Will Corporate Civility/Diversity Training prevent Workplace Bullying?

I was at an Alumni event for Carnegie-Mellon University at the home of a wonderful professor who has hosted this incredible clam bake for nearly 25 years.

I have helped him with directing traffic from a main street down to his home, coordinating vehicles going down with vehicles coming up for about 5 years. Another pair of people I don’t know who were married or not either were assigned to help or volunteered.

The male of the two immediately took over all operations (set himself up as THE LEADER) despite possibly hearing that I had taken care of all aspects of the job for years. He was totally insensitive and yet a “nice guy.” I COULD have kept my mouth shut, thinking about how such “outbursts” from female complainants are usually experienced and described – oh, and especially those in their 60’s. I said, “Not to seem like a rabid feminist or anything but would you mind not stepping in and assuming control? I HAVE done this very thing single handedly for about 5 years.” He stared straight at me, unblinking then said “I AM on the Alumni board” as if that allowed him to treat me as if and my experience literally did not exist. He orchestrated who was to do what when, such as “Do you want to call Steve and let him know a car is coming down?” This is relevant to what I want to write about in that people who are not being inclusive literally DO NOT KNOW how to do that or simply do not WANT to. If I complained further about his actions and words, it would be pushing things to where they could become unpleasant – for me – because in my experience, controlling males WILL NOT BACK DOWN.

Later he attempted to speak to workplace bullying but from a position of control and male privilege.

The woman of the pair was an HR person. I immediately asked her about the presence of workplace bullying at her company and asked if they had one of the new programs to combat bullying: Civility training. She said they didn’t have that but had something they called Diversity Training. To her and her company, that means honoring everyone’s point of view. I am a potential sucker for euphemistic sounding words, but often, I have become jaded about those words. How exactly is that implemented? OK, training. Being a rabid feminist who is trying not to act like a crazy one, whatever that looks like, how do they implement or train people to accept a feminist viewpoint in a male dominated society often led by males? “Listen to women?” “Agree with them (????)” “Allow them to make REALLY BIG decisions every once in a while??” (then put them back in their box?) Who decides how often a woman should lead a big decision? A man? Which woman should be given power to decide THOSE THINGS?

Then I asked her if there was a workplace bullying incident, how would that be handled? She described investigations. I asked if the bully would be investigated and she said they would. Also, if the target wasn’t satisfied, there were guidelines for ramping up the investigations and looking to see if the bully had been targeting others before.

I don’t know. I had no reason to believe the guy of the pair understood what women want in a mixed gender group nor did I think he was willing to entertain it. I had HR investigate my bullying. They didn’t. ***I*** was the problem, end of story. I filed internal dispute resolutions, filed a gender-age discrimination claim but I was laid off anyway and EEOC denied I had a valid claim. I got an NELA lawyer who guaranteed I’d get a half a year’s salary as severance, but I didn’t – HE did. He shafted me, the victim-target. THEN because my W4 LOOKED like I HAD gotten that money, it negatively impacted my unemployment insurance and TDI for my PTSD.

When I hear HR people describe their work from an internal or external viewpoint, I cringe and feel I know that targets of bullying will continue to be targeted at every point in the company’s hierarchy because I don’t feel companies CAN view employees as human beings. Or, like the guy I was interacting with, they have a hard-wired mindset where they can speak the proper words but they aren’t willing to understand what they mean.

I have witnessed employees being assigned PIPs and other plans to corral them into “performing better” which usually means increasing their output, putting in more hours, being more robot than human being. I have experienced another real human being’s – a person’s – breakdown – an IT guy I was working with to install and test a laboratory interface. He had my cell phone number. We had only gone over tech specifications relating to our work on company calls using the company phone line. I got a message on my cell phone from him, yelling, screaming, calling me every foul name he could think of. There was NO relationship to the work we had been doing. It was shocking. BUT I later understood it was a safety release, though an inappropriate one. How does a company make someone having a break down use correct policy? Is the broken person being bad because they couldn’t hold their tongue and find an “appropriate outlet?” What IS an appropriate outlet when a person is in that space?

What about people killed in a workplace violence event followed by the target’s suicide? Can that be managed by civility or other training? How can we, as a society, prevent these and other highly destructive scenarios: The destructive harassment of an individual to and past a breaking point followed by the unimaginable.

