Extreme Loss of Job Moral - what to do

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Extreme Loss of Job Moral - what to do

The mods can move this wherever this fits.

I'm sure a lot of us have been working for bosses who easily and with callousness attempt to and do foster extremely low morale in the workplace, by either threats of job loss, or threats of various types all aimed to make us feel insecure.

How do people handle this and what is the best way to get over this?

I just started a new job. It is a job I have never done before. I was chosen because of my 
familiarity with the client base and my background. I arrived at the job, no training was given to me and this is a very complex job. New software to learn, new culture to get accepted into, new everything. Last month I was told I was doing a great job.

Just before I went away this weekend my boss tells me I have to shape up in regards to doing my job or I would be fired. Of course that wasn't said directly but that was clearly what they meant.

So, here I am at a new job, and I have never received training on the most crucial aspect of it. On top of that, I was directly blamed for the lack of client happiness, which was a complete falsity as that had to do with the fact they didn't have nearly enough people to even remotely satisfy the existing client base.

So I am sitting here, on a Sunday, completely demoralized, knowing that I can be fired at any time for something that wasn't my fault, not knowing which benchmarks I am being assessed on and not given anything at all in terms of tools I need to be a success at this job.

This job pays well, and I am terrified of having to look again. I can't afford to be without a job. How can this company expect me to "perform" for them when they have effectively completely made me lose all morale? How am I supposed to handle this situation? They seem to think that no training = too bad - do the job anyways.

On top of that they expect me to be the person who did this job prior to me. She worked long hours and had no family life. I have just started, had no training no guidance (real concrete guidance) and they expect me to be her.


Any advice is appreciated.


Let me start with hugs, Stargazer. *hugs* Yes, I've known situations like this; I'll bet that most of us have.

A question: is there just one person (ie, the boss) who is undermining you? You say that you were told recently that you were doing a great job -- by the boss, or by someone else? Is the boss the problem?

I've seen someone deal very well with a situation like this by getting a letter carefully written by a lawyer who knows all the facts -- lawyer wrote the letter as though my friend was writing it and so that she could sign it, but it was a very effective document. The thing is, I think you mainly do that when you can tell you're about to be fired unfairly and you want the unfair boss to know that it's gonna cost 'im. You might not be at that stage yet.

Still, if you can afford it, it's not a bad idea to have a chat with a lawyer who does this kind of work. Wish I could recommend someone.


Wow, Stargazer, so sorry to hear about this. Working in a unionized environment all one's life, you tend to forget how arbitrary and unfair and (usually) without recourse the real world is.

I am really reluctant to give you any advice, not just because facts and personalities and office dynamics are crucial and hard to gauge from outside, but mainly because if you can't "just walk away" (and you obviously don't want to if you don't have to), it limits your options a lot.

I'd like to hear the answer to skdadl's question, and depending on that, her approach may be valuable. But if in fact this manager is key to the ongoing job, and if in fact they're looking for a clone of someone that you don't want to be... I dunno.

Our eldest daughter is just on the verge of either quitting or being "constructively dismissed" (by being assigned way too few shifts per week) in a just-above-minimum-wage food service job. She loves the job, her customers love her, but she has a very mean-minded defensive manager who has taken a dislike to her for lord knows what reason. Before quitting, though, she went out and did some interviews in her (too) ample spare time, and has found an alternative that really seems good for her. Now she's thinking about giving notice and writing a letter to head office, saying how much she loves the job but is being driven out for no reason that has ever been articulated. We don't advise her on such things unless she asks, but I think she's on the right track.

In her case, looking for other jobs, and being able to walk away without much consequence, is easy. Not so in yours, obviously. So I'll stop rambling and add my *hugs* and hope for the best.


Hi Stargazer.

So...this sucks. The first question you have to ask yourself is "Do I want to keep working here if this is the crap that I'm getting?"

If the answer is yes, then you need to get in front of this asap. When you get back to work, book a meeting with your boss. S\he could have been having a bad day so make sure that from their perspective the problem still exists. If it does, ask for written direction and a set of guidelines to work towards over the next four weeks (the Performance Improvement Plan). Show them that you want to meet their expectations, even if they weren't clear to you at first. If your company has a proper HR department, then request that your HR representative be present at the meeting.

When the meeting is over, get in front of his\her response. Email him and thank him for the meeting and tell him how you are looking forward to getting the goals so that you can meet his expectations.

Does this sound like toadying? Yes. It does, and get over it Laughing

The purpose of this is to protect yourself from a wrongful firing if possible, and to hammer a big nail into the company's coffin when (yes WHEN) you sue them for wrongful or constructed dismissal. It won't do you any harm to touch base with a lawyer now if it looks like the termination is going to be inevitable. 




remind remind's picture

Agree, strongly, with heywood's advice.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I'm really sorry to hear this, Stargazer. I don't have any advice to offer, obviously, but I hope it works out for you. Hang in there!

