BONDFIRES

A movement to eradicate racism together

WORKING THROUGH BILL 168-My Story

“…i was suddenly struck with a disturbing revelation; that my compassion to support a client had put me at imminent risk of losing my job.”

It all started with a “favor” for my Supervisor. She asked me to come to work, on my day off, and drive a client to an appointment. It seemed simple enough. I really wanted to support this client and I could also work the appointment around my own medical appointments on that day… so I agreed to help and I did it.

A few days later, I was summoned to my Supervisors office. As I settled into a chair across the desk from her, I was immediately concerned by the stern look on her face,  her rigid posture and the icy tone in her voice.  I didn’t really understand her first statement, something about my behaviour being “unacceptable” on the day that I took the client to his appointment. I was in shock when she went on to say that I took too long to pick up the client…

“Twelve minutes!”  she yelled, leaning into my face, her words felt like spit on my cheeks, “Twelve minutes from the time you called until you picked him up! You put him through Hell! You caused him stress! You damaged him…”

In shock I studied her face as she continued to unload on me. Accusing me of  being  “irresponsible” in doing my job. She pointed her finger in my face, chastising me like I was a 5-year-old child.

For this, she said, my pay would be docked 15 minutes.  She also said that some job responsibilities would be taken away and any further meetings between us would be considered “Supervision” at such time she would be taking “Supervisory Notes”. Her words hit my spirit like a threat. I refused to sit there any longer and left her office shaken and feeling sick to my stomach. I needed the comfort of my office to process what had just happened.

By the time I got to my office, there was an email “invitation” to meet with this Supervisor at 9:00am the next business day. Overwhelmed by the events, I dropped into my chair. I tried to make sense of what happened. My stomach was disturbed and I felt violated.   As the information  ricocheted around in my head, I  tried to force myself into some… rational type of thinking.  Suddenly, I was struck by a disturbing revelation…my compassion to support a client, had put me at imminent risk of loosing my job…TO BE CONTINUED

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8 thoughts on “WORKING THROUGH BILL 168-My Story

  1. Martha on said:

    Hi Izzie,

    Me and my spouse would be more than willing to support your petition. I strongly believe that changes need to be made in the Canadian labour law to protect employees not only from their co-workers but also from management harassment and bullying. I am happy to say (for now) that after two weeks of forced vacations, stress and sleepless nights, he is back to work but I am not sure for how long.

    You know? When I decided to become a social worker I was driven by the need to help others. I thought this environment would be professional but warm and that I would enjoy my job so much that it would not be a job. I was surprised and sad to see how many of my co-workers and members of the management team that preached about being empathetic and understanding with clients, did not apply the same principles towards other team members.

    I used to admire this one particular person that was a member of the management team. When she/he started working at my workplace she/he was so employee oriented, she/he was understanding, honest, approachable, genuine and professional. I fully trusted this person at the beginning but then this person got contaminated by others and this person changed. I was never truly disappointed on this member of the management team but I could see that this person was a shadow of who she/he used to be when she/he started. She/he was just so unhappy, she/he seemed broken, her/his ideals forgotten.

    I can only hope that I will never be that way and that I will be able to recognize any changes in my motives, and where there is no more humanity left in me, I trust that I will stop doing what I do and move onto doing new and different things.

    • Hi Martha,

      I agree with everything you have written and sadly, have found more people in the social service field seemed to be victimized by workplace violence. Even when people start off so strong, supportive and committed they can be poisend by a toxic work environment and end up becoming oppressors. It is very sad to watch this happen. I think some workplaces adopt a “us vs them” mentality that pitts management against employees. When competition is also encouraged, this can get way out of hand. Something else that can effect workplace harmony, is the process of restructuring, which presents a lot of “assumptions” about who will or won’t fit with the new vision of an agency. In this case, management will often cut older employees, employees that are at the top of the pay scale and/or employees that seemed to be “set” in their ways. This can be very harsh and downright viscious! But, it doesn’t have to be. There can be a more positive, supportive approach to move such employees on and allow them to return to school,get retrained, have income through EI and MAINTAIN THEIR DIGNITY. I believe this is always a choice that is available when agencies are restructuring.
      I’m very glad to heard about your husbands situation! I hope and pray things will go well for him (and your family). As a family unit, I know that what happens to your husband is like it is happening to you. The effects and fall out of this situation has an impact on the whole family. Please continue to update us on this situation.
      Thank you very much for supporting this blog and the people who have stepped out of their comfort zone to raise awareness to the damage of workplace violence!
      Izzie J

  2. I experienced something called micro aggression in my previous place of work. It was so subtle but yet so oppressive. When someone works in an organization where micro aggression is practiced you feel like it is all in your head. You wonder if anyone else is experiencing what you are feeling and you begin to isolate yourself. For example, when I challenged my previous supervisor about specific policies and procedures that were in placed, I was told that no one else came to her about that matter leaving me to feel silenced. I wondered if my colleagues disagreed with her and it appeared that a small group did, but they were too afraid to voice their concerns or even to publicly support me in front of her. I felt powerless and very unsafe.

    • Hi Faith,
      Wow! My experience of violence in the workplace is very similar as you will read as my story unfolds. What I found most…disturbing is that my abusers claimed to be feminist and constantly used the term anti-oppression in their mission and values statements. As well, I remember the agency having “diversity” training and several members of the management heirachy talked about the discrimination and oppression they faced as white lesbian females. It truly breaks my heart that human beings could be this way! Thank you for stepping up to raise awareness of this terrible abuse. I look forward to your input when we began to consider solutions!

  3. Hello Martha. I’m very sorry that your family has felt the cruel reality of violence in the workplace. I believe that men are often victims of workplace violence but find it difficult to speak out. I would like to hear more about his experience and give him an opportunity to share his story. I think it may inspire other men to speak out.
    I’m currently drafting a petition to challenge Bill 168. We have seen ammendments to legislation regarding bullying and harassment in schools. I think it’s time for employees to make our politicians aware that current legislation is not enough!
    Would you and your husband be willing to add your support to a petition?Or make suggestions about solutions?
    I hope you will continue to follow our stories and share your feedback!
    Thank you for visiting BONDFIRES!

  4. Martha on said:

    Bill 168 doesn’t protect people, bullying and harassment in the workplace still happens and will continue to happen. My spouse is going through it right now. He is being bullied by management in his workplace and the position that the labour board has taken in his case is very disappointing, Harassment and bullying is right now affecting my life, and my emotional and financial stability.

  5. i am so proud of you for doing this blog.
    i worked where you worked.
    and i saw what you saw on a daily basis.
    you have confirmed my “belief” in the “Truth”
    please continue to write your story
    please continue to shame Bullies everywhere

    • Thank you Faith! It’s not easy going through this kind of experience. I hope you will continue to encourage and inspire our efforts to speak out about this cruel and vicious practice. I look forward to reading your story!
      Thanks again!-IJ

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