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Am I being bullied?

(52 Posts)
Starlive22 Fri 15-Dec-17 12:56:55

I can't BELIEVE I'm going to write this, at 33 years of age, but I think I'm being bullied by a co-worker...
I've worked at my current employment (solicitors practice can you believe!) for 2 years, I work in a room with 2 other women, both senior to me and both have been there 15+years.
It all started when I got pregnant earlier this year, one of my coworkers has changed towards me completely. Unfortunately my pregnancy hasn't been as straightforward as I'd have liked so I've had to have a bit of time off sick (unpaid) and it's stemmed from there really.
It's hard to pin her down to one behaviour as she's quite nice when others are around but basically telling me not to be babyish when I've asked about pregnancy related aches and pains, eye rolling, bringing up morbid topics such as preterm labour and stillbirth. Leaving me out of secret Santa, Xmas meals etc. They have gradually gone out of their way to push me out, and when I've brought it up to both them and my boss I've been told I'm hormonal, and that's the end of it.

I don't want to start maternity early but feel it's my only choice. DH says this is her essentially taking money from our baby but as I intend to find a new job after the baby is born I don't mind.

Anyone else has this? It's literally since I've been pregnant, before that although I found her difficult I never had any actual problems with her.

I know I need to grow a pair... but how?

TammySwansonTwo Fri 15-Dec-17 13:00:27

Your boss is playing with fire here - pregnancy is covered under the Equality Act and by not taking your concerns seriously he's subjecting you to harassment. I would give ACAS a call and ask for advice - this sounds awful. I experienced bullying in a previous job and it absolutely crushed me.

IrritatedUser1960 Fri 15-Dec-17 13:05:41

Me too OP had a dreadful bullying boss who didn't bother me as I have a rhino skin and couldn't give a shit but I really felt bad for the youngsters who were always crying in the toilets.
Nobody supported me when I went to HR and the boss above her to complain as they were all too scared of repurcussions so as a result it was seen as a personality clash between me and her and totally agnored - so the abuse went on.
Your best bet is to keep communication to an absolute minimum between you and her, stick it out until you start ,maternity leave then leave and never go back.
Problem solved - it will soon be over for you.

wellhonestly Fri 15-Dec-17 13:19:28

Sounds horrible.

My suggestions:

1. Keep a written record every time they say/ do something like you have described.

2. Call her out every single time. "Don't you realise how unpleasant it is to a pregnant woman to hear these horrible stories? Now be quiet so I can think lovely thoughts instead."

3. Exclusion is definitely a form of bullying.

4. Personally I would not "go early" but I am thrawn. Only you know how you feel.

Maybe they are a bit fed up hearing about your pregnancy. I know when I was pregnant it was very much a part of who I was, but beyond letting people know the essentials I purposely didn't talk about it much. I think I had to respond to someone who criticised me for putting my feet up (on a wastepaper basket) while reading at my desk, but that's all I can remember. Sure if you have to take time off you have to let people know, but other than that I would just keep it as quiet as possible.

I don't understand why you don't get paid sick leave for pregnancy-related conditions. Is it quite a small practice?

I recall an MNetter called flowery on these forums who might be able to advise.

Good luck OP, sending you good thoughts for the rest of your pregnancy.

Tanfastic Fri 15-Dec-17 13:48:07

Op I worked at a solicitors in a similar toxic environment and saw lots of this kind of shit going on. It was normally the fault of management by not dealing with people properly refusing to discipline or speak to anyone about their bullying behaviour in case they upset them (especially if they made the firm a lot of money) and generally working on a skeleton staff all the time thus putting a lot of pressure on staff. It was always worse when somebody went on maternity leave or sick leave as they never had enough staff to cover with a full ship let alone when anyone was in AL or ML etc. It made everyone fall out and bicker so much when it was really the fault of the hierarchy.

I'm not at all minimising what you are going through but I wonder how much pressure your colleagues are under. Is there anyway if raising this with them given you've always got on previously?

Is it a small firm or a big firm with a HR? I know that where I worked there was no HR or anything like that so it made things really really awkward to raise a grievance and you would have been completely ostracised.

You have my sympathies I have been through all this myself recently and I ended up using img to leave after almost two decades in the same practice. It was bloody awful.

Starlive22 Fri 15-Dec-17 14:19:17

Thanks so much for the replies ladies, felt a bit stupid posting it but not really shocked to see it's something which happens frequently.

I agree, but we are all under a lot of pressure, and I know my sick time wouldn't have helped but I was in hospital (with urinary retention...catheter ugh horrid) and after that they seemed to just literally snap at everything I said. They are both mums, so I really hoped to draw on their experiences and wisdom but as their pregnancies were uncomplicated, all of my problems seem to annoy them.

I had lots of problems getting pregnant and then staying pregnant so as this is the furthest I've ever got (25+6!!) I'm just beyond anxious and excited at the same time.

I guess I'll front it out, but honestly (and this is probably naivety) I just assumed they would be nice!

