WORKPLACE BULLYING : HARM TO WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Neal's Story



I've stood up against racism, harassment, threats, and retaliation, all while working for my company. I understand pride, honor, and courage and believed that people treat others with respect, blind to color, until I worked at my company.

 

I decided to take a stand against harassment of employees in 2004 at my company, a national telecommunications company. Executives retaliated. Eight years later, I am still in federal court in Boston awaiting judgment decision. I am on the verge of losing all that I have worked so hard to gain due to the overt acts of my company, and I fully blame my company for the destruction in my family. But I will continue to fight for justice and my honor.

 

I've had many sleepless nights, harm to my personal life, and stress of unpaid bills as a result of losing my job. My health has deteriorated dramatically. I suffer from acute stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and have had a loss of my vision. I have been hospitalized a few times for stress. I am not the same person I was before the abuse, when I loved life. I lost quality years with my family and friends that I can never regain. I lost sleep, peace of mind, and my emotional well-being.

 

In 1997, I was hired as a lineman. After receiving my first of two degrees, one in electrical technology and the other in business management-human resources, I applied for a position in management in 2004. I was hired, and within a short period of time, I advanced rapidly. I became the number one operations manager in that garage from my leadership, productivity, and reliability. I was respectful, courteous, outgoing, and on track to move forward.

 

I was soon appointed as one of the top members on the company's regional diversity committee. After successful achievements, I received top honors by a higher-up in front of hundreds of higher executives and managers at the headquarters in New York. I was the leader in helping to ensure that the company’s first-ever “Diversity Week” went according to plan. I was the guest speaker that week in garages throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and in Rhode Island and also planned lectures focused on the importance of inclusion, diversity, respect, and teamwork in the workplace, as it was seriously lacking at that time for all company employees in New York and New England. The week was a success and the reason for my award. I was also the only employee in New England nominated to attend a top minority mentoring and leadership course in Boston called “The Partnership Inc.” in 2005. At the graduation, I was nominated by my peers to give the commencement speech, held in front of the class and alumni from many fortune 500 companies, Harvard professors, CEOs, and other top minority professionals.

 

I was recognized and nominated for many top honors within and outside of the company and was on other leadership boards as well. I received numerous awards and recognition letters for outstanding customer service and helped to improve other managers’ productivity in the district. The awards and recognition were local, regional, and national from my company. I was also asked to volunteer my time for the less fortunate, including representing the company through Junior Achievement at the local school during class time. Outside of the company, I was a leader and gave my time to the community. It’s in my soul to help. That’s just me.

 

So how do you go from making a six figure income, handling multimillion dollar projects, being recognized locally and nationally, and providing your family with peace of mind to working for $17.00 per hour? Now I am working endless hours, taking home $13.75 an hour after taxes. I went from being on the top, working for a Fortune 500 company, to being broke. I had peace of mind. I supported my family with dignity and had a great income and paid my bills on time. Now I'm starting all over again. I am 46 years old and on the verge of losing everything my family and I worked so hard to achieve.

 

I witnessed cover ups, botched up investigations, admitted inappropriate behaviors, and perjury from former management including my former bosses in federal depositions in response letters to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). When I became a manager back in February 2004, I witnessed bullying, violence, threats, hostile work environments, harassment, degradation, racism, abusive treatment, sabotaging of work, intentional setups to suspend union employees, and unethical and immoral acts while working for my company. When I decided that I could no longer allow this treatment by abusive management to continue, I became a direct target of blackballing, increased hostile work environments, career sabotage, racial comments and jokes, and harassment, and in the end, wrongful termination for filing internal and external complaints. I was let go in November 2008 by my company, as it was covered up with a layoff. Executives stated that I was a poor performer, when in fact I have years of proof from their own productivity printouts stating otherwise.

 

The story begins when I tried to make two executives aware of employee abuse so they could stop it. They advised me that the company's union employees all were f*****g losers, f*****g pieces of shit, f*****g scum, and other demoralizing names. They deliberating removed tools from trucks to sabotage workers. Executives clearly had no respect for workers.

 

The hostile and abusive environments continued, so I spoke to my boss about it. As time went on, he did nothing to improve the situation, so I went to speak to my director. Over 2004, my boss’ secretary and I went to my boss and the director numerous times to report issues of bullying, abuse, and racial and unethical occurrences. As my boss' secretary reported in her deposition, she begged both of them to help me out with my harassment before something bad happened. Our boss responded to her “let them take care of it on their own,” as he wanted no part of it, and the director repeatedly stated that he would look into things but never did. In depositions, both the boss and directors stated that the secretary nor me ever came to them with these issues explained. In 2011, upper management still never took responsibility to protect and report bad acts.

 

After I complained, I was strategically placed in the back of the room in the corner during director meetings. A manager admitted in depositions “Mr. Dias was strategically placed in the back of the room” — an intentional strategy to demoralize and punishment for complaining. Many of the managers who attended the director meetings were fully aware of this embarrassing treatment. Aside from co-workers, who managers threatened to not speak up, the last black person who sat in the back of anything was Rosa Parks. One manager told me that because I’m black, I will never be an equal, that blacks are stupid and less deserving, and that our positions were only granted to us because of affirmative action.