I have heard talk of companies trying to “manage” what has been described as a tsunami of law suits regarding workplace bullying coming. What would be better than lawsuits and laws? Let’s have a discussion and brain storm. Do companies with “nap rooms” or game rooms have less bullying?

Maybe civility and diversity training and future HR objectives will help by just acknowledging they need to address workplace bullying, but something else needs to be in place to work for the employee target who has been harmed. Getting the [Anti Bullying] Healthy Workplace Bill, now introduced in 30 states, passed into law is one thing but there MUST be more we can do instead of allowing people to be put in boxes – women, people of color, disabled – then targeted.

 

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Pawtucket Mayor Grebien’s hungry children

Free Summer Meals in Pawtucket, RI blog

My name is Jessica Stensrud. I’ve been a social justice activist and advocate my entire life. I am currently a co-coordinator for the [Anti-Bullying] Rhode Island Healthy Workplace Bill which has been introduced into the General Assembly for two years. I’ve also recently become more involved in the lunch shaming issue in Pawtucket, to which I was introduced by Cape Verdean activists in Pawtucket.

As the school year is now over and summer has begun, activists Khrystyne Bento, Riley Farinelli and I have turned to our attention to another food related issue: The Free Summer Meals Program. In the last four years both Bento and Farinelli have been instrumental in making this program a reality.

On Friday June 23 at Slater Park, Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien introduced the The Free Summer Meals Program. Following the event, Grebien tweeted schedules, menus and locations where the food would be given out this summer. The company, Aramark, would be providing the food.

The following Monday Bento, Farinelli and I visited as many of the free food sites, including schools, so we could to see if meals were being served, how many children were present and whether the schools and other sites were advertising the free food offering.

On the first advertised date of the Free Meals Program, June 26, every school site was empty of children and no one was set up for or serving food. There were no signs noting that free food was available. Additionally, school officials like the Child Opportunity Zone (COZ) teacher and principals, if they could be found, were caught off guard and said they didn’t know anything about the program.

My full report for both the advertised start, June 26, and the actual start, July 5, of the Free Meals Program are available by PMing me your email on Facebook. The details are too numerous and confusing to include here.

Following our visit to various sites on June 26, we wanted to hear from the Pawtucket School Department. I went alone first, to figure out who would be best to speak to. When I was buzzed in, I asked who I could speak to about the Free Summer Meals Program. The receptionist disappeared down a long hallway and came back to tell me that no one knew anything about the Free Summer Meals Program.

To me and the others, this seemed like a “go away” tactic, so we all went back together later in the day. I parked further away in the School Dept. lot this time, and lo and behold, there were two plastic banners for the 2017 Free Summer Meals Program on the fence surrounding the lot. I wondered how no one knew about the program inside the doors if this was sitting right outside. In the School Department receptionist office again, this time around it seemed someone did know about the Free Summer Meals Program: Assistant Superintendent secretary Sue Lozy agreed to meet with us that very day and try to iron out the problems by creating an updated, more accurate schedule which we activists agreed amongst us to check. She also promised that information banners would be put up at all schools and robo-calls in relevant languages would go out. Why was this action not taken at the beginning?

On July 5, we decided to go visit the various sites again. This time, some schools were set up and serving food, but it still seemed that not many children if any were showing up and that folks weren’t being effectively informed about the program (We are not certain that multi language robo-calls were sent out in the less affluent, more diverse communities of Pawtucket. Robo-calls ONLY go out to the students in the schools, not to families in the general community.

The way things stand now, we left our tours and visits to the School Department feeling that the Mayor only wants the political points of introducing a popular free lunch program, but isn’t putting in the work for the program to be helpful or successful. We came away feeling that the principals of various schools and their Child Opportunity Zone staff who handle the free meals program have been given a job they cannot perform in addition to everything they are expected to do in service to the community. They need more help from the City.

 

Caught in the middle of all this are impoverished, hungry families with hungry children, too hungry and tired to learn, getting set up for failure and worse – impacting our community in negative ways we cannot imagine. Never mind their undeserved suffering. If the Town of Pawtucket is getting Federal Funding, we need to be more responsible in using this funding in a responsible, cost effective, beneficial way. Our children deserve better.

