A very sad story

I worked for a very long time for a highly respected charity. What people did not realise was the amount of bullying & poor HR practices going on behind the scenes.

I had already been off with stress once due to workload and bullying. I eventually returned & things were ok for a while but when a supportive co-worker quit, things fell apart again due to my workload, and lack of support, and it made me extremely stressed & ill while I was trying to conceive. I was also on conception medication that made me ill. I tried to explain re: the medication but my manager was not sympathetic.

I found out eventually I was 6 weeks pregnant. A week later I was pulled for a disciplinary meeting over an issue that I later worked out was several co-workers conspiring against me.

I told the manager I was pregnant at the meeting & she acknowledged it but proceeded to advise me of the accusations against me, which were mainly to do with using work time effectively and nothing that would constitute gross misconduct, and she refused to acknowledge the problems with my role. I was highly distressed by the meeting because I could see that my workload and other major problems within the organisation were being ignored and they were looking for reasons to discipline me for not just working endlessly as if everything was ok. She continued with the meeting despite my distress.

I walked out & never went back. I had to go to hospital the next day as I was so distressed I started to bleed & had not eaten. I got the union involved, but despite many talks with me, my notes and my version of events, she met with my boss (I could not physically go into the office, I was too frightened) who painted a very different picture of what the workplace was like & she ceased to support me & stopped returning my calls. The manager had HR send me a copy of her notes from the meeting which were incorrect, made me look bad & I refused to sign them.

In the end I was on sick leave, ssp and then their maternity leave package as soon as I could. Contact was only with a woman in hr in head office. If I could have afforded to quit I would have, but I was in a desperate position.

I ran into some of the colleagues in question in town when I was 7 months pregnant and they refused to speak to me. It was clear to me that I’d be forced to quit at the end of my maternity leave.

I handed in my notice as I knew I’d have to, with no job to go to, and a completely broken woman. I had no confidence, the whole experience damaged me for a long time & I was too scared to apply for jobs that would need them for a reference. I have never asked for one to this day. I ended up taking low paid catering work shifts and felt very demoralised.

They did pay what they had to contractually, but the way I was treated, the fact my work stress was not assessed & I was bullied out (it was clear I was not welcome back) contributed hugely to me getting PND, panic attacks and severe anxiety. I had a very difficult birth as well which made life very difficult. I was faced with poverty and a 6 month old baby, life was very hard then.

I am much better now but it took years to recover & I still refuse to walk near their office in case I might see any of the staff. I think they should be ashamed of how they treated me, but I very much doubt it.