Diogenes Diogenes's picture

Stargazer, I have been there myself - had the most scathing performance review in my life a month after I was written up in the company newsletter for the great work I did on a project.  My boss wasn't trying to foster low morale, but he was a terrible manager who thought very highly of himself, an unfortunate trait of many who become managers.

Maybe your boss just had a really bad day (I'm hoping), but in the event that this is his/her management style, all I can say is start keeping a journal (at home) about the tasks you are asked to do and the time it takes to accomplish them. If they don't oblige with an action plan of their own design, propose one of your own, one that includes some training (which you identified as a problem).  Keep track of your progress in your journal.

You have been there 3 months already and have received some positive reviews.  If you were truly incompetent they should have figured that out by now. Be prepared to work some extra hours now, as they expect, but also tell yourself that you will be paid for every hour that you work, with O/T at O/T rates, because you WILL.

Shop for a lawyer - tell them that you think you may be constructively dismissed, why, what you are doing about it, and ask about what you should do.  A good one will be helpful and prepared to help, but my gawd, it can be hard to find a good one! Many are first class jerks - I'm sure you know this from experience.

And look into preparing a claim in small claims court. The upper limit in Alberta is $25,000 now. If you are sacked and you have worked hard at doing your job (and have it duly recorded) then it's not too hard to get paid for those extra hours that supposedly come with the job. You have every right to be treated with dignity and have a life outside of work.

Last, but not least, don't expect help from the government.  It will take forever to resolve and, in my experience, are much worse than useless. The CanLII website, OTOH, is your friend.

Be proactive. Good luck, and courage SG!

Papal Bull

SG, I *think* I know where you're coming from in all of this. I can certainly say I know the feeling. I know the feeling so well that tomorrow, to celebrate labour day, I'm going in to work to fucking quit.


Fuck the shit heads I work for. A plague of kidney stones upon them.


Respect, PB.  I hope this turns out well for you.

Sorry to hear about your situation, Stargazer.  I have no practical advice for you, and given my history with bosses, any suggestions I'd give would probably cause more harm than anything.  Here's hoping that knowing we're in your corner helps raise your morale.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Good luck to you in this, Stargazer(and I say that as a person who went through a firing years and years ago and a couple of "ultimatum" situations later on), and what I'm about to say to you is crucial to your emotional survival in whatever happens next:

What happens with this job is NOT the ultimate verdict on you as a human being.  If they do let you go(and I hope to Christ and any other spiritual heavy hitters that may be availble to monitor this that they don't) it does not mean that you are a failure. 

The management at this place want you to take this personally-they are trying to demoralize you, so that you will not have the strength to fight back or stand up for yourself.  They want you to walk out, if the worse happens, feeling that its all your fault and that you brought it on yourself.  THAT WILL BE BULLSHIT!  It will not be your fault. 

This is about them...this is about their efforts to create and maintain a fear-based work culture.

You are a wonderful person...a person of strength and dignity...and you do not deserve what they are putting you through.

Know that, and know that a lot of people here care about you and that you deserve to be treated better than this.

You'll need to be your own Che in the next few weeks.  Good luck, companera.


On second thought, Stargazer, you need to sit down with your boss and create a list of performance issues in question. And be careful about the time frames your and your supervisor agree to for those goals to be achieved. If you don't think they are achievable, then you and your employer have unresolved issues. But there should be something in writing when you're being threatened with job loss out of the blue like this. Make signed copies for you and your supervisor. You need to show that you are concerned and prepared to do something about it. If not, then I think your boss will have a stronger case for getting rid of you in one-month's time.

If they do let you go, they have to provide you with a reason. You will arrange for a second follow up meeting in one month to assess whether you have met those performance goals. Don't fold 'em just yet. If you like the job, then fight for it.


I wish you the very best outcome in your present situation Staregazer, and as Unionist aluded to, if you do end up having to leave, join an employer who is unionized next time. And if you don't have to leave, help to organize a union where you are, both for yourself, and others that will follow you in the future.  There is not a much better phone call for  a union office to receive, than a call from a disgruntled worker. who wants the union to help them create decent working conditions for the workers.  Having someone working on the inside is gold for a union in an organizing drive, and you never know, you might get some union perks for try to help organize as well.



edited bad advice. See my next reply to you at post #11, Stargazer.


Stargazer needs something in writing and signed by both her supervisor and her. She needs a performance agreement outlined by her and her supervisor listing performance goals to be met by a specific date. The performance goals need to be specific as well as realistic.

Stargazer and her supervisor need to sign and date the agreement for future reference. At least two signed copies. Repeat monthly if necessary.

If Stargazer's boss won't sign anything, then she should probably try to have someone else witness the supervisor's refusal to play ball.


