I talked to a former government employee recently who thought she had “stacked evidence” of disciplinary violations against her from her managers. After talking to this employee, it turns out that her management had set up strategies to scare her as a “whistleblower”. Often times, bully managers will make up “false charges” on an employee to scare them, run them away from their job or discredit them. When you are a conscientious “whistleblower”, you can almost expect retaliation because it exposes the wrong-doer.
Most employees are not HR employees and they don’t know the guidelines, laws, and protocols that support a healthy workplace environment or their rights as an employee. I was smiling on my end of the phone–because everything was handled in a very unprofessional manner from her managers and from an HR perspective–this employee had nothing to worry about in regards to disciplinary action. In fact–she now had my HR advice to support defamation of character on her part and mental/physical harm that has been done to her. It’s nice to “arm” employees and teach them their “rights” so they can stand up to workplace bullying. This employee will be working with an attorney and was feeling more empowered after our session.
So, how do you know how to transmute “false charges”’ against you if you have been bullied in the workplace or you are receiving retaliation because you are a “whistleblower”? Here are three tips:
First, if you know how to research your work’s policies, guidelines, manuals, handbooks etc., start studying them to learn more about your rights. For example, if you work in the Veteran Affairs (VA), you could research the VA’s handbooks and directives by going to http://www.va.gov/vapubs/ or you could research it on the web by looking for information that governs your workplace.
If you work for the Veteran Affairs, you can research disciplinary action for employees. You may find information such as the VA disciplinary table, it falls under VA Handbook 5021/15 and is called “Employee/Management Relations”. Why could this table be important to you? Because it tells you all the disciplinary range of penalties for stated offenses. This is important, because if you have been charged with something that is not on this table, you have knowledge of possibly being falsely charged with an offense.
If you have been falsely charged with an offense that is on this table, you can cite this table and the nature of offense when you work with an attorney, HR expert or another professional. You may be able to use this as proof of bullying or retaliation, especially if you have filed charges against your workplace with the Office of Special Counsel (www.osc.gov) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (www.EEOC.gov).
Second, if you don’t have the time or the energy to do your own research on regulations etc., consider hiring a human resources (HR) professional if you are getting nowhere with your own HR department or there is no HR department where you work. The money you may save by hiring an HR expert could offset the emotional and financial damage of your workplace bullying situation. You can also hire an attorney and I would recommend it if you feel the need to hire a legal expert. Often times, the HR expert will cost less money than an attorney. In addition, they are able to provide an HR technical review of your workplace bullying situation. The HR expert is able to review and analyze the facts and documentation you have in regards to your situation. When I hired my attorney to handle my disability discrimination and retaliation cases, I was able to provide him with great documentation, that ultimately allowed me to settle with the VA and refuse to sign a “gag order” to keep quiet about my story and to help others who deal with workplace bullying.
Third, when you deal with cowardly bullies, they may be desperate to defame you, fire you, or ruin your credibility. It does not matter how strong you think you are—everyone has a breaking point and bullies will do their best to find the weak link in your defenses. It can take a serious toll on your health. It’s important to find avenues of relaxation that resonate with you. You need to focus on everything that is good in your life. When your mind wanders on any negativity, be sure to bring it back to “neutral” or a more positive thought. Our thoughts form our belief system. You are worthy of claiming your “personal power” and having a healthy work environment.
In 2016, I will be traveling across the U.S. and speaking about workplace bullying and empowerment in the workplace. If your organization would like to hire me for speaking, be sure to check out: http://dawnmariewestmoreland.com/speaking