Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Let’s Talk with Kalola: Exploiting Exempt Status

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Seek advice for your dilemma. Write to Kalola.

Dear Kalola:

I have been an executive assistant for a very demanding owner of a fast paced business. I wear different hats, from scheduler, recruiter, travel coordinator, IT supervisor, and personal assistant to punching bag. I’ve supported this person for twelve years, the company is small. FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and other state statutes protecting employees do not apply to them.

I am salaried, work over 12 to 20 hours of unpaid overtime a week, which I’m told is part of my position. In all these years, I have been rewarded with two comp days. If I have to attend a doctor’s appointment, I am required to make up the time or use 1/2 day of my vacation time.

I have explained to my boss that exempt means exempt from overtime, but she classifies me as an exempt administrative employee. I try to give her information from the Department of Labor but she tells me she doesn’t need my input.

She micro-manages everything I do, and makes all the decisions. I use to supervise the file clerks, and receptionist but she eliminated those positions and I also fill in for those positions. I work 24/7 having to respond to email and emergencies on my vacation days. I get texts at 6:30 am asking to change flights and that they be in first class.

You ask why I have stayed so long? My age, my illness, my health has deteriorated due to the stress, I’m trying to get my daughter (I’m a single parent) her father passed away and I just need to get her to college. My employer knows my limitations so she feels she can insult me, humiliate me, do as she pleases and I am not going to leave. I know she is forcing me into quitting so that I don’t collect unemployment etc., which would be nothing.

My situation is comparable to domestic abuse, as she is getting too comfortable and has gone as far as grabbed with force files out of my hands, shoved back a file folder as I tried to place on her desk, which was for her own benefit, not mine.

There is no HR department, she owns and micro manages everything. I know she has disqualified me so many times from an exempt to a non-exempt employee, but I know if I seek help from the labor department, she will fire me. She will hire the best of attorneys money can buy, I’ve witnessed it before.

So many administrative assistants, executive assistants are abused each day. It doesn’t have to be physical abuse but the mental anguish these bosses put their assistants through is deplorable. I can go on and on, because there are so many instances, working 24 hours without a break or sleep, being yelled at for going home to take a shower and coming back. Exempt employees should not have to work 60-hour weeks and still be
treated poorly. This category is used to abuse employees into working without being compensated.

I am currently scheduling an appointment with a therapist because sometimes I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.

Abused and Exploited Exempt Employee



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Curry For Leaders: How HR Can and Should Handle Bullies

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Workplace Bullying for Leaders

How HR Can and Should Handle Bullies
By Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR

It’s easy to say HR should handle bully managers. In reality it’s not so simple.

As bullying isn’t illegal, HR’s hands are often tied unless there’s a documentable offense, particularly if the alleged bully is talented, productive and highly regarded by senior management or the industry.

At the same time, while bullying isn’t illegal, bullies expose their organizations to potential legal liability. Those who bully become so accustomed to getting their way through insults or pressure that they often don’t realize they don’t rule the world outside their workplace. When they harass or insult those in legally protected categories, such as someone of a different sex or race, or retaliate against employees who challenge them on safety issues or other legally protected grounds, they may drag their organization into a lawsuit or in front of a regulatory agency. Then, the bully’s claim that “it doesn’t matter that I called her a b—- because I call all men a——-s” or “I didn’t give him a hard time about the safety issue, I treat everyone that way” falls apart.

HR professionals are in in an ideal place to convince upper management to take action when they see a workplace bully edging their company toward these potential pitfalls. They can let their senior management know about the $270,000 Dish Network paid out to a victimized employee fired after he reported abusive behavior by his boss. The jury ruled in favor of the employee when he proved his supervisor verbally and physically abused him and the company didn’t listen to his complaints. The jury further ruled that Dish management failed to protect this or other employees from the supervisor’s abuse.

HR can let senior managers know about the two million dollars Microsoft paid out because they allowed bully managers and supervisors to create a hostile environment for a salesperson by undermining his work, making false accusations against him, blocking him from promotions, and otherwise marginalizing him. Judge Sulak ruled that the tech giant was guilty of “acting with malice and reckless indifference.”

HR often feels hamstrung by the fact that many of the employees who come to them voicing concerns about bullies expect and need confidentiality – even for the fact that they’ve visited HR. Luckily, HR has alternatives that work. They can provide a confidential avenue for employees to voice their concerns by instituting an employee survey or 360-degree review on the bully.


Lynne Curry is author of Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, Jan. 2016) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.


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Essence: How to handle an office bully

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

How to Handle An Office Bully

By Arlene Dawson, Essence Magazine, June 2015

When brainy go-getter Nicole*, 28, accepted a position at a trendy beauty start-up in New York City, she thought it was her dream job. “The company promoted itself as being progressive,” says Nicole. But her work situation devolved quickly and became more Mean Girls than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Early on, when Nicole wasn’t dancing at a company party, a White coworker said to her, “You’re Black. We hired you because you could dance.” Other colleagues laughed. “I always thought that if this type of thing happened I would come back with a response, but I went to the bathroom and cried,” Nicole recalls. “I had never experienced those types of comments—racism—so blatantly in a work setting before.”