Continue trying, or at least continue going through the motions which suggest you are attempting to meet the shifting expectations of a dysfunctional workplace, while covertly seeking out another job with whatever spare time you have available.  Obviously there'll be no need to include your current employers as references.  When you have secured employment elsewhere, arrange a meeting with your current supervisor and kindly inform her/him that the company and it's management hasn't met your expectations as an employer of choice, outlining the problems as you see it, and as a result you have decided to part ways with them.  A company which operates in this fashion without regard to dignity and the stress level it places on its employees deserves no loyalty or notice of termination.


Thank you so much everyone. I am so depressed, sad and feeling powerless over this, your words and advice bring something

good out of this - people do care about people. I appreciate all of you.

@skdadl, there are two people above me (it is a small firm) - the GM and the president, who owns the company. The president

is at the office a few hours a day a few days a week, mainly for meetings. The GM runs the place and is there all the time. He is sincerely a Anyways, great person. Very easy to get along with, kind, considerate,sweet and a great boss. The president is also nice but now of course I don't think that is the case. The GM was away on vacation just prior to our meeting and while he was away we were micro managed to such a degree the other manager said he was unhappy and would not stay if this continued. The micro managing is extreme.

I can understand it, because I have worked for these types before, but they do tend to expect far more from you, and the expectations rarely if ever suit the reality, but it is their company and they do what they like. When I just started out I had heard that the company had hired someone to start as an assistant to a former manager. Turns out that the former manager was training his replacement without knowing this! The poor man was fired and replaced by the person he trained. This is where I get even more demoralized- in the meeting I was told that they are hiring someone to "help me". Immediately I thought 'oh this is code for I am training my replacement' which very well may be true. I should also add that during this meeting the GM barely spoke. The president did all the speaking and all the dictating. The GM only said something when I made a joke, which I often do when I am sad or afraid.

The other things that I thought about were that every single person with the exception of myself has had training in my job the former staff doing my job were there for 5 and 6 years respectively). When I was in the meeting I wondered how it was I was expected to perform without any training. And to tell me just before I went on holidays I would be canned in four weeks was just horribly callous and in extremely bad taste and makes me think 'what kind of person does this?'

@unionist - so you can see, this person is not only key - he owns the place.

@heywood - this is exactly what my plan is - when I get back, wait for the GM to return from holidays (and endure the extensive micromanaging) and then have a talk with the GM. let him know that I cannot be successful if the goal posts keep shifting. In the meeting the president told me he would draft up clear things I was to do. This is fine for me, and would help. But here is where it gets complicated - what the GM prioritizes and expects is not the same as what the president expects. I have been told from one that a and b are priorities and told from another that d and c are priorities. The GM clearly knows far more about how things work in reality, while the president knows how he wants things to work but which don't necessarily support reality of the job. There is no HR dept. and no real recourse. The president is a lawyer so clearly the contract I signed is going to be iron clad. That is fine with me, I signed it in good faith, expecting to be treated fairly.


Anyways, I am going to talk to him and ask him what he thinks of my job performance. I work late often and am always a half hour early every day. I am a dedicated and good employee. loyal and hard working. I do not spend time on the Internet. I have far too much to do. This is why I do not understand and why I really recent the expectation that I be just like the former person who did this job. I have a life and I am NOT willing to give a job all most all of it.

@diogenes - I was thinking maybe a bad day as well but no, he is not a stupid man, and the fact he decided to do this to me on the day before my holidays suggest real callousness and a complete disregard of an employees morale. In regards to training - that is never going to happen. I will be expected to pick things up in 4 - 6 weeks or be fired. Period.

Meanwhile I will always be worried that the new person I have working for me is being trained to do my job. At no time during that meeting was it said " we know you have a ton of work to do and hiring someone will help you get things done". It was more like, 'we are hiring someone to help you and we'll see how this goes for US". The way it was said was more of an implied threat than an actual helpful thing. |Maybe I am wrong but given how this was done and the personality of the president - seems logical to me that this is about them and not about helping me. I hope I am wrong.

@PB - amen brother and good luck to you! I admire the courage that takes.

I am older, and despite the fact I have a masters degree - it means nothing. My job skills are very very specific to one industry. My education is not going to help me and it took me two years to find this job. I can't quit because I will have no where to go, no money and will eventually end of in a massive downward spiral. Lose my job, lose my place to live, lose my savings, lose my self-esteem. I am scared of having to start over again, after I was just in a recently bad job situation which ended up in a long legal battle. I am unwilling to ever do that again.

@Ken Burch - the thought that the president was doing this to me on purpose crossed my mind. Simply because there is another employee there who has been screwing up for months and nothing happens to him - ever. While me, who has just started and was told I was doing great - I get threatened with losing my job. I know logically this is not about me personally but it is so hard to take it like that. I am a good person. Now what I am expected to do is be mean to the other people (or more assertive) but I am not that person. Looks like I will have to be.