Sadly we only get 10 days sick per year and I used them up in hospital sad but had to have a bit of time off after.

The HR manager is lovely, but works in a different branch, and bats all the problems back to the senior partner who is...surprise surprise...horrid colleagues husband! Just feels shit at what should be the most exciting time of my life.

I don't talk about the pregnancy at all now, but it seems it's too late, like the damage has already been done x

RatherBeRiding Fri 15-Dec-17 14:38:16

So your HR is referring your reports of bullying back to the person who is married to the bully? Wow.

I would contact HR again and say you are concerned that the OBVIOUS conflict of interests is preventing any kind of resolution and what is HR going to do about it.

And don't go early. Especially if you've already decided not to go back - front it out. But honestly I'd go back to HR and make it clear you expect them to do something.

Kazzyhoward Fri 15-Dec-17 14:44:36

Ah, the age old problem of the bosses wife who can get away with everything due to being protected by her hubbie!

Run for the hills! I've been there!

Starlive22 Fri 15-Dec-17 15:03:27

Really really appreciate everyone's comments here, has given me a bit of fight back. Just wish things could b different. I guess workplace bullying is rife, and if I wasn't pregnant I think I'd feel more angry than sad, but all I can think of is starting our little family finally.

Wish I didn't have to work in the same room with her, but there isn't anything they can do apparently as they can't just magic up a desk. Ugh...six more weeks and I would have saved so much more money. Six weeks seems like an ETERNITY in that room sad

Tanfastic Fri 15-Dec-17 15:11:33

My advice. Sit it out if you can. Go on maternity leave and don't come back. It won't ever get resolved with you sharing an office with the boss's wife. Rightly or wrongly they will think they are above the law anyway, been there done that!

Foodylicious Fri 15-Dec-17 15:26:32

Is there a way you can work ftom home?
Maybe HR can help with this,

Starlive22 Fri 15-Dec-17 16:37:05

foodylicious unfortunately working from home is only for senior members of staff.

I don't want to come across as useless but I kind of don't know how to actually front it out. I've got until Monday off work, but have called in sick today and already dreading Monday. Makes me so disappointed in myself but I've never had a problem like this before. Guess I've just been lucky this far.

Anyone got any ideas how to brave it out? Six weeks is a LONG time to sit in an office with someone who seems to be getting worse and worse.

Yesterday she said if she didn't know me better, she'd say I had bipolar disorder and asked the HR manager to assess me. This is purely based on her watching Eastenders!! She's actually going for me now and I don't know how to handle it, even for this short space of time. Such bullshit this whole situation.

RatherBeRiding Fri 15-Dec-17 17:22:33

You have nothing to lose really by "upsetting her". You have six weeks, you're not going back - try to get into the mindset that they can do nothing to you (because they can't).

Re the nasty comment about Bipolar - stare her out. Say, well actually you don't know any better do you? Do you have a mental health qualification? Turn back to your work.

That's how to handle it for 6 weeks. Be upfront - "I don't like your comments or the way to speak to me. If you can't keep it professional please don't speak to me at all."

Tough, I know. But what can they do in six weeks? Even if they started disciplinary your time would be up. Obviously you couldn't ask them for a reference anyway, the way they are treating you, even if you left now.

Tanfastic Fri 15-Dec-17 17:36:09

You can do it op, I've just had to work six weeks notice working with a nest of vipers. Nearly killed me but I did it.

Just keep your head down, get on with your work and don't engage unless it's about work.

Starlive22 Fri 15-Dec-17 18:05:57

Thanks guys, this has really give me the boost I need. The woman is unbearably interfering, re: the bipolar comment, she understands NOTHING about mental health problems, she's homophonic and racist and I just can't wait to leave. She's 41 as well! Not that being older would excuse it but she's YOUNG! Young enough to know that shit isn't appropriate....phew....rant over.

I will have to learn to grit my teeth and keep it buttoned. The day I leave I will be clicking my bloody heels.

So so sorry for anyone else who has gone through a situation like this, it's frustrating, humiliating and just downright upsetting

Starlive22 Fri 15-Dec-17 18:08:11

Tanfastic well done, I have the utmost respect for you, I hope I manage to do as well as well as you!! X

tampinfuminragin Fri 15-Dec-17 18:09:55

Tell them to fuck off and keep their opinions to themselves.

That could shock her into shutting up.

Finderscrispy Fri 15-Dec-17 18:11:42

Try to take a step back from it and take the emotion out of the situation, easier said than done admittedly, but If you can do this you’ll be able to view her for what she is which is likely a sad, insecure little person. When people behave like this it’s always about them not you, so do not internalise anything she says to you.

I’d also be documenting everything she says and does, it’s feels quite empowering and it’s also useful evidence if you need it.

Also, as other posters have said you’ve got nothing to lose by standing up for yourself a bit. You could just say you’d prefer her to keep her comments to herself etc.. don’t have to have full show down. That alone might stop her in her tracks, if you kick back a bit.

