If not for his supervisor, Mario says he had the “dream job.” Unfortunately, the supervisor’s bullying turned the job into a nightmare and Mario saw no way out: he quit last week, with no other work in place.
“I couldn’t handle it anymore, I was so stressed out and working in a toxic environment because of this bully,” says Mario. “His behavior was affecting me both physically and psychologically: I couldn’t sleep, my stomach was in knots. I tried to get along with him but it was impossible.”
Mario was hired to upgrade operating systems and assist clients with data migration. He has 15 years’ experience as a computer technician and worked at Dell for five years - he also has many awards and great references - but he only lasted three weeks at this job. Mario adds that he moved to the US from El Salvador 33 years ago, and in all those years, he has never been treated this way.
“I cared about my job because Hewlett Packard is a good company. The Bank of America leased all the computer systems from HP, and I was representing HP in this position,” Mario says. “But I wanted to quit the very first day. It is amazing that I lasted three weeks with constant bullying.”
Especially when you are new on the job, you expect a friendly atmosphere and a supervisor to explain the “lay of the land,” but in Mario’s case, he was belittled right from the get-go. “I was never welcomed. Instead, the first thing I heard was my supervisor putting down current employees to their face and I was shocked,” Mario explains. “I am a pretty strong man but he intimidated me. Whatever I said or did was wrong. His favorite line was, ‘If you don’t do it my way I will fire you.’
“Here is a typical example of his bullying tactics. He asked me to get a computer monitor from the table in the back room. Then he yelled at the top of his lungs that it was the wrong one. He constantly made out like I was stupid, and it wasn’t only me. He would belittle anyone at every opportunity. For instance, he told his boss over the phone there was a new hire. ‘He speaks very strong English so if you have problems understanding Mario you won’t be able to understand this new guy at all,’ he said, laughing.”
Disparaging comments referring to accents or language may be a form of discrimination, which is another violation of the California labor code. Mario says his supervisor, also known as “The King of Bullies,” was also disgusting.
“I had only been on the job a few days when he said to all of us, ‘You’d better leave now because if you don’t you are gonna smell a big fart.’ And because the economy is bad he gets away with it, people take it. He has held this position for 10 years, and according to co-workers, he is getting worse.
“My last straw was last Thursday. It was my first day of data migration for a client and I was sent to the location by myself, which was fine with me. But when I showed up, a co-worker, who happened to be born and raised in LA, was there too. He was surprised to see me as well. Apparently, my supervisor had changed his mind and said the other guy would do the job. However, another supervisor was also on-site and she told us to work together. She was behaving properly and everything was fine until the bully showed up. He immediately started to harass me, non-stop. Everything I did he said, ‘Don’t do it that way, I didn’t tell you to do that.’ So I finally quit.”
Mario isn’t the only one bullied. He found out from another co-worker, and the supervisor bragged, that out of 28 technicians hired last June, only five remained because “they won’t follow the rules,” said the supervisor.
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And it isn’t good for business - stress leave reduces employee productivity. So why is workplace bullying still so prevalent? Bullies typically take advantage of the situation and don’t fear losing their jobs.
If you are being bullied at work, especially if your health is suffering, you might want to consider contacting an experienced employment attorney who can determine whether the situation in your workplace would justify filing a complaint.