 

Please call, email, write and/or fax Mayor Donald Grebien’s office, as well as the two Assistant Superintendents and their secretary (all contact information is below) and say:

  • I am concerned that Mayor Grebien has accepted Federal funding to implement a Free Summer Meals Program but it has not been accomplished in an organized, knowledgeable way for the benefit of impoverished children in Pawtucket as it was designed to do.
  • The program was advertised to start on June 26, but the ACTUAL start was July 5. The June 26 date was shared and Khrystyne Bento witnessed 11 children leaving Baldwin Elementary (which at that time had no Free Meals set up) empty handed. How is that acceptable? Khrystyne felt horrible that she advised sharing a schedule that was inaccurate and led to children remaining hungry after getting false hope.
  • Signs and banners are not showing information as they should and in general sufficient advertising is not being made, instead relying on word of mouth. There seems to be no outreach to children not associated with schools – they are not going to be able to see small paper signs on school doors. Why isn’t there more of an effort being made to tell ALL people about the program?
  • It seems the program is not being consistently implemented. Do you, Mayor Grebien, plan to hire someone or assign someone to oversee the program to ensure hungry children are being fed food they were promised?

 

 

Mayor Grebien

Address: Pawtucket City Hall, 137 Roosevelt Avenue, 2nd Floor Room 200, Pawtucket, RI 02860

City Hall Main Number: (401) 728-0500, ext. 281
Mayor’s Office Fax: (401) 723-8620
Email: dgrebien@pawtucketri.com

 

Sue Lozy (secretary to the assistant superintendent)

Phone: 401-729-6328

Note: We were told Lozy is due to retire soon so we’re not sure how long she can be reached.

 

Assistant Superintendent Lee Rabbit

rabbitl@psdri.net

Phone: 401-729-6328

Fax: 401-727-1641

 

Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Suriani

surianik@psdri.net

Phone: 401-729-6328

Fax: 401-727-1641

 

 

 

Workplace Bullying followed by Bullying Hiring practices

 

 

 

Here are some statistics that are unpleasant to look at, especially if you are experiencing long term unemployment as I and millions of people are in this country, but we have to look at what’s going on and devise strategies to fight against what is hurting people.

https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2015/long-term-unemployment/

Trapped in Unemployment by 60 Minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcPnU5P596U

Platform to Employment is a program filled with ideas and wonderful people but they do not guarantee nor have I yet experienced finding a job. What’s more, the program has now been defunded.

More and more people are forced out of their jobs because companies want to reabsorb their salaries or for other reasons well known and written about. Companies merge or are acquired, leading to massive layoffs. Companies close. People are replaced by automation or robots. Few talk about what happens to the people who were working.

I’ll continue the story but I need you – targets of bullying in 30 states so far –  to take action – this time, in RI, on Twitter – to contact the legislators who are holding the Healthy Workplace Bill for further study, preventing it from being voted on.

I understand the fears behind coming out and being vocal about how wrong it is to allow workplace bullying, but, believe me, there are MANY more forces against working people that, if we proceed down a path of fear and complacence (“It will PROBABLY become better if I keep my mouth shut.”), NOTHING WILL CHANGE, BUT WILL ONLY CONTINUE AND GET WORSE.

For Rhode Island targets of Bullying who are fighting to get the RI Healthy Workplace Bill passed into law in both House and Senate

CONTACTS PLUS TWITTER

Senate Labor Committee members
Sponsor SB 0189
Senator Frank Ciccone 401-276-5582 sen-ciccone@rilegislature.gov
Cosponsors @SenatorCiccone
Senator Adam Satchell 401-615-5170 sen-satchell@rilegislature.gov @SenatorSatchell
Senator Frank Lombardi (401) 453-3900 sen-lombardi@rilegislature.gov @FrankSLombardi
Senator Walter Felag (401) 276-5594 sen-felag@rilegislature.gov no Twitter
Senator Michael McCaffrey(401) 739-7576 sen-mccaffrey@rilegislature.gov No Twitter

House Labor Committee members
Sponsor HB 5862
Rep. William O’Brien 401-440-4063 Rep-obrien@rilegislature.gov
Cosponsors @Obrien2016forNP
Rep Mia Ackerman (401) 658-0981 rep-ackerman@rilegislature.gov @MiaForRep
Rep Arthur Handy (401) 785-8996 rep-handy@rilegislature.gov @ArtBHandy
Rep Arthur Corvese (401) 353-8695 rep-corvese@rilegislature.gov
Rep Blazejewski 401-484-8814 rep-blazejewski@rilin.state.ri.us @CBlazejewski

SAMPLE TWEET

Release SB 0189 (for House, substitute HB 5862) from study for a vote! RI employees need you behind them: Vote the Healthy Workplace Bill INTO LAW! NO BULLYING!!

