At this place of employment, I worked shifts ranging from 9 hours to 12 hours throughout the week without legitimate break time. My manager would constantly bully myself and coworkers, and once actually took my keys to keep me there after hours to force me into a talk with him. These talks would occur often and would amount to him intimidating me and breaking me down into accepting any sort of thing I was upset with him for doing (denying breaks, insulting/bullying me, going into my car without permission... the list goes on.) I left the workplace 8 months ago and now I feel like I am emotionally ready to confront him but I need information about the legalities and processes.
I was also harassed when trying to call out sick once when I had the flu and was told to get a doctor's note or get in to work immediately. I hadn't called out the day prior and had been vomiting at the end of my shift. To even attempt to stay home while sick was a cause for anxiety as manager would relentlessly try and bully me into coming in using threats and intimidation. He would also take money out of our paychecks for errors in booking customer appointments in a very complex scheduling software. Every aspect of the appointment would be perfect, otherwise he would take a bit of our check away. My own check had less than $50 taken, but a coworker had over $100. He did not make any of us sign anything that said we accept this and brought this practice into effect months after my employment started.
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Definition of Workplace Bullying
Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators s (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done
Is driven by perpetrators' need to control the targeted individual(s).
Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies' personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.Workplace bullying, like childhood bullying, is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker or subordinate. Workplace bullying can include such tactics as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. This type of aggression is particularly difficult because, unlike the typical forms of school bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society. Bullying in the workplace is in the majority of cases reported as having been perpetrated by management and takes a wide variety of forms. Bullying can be covert or overt but it's always bad.
While there is no single formal definition of workplace bullying, several researchers have endeavoured to define it. Some categorize all harmful boss-behaviour and actions of malintent directed at employees as bullying. Bullying behaviours may be couched in humiliation and hazing rites and iterative programs or protocols framed as being in the best interests of employee development and coaching. Others separate behaviours into different patterns, labeling a subset of those behaviours as bullying, explaining that there are different ways to deal effectively with specific patterns of behaviour. Some workplace bullying is defined as involving an employee's immediate supervisor, manager or boss in conjunction with other employees as complicit, while other workplace bullying is defined as involving only an employee’s immediate supervisor, manager or boss.
According to Tracy, Lutgen-Sandvik, and Alberts, researchers associated with the Project for Wellness and Work-Life, workplace bullying is most often "a combination of tactics in which numerous types of hostile communication and behaviour are used" (p. 152).
Gary and Ruth Namie define workplace bullying as "repeated, health-harming mistreatment, verbal abuse, or conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or sabotage that interferes with work or some combination of the three."
Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik expands this definition, stating that workplace bullying is "persistent verbal and nonverbal aggression at work, that includes personal attacks, social ostracism, and a multitude of other painful messages and hostile interactions."
In an effort to provide a more all-encompassing definition, and catch the attention of employers, Catherine Mattice and Karen Garman define workplace bullying as "systematic aggressive communication, manipulation of work, and acts aimed at humiliating or degrading one or more individual that create an unhealthy and unprofessional power imbalance between bully and target(s), result in psychological consequences for targets and co-workers, and cost enormous monetary damage to an organization’s bottom line"
Because it can occur in a variety of contexts and forms, it is also useful to define workplace bullying by the key features that these behaviours possess. Bullying is characterized by (Einarsen, 1999; Keashly & Harvey 2004; Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006):
Repetition (occurs regularly)
Duration (is enduring)
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It sounds like there were numerous violations of the Massachusetts wage and hour law (overtime, meal breaks, and deductions). The wage and hour law is enforced by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office which can be accessed online http://www.mass.gov/ago/doing-business-in-massachusetts/labor-laws-and-public-construction/file-a-wage-complaint.html
The attorney general’s office does a good job, but may take some time. There are many employment lawyers here on avvo.com (search for your area) that would be willing to take a case like thin on contingency because the penalties are steep and often include attorney fees. But, don’t wait – the statute of limitations is short.
This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.