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"I was threatened with dismissal and even attempted assault..."
Following a restructure last year, the new management abandoned a corporate customer strategy that was delivering fatter margins, high levels of customer satisfaction and increased up-sell revenues. As part of the new structure, customer-facing staff numbers were cut by 20% and the focus was purely on a minimalist break-fix customer strategy.
Seeing the long-term impact of this approach on our large corporate customers (who spend in excess of $10m pa), I advised caution, pointing to the inevitable consequences of declining margins, increased churn and lost sales. Over the next 12 months, when the predicted outcomes eventuated, I found that the blame was being laid at my feet. Being legally trained, I am not easily intimidated and countered their attempts at blame shifting.
Things then turned very nasty - I was bullied, harassed and abused,
threatened with dismissal and even attempted assault. In violation of
our country's Workplace legislation, my position was advertised and
Not wanting to leave the company (I have many good, ethical colleagues and enjoy working with them), I was offered another really good role in a sideways move. I thought that being in another division, I could make a fresh start. To be safe, I briefed my new manager of the issues with my previous management and this proved to be a non-issue.
Sadly the malicious gossip and bad-mouthing has continued behind my back at senior levels within my new division and has adversely affected my being considered for a promotion role.
I feel that I am now in a no-win situation and I am thinking that I may have to leave and find a new position with another employer. I could stand my ground and prove them wrong through top level work performance and networking to counter the bad mouthing. Another option is to initiate civil proceedings for a variety of legal causes of action. Not that I am afraid to do so, but this would be a \"nuclear option\" as it would really escalate matters.
Dear Aussie Down-Under,
If your letter had stopped after the paragraph beginning, "Then things turned very nasty..." I would not have hesitated advising you to consult legal counsel. The facts you describe amount to a clear case of constructive dismissal, and perhaps a claim for assault would be appropriate as well. Organizations that engage in such extreme Office Politics deserve to be challenged to defend their actions in a court of law. Sometimes a lawsuit is a good way to publicize the appropriate and ethical behaviour that we are entitled to expect in the workplace.
Deciding to take an employer (or anyone) to court always requires careful consideration of both the law and all the facts. It also requires a commitment to the time, money and emotional stress that is involved. Initiating a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal can also have a chilling effect on one's career prospects with new employers as well.
What makes your situation unusual is that despite the outrageous behaviour of the employer which you have described you decided to stay with the firm and were given a lateral transfer. Your action would have to be assessed by a lawyer knowledgeable in the law of wrongful dismissal in your jurisdiction to determine the effect, if any, that these later events have had on the cause of action that apparently existed at one time.
Now that the situation has worsened since your transfer, you may still want to review the "legal" option, but you are also considering whether to simply leave or to work your way through it and redeem your reputation within the organization. The latter seems to me to be a very unlikely outcome. If the atmosphere is poisoned against you to the extent that you are being affected even in a division where the manager had said the earlier events were a "non-issue" I doubt that you could over come the ill will towards you that seems to have developed.
In short, I think you are better to invest your energy in another firm where you can start with a clean slate. But take the time to talk with a lawyer first to clarify what your legal rights are. Employers who breach employee protection legislation and harass employees will never be encouraged to change their ways if the victims of their misbehaviour never call them to account.
Good luck as you consider your options.
Dr. John Burton
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