The dark side of being a mature worker

Around the time I was 57, I was bullied at work. I worked in a call centre which had around 230 people working there at the time. It started over a comment on Facebook, and the next morning I was called into my boss’s office and asked if I was OK. She had obviously seen the Facebook incident. I elected to let it go; I thought it was done.

Over the next couple of weeks, Facebook became a whipping board for me. I was ridiculed and humiliated, and it got steadily worse at work. Eventually, I went to what was Fair Work then. They contacted my boss who was the best friend of the main instigator. I ended up on stress leave for a few days, but eventually, HR was brought over from the mainland, and I was interviewed. They insisted that I go to mediation sessions with the main offender. I did not want to do this, and I wanted the others who got involved made to stop also. By this time, I was being told daily that I was not dressed appropriately for work and I was constantly picked on for the way I was handling customers and being shunned. I was also accused of saying something about another worker’s daughter. It never happened.

The main offender was part of management and people started to take her side. People I had known for five years stopped talking to me. They cut me off completely, not even asking me what happened. I was all but forced to go to mediation. I was allowed, and chose, to take another person with me to mediation. However, about an hour into the session, he was asked to leave. I said I wanted him to stay and was told I didn’t have a choice. When he left the room, the offender, who was in her 50s, started to tell me about the terrible time she had as a child. It had nothing whatsoever to do with why we were there. I could only assume I was supposed to feel sorry for her.

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To cut a long story short, nothing else was ever done. I never even so much as received an apology. Two years down the track, two people who had not spoken to me after taking her side just started talking to me as though nothing had ever happened. I asked one of them once, why she thought I would speak to her. She said she knew she should have asked my side and not listened to other people, but still offered no apology. My boss told me to be the “bigger person”.

I was told I only had to answer to my boss and my immediate team leader from then on. 

Things were never the same again, and although I put in for promotions, I was always given reasons why they chose someone else over me. I had Secret Santa presents given to me that were old and filthy. I was, in short, treated very badly. I even went to the company’s own counselling service.

My boss left around seven months ago and before that, my team leader was made redundant, so I had to answer to the main offender once more. Things deteriorated. One day, after a particular incident, I couldn’t take it any longer. I just resigned. I had been there ten years, and not one person from management wished me well. 

This is one of the reasons I moved to Hobart and am still looking for work. In all the years I have worked and all the places, this was the worst place I have ever worked, and I am not the only one bullied. It is still happening.

Have you ever been bullied at work? What happened? How was the situation dealt with?