 

I made complaints about the managers who behaved in a racist manner all the way up to the Equality Employment Opportunity (EEO) department within my company, but they failed to question them during a two year "internal investigation." My company reported to MCAD and the EEOC that they in fact did an investigation into my claims on May 21, 2007, but in 2011 admitted in federal depositions that they now recall never spoke to or directly investigated the two perpetrators that I stated performed these racial and harassing acts towards me or reported them to higher ups about my complaints before closing it out seven months later. The investigator admitted under oath in federal depositions that he never investigated my claims that I had made to the company's EEO Department. He lied to me and in state documents. On May 16, 2007, MCAD stated that they will not hold the company accountable for lying on their statements from May 16, 2012, in reference to the investigation.

 

The investigation was covered up. The abuse continues. Executives failed at holding known unethical violators accountable. My company condoned bullying within their environment. They were fully aware of their management bullies and protected them.

 

For the next few years, higher-ups retaliated. They challenged me on nearly every call I made. They stripped me of responsibilities on some levels and gave me unreasonable work demands on other levels. They made racist comments to me to encourage me to react angrily. But I remained professional and successful, which threw management for a loop, as I knew the additional work and comments were intentional. I made sure that I worked twice as hard to never give management a justified reason to terminate me. My productivity was high, my administrative work was on target, and I was an ethical employee.

 

I was moved around several times as a form of retaliation, including to the Construction department where my boss also practiced abusive behaviors. He screamed at me, calling me pathetic, psychotic, and names. He hung up on me on the phone many times without warning. He was degrading and disrespectful. He belittled me for not suspending or firing anyone as I tried to further increase productivity — which I had already increased by 25 percent — in a garage with low morale. He came to my home when I was out sick and called me names on my property and then lied on federal depositions saying that I was a "no call, no show" despite proof on their own phone lines that I called in. He treated me differently than the other managers, who were Caucasian and who noticed. Why did he treat me so badly? Why would I get thrown out of meetings when I did not say anything? It was their way of blackballing me and letting me know that my time was limited.

 

I continued to document the harassment and productivity that managers documented each month to prove that I was targeted and blackballed. I have thousands of documents, including emails, letters, productivity results, testimonies, and time sheets, to back up my claims. I printed out letters and emails of recognition from customers I serviced. I was at the top of my game despite the harassment. I never stopped performing.

 

In 2007, I opened an investigation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Labor Department when the company investigator intentionally withheld my pay. Often, my family had to wait a whole month for my check, though I should have received it bi-monthly. My company responded that I did not submit my timesheets weekly like other managers did despite the bi-weekly company policy, which I provided for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.

 

Finally in the fall of 2008, right before I was terminated from my company, I received a “Right to Suit letter” from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office allowing me to file suit with my company for their actions for the intentional withholding of my pay several times as a form of bullying, discrimination, and retaliation.

 

I was wrongfully terminated in November of 2008, and it was covered up by a layoff.

 

Harassment, intimidation, racism, and belittlement were the norm during my last four years of employment with this company. When I reported specific unethical behaviors, I was ignored, physically threatened, and retaliated against. Executives made false accusations, sabotaged my work, intentionally withheld pay and information, reduced my opportunities, gave unreasonable work demands, and relocated me to worse environments seven times. They yelled at me, called me names, and harassed me at home. They gave me lower raises and bonuses than my white peer managers and increased unfavorable performance reviews. They threw me out of meetings for no reason.

 

I felt embarrassed, isolated, demoted, and then wrongfully terminated — all because I refused to accept this brutal behavior at the company. Executives still refuse to acknowledge the abusive behavior. They intentionally continue to concoct stories to avoid responsibility — because they can.

 

It is important to stand up to bullies. It is the right thing to do, and even our children are taught this idea. Bullies are individuals who lack self-confidence and have to reassure themselves. Standing up to racists is also important. Racists begin with race and expand to hating people of all different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, religions, and sexual preferences. The bullies and racists in our schools may grow up to become bosses with too much authority and destroy the productivity within a company. Bullying and racism do exist and are harbored within my company.

 

Corporate bullying has to end. The justice system needs to help people. Bullying tears down productivity. We need to stop hurting one another and instead build. Bullying starts at home and ends up as evil sins in our communities. Bullying is in our schools, on the playgrounds, and in our work environments. Protecting bullying behavior on any level will only lead to destroying our culture and working families. It will lead to harming productivity and happiness. And we as targets need to stop being punished by companies for telling the truth and taking a stand for what's right. Since I have abided by the law, I should be protected by the law.

 

I have been asked time and time again by so many people "what do you want out of all of this?" My answer today is the same answer when the abuse began in 2004. I want accountability and justice.

 

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

— Edmund Burke