I have no problem taking direction and trying to get things done. None, but it gets even more complicated when I am in charge of one thing and essentially that means the other manager's direct employees. I am expected to manage (but not really manage) an entire group of people who do not report to me. They report to someone else. When I return I will need to ask for clear boundaries between the other manager and me, and clear benchmarks which are realistic. I suspect the benchmarks will mean I have to work double what I do now because the two bosses have different priorities for me. I have no idea how I am even supposed to be happy in the job now (which prior to this I loved). Knowing that I can and will be fired at any time without clear justification. The president just really made me despise the place and feel like I am useless and incompetent.

@slumberjack - I am going to come right out and ask the GM if I should be looking for another job, and ask the GM how I am expected to perform well given the blow to my morale and my now lack of confidence in this job.

Sorry for the long reply. I am stuck right now and so emotionally hurt by this. I really cannot understand this sudden shift and why now. I hope this micromanaging will stop and things return to normal. I am hoping that I will gain enough confidence that \i will succeed. But given the way I was approached I am not counting on it.


Signed - a completely demoralized worker.





writer writer's picture

Stargazer, I am so sorry you are going through this. From what I'm reading, you are responding in a very constructive, professional and positive way. Given the circumstance, this is nothing short of astonishing.

You rock.


Hi Stargazer, I agree. It sounds like you have the right approach. I was just going to say that I would actually ask first to have a conversation with the boss who gave me this bad nut to begin with. I would tell him about my reaction to his comments and would make my best effort to genuinely seek information, along the lines of:

"I was very concerned in receiving that feedback from you last week, especially since I was under the impression, having been told only a month ago, by so and so, that I had been doing a great job. I really like this job, and this company...etc... and it would help me to know exactly in what ways you seek improvement from me."

If he or she can tell you exactly where you need improvement and it jibes with reality (whether fair or unfair), then you know where you stand and can figure out the next step. If they can't come up with any real specifics, then you know it's probably something else that's causing them to do this.

I totally agree with your comments about his management approach with respect to morale, and can't help but think this may be how they get rid of people. Cut you down then watch your performance slip, then they have a reason to let you go. I was wondering also if there is some resentment that you are not living, breathing and eating the job. This manager must have known the effect his comments would have on you and especially on your ability to enjoy your upcoming time off.

writer writer's picture

(What about a small notebook to keep a record of your tasks / hours? One you could take home with you? Ask for a weekly meeting to review upcoming needs and review the past week? Set weekly goals, priorities, with sign-off by the manager? Show that you are serious. And, if you can, show that they can't get to you in a sneaky, manipulative way. YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO THIS JOB. You are now training *them* to be good managers.)

Papal Bull

SG, this don't come as much comfort I'd imagine, but if I could help, I'd have your back in a second!


It sounds personal Stargazer.  Which is really unfortunate as in a small workplace that's one of the toughest situation to manage.

Honestly, I think you need to start looking for a new job pronto.  If you are wrongfully terminated, your best bet is to get them to agree to a reasonable severance.  You may well need a lawyer for that, but you will want to avoid actually suing when the term of employment has been so brief - the damages are unlikely to be worth the legal fees.  Of course you may find a lawyer willing to do more work for a fee that would make pursuing this further a net benefit, but that's likely a long shot. 

Maysie Maysie's picture

I didn't see this thread until just now.

Damn it Stargazer. Fuck. I'm really sorry about this bullshit that you've been putting up with.

Before your update from today I assumed it was a issue of confusion of roles and responsibilities, and the lack of clarity from the GE and the owner's perspectives. I deal with these issues all the time in my consulting work and had mentally prepared a post to share with you, and it looks like you were already proactive about that.

But your update changes things.

So, a few suggestions.

First, you've given a lot of detail. Not to be paranoid, and I know you use a pseudonym here on babble, but please re-read your posts for any possibly identifying information, and I suggest you make edits if you feel you might be at risk in any way. Even if you leave/are fired. I know you can't edit the OP, so if you choose to, just PM me or Catchfire and we can make any edits you like.

Second, re. the job. Stargazer, get the hell out. For the sake of your stress level, comfort, mental health and basic enjoyment of your work. Please. That's a poisoned work environment. You have no idea what the politics are. It could be because you're a woman, but maybe someone didn't want to hire you, maybe it's about the "perfect" person who used to be in your job who nobody could replace, ever. Whatever the problem is, it's not about you, you're being set up to fail, and it seems that you have no allies or anyone "friendly" who's going to back you up. Adding on the fact that you were given no training or orientation (which could be part of the "set up" theory), I just don't see this getting better. 

Last, if for financial or timing reasons you can't do #2, I have many strategies that you might find helpful if you decide to try to make it work, if you see any possibility of this changing and being treated with more professionalism and more respect. Let me know.

Hugs, courage, strength.

But also, know when to fold 'em.


