They suggested that I had ‘personality issues’ and I should use my maternity leave to address them

When I first came back from maternity leave the heads of department told me they’d changed the teams around and hadn’t decided who I’d be reporting to. Three months later I still had no team or manager, and when I asked about it I was fobbed off. Instead of the level of projects I was used to, I was getting bits and bobs, covering for people on holiday and so on. While the work was below my experience level, the load was excessive, so I was being given task upon task without adequate time to finish it, which led me to take work home at weekends (I was being paid for four days). This went on for some time, along with other bits of power play and nonsense that made life stressful, which are too complicated to write in full here. At length, I found I was pregnant again and without warning I was moved from my office to one on the fringe of the department. The workload and isolation continued to get worse and eventually I went to HR. They weren’t very sympathetic but suggested I ask for an appraisal to set some development goals, which I did. At first my bosses refused, then said I could have an appraisal the week before my second mat leave. Instead of getting feedback from my close colleagues, my bosses insisted on choosing their own sources of feedback, some of whom were people I’d barely worked with. The result was a two-hour meeting where they explained that although I fulfilled the company ‘brand qualities’, I actually fulfilled them too much, which made me bad at every aspect of my job, as well as unpopular with my peers. I asked them for specifics, which they either fudged or, when a (dubious) example was given and I calmly countered it, they were dismissive and changed tack to something else. Their examples were things like missing team drinks (‘lack of commitment’), two days after I’d been on a drip in hospital for dehydration. When I asked if I’d had any good feedback, they said I had but it didn’t count because it was from my ‘friends’. This went on for two hours. At the end they suggested that I had ‘personality issues’ and I should use my maternity leave to address them, or when I came back they’d have to take further steps. I went back to my desk, pondered my options, then, leaving the appraisal document unsigned, walked out of the office never to return. I’ve since found out that mine was not an isolated case in that company.

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