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Grievance against bully and also management. Advice appreciated, Thanks in advance

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sallybb | 09:04 Fri 09th Mar 2012 | Law
30 Answers
I had a good friend on the telephone last night in tears, her daughter Jane is being bullied at work.This has been going on for the best part of two years. Some how for most of the time she has managed to cope and with the support of few good friends where she works has kept her chin up. The person that is her main bully is her supervisor, lies have been spread about Jane and there has been other lesser incidents with other employees.She has made the manager aware on several occasions verbally of the the bullying but never in writing. She has been told by the manager to shrug it of, rise above, laugh it off. Other times her manager has said that the bully is stressed and vulnerable. Or even its just her way, ignore it, don't take it personally
A few weeks ago everything came to a head. Due to a training course ,Jane is being forced to worked more closely with the bully. (This training course will eventually make her above the bully). On occasions the bully has been uncooperative and un-agreeable generally making things difficult. Again this was pointed out to management and eventually the bully worked along side in relative harmony, light at the end of the tunnel shall we say.
They worked on a training schedule, in order to train other employees. Then on the agreed date, they set about training the other staff, at first all went well, then the bully changed the agreed schedule and things got out of control. My friends daughter pointed out that they needed to to get things back on track. To which the bully threw a wobbly, hurling abuse and then leaving the session. The deputy manager went after her spoke to her and returned to the session and told Jane that she needed to go and speak to the bully and sort things out. On attempting to speak , more abuse was directed at Jane. Unfortunately instead of walking away from the situation, she finally stuck up for herself. Unfortunately there were no witnesses.Then her second mistake, she went to the deputy manager in angry mood she tackled her about putting her in a situation with the bully, when she was aware , there was an ongoing problem. Jane shortly after apologised for speaking out order. She has since been told she should have had a disciplinary over it.
The bully also spoke to management and turned things around by lying and they wont believe Jane versions side of the story and as always Management stuck up for the bully.
After this event Jane was signed of with Stress and after over three weeks illness returned to work( approx. two weeks ago.)
While Jane was ill,a volunteer sent ( the place of work is a charity) a complaint to Head Office,with concerns about the bully and how unhappy many of the staff were. It turns out that the volunteer and several others had been at the receiving end of the bully's tongue.
This started a investigation by the area manager, and all staff were interviewed, they were told confidence . So they were very open with their answers.
Jane was informed by one or two friends they had been interviewed, at first she was relieved, then she was filled with dread that she would be blamed for the volunteers actions. As she felt she could no longer approach management
she wrote to the area manager a very lengthy letter, explaining the reasons why she was ill and also pointed out that she felt she could no longer approach her Manager ..
Since her return to work, management have been very off with her and snappy.Yesterday the area manager, along with her manager had her in the office, basically, they believe that there has been a conspiracy to discredit the bully, and that the letter and interviewed employees claims are unfounded. The bully has now put in a formal complaint against Jane, stating that it she has been bullied by Jane, Jane feels that management will support the bully.
Four others employees have now been threatened with disciplinary and invited to leave. Jane is now considering Grievance against Bully and also the Manager.
Advice please

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She should ask for a meeting with HR herself then and take somebody with her. HR isn't just there for management it's there for everyone.
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Have checked the ACAS site, and noticed telephone lines open until 8pm tonight. Hopefully she will the strength to phone without breaking down again.
It is possible that the bully is not aware she is a bully, it may be an unfortunate attitude she is displaying, she does seem to be able to work in an acceptable way on occasions, but why should Jane have her working life ruined by the behaviour of others? As said earlier Jane’s employers have a duty of care towards her and are responsible for the actions of their employees, Jane has been with this employer for a minimum of two years so has a remedy in taking the matter to an employment tribunal having followed the correct procedure.

The first step I would suggest is to speak to HR, then raise a grievance over the actions of the bully reminding her employers that they have a duty of care to protect her from the behaviour of the bully, it now having been brought to their attention. She should try not to get upset and put herself in the wrong, easy to say, not always so easy to do. If she is a member of a trade union get them involved, but do not leave, her employment, this will not help anyone.
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Tony, Over the past two years my friend has relayed her daughters experiences of this person. She has all the signs of a bully, getting management on her side, lying herself out of a situation and getting them believing her, Stopping people using their initiative and then using their ideas for her own benefit. Shouting at people , when they ask advice. Turning others against people , particularly if it is apparent someone has more intelligence'.Janes letter to her Area manager was not an official complaint, but it appears that it has been treated as one. Her complaints to her manager were only informal, in the hope that it could have been sorted in a informal way. It has never been her intention to get this bully the sack, but she wanted management to sort it. She really should have made a formal complaint. but now she's been treated as the bully. She says she will start a grievance procedure possibly two. One against the bully and one against management not protecting her. She is convinced because the bully is such a accomplished liar, it will be her (Jane) out of the door. She was so shell shocked in yesterdays meeting that she couldn't, make any comments. She is really down and exhausted by it all, don't think she has the fight in her. She have gone from a lovely vibrant, confident girl, with lots of enthusiasm, to a wreck.
I can feel for her, she should follow the HR and grievance procedure route, it may be hard but remember if Jane were to resign the bully will still be in a position to wreck other peoples working lives, she will be helping others by correcting the position now if she has the strength.
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Tony many thanks for your advice, if she starts a grievance procedure and leaves because things are too much, will HR still continue the procedure. Or will it be dropped ?She has been actively looking for employment since she was signed of for stress. Unfortunately, she was told yesterday that the external interviewer, comes next week, is it to late for her to start a formal procedure against the bully, who has already started a procedure against Jane. Jane is highly vulnerable, just getting herself too work is like climbing a mountain. Jane feels her manager would like her to leave, she is probably aware that Jane has a the right to have a grievance against her for not following the bullying code and giving her the correct support. This girl that Jane is up against is a very convincing liar and if the external interviewer decides Jane is the bully and she gets the sack , she will find it very difficult to find another job. Several other members of staff have been looking for other employment, some of them were invited to hand in their notice yesterday.
being invited to hand their notices in, sounds really really strange. somethign odd is going on!
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Mcfluffe, probably something to do with the answers they gave in their so called confident interviews. Which I have no idea what off. Just find it wrong that a non employee put in a complaint and then they interview everyone , decide they didn't like the answers and come up with the attitude that's there a conspiracy . There must have been some consistency in their answers that wasn't liked.
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Probably protecting the management, who look like they are very much to blame for the situation.
If Jane starts a grievance procedure then resigns before it is heard it will probably be dropped, they may require her to work her notice, which may be difficult for her. If Jane resigns she may find difficulties in claiming Jobseekers allowance as she has made herself unemployed, though there are health arguments against this, alternatively it is often easier to find another job when you are working. Only Jane can decide what she can do, her health is, of course, a major consideration and if staying will affect her health the decision is made.

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