Nicole reported the incident to her immediate boss and her complaint got laddered up to the CEO. Although her superiors feigned remorse, she says, “That was the beginning of the end for me in the company.” The bully got promoted, found out Nicole “told on her” and escalated the bullying. During staff meetings, Nicole says her ideas were met with coldness; the bully rallied other coworkers not to associate with her; and more negative remarks—this time about Nicole’s naturally curly hair and clothing—ensued.

Even management turned sour, setting her up for failure by assigning impossible, vague projects. And despite Nicole’s management of million-dollar accounts, she recalls work review meetings being filled with nitpicky, unfounded accusations. “They were systematically trying to push me out without actually firing me,” says Nicole.



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Advice for bullied targets from a veteran of being bullied

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

I’ve endured a nasty work environment for a very long time. It’s been hard and opened my eyes to the reality that way too many people are walking around with sore egos underneath fake smiles. The self talk going on has got to be self-pitying to an extreme in order for these sick minds to rationalize away their behavior. Be sure there’s a lot of deeply angry insecure people wearing “look normal” masks out there. And when these miserable characters find each other, their conduct turns manic. Like a perfect storm of lunacy. They lose perspective even more, become further delusional, and wage career wars against do-gooder law-abiding ethical people. Nevermind that there are pedophiles, terrorists, and murderers walking the planet. Nope. Not important. Their priority is taking out those who probably deserve a thank you.

At the end of the day, if you’re going to make it through something like this with self-esteem intact (job or no job afterward), you HAVE TO remember the truths about yourself that the sore egos would like you and anyone else to forget. You have to remind yourself everyday who you in fact are and the principles that you stand for. Your self-talk needs to be more profound and more frequent than the magnitude of the vileness and obstacles they’ll keep trying to put in your way.

Resist the urge to concern yourself about what others will perceive regarding you or your reputation. You can’t control people. I have found that folks think what they want to think and I’m certain this goes beyond my experiences and is probably just a universal truth. If someone wants to think less of you because it makes them feel better, they will. And they are going to. ANY old excuse, true or false, will do. Proof is absolutely not required. And if someone is self-content, he or she is not going to waste time or thought to joining the smear campaign. Yes there can definitely be negative consequences that result from damage to your reputation, but at the end of the day, oddly, your reputation really has little to do with you and much much more to do with others’ subjective and often fallible interpretation.

There is no easy way through something like this. You already know how sympathetic employers aren’t to this and so you’ll likely be the only one in your corner AND be outnumbered. So remembering who you are in the midst of evil people, knowing what is right, and acknowledging what are truths are all the “support” you’re going to receive. And you’re going to need all you can get. And know through and through that you’re not the only person out there this is happening to. There are many people enduring this at the very same moment you are.

— Jen


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Let’s Talk with Kalola: Canadian Health Care Worker

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Dear Kalola,

I was in health care, The interview went great, but the question I was asked which threw me for a loop was “How do you handle aggressive coworkers?” I had never been asked that before and so I answered as such. I did notice when I shook hands at the end one interviewer has a confident shake and the other had a limp shake as though she was very passive, I didn’t think much of this, just thought it was weird. And my gut turned it was saying “I don’t really want to work here something is off” I got a call and was hired, and since I had not heard back from another place I had wanted I accepted – though if I had waited I would have received the phone call of acceptance 2 days after starting at this place.

Turns out the people who interviewed me were not going to be my boss. Another weird thing I had never encountered before was my new boss asked me to remove my degree from my wall frame and bring it in so he could verify that I had indeed graduated from an approved college. I said of course I had, that is why I have a license to practice. He said he is in charge and that is what policy states. So I asked my parents to FedEx my diploma from another province and dismantled my diploma and brought it in. It was returned to me with a coffee ring on it. I thought that was rude and said so. He smiled at me and said in a mocking tone “I don’t really care.”