Stargazer wrote:
So this junior guy is not doing what I absolutely know without a doubt the boss would want. I tell the junior guy "no, this job cannot be put on hold" as I follow him down the hall. I tell him that the bosses would not want that. This guy then directs my employee to send an email to the client cancelling the job. I go to my desk frustrated as hell.

It sounds like it was a setup. Next time tell the boss ASAP that the junior guy has refused to follow his instructions. That's not your problem,  it's between the junior guy and the boss. And Cc the junior idiot, the boss, and the owner that there is a breakdown in communication. Flag the memo urgent, and make copies.


Thanks PB - much appreciated


@pookie - no suing will result. I won't put myself through those systems anymore. I don't trust them. I think I will be wrongfully terminated, so I've been keeping notes on this when/if I need them for EI to help me get at least 2 weeks severance.

@maysie - I have been thinking about editing these posts for information that could identify the work place. I will edit the second long post (the update) but yes, please if you could make the edits that would be great. I'll PM you.I realize I am in a lose lose situation. I am hoping that the owner will eventually calm down. No idea what turned him from a decent guy into this within a month. Right now I cannot quit. I need the money. This is my only income so any strategies would be helpful.

@Fidel - unfortunately this is my problem. They've made it my problem. I was supposed to yell more forcefully and escalate. The events happened so quickly between following the junior guy and trying to do damage control the boss was involved in minutes.

Maysie, I'm going to edit my posts. I'll PM you with changes to the OP. Thanks so much. I'm going in today (I took yesterday off - had to) and I have no idea what to expect.

I'll keep you updated and thanks for the support.




Okay an update on the job situation.

I went back to work last week. The first day back I absolutely dreaded it. Horrible feelings in the morning. The day actually went by okay. I took a lot of action and started doing what I thought the owner would want. I knew what was going on and when (as much as I could) and did more than I had been doing before. I was being proactive and doing a good job. The GM was still on holidays so I was a little bit freaked out it was just the owner in charge. Turns out he only came in for a few hours for the rest of the week. 

I sent him an email telling him I was excited to start working on the goals and could we have a meeting to discuss the policies, procedures etc. that he wanted me to follow and I made a bullet point list of what I had been doing to comply with his wishes. He sent back and email saying this was a good start and added on some more point forms. Okay so far so good I'm thinking. Things will be fine now. I'm doing what he wants and as long as I try to stay on top of that I will do well.

Not so fast.

Monday all hell breaks loose. I am micromanaged until it is painful.

Demeaning things were said to me, and an event I was to be at I was told I wouldn't be included in the dinner.

All the micromanaging is seriously petty and demeaning. There is no balance. I am given almost constant negative feedback.

I asked about direct job responsibilities, and where the lines are drawn between my job and the other manager. No real concrete answers are supplied, so I am still in the dark.

Then shit hits the fan. Two jobs are scheduled for the workers to do. An email has already been sent to the client telling them we will be there to resolve their issue. The junior guy is not doing what I absolutely know without a doubt the boss would want. I tell the junior guy "no, this job cannot be put on hold" as I follow him down the hall. Within two minutes I am hounded with quick shot cross examination type questions and told I am not doing my job right in front of everyone. Blaming me for this clown's actions. No shit. The guy who has been there and is in charge of the accounts has totally screwed up and made a mistake but it is me who gets in direct trouble for this. No words are said the the junior guy and he gets off Scot free while I am reamed out in front of my employee and everyone within earshot..

Either way I am told this is yet another shining example of my failure to do the job. The verbal put downs continue so between my boss telling me he won't spring for a 99 dollar meal for me and I have to wait in the hotel and this, I am pretty much feel abused. There were other small, petty things the boss did to me.

Another incident occurs and I am forced to do more petty and demeaning work for the boss, which would be no problem if it wasn't so petty and mean. But it is.

So I am in trouble for the mistake of someone who definitely should have known better but somehow he didn't have to know better because he is protected by one of my bosses.

So essentially it has gotten worse, not better. The boss is a petty man, on me for no reason all the time. The whole thing with the event and telling me to I can't go to the dinner and I have to stay in the hotel while they eat, the fact I was blamed for a senor person's screw up. It was all incredibly demeaning and all this time the other boss is looking on, backing him up. His testicles clearly disappeared. I know at that moment I have absolutely no one to go to. I cannot talk to anyone. There are no HR policies. Nothing. I have no recourse. I cannot win here. These people are not my employees but I am responsible for what they do. I am not their boss but I am directly held accountable for when they screw up.

The problem is the owner! The owner has no real sense of reality. I make suggestions which would help me and everyone but they don't like this idea. Too much work for the employees. . I ask them about whose responsible for mess ups, and what are the clear lines here. Turns out there are none and I am responsible and I will never know the forever changing gaol posts.

I need to know what I can do when I get fired. Am I eligible for EI? I am going to have to start looking for another job but can't they just claim I was a horrible employee? What recourse do I have here? I am not going to court. Just not. I need another option.


