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Assaulted and sexually harassed at work - Advice on stress leave

(12 Posts)
Daisywine Thu 29-Jun-17 02:16:11

This is a long story but I am struggling to sleep with the anxiety of it.

I have been in my current job coming up to a year now. For most of this I worked in a small office with a man who is 30 years older than me (I am 25). It was just the 2 of us for the most part and he was in a more senior position than I was. From day one he had me touching me, grabbing my hips from behind, massaging my shoulders and making lewd comments etc. It all culminated when he grabbed my waist so hard and pulled me towards him, he left bruising on my ribs.

About 3 months ago, I walked in on a conversation between a group of our volunteers (I work for a charity) discussing how uncomfortable he made them feel and I decided to speak to a colleague of mine who was the same position as him. She advised me that she would speak to their line manager. She did this and the line manager spoke to HR. HR requested a meeting with me and explained that I had 3 options, let it go, make a formal complaint and launch a full investigation, or I could sit him down and tell him how I felt. I am not confrontational in the slightest and I didn't like the thought of a formal investigation as I knew it would make working in the office extremely unpleasant. I reviewed our policies and noted that it stated that while I may not chose to make a formal complaint, HR may still launch an investigation. I advised HR that I did not want to proceed with the formal complaint but I felt that someone needed to discuss his behaviour with him, as people we come into contact with regularly were discussing it.

During this time a colleague from another office left her job and management asked if I would mind moving over temporarily to help out. I agreed to do so on the basis that I would return to my old post ASAP as I really do enjoy my actual job. They agreed and set a start date. The first day I started on the new office, I was called into a meeting with HR who advised me that they had gone to this man and told him all of the information I had told them and named me as the accuser. HR told me that they would like to offer me a contract for the new post I was going to be temporarily covering and it was in my best interests to take it as they may have to consider making me redundant come Sept 2018 (this is a lie as I have a permenant contract which states that in Sept 2018 I will be moved to another office to do the same role). I refused this and insisted that I will be returning to my substantive post regardless.
The next day I received a phone call from this man's line manager informing me that I would be moving teams to cover a new area of the country and that the person employed to cover that area will now be looking after the area I managed. When I asked exactly why I was being moved teams I was told that it was this man's preference that I do so.
This move was not discussed with me, other than to inform me that it would be happening and has resulted in me having to get an hour long bus to a completely different part of the country at least twice a week, which is quite stressful for me as travelling plays up my anxiety. It also does not suit my personal schedule.

Shortly after this conversation, I had a meeting with HR during which I was asked for all allegations and proof, which I provided them with. Following this, our CEO went to this man and suspended him. This left our office empty and I expected to return to it and my substantive post. Instead, the moved the person who was changed to look after my area.

This has now been ongoing for coming up to 3 months, with no updates given to me as to what is happening and my emails going unanswered. I have seen temp job ads for my substantive post which has made me feel sick and angry that this decision was taken away from me. I regret mentioning any of this to anyone.

I have tried to speak to my line manager about how stressed I am feeling and she advised me to go home and drink a bottle of wine. She also advised me that I should stick my head out the window to make it look like I hadn't been crying as I would need to leave via a busy office and there were staff in there who hate it when people cry.

In addition to all this, it has now come back to me that some volunteers have told people querying this man's absence that I have been telling lies about him and that I am a "vindictive little b***h".

My job involves working with people who are victims of sexual violence and the families of murder/manslaughter victims. It is stressful enough without all of this.

I have an appt with my GP tomorrow to discuss time off for stress and my question is do you think this is an okay idea? I am scared incase my GP says no or that it doesn't qualify as not being fit for work. Has anyone had any similar experiences and was your GP sympathetic to what you were going through?

Sorry for such a long thread, I just needed to get it all out!

TitaniasCloset Thu 29-Jun-17 02:24:52

Oh my gosh. You have been treated so badly. No advice but I'm shocked by your story flowers

Daisywine Thu 29-Jun-17 02:30:10

Oh gosh, sometimes I feel like I'm being so dramatic about the whole thing and then I tell someone outside of the company and they look at me like I'm crazy for having put up with it for so long!