I am writing about Workplace Bullying followed by Long Term Unemployment because I went thru three job search programs here in Rhode Island – EmployRI/NetworkRI, TechForceRI and most recently The Platform to Employment, The Workplace or P2E. I am still using them, but have not found a job since being laid off in October of 2015.

“Have not found a job” is a misnomer, really, because since I am registered on just about every search engine there is – ZipRecruiter, Monster, Indeed, you-name-it, I get many calls from every part of the country and right here in Rhode Island. I have interviewed too many times to count – in person, on the phone – multiple times for each company, thinking a call back is a great sign. It would be if the last of a series were followed by a job offer, but that is not what happens. I either am told that someone else is not selected, I’m not a “good fit” (after initially being told that my resume looked like a “good fit.”), but what usually happens is that I’m not called or emailed at all, just dropped.

The TechForceRI and P2E programs told us to avoid recruiters because their companies just want to make money, leading recruiters to get so many people signed up as active even if there is actually no job attached, because that’s how the recruiters are paid.

Now, we’re told that the way to go is LinkedIn but the same thing happens there with people calling, saying they’d never not call you back and then not calling you back.

To my mind, this is actually an extension of Workplace Bullying – it’s all Workplace related and the design and effect is to make you drop out of the running – people in TechFortaceRI WERE recruiters at one time and THEY TELL US their companies EXPECT them to weed people out.

As one example, I applied via LinkedIn for a job advertised on Philips Healthcare – it was a remote job and according to the job description, it was EXACTLY what I was trained to do and extremely experienced and good at. At P2E one of the people found two talent acquisition people at Philips and a phone number to call. I called the first number and got connected to HR. The outgoing message said, “We regret that we are unable to provide individual application statuses since we get over a thousand applications a month.” I connected via LinkedIn to the TA’s. One was not the TA for the actual position but said, “Your profile on LinkedIn looks like you are very well qualified. I messaged that TA, Tarah.” I found Tarah and requested a connection that I never got and never heard from either one of them again. It really makes you question reality when these experiences add up with people outside the whole process telling you, “Why don’t you try THIS? Have you tried THAT?”

I have searched for work and applied night, day and weekends for almost two years now.

I have NEVER had a problem finding work IN MY LIFE before and now this.

 

Are our workplaces Belko experiments?

The Belko experiment.

I read what this film was about and thought I should avoid it like the plague, but I changed my mind, thinking it might be useful in trying to describe what the work world may be heading towards.

Another start to this blog could be: Like the diagram for Yin and Yang, there is black and white. In various pushes to “fix” our broken work life, people rightly describe plans for glowing places to work where people are respected and honored, their best work encouraged and on and on. That is very good, important work. We should move toward that.

But on the polar opposite side, I believe it is also important to show possible end results if we hold to our current path. The Belko experiment, like many sci fi movies which strive to predict where humanity may be headed, is such a one.

I can hardly think of anyone who either hasn’t or doesn’t currently report that their work environment is a sort of hell. Of course, people have different limits of tolerance for what they think is necessary to bear.

Some think it’s “cool” to be surviving in hostile places as if they are rock climbing or testing some physical limit. Others think that even saying a workplace is unbearable is being a total feeble wimp and just “man up.”

However, human beings were never meant to survive prolonged periods of unbearable stress. The habits that result from bearing up such as drugs, risky behavior and alcohol, aren’t so great, either.

The heart, blood vessels and brain need to be protected – not by just popping a pill but by actually being in an environment that supports health. What a concept! As we watch shows of cars driving out of transport helicopters or high parking garage levels, cars flipping over, the hero survives and goes on and on, seeming to get stronger and stronger, madder and madder, blood streaming down his/her face – just give him a shower, some sex and alcohol and (s)he’s ready for more!

This all applies to workplace warriors as well.

We all love a good challenge, right? I saw a desk sign once saying “It’s fun doing the impossible!”

We may love challenges, but …..

OK – back to Belko.

Well, it’s brutal. Eighty people have been hired by the Belko Corporation and have been working in a building in the middle of nowhere for about a year. One day a huge building-wide loud speaker goes off to say that all eighty occupants must kill two of their own or four will be killed. Oh, and the building is suddenly closed with impenetrable steel shutters over all the windows and exits.

A psychological experiment. What will people do? As they’re told?

