general advice would not be able to move me out of my situation without giving you some specific details that could identify myself and many others, and your offered options leave me at cross road.

For those who offers further help, please leave your contact here, I will approach you individually for help with more details so you can advise. You need to be: experienced in APS, bullying management & confidential. I appreciate.

#26
Pitchka9:16 am, 04 Dec 12

Perhaps the OP could give us all some indication of the problem at hand (without giving too much away), before we all jump to conclusions that he is locked in a room daily, subjected to torture, and tazered continously by his FAS. Ive lost count the amount of times these type of threads turn against an OP because he/she failed to disclose one small detail.

Who is to say he hasnt broken the APS code of conduct, and is perhaps currently under investigation, in the process of being terminated, and is playing the victim card.

Sounds to me like he is about to get fired, and is willing to do everything he can to keep his job in the APS. Until he tells us more. we can all just keep guessing as to what is really going on..
Untill

#27
PBO10:26 am, 04 Dec 12

Pitchka said :

Sounds to me like he is about to get fired, and is willing to do everything he can to keep his job in the APS. Until he tells us more. we can all just keep guessing as to what is really going on..
Untill

I recommend the “Uninvited, Non-Consensual Bad Touch” defence, even if you are going to lose your job then at least this will get you a few more months employment and maybe some counselling and compo.

#28
Pitchka10:51 am, 04 Dec 12

PBO said :

Pitchka said :

Sounds to me like he is about to get fired, and is willing to do everything he can to keep his job in the APS. Until he tells us more. we can all just keep guessing as to what is really going on..
Untill

I recommend the “Uninvited, Non-Consensual Bad Touch” defence, even if you are going to lose your job then at least this will get you a few more months employment and maybe some counselling and compo.

Unless you are suspended with no pay, which kind of farks that idea up. Although ive ever only known one guy who was suspended whilst not getting renumerated, very rare, but he did do a bad thing.

#29
Antagonist12:41 pm, 04 Dec 12

Pitchka said :

Conan of Cooma said :

Pitchka said :

MrMagoo said :

I am a qualified Harassment Conact Officer (HCO) and if you would like to speak to someone and if you are in the APS, find out who your’s is within the Deparment you work in or replay to me and I would be happy to discuss with you informally.

HCO at my former department was basically just a face and a name, and could never give formal advise, just advise of the process. I was a ‘buddy’ for someone who tried to make a harassment claim and sat in with her when she met with the HCO on numerous occasions.. HCO’s are a waste of time.

Every HCO I have encountered so far in my workplace has been a powerhouse for the rights of the victim. That said, APS aren’t all one big happy family.

How many have you seen? whats your problem?

Over the years I have seen hundreds of them, but that does not mean I have a problem. It goes with spending nearly 20 years working in HR. Some HCO’s are MUCH better than others. Some people just like to have these things on their CV so they can tick all the right boxes when looking to get promoted beyond the APS6/ASO6 level.

To the OP: there is some excellent stuff on here. Most important is your sense of humour. Post #16 should help. No sense of humour means no sanity.

#30
DangerMouse12:51 pm, 04 Dec 12

I feel for you. I have been bullied and harrassed out of a job (not APS) and my partner has been bullied out of a job (APS). In both cases, HR and the usual processes were either lazy or the goal was not to stop the actual bullying, but to stop the complaint of bullying. If you take official action, there is always a chance this will hit your future job prospects. With kids, you have to decide if that is worth it.

You have to decide what you want to achieve before deciding on your course of action.

Do you want to stay in your current job, with your current supervisor but without the bullying? Even if HR come down on your side, isn’t the relationship with your manager so poisoned by now, so that is no longer an option? It is not realistic to think that both you and your manager can stay in the same job and forget the past. You will always feel uncomfortable.

So…. either you stay because you really love the work, or one of you has to leave. Its unlikely you can get your boss fired, because you are not even quite sure if its bullying, so you probably don;t have any gotcha evidence.

I would keep quiet and start looking for a transfer or a new job elsewhere. While there are ‘processes’ for dealing with bullying, it rarely works out for the victim, because the victimiser is never moved on…. you still have to work with them.

Like I said, think about what your end goal is, and then take action to achieve that. If you want ot earn a dollar without being given an anxiety condition, get another job as son as you can. While justice is tempting, you have the same chance of winning lotto. Are you gonna stake your mental health on those odds?

Good luck.

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