Maysie Maysie's picture

Stargazer, good luck today.

I've edited the OP.

Open and clear communication, which you're already doing.

  • jas at #17 and writer at #18 made great suggestions. My only addition is to communicate this to your boss, that this is what you will be doing.
  • Since the possibility of being fired without cause seems to be hanging over your head, and getting them to commit to your duties so there's a clear written expectation has been challenging, have a meeting with the owner in a non-stressed time. Explain that you want to stay, you want to do good work, you like the job, etc. but that you've noticed a change, and is there anything specific that he needs to explain about his expectations. Try to connect on that human level.
  • If they continue to refuse to be clear, document the date and times you made attempts.
  • If they continue to threaten to fire you, document that. In a quieter moment you might want to try asking them to refrain from speaking to you in that manner, as it affects your ability to work effectively. And by the way, it's also a violation of the CHRC's Workplace Harassment Policy. While we know the CHRC has hardly any teeth, we also know that saying this would be perceived as a threat if you were to mention it. I don't suggest you do this, only because I'm certain they will not hear it well.
  • You're probably already doing this, but start saving money as much as possible, until you have a few months' expenses worth of savings.

They both are, or have become, micro-managers. You will not be able to change this. I have no advice that would be helpful to change that "over your shoulder" bullshit, since the power imbalance is so large. But if anyone invades your personal space, it's not unreasonable to ask, politely, to please step back and give you some space.

FYI, in Toronto (unemployment rate at 9.0% as of July), to qualify for EI you have to have worked 595 hours in the past 52 weeks. Just call me demographic-research Maysie.

P.S. On re-reading your posts I've realized that all the dynamics of an abusive relationship are there. If this were an abusive relationship, you would know what to do, and you would know the advice I would give. Given that for now you have to stay, I get it. But you know this can't go on indefinitely. I think actively looking for other work is imperative. 


Bookish Agrarian

Sorry to read about this Stargazer.  As a former union chief steward my advice is document, document, document.   Things like these can be very, very stressful and have an impact even on our health.  However, you need to keep your own records in case this person is a vindictive prick and tries to sabatouge future employment chances.  It can also be very cathartic to put it down on paper as long as you remember to then leave it there.


Stargazer wrote:
@Fidel - unfortunately this is my problem. They've made it my problem. I was supposed to yell more forcefully and escalate. The events happened so quickly between following the junior guy and trying to do damage control the boss was involved in minutes.

That's bizarre. Every employee has a right to be treated with civility and respect. It sounds like you should contact a lawyer if you think they are working up to firing you after all of that abuse. A judge might make them cough up tens of thousands of dollars in compensation for their rude and abusive behavior toward you. http://www.joblaw.ca/  Also, lookup the labour relations board for your province.


I'd still refer back to my suggestion upthread.  Instead of quitting for another job though, tell them that your expectations for a non-abusive workplace are not being met, and that you will have to consider your options in the days ahead if things do not improve.  At this point they might either fire you or lay you off.


Sorry to get to this thread late. I can only echo Bookish Agrarian's advice: document everything. Might be a good idea to draw up a history now with names and dates, while memory is still fresh. If you are working in a small field where everyone knows everyone else you should seriously consider retaining a lawyer to hammer out a settlement that will include acceptable references after you leave this job. There's better advice upthread than any I can give.

I used to work in a small high-pressure office feeding the corporate media. I was the golden boy, but the boss's relentless hounding of the other workers offered me a glimpse of my own likely fate when the next flavour of the month arrived. The higher levels of management were in an office tower on the other side of the city and couldn't care less about any of us. My boss had a particular hate-on for a woman who had survived the death camps as a child and was now supporting a husband with heart problems. As you might guess, she reacted badly to the weekly reamings-out from the boss. As a supervisor I was able to shield her from the worst effects of the manager, but it was bad all round. The day after she retired on full pension I submitted my own resignation and polished up old skills to become self-employed. It was touch and go for a few years, and I have never made as much money as I did then, but life has turned out really well.


I'm so sorry to pile this on here but I have no where else to turn. Things have gotten even worse, if that is possible. So bad that last night I had a dream about the last boss who sexually harassed me at work. So bad that I am having a complete breakdown. I am emotionally not able to handle the things that are being done to me anymore. I have no confidence left. I cannot concentrate at work, I am shaking and unable to eat. The bullying from my boss has gotten worse and there is no effort being made for him  to even hide it.It is so extremely apparent that he does not like me. I cannot come to any other conclusion. Who does this to a person they even remotely like? The situation is untenable.

What happens is just s constant steam of bullying. I am not sure who thinks that demeaning someone so bad will make them work harder. I am not sure if this is a plan he is trying out on me to see how far he can demean me until I tell him to fuck off. There is no effort on his part to hide how much he dislikes me.