So, at first, in disbelief, they joke around, go up to the roof, devise various plans – they get creative.

Suddenly, explosions ring out as four people’s heads explode. Gruesome. They believe it is gun fire, but it is not – implants were put in everyone’s heads when they were employed for some reason they all found acceptable. Well, in today’s job market, most people would say “implant whatever you want! I need a job I can survive and with luck move up with!” Right?

The hero of the story, if there is one, cuts his implant out with warnings from girlfriend and loudspeaker.

I haven’t seen all the SAW movies but I imagine they are like this movie in the sense of “how far would YOU go to survive?” combined with “how far would YOU go to survive against OTHERS who will do anything to survive, including the supposed leader of a group such as your company’s CEO?”

I won’t go into more movie details, not because I don’t want to spoil the movie for you – I REALLY hope you won’t go, actually – but because this blog isn’t about the movie only but what we are doing to ourselves in the workplace.

Remember movies like “The Office?” Goofy portrayals of people bumbling with memos, putting people they don’t like and their desks in the basement? I think we’ve graduated from those sweet movies to this kind of graphically brutal nightmare and other sinister office portrayals because, um, our work environment is sort of heading in a very bad place. Some companies are hiding how bad they are. You, I’m sure, have read about some of them.

What I want to do, in addition to there being seed ideas of good behavior, is to show the dark side – what could and is happening in a way RIGHT NOW in the work world. Good, bad, light, dark – which do you think we should choose? What do YOU think works and how can we get there?

You mix that “gotta survive” Belko mode with dreams of great profits, competing with other companies. You mix that with MONEY. Promises to investors. Disaster.

Seems like a fairly benign push to get things going, creative juices flowing, pot’o gold at the end of a creative rainbow.  But how companies are using this can and has taken a very dark turn. I heard a radio program about this the other day. That once the focus is put on the “bottom line” or on pleasing the investors, it becomes something like, “Well, the spaceship is too heavy. We have to jettison SOMETHING or we’ll never lift off.”

WHO DECIDES WHAT NEEDS TO BE CUT DOWN AND BACK? Hierarchy? CEO dictates.

WHAT PROCESSES ARE INVOLVED TO TRY TO AUTOMATE THIS SO THAT NO ONE CATCHES BLAME AND GRIEF?

Performance Improvement Plans are one of the ways over the longer term, to “weed out” people who are no longer needed by [supposedly] keeping track of their productivity. Note how any creative input does not matter with a PIP. Employee creativity DOES expand the ways the company can become more productive but it cannot be controlled and if you just want to get rid of someone for whatever reason, then use PIP, tell people they aren’t succeeding no matter how hard they try and fire them.

In fact, bullying of any kind serves the same purpose – people often will flee a company voluntarily because they have been physically or psychologically damaged by endless, unmitigated stress often for years. Look! They don’t have to be given unemployment or severance! Problem solved.

See, employees in their loyal little hearts, think what is happening is to improve the company, thereby improving their lot in life. What is happening is ONLY to improve profits for shareholders/investors, employees be damned. Cut costs cut costs. Fire good workers, hire cheaper workers.

Even company itself be damned, customers be damned. Cut to the chase, only the CEO wants the most money for his/her ultra-luxurious lifestyle while others’ salaries don’t even reflect increases in the standard of living. “Getting rid of’ ___ gets a life of its own. An instant fix, if you will. But it doesn’t fix and something the company needs or does well with is now cut. On and on.

What is happening? Call it money addiction, greed, power addiction. Call it what you will but it is deadly and it CANNOT BE SUSTAINED. In fact, it is a kind of zero sum game where no one wins, really, because if there are no functioning employees (only terrified, or ruthless ones) and no loyal customers – bang – there’s no economy and no company either! Just some really, really rich people who have a load of stuff for a set amount of time as everyone else goes down the tubes. Oh, and a really toxic workplace.

PLUS, in the meantime, you have a non-survivable work environment where people feel pressure to work harder, longer hours, disappear on leaves of absence to figure out survival plans, are at each other’s throats to compete or please some screamingly tense, controlling, anxiety ridden boss. Of course, there’s going to be bullying, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, workplace violence! Those are outcomes of non – sustainability. NO ONE is productive in such a scenario! OH, LET’S CUT SOMETHING ELSE! OR HAVE PEOPLE WORK ALL DAY AND NIGHT!

Just. Wait. Please.