Later on there was a discussion where medical professionals were bashing aboriginals and I spoke up after my boss said “Thank god we don’t hire them.” I found this extremely judgmental and I spoke up and said “Wow, I must have slipped by your radar” and I looked at the other medical professional and said “I am one.” My boss shrank a little bit. That is when it all went down hill. He would stand over me and try and intimidate me with his body language. He assigned me to clean the chairs (I’m a medical professional…), he assigned me to order gifts for a pharmacy rep he liked, he assigned me to janitorial duties. I kept jumping through his hoops. One day in the hallway he sneered at me “You think you are so good, well just remember this, I can have you replaced like this *snaps fingers in a gun finger pointed fashion at me*” I said I understand that, I tried to be humorous with him and I said “You remind me of the boss of office space”. There was a scholarship for a program I was in and another worker and he leaned in near me and said the coworkers name and he kept glancing at me as though wanting me to ask him questions but I didn’t then he said “Well too bad you won’t be able to apply, because you need MY approval” I said “Don’t worry, I know how to work hard to get my education”. Later he said “You have been reported using your cell phone today on the floor.” I said “How is that possible? I leave my cell in the car, go look right now.” He didn’t like that I caught him in a lie. Then he said “Also your documentation is a mess, I have it all here.” I said “How can it be?” He looked at me with a smile and took out a red pen and scratched through all my charting, I was shocked that someone so childish like this was my boss. He told me he couldn’t have me working anymore, and at this point I said “Listen – clearly you don’t like me, you know as well as I know that I haven’t done anything wrong, if you are looking for reasons to fire me, just tell me to quit, don’t resort to bullying.” His eyes looked like he wanted to kill me. Right there I saw the look that he wanted to kill me. After this I brought my cell and put it on record every time I was interacting with him and was able to document a lot of the abuse.

The last shift I worked, after having handed in my tools for the job as requested by my boss… I was injured, bleeding and tissue damage. He never filled out a worker injury and compensation form for me. I called HR and was told they are well aware of his abuse but unfortunately cannot do anything, I asked why, and they said they can’t explain. I came back in from break (calling a few people like a lawyer, a police officer, workplace harassment team, ceo of the organization, HR, past employer, a health professions licensing board) and coming up with solutions as I knew I didn’t think I could handle anymore verbal or psychological abuse as well as preventable injuries on the job without saying good bye to my sanity) and decided to give notice of resignation upon further verbal abuse, which I recorded… and was witnessed by coworkers).

I quit when he proceeded to berate me in front of a coworker on the spot I said “I am going home sick, I’m not feeling well” he said “Oh, do you think you will feel well tomorrow?” I said “Sick enough to hand in my resignation letter at noon”, he told me I couldn’t do that, he owns me for 8 hours a day, I said “No one owns me if they can’t treat me like a human being” Then I listed the employment law act for the province that stated my rights to resign and told him to look it up, then I said next look up criminal harassment. He got the hint and told everyone to go back to work. I said thank you to my team for the privilege of working with honest human beings and said if they ever need help or a witness they know how to contact me. I was able to get written affidavits of the abuse I endured and have them ready with a retained lawyer if in the event he should ever harass me in the future. I have wrote a few for other employees. Never in my life have I experienced that level of abuse with any other human being in my life.

For a year I had nightmares and panic attacks again, all new for me and sought therapy. My allies (co-workers), they too were on the receiving end of some serious petty “one-against-the-other” mind messing but we made a pact and realized he was trying to keep everyone confused and fearful in order to have quick obedience. I think the scarier thing was they had an organization in to address the workplace bullying within the first month I was there, and yet nothing changed, further these were people who people went to get therapy from. The boss hoodwinked the bullying organization.


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Let’s Talk with Kalola: Blacklisted

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Dear Kalola,

I was bullied by my supervisor for nine and a half years. I complained to the administrator . Wrote letters. documented the abuse. I tried everything to keep my job as work is difficult to find in my state in my field. She refused to help me advance. She cut my work load and then wrote me up for not completing the work required for my job even though. She threatened me , ridiculed me in front of co workers, took me off of cases that were going well. Called me names did not give me credit for work I did. She fired me . It has been a year and I am still trying to gain back my confidence. I won at the unemployment hearing, but the unemployment office states Susan blackballed me. Thank you fore offering a place to tell my story. I am still angry but trying to move on.I found a part time job with experienced works, I am sewing bags to sell and spending time with my family . I am thankful I do not have to work with her anymore.



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Let’s Talk with Kalola: Executive Assistant

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Let’s Talk with Kalola, where targets can share their experiences with WBI’s blog readers. Here we go!


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Help DVD for targets of workplace bullying from WBI

Friday, November 18th, 2011

The WBI Help DVD WBI proudly announces its first-ever advice DVD made specifically for bullied individuals and their families featuring our staff. The 90 min. DVD package includes a disc of audio files for uploading to any device. The release date is Dec. 1 — in time for holiday giving.

Order between Nov. 21 and 30, receive a $5 discount ($34.95). See the product description at this site.


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New YouTube Videos Posted

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

We’ve uploaded four new videos on YouTube.

Check out Dr. Gary Namie in a variety of media appearances on the Workplace Bullying Institute’s YouTube Channel

Our YouTube videos provide education on the phenomenon of Workplace Bullying, guidance for targets of bullying, and suggestions for employers to create safe, healthy working environments.


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Posted in Events & Appearances, Media About Bullying, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI in the News | 4 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »

Podcast 5: Beware of Bad Advice

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Podcast 5:

Beware of Bad Advice

Bullying Tutorials

Advice from traditional, HR-promoting, sources such as media types and motivational speakers who make bullied targets responsible for their fate can be harmful. Here are some warning signs.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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