In an email he sent me today he says "given my past experience I know this will have to modified numerous times before Monday", which I didn't even think about until I looked at the email again and realized he was directly insulting me, implying that I make so many mistakes that I'll have to do the same thing a few times over. To top it off his instructions were very very weak, almost nil, for this particular thing. And fuck him that bastard, I did it correctly by the end of the day after ONE try. Bastard!

Remember my story above, about the junior guy and what happened? Well, wasn't it lovely to come into work today to find an email sent to me by the GM saying how wrong he was to doubt the junior guy, and then a reply, with me cc'd, from the owner saying to the junior guy "thank you, good job" along with an apology from the owner for being critical. This despite the fact the junior guy lied, did not find the problem (anther worker did) and also directly went against what I asked him to do, and what his own boss asked him to do. There is nothing I can do at this place that will ever get me praise. Nothing.


I spoke with the GM yesterday and asked him directly what their plans for me were. What would happen after the 4 - 5 weeks. He said they wanted me to stay and that I wasn't getting replaced. I felt good for a few minutes until the owner got at me and picked me apart throughout the day.


It has been 2 weeks since I was told I would have concrete procedures and steps to take in order for me to be successful and the countdown to 4 weeks is just 2 weeks away. My time is ticking. What I do not understand is why I am not just fired if I am so incompetent. I am not truly incompetent but I apparently am to the owner because he has NEVER said a good word about me or my work, so why the hell am I there? Why not just fire me? It makes no sense to be treated like a bullied dog while keeping me there. None. I have no idea what his thoughts are and why he choses to treat me with such open disdain.

He stopped by my desk to bully me near the end of the day. Repeatedly saying the same thing over to me, like I was a complete fool. He gave me no chance to react like a normal person because I am so terrified of him, and so deeply angry at being treated like this that I am shaking, nauseaoys and have no conbfidence left at all. Absolutely none.

I dread going back for more of the same tomorrow. I don't know if I can take anymore of this. It is effecting my health, mentally and physically.

Maysie, there is absolutely no way I can talk to him about this. I am so completely cowed by him, so abjectly humiliated, that I have no confidence anymore. None. What can I do? Who can I get some advice from?

Slumbejack, I think that is probably the only appraoch that is even remotely going to work. I cannot work under these conditions. On top of that I had a hell of a lot more work to do than the person befoe me and it just keeps piling on and he must know I cannot possibly get it done in the time he requires.

I am a hard worker, I am ethical and I am conscientious and loyal. This job was a dream come true up until two weeks ago. It truly was. I can guarantee anyone that I am doing a good job and trying my best. It is simply a matter of far too much work, no training, a boss that bullies me and now a complete lack of self-esteem. I have been set back to where I was when I was being abused at my last job. I wonder what the fuck I have done to deserve this.





Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

For the love of goddess, Stargazer, get out NOW.

They have it in for you and they won't let up until they've broken you.

The comment about how they should never have doubted the junior guy was them tipping their hand-they're trying to force you out and give HIM your job(if possible, after making you train him for it).

I am so sorry they're doing this, and you do NOT deserve it.

Non carbarundum illegitimus est.



Thanks Ken, I guess I will have to give up on the why of it all. I will never know what I did or why I am treated like this. It is just far too horrible.


I can understand becoming a complete nervous wreck under that kind of mindfuck. But you seem like someone who has a bit more fight in you, Stargazer. Why are you letting these guys intimidate you so much? Maybe you need to get drunk one day. Sit at your desk and fling paperclips across the room and wait for the barking manager to show up and then let 'er rip. Give them a piece of your mind. If you don't want to go to that extreme, at the very least you need to tell the nice manager what the other ones are doing to you and the effect it's having on your ability to do any work at all.

Just another two cents.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Stargazer, I'm enraged on your behalf and I'm going to answer this part publicly because it must be answered.

Why do they keep you and not just fire you?

When I mentioned above that these are the dynamics of an abusive relationship I meant that literally. 

Male abusers constantly say that their women partners are useless, crap, stupid. And more. There's no logic to it. They don't want their partners to leave. They want to continue the abusive dynamic. From the abuser standpoint, they need (whoever) to be there. Control, power-over, what-the-fuck-ever. The owner is verbally and emotionally abusive to you.

Please don't waste any time trying to figure out the why. 

Please forward the inappropriate and unprofessional emails to your personal email account. Give copies to EI when you apply, if you qualify.

Can you please quit tomorrow?



Maysie wrote:

  • Since the possibility of being fired without cause seems to be hanging over your head, and getting them to commit to your duties so there's a clear written expectation has been challenging, have a meeting with the owner in a non-stressed time. Explain that you want to stay, you want to do good work, you like the job, etc. but that you've noticed a change, and is there anything specific that he needs to explain about his expectations. Try to connect on that human level.
  • If they continue to refuse to be clear, document the date and times you made attempts.
  • If they continue to threaten to fire you, document that. In a quieter moment you might want to try asking them to refrain from speaking to you in that manner, as it affects your ability to work effectively. And by the way, it's also a violation of the CHRC's Workplace Harassment Policy. While we know the CHRC has hardly any teeth, we also know that saying this would be perceived as a threat if you were to mention it. I don't suggest you do this, only because I'm certain they will not hear it well

I think this is really good advice.