So, when someone asks me why we need the Healthy Workplace Bill to be passed into law in EVERY state, it’s because we need to set in motion AT LEAST THE UNDERSTANDING that the way we are now doing things is not leading to anything good – ANYTHING ANYONE WOULD WANT.

Of course, no one is going to lock up people and tell them to kill or be killed randomly, but, um, you know, in a way, IT’S ALREADY HAPPENING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post bullying job loss – how dare you get old?

I will show some possible consequences of being bullied from your job –  going from general to  specific

  • Can’t find new job because of age discrimination
  • Limited to unemployment as only source of income, often can’t pay bills, because of such a drastic change in living standard.
  • Preyed upon by insurance, town and others – just because people know your age.
  • Most jobs offered you are for impossibly long commutes, relocation etc.
  • If you get a job, will the environment be toxic (again)
  • impossible proposed job flying schedules  – work in Utah Sunday (for travel)– Thursday, travel all day Friday then try to reclaim what’s left of your life, health and sanity on Saturday! What about having to work those ‘extra hours.’ What? Can’t take that schedule on? Well, that proves even more that you’re “too old!”

At >50 years of age, the prospects of finding a job more interesting than, say, being a greeter at Walmart, are daunting especially if you are very highly educated, accomplished and especially if you are a woman – you weren’t supposed to be “stealing” jobs from men anyway. You were supposed to stay home and be supported. If you are single, you are in even more trouble – they system is not designed for single, sole supporter, women. Single men make more money than women for equal work and they usually have no trouble finding a cooperative woman to help with their household chores. Single women have to take care of everything by themselves and often can’t afford anything on the little salary they get followed by the unemployment that is then allotted them.

Governmental websites that claim to help find “seniors” (a pejorative term implying that one has become suddenly different upon crossing some age threshold) find jobs often lead to 404 error page not found.

Automatically and by definition, senior jobs are not going to be what anyone with any energy, “chops” or ambition is going to want to do. They allow one to relax into a new role like living permanently in one’s jammies. Fine for some but not for me or others. Also it is usually not possible to live on one job like that. That implies working two or more such jobs. Not exactly how we are told the “golden years” are going to be.

Then there is the issue of losing face and confidence from being bullied out of work in the first place and encountering rampant age discrimination in the second place. People who claim to be able to help a person recover their lost confidence first of all do not have a clue as to what goes on as one applies for jobs in one’s field at the suddenly old age that causes raised eyebrows or a different tone of voice over the phone.

It is, in a term, “gas lighting” or being made to feel incompetent, unworthy and totally unneeded where one was once the “top dog,” the most ambitious, aggressive, customer-centric, tech-savvy team member. Since bullying and gas lighting are so pervasive and seen as normal behavior, how much money can one pay to be coached to “get over it.”  Apparently, a lot. When you have no job, you cannot pay “a lot.” End of story.

It must be said although awareness is indeed growing, that being bullied out of one’s job while doing tremendous work, appreciated by clients and colleagues alike, is devastating. One’s work life is devoted to getting along with the boss, helping team mates, helping the company succeed. To then be targeted and accused of being the worst of all hindrances to any number of people and much more is a severe blow to one’s sense of self and not to be taken lightly ESPECIALLY when it goes on for years at a time.

You can take it in stride like all the proverbial boiled frogs “I can do this. I can do my usual stellar, unflagging, honest work and ignore all that other stuff going on even when it’s quite IN MY FACE.”

But the harder you ignore it, the more the bully actively wants to get your attention, to MAKE you feel whatever it is they intend you to feel for whatever purpose they have.

So getting over the constant assault to the system both physical and psychological is a daunting task and it’s not really ever “over” because you can keep getting triggered again and again even by innocuous situations – you have no control over how and when – or the very real situation of being bullied by recruiters, interviewers or any number of people embedded in the whole process.

You do take this awful bullied feeling – despite any natural confidence you may have – with you into your job search where, of course, they don’t WANT to hire an older person if they have lots of younger people available. However, they mostly CAN’T be obvious about this.

You feel you must and are encouraged by supporters to be hopeful. This leads a person to, of course, submit hundreds of resumes, take multiple phone and in person interviews for months or years. This takes a huge chunk out of one’s life and time not to mention the exhaustion and sometimes unavoidable despair.

I took many interviews where, while I was never told they didn’t want to hire me because I was older than they’d like me to be (What gives them the right?), it was clear in their body language, tone and logistics that they didn’t want to hire me. Was I making that feeling up? Was I being paranoid? Was I being an idiot to keep trying if I felt that way? What to do??? THAT is exhausting, fighting with YOURSELF.