TitaniasCloset Thu 29-Jun-17 02:44:05

They took all control away from you when it was your issue, your situation. I hope some knowledgeable person comes along to give you proper advice.

daisychain01 Thu 29-Jun-17 05:45:20

It unfortunately seems like the company has gone into lock- down against you. You can bet your bottom dollar they haven't done any documentation so it would be your word against their's if you were to try to take matters to a Tribunal.

I personally wouldn't want to work in a company like that no matter how much they paid me.

Can you try to get something else outside the company and at least try to get a favourable reference. As you've only been there a year, it could be best for your future just to walk away.

daisychain01 Thu 29-Jun-17 05:49:51

Explain to your GP that you are highly stressed about a situation at work and your health is suffering. They should sign you off for a period, doubtful they would refuse if you say you've had sleepless nights and not eating.

Take the time out to regain some control, invest in applying for new jobs and hopefully go back in and hand in your notice.

rizlett Thu 29-Jun-17 06:02:52

Daisy - you are having a real hard time here. It seems your company doesn't have a clue how to handle difficult situations and have made some serious bad decisions.

You have done nothing wrong. You have handled everything the right way and yet despite their policies they have been irresponsible.

Check back with their policy to see what should have happened in this situation.

Keep a record of all comments and contacts.

Did you take a picture of the bruising?

You are not being dramatic at all. Your organisation has a duty to protect its employee's and they have failed in this. They have also failed in managing the situation correctly once this information came to light. They are allowing this abusive man to working in an area where he can take advantage of others. It's unacceptable.

I'd consider taking them to tribunal. Have a look at their site online - its really easy to make an application and you can always pull out later if you decide you want to but it does tend to make a company sit up and take notice.

Hopefully someone with some legal advice will be along soon to offer more practical advice.

lovelysquish Thu 29-Jun-17 09:50:47

Report him to the police. He could be doing it to the victims too

daisychain01 Thu 29-Jun-17 12:06:49

I'd consider taking them to tribunal. Have a look at their site online - its really easy to make an application and you can always pull out later if you decide you want to but it does tend to make a company sit up and take notice

It used to be free to go to Tribunal, not any more.

It costs between £180 and £250 to start the process and then more cost the closer it comes to Tribunal. If Daisy does not have any proof, and the company is closing down, it gives me grave concerns what the OP hopes to gain. Does she still even want to work there anymore? How would it affect her future prospects of work?

Walking away might be a more pragmatic option. Tribunal is not for the faint hearted.

daisychain01 Thu 29-Jun-17 12:08:39

Rather, what could the OP hope to gain if she were to make a Tribunal application.

There are other ways to make a company "take note" that are less costly and stressful.

Daisywine Thu 29-Jun-17 14:07:17

Thank you all for the comments and opinions.

No, I do not want to work any longer for the company and I have an assessment coming up for a potential new job which I am feeling hopeful about. However, I can't afford to just up and leave as much I would love to. I'm not too worried about references etc as I have a close relationship with one manager in the company and she is more than happy to provide references.

At the beginning all I wanted was my job back but that is looking less and less likely at this point, which I have come to accept. I spoke to my GP this morning and she has signed me off for 3 weeks as she agreed I'm in no state to be supporting the people I'm employed to support. This feels like a massive relief that will allow me to focus on changing my circumstances and getting the hell out of the organisation.

With regards to Police and the potential for abuse of vulnerable people -this is exactly why he was suspended. I raised that it was not only me that he had been touching and making comments to, and that some of our service users have also spoken to me about not wanting to be alone with him. We work closely with the Police and I advised HR that a police officer wanted to complain about this man and have an investigation into his conduct. It was only when I brought this up that the action to suspend him was taken.

daisychain01 Sat 01-Jul-17 12:58:18

All credit to you for dealing with a manager's appalling behaviour.

I hope your next role is enjoyable and less stressful for you.

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