FYI, in Toronto (unemployment rate at 9.0% as of July), to qualify for EI you have to have worked 595 hours in the past 52 weeks. Just call me demographic-research Maysie.

595 hours is only 15 weeks, if I'm calculating correctly. Stargazer would qualify, even if she was fired or even if she quit, as long as she can convince EI that the work situation was untenable.

writer writer's picture

Stargazer, I am so sorry this has happened. It has nothing to do with you. There is no reason you are the target, except you were picked to be the target. They are getting off on it. They are sick fucks. There is no need to figure out why sick fucks act like sick fucks. They do it because they are sick fucks, and it is only your problem as long as you work in their world.

You've been set up. Now you are being knocked down. Maysie is absolutely right.

Hugs, hugs, hugs, my darling. You will get through this. You have been through a lot worse, and you are amazing. Don't let the fuckers into your head. That's a sacred place, there. They have no right to visit.


Okay, well, I grew a massive pair of ovaries and sent a long email to the owner, outlining his behaviour towards me and the fact that I will not accept this type of treatment anymore.

Fuck it all to hell and back! I will NOT let him treat me like shit, and allow me to feel like a worthless person. I will NOT go to sleep at night dreaming of the last jackass who sexually assaulted and harassed me at my last job and I sure as fuck will NOT be treated like this for a pay cheque.

If this man has or had even the slightest intention of getting me to kick back - well he has it now. I hovered over the "send" option then let the email fly! The chips will fall where they will and at least I have my dignity intact.

I have not quit, but I have let him know what is going on and that I will no longer stand for this type of treatment. I am sure I am fired but what else could I have done? There way no way I was going to come out of there with my stability intact. Not unless I things change. 


My god that felt liberating! I am sure I will be a mess tomorrow. I can't just show up after that email. It is all back on him now.

writer writer's picture

Stargazer, do you mean to say you are not going into work unless you hear back from him?

Edited to add: So glad you did what felt right in your gut.


Well yes, I think so writer. I can't see how my showing up will do any good unless I hear something back, and given that I was honest in my communication I have no idea how that will be received and I can't keep trying to put myself in anyone else's head to try to determine motive, intent and outcome. It is an exercise in futility. I'm just going to have to wait, although I may just send an email early and say...I don't know...what do say actually. I at least owe it to my employee and my co-workers, as they will now have to pick up my job. That's a lot of additional work for them and I feel bad about that.

I don't know what the best course of action is.

Pogo Pogo's picture

There is a good job out there waiting for you.  Let's hope you find it fast!


Thanks Pogge. I always have to remember I have been through much worse and eventually, if even for a short while, things will get better.


I hope things work out for you Stargazer. The only time I have received this type of bullying at a job was when I was a 17 year old summer student working in the Maintenance department at the port of Saint John. About a month in I finally lost it with my supervisor and went into a 10 minute profanity laced tirade. The abuse stopped and I ended up being re-hired there for the next 5 summers.

writer writer's picture


I can't keep trying to put myself in anyone else's head to try to determine motive, intent and outcome.

That's what I like to hear. Very healthy. You can only go by how they behave now. That's it. And yes, sometimes calling bullies on their shit will mean it stops. Sometimes not.

remind remind's picture

Go to a Dr stargazer, and get a note stating you are mentally unfit to work  because of the abuse at work, and you can collect medical EI  with none of the long waiting period.


Hugs, all the best.


Stargazer wrote:
  Slumbejack, I think that is probably the only appraoch that is even remotely going to work. I cannot work under these conditions. On top of that I had a hell of a lot more work to do than the person befoe me and it just keeps piling on and he must know I cannot possibly get it done in the time he requires. 

In many cases, as you know only too well, the mysgonist will attempt to have their way using one method or another.  Control, domination, and the piling on of misery and humiliation all serve the same end, which ultimately comes down to a sense of entitlement at the expense of the victim.  Maysie is right of course.  But you are far better than they.  Try and remember that when you walk out of there for the last time, and remember that we know it too.


Hope you're doing ok SG.


Good on you for defending yourself. Hope things work out for you.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

And if you go back to the office and they get rid of you, Stargazer, march out of that door with your head held high singing "Bread And Roses!"  Have someone go in with you and videotape it!

La Lucha Continua!

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

One thing I would suggest is to contact your provincial Ministry of Labour and explain that you believe you are being set up for constructive dismissal.


Thanks LTJ, I am expected to go to work on Monday. I have no idea how things will be resolved or what to expect but that's the situation now.