At one interview, the interviewers quite literally said to me that if I worked there, I honestly would not be allowed to die. I kid you not. What does that say to you?  A harmless joke? Or, to me, it was like a faux pas that one would say at a funeral or some other inappropriate time – age related.

It was clear to me later that this was age discrimination when they failed to notify me if I was hired or not despite weekly email inquiries, when another recruiter asked if she could send me to the same job – they were actively seeking other applicants for the position I had applied for A MONTH after my last interview with them WHILE I was still waiting for the outcome.

It was only after telling the HR manager that a recruiter asked to send me to the same job that he then claimed he “just spoke” to the hiring manager and they had decided to “go in a different direction.” They know better than to say you are too old, but even so some say exactly that.

Or, they’ll say you have too much experience or you’re “too senior.” I’ve been asked if I’m “too persistent.” Answer how? I’ve had terribly demeaning things said to me that I’ve had to ignore and process later. Women have a terrible time in technology in general – it’s a giant boys’ club. But when you get older, you are relegated to some awful zone where you are seen as a grandma, no more, no less. If you fight this, you are seen as a mean, uncooperative old lady.

I’ve taken multiple job interviews where the person I was supposed to meet with (an hour’s drive) failed to show up or notify the recruiter THREE TIMES that he couldn’t make the appointment. Then when we DID meet he said the interview was a formality, I was hired, he just had to meet with the others. I got home and the recruiter called to say I did NOT have the job.

The list of stories goes on and on. And I know I’ll be discriminated against by some readers who in frustration will give up reading – it is only something an OLD PERSON would write. Too lengthy, involved and who cares? Exactly. Sometimes a person only acts old because they are so convinced that everything is stacked against them. Indeed, many times IT IS.

Why could I not stay at the job I loved, did well at, was well loved by clients and colleagues that was 10 minutes from my home until I could afford to retire?

Instead, I and many like me, endure :

  • constant, chronic stress, and fear
  • anxiety about surviving financially, emotionally, sleepless nights.
  • Then ridiculous violation notices/fees from the city saying I did not shovel the snow when I DID shovel the snow.
  • I became ill from bronchitis/flu at the same time I had trouble with sleep apnea and for the first time in my life missed a car insurance payment
  • insurance was cancelled
  • told I needed to pay $1600.00 to rewrite
  • took hours to call the national line for Nationwide to get a different agent for less money
  • filing complaints with AG office
  • Business regulation office complaint filing
  • Speaking to town about snow removal issues for seniors (I was just incensed that no one believed me in court that I shoveled or that the plows covered it or no one believed me that I couldn’t afford to have someone ready to shovel every time the plow went by)
  • round and round for days and hours on end with the unemployment office which doesn’t give a percentage of one’s income, but a MAXIMUM CAP which I cannot live on!!!
  • My representative, David Coughlin, couldn’t help me.
  • My council man Jon Barry, couldn’t help me with all my “problems.” Note: they are MY problems.
  • The governor of our state who has oversight into the Unemployment office, Gina Raimondo, couldn’t help me but turned me over to someone connected to the Unemployment office – full circle – who questioned me about how I lived and other None-of-your-business intrusive questions.
  • My senator William Conley, keeps rescheduling our meeting and has yet to be of any help.
  • All this in addition to fielding constant calls and email from recruiters for job search – sometimes 10 a day.

 

May I also posit that after the tremendous stress and ordeal of getting bullied out of my job – Oh what a shortcut phrase that is – then in my heart I KNEW there would be trouble – I posit that people are prone to commit suicide to avoid this incredible life stress. Not only PRONE but they are doing so in record numbers. THIS IS TRAGIC BEYOND BELIEF.

It’s happening and being covered up and hidden over and over and over – which causes it to happen MORE not less. YOU CAN’T DEAL WITH OR FIND SOLUTIONS FOR A PROBLEM YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT.

I list out all of this because this is what it means to get old and pushed from your job. It’s not funny. It’s not for the faint of heart and IT SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING. People are VALUABLE – they are more than RISKS to a company’s bottom line or a sociopathic manager’s punching bag. So for some, the worst is not just the bullying out of the job, but what can happen AFTERWARDS.

God help us all because, oddly enough, and if we’re lucky, WE ALL GET OLD.