Foodylicious Fri 15-Dec-17 20:15:16

Now this might not be a popular view, but you just don't need this crap, especially at this point in your pregnancy/life.

The amount you would earn in 6 weeks is not insubstantial I am Sure, however it's probably something you could budget around and maybe get a small 0% credit card for.
How does that sound to you? Like something you could live with?
I get your OHs point of view, but really wish you can make the best of enjoying the rest of your pregnancy and pre baby preparation days smile

(Can you tell I am broody much wink)

Starlive22 Fri 15-Dec-17 21:57:23

Foodylicious ugh that's what I'm torn with, my husband thinks we can stick to the plan, I can sort of 'man up' and not let her take money from us by making me leave earlier. The logical side of me agrees. However the pregnant and anxious side of me feels like enough is enough and I don't need this at the moment. I've just got to a point where I'm only just starting to feel a little more confident about being pregnant, I don't need anyone ruining it for me.

Bloody feel torn...don't want her to win, but also can't be arsed to pay her game x

AmeliaFlashtart Sat 16-Dec-17 08:38:48

*Ah, the age-old problem of the bosses wife who can get away with everything due to being protected by her hubby!

Run for the hills! I've been there!*

Me too! it stinks, doesn't it?? Took me over 2 years to get it sorted out as no-one wanted to deal with it in case it annoyed her senior manager husband and they had fall out from him.

HundredMilesAnHour Sat 16-Dec-17 10:04:58

not let her take money from us by making me leave earlier

Op this is the second time you've used this phrase (is it your words or those of your DH?) Please stop saying this, you just sound silly and it takes away from the seriousness of your story. She isn't taking any money away from you. Your decisions are YOUR decisions. If you decide to leave early, that decision is on YOU.

As the majority of posters have said, I think you stick out the 6 weeks - and don''t take sick days (like yesterday) unless you do genuinely need them. 6 weeks isn't that long at all and the money could make a real difference to you.

You also need to consider what reference they will give you so starting any arguments with this woman (as some people have alluded to) is not wise. Maybe you will never go back to work after your child, but maybe you WILL want to work one day in the future and getting a bad reference could screw that up for a long time. Stay cool, stay professional.

To be honest, it sounds like she was a reasonably strong/outspoken character before but you got along okay until your pregnancy. From your earlier posts, the things you wrote make me think you have talked about nothing but pregnancies and babies since you got pregnant. As a coworker that would drive me absolutely nuts. I know it is the most important and amazing thing in your life but you need to understand that other people don't want to hear it, especially all the time if you're stuck at work with someone in a small office. You say 6 weeks is a long time, I bet the last few months have been a bloody long time for your colleagues too!

Then add in your pregnancy sickness and time off to what sounds like an under-resourced team, it starts to become more understandable why someone worked with would become resentful and unhappy with you. Yes, this woman has absolutely crossed the line but you are not entirely without some blame here. Depending on how badly your relationship has broken down with her, is it feasible to sit down with her and have a frank conversation? Along the lines of "I feel our relationship has broken down. We used to get along ok but since my pregnancy everything has changed. I know me being pregnant has had a huge impact on your workload, and I also know I've probably gone on about pregnancy far too much. I'm sorry for that and can we make a clean start? I have 6 weeks left and I really would like us to get along like we used to", etc etc You have nothing to lose by trying. If she isn't interested, or verbally attacks you, document everything. And keep documenting. You may need evidence if you need a raise a grievance and/or defend a bad reference.

Mylady Sat 16-Dec-17 10:09:37

I would file a grievance now - and use the words bulling , pregnancy, stress and sexual descrimination. I think it could actually protect you from a crappy future rederance as with this on file plus your pregnacy they need to tread very carefully - they may even ogfer you an early exit

Starlive22 Sat 16-Dec-17 11:48:25

Hundredmilesanhour right, yes didn't realise I sounded silly. I did already say I felt pretty humiliated by the whole situation. Maybe I've gone on about pregnancy too much, they both know of my history and to be honest she was pretty unsympathetic about that so I should have known better. They were also pretty shitty to another pregnant co-worker, but she was moving away anyway so I don't think she cared!

I'm most certainly going to go back to work after the baby is born, but not to that company. In my opinion if you piss off the boss of the wife your card is marked.

I don't mean to sound silly, or babyish. I just want to get out of there and not have to have her asking me stupid questions like if the baby will be born with a turban or it I will put curry in it's bottle again with her good natured 'banter'

And yeah, it's DH's words, not mine. I'm just not sure I'm thinking clearly and I know that of course to a point I am hormonal, hence the post. For the most part it's been really reassuring and made me feel like I'm not losing my mind and letting my hormones run away with me!

Starlive22 Sat 16-Dec-17 11:49:48

AmeliaFlashtart your situation sounds just like mine. No matter what you do if the boss' wife doesn't like you, your pretty much screwed!

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