October 30th, 2013

Let’s Talk with Kalola: Blacklisted

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.


Dear Teresa,

Thank you for taking the time to share some of the details of what happened to you at work, and where you are a year later.

Job loss can bring a wide range of emotions from shock, denial, anger, sadness, and worry about the future.   You worked for the employer for nearly 10 years.  The bully was your work supervisor, and received support from the Administrator who may have hired her.  What happened to you was morally unjust.  You have every right to be angry, however, I don't want you to be still angry another year from now.  Holding on to anger for too long is not good for your health and well being.   It will prevent you from fully moving on with your life and can steal future happiness away from you.  Turn the energy you have into something positive that will inspire you.  Focus on today and your future.

Know that you did everything within your power to try to save your job.  You documented what happened to you.  You wrote letters to management, and went up the ladder to complain.  Under the circumstances that you had to deal with, you did the best that you could under the circumstances that presented itself.   The documentation that you kept helped you when you applied for unemployment insurance benefits.  Imagine the fit the bully must have had when she learned that you were successful in obtaining unemployment compensation.

Don't let that one bully shake your faith in yourself.   You have found the wherewithal to move forward with your life at your own pace.  You have found a way with the skills that you have to generate some income.


Despite the outcome, as you say, it is a relief not to have to go into work and be bullied by the work supervisor. No one should have to put up with that kind of abuse day after day in order to make a living.  When you are ready, I hope that you can let go of the anger.  The bully in your past and is not worth your time now.  Our lives are much too short, and our time here so precious.

The Employment Department shared with you that your supervisor was blackballing or blacklisting you.   The  bully may attempt to have you excluded or barred from future employment and/or benefits.  She is going beyond ethical boundaries by attempting to harm you beyond the workplace where you worked together.

NOLO Law for All has a list of states that have blacklisting laws where the employer action is prohibited if it is intended to prevent a former employee from obtaining employment.


How can the supervisor blacklist or blackball a worker?  When employers check a job applicant's work references, the supervisor and/or employer might give a bad work reference.  It is not illegal to give a bad work reference as long as the information given is truthful.   A prospective employer, when checking job references, will often ask the former employer or supervisor the question:  "If you had an opportunity to hire this worker, again, would you?

To counter an anticipated bad work reference, a worker can provide references from former work supervisors that are already in writing.  A worker can ask for a letter of recommendation from former work supervisors and others, and pre-screen which work references or character references to use.  A reference-checking service can also determine if the former employer or work supervisor is giving you a bad work reference for a fee (WBI often refers to Alison & Taylor).


How social media can hurt you.  Be careful what you post on your social media web pages as well as what you say on other easily accessible social media websites.  Do an internet search on your own name using various search engines.   Do not give out your personal passwords to any employer, headhunter, or to anyone for that matter.  Employers, headhunters, employment agencies often will do a web search on a prospective applicant on the internet.  What a worker says on a social media website about their employer or former employer can have far reaching effects that can affect future job prospects and can surface on a simple internet search.  And, it doesn't have to be statements about an employer, it can be a judgment about lifestyle, the organizations that you belong to, etc.

Applying for jobs and not receiving any responses? It may feel like a worker might be blacklisted when they receive no responses to job applications. Mid-to-large employers are using applicant tracking systems to evaluate which job applicants will be best suited for the job opening based on the applicant's résumé.  Review each job description carefully.  Applicant tracking systems look for key words or phrases that are listed in the job description.  If the applicant tracking system doesn't see those key words or phrases listed in the résumé that job applicant will be overlooked as not a good match for the job.  Do take the time to individualize your résumé for the particular job.  Also, take the time to research the employer before making an application or going for a job interview.  Note: Too many job applications made on the same job sites can also get you blacklisted on those web sites.  If you are applying online for jobs, it is not the quantity or the number of applications that is important .  What is important is the quality and effort that you put into each job application and resume that you send out.

Employers will look negatively at employment gaps of more than six months.  That gap can be filled by doing part-time or temporary work.  Volunteer work opportunities abound.  Ongoing volunteer work can be listed on a résumé which will help to fill gaps in employment.  Examples:  working as a volunteer teacher's assistant, or at a library, a food bank, or the American Red Cross or at your local hospital, or for a cause that has meaning to you such as the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill campaign.

Employers can also be blacklisted by workers.  An example:  A very well-liked, mid-level manager was bullied out of his job.  The man also belonged to a state-wide organization in his field of work as well as other organizations.  Word got out state-wide about what happened.  The position was eventually filled, but several people who took the job in between came and went quickly.  Employers who harbor and protect bullies should take notice.   Keeping a bully hurts the business as well as the employer's reputation.

Workers in the San Francisco Bay Area are banding together and fighting back.  They are mad as hell and they aren't going to take it any more.  Bullies in that area of the country had better be careful who they bully as there is a group of workers who are willing to work hard to expose them.  It helps to videotape the protest rallies and get the media involved.  These brave and valiant workers are making waves.

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life:  it goes on."  ... Robert Frost

"When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."  ... Alexander Graham Bell





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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 at 12:20 pm and is filed under Let's Talk with Kalola. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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