Being bullied at work

Has anyone else had problems with returning back to work following breast cancer? Since i have returned to work i have been bullied and lied about by my manager, I love my job and it was one of my goals to return to work, Please somebody tell me what i should do, i’m not sleeping at night, and feel ready to quit but don’t want to leave a job i love

You shouldn’t be made to feel this way I would make notes of all conversations you have ,and ask for names of people who have made comments,that way if it came to it you could go to a tribunal and claim constructive dismissal, you are covered under DDA;

Keep strong


Hi Mounties,

Your employers CANNOT, by law, treat you like this. As Mary mentioned, you are covered by the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act). The Cancerbackup website has info on this and can send you a booklet about the workplace and cancer. The Disability Rights Commission has an excellent helpline (I have used them). Phone number is 08457 622 644. (hope I’m allowed to post this, cos they are very good)

Do get some help/advice.

At the end of the day, as much as you love your job, if this treatment is affecting you to such a degree you might need to think about moving on.

I wish you all the best.

Jacki x

Hi Mounties,

If you have a manager who is determined to give you a hard time, there may be very little you can do about it. You may need to put it down to experience and move on.

I was bullied at work once and it was an awful experience, it totally shattered my confidence. My manager decided he wanted to get rid of me and that was that. He made my life a misery until I went. His bosses backed him up and there was nothing I could do. The only thing I would change with hindsight is that I should have got out sooner. I believed at the time that as I was in the right he would have to change his behaviour, but I was naive and didn’t realise that when office politics & who is in league with whom comes into play, the rights & wrongs don’t come into it.

I think you need to look at who else is involved here, and who will back you up compared with your boss. The harsh reality may be that your boss can make your life miserable if she so chooses.

Can you speak to your other colleagues and see what they think? Then maybe you can decide whether this is something that can be worked through, or if it is time for a change

Hi Mounties,
I work as an HR Manager. This is outrageous behaviour from both your colleagues and manager. The lack of support that still exists within companies astounds me sometimes. I’ve been through breast cancer twice now, once in public and once in private sector and only faced concern thank goodness. My heart goes out to you!!

Jacki is rigfht above. There was an amendmenet to the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act in December 2005 to also include cancer. The law itself is pretty hard to read if you’re not legally minded, but the link to it is:

This link is to a booklet designed for employers on advice on eliminating discrimination and includes a section on bullying and harassment:

Ultimately you could raise a written formal grievance with your direct line manager. If this is not dealt with to yoru satisfaction you can appeal and if you stuill do not get any change, reassurance or consulation you can resign and claim constructive dismissal on the basis that you had no choice as you could not work in an environment such as that. A simple advice section on how to raise grievances and what they are can be found in:

As the others have said though, for you to be able to bring any kind of substantial case either to your manager or a tribunal, you need as much information as possible and evidence: records of conversations, who said what etc… were they face to face or via phone and at what date and time, do you have any notes, emails etc… did anyone else see or do you have any witnesses?

Grievances can often stress the employee more in the longrun but at the end of the day after what you and we all here have been through, it’s nothing compared to having our sanity restored and our lives back and you need to take advatage of that!

Let me know if you need any other info.

Good luck

So sorry to hear that after reaching your goal and getting back to work you now have this hassle with your manager. Given that you say that the intial comment was that several co-workers had complained about your manner and this then changed to it being your managers opinion doe I take it that there have been no complaints from your colleagues? I would say it might be worth speaking to your colleagues and asking if they have a problem with you - if they don’t and it is purely the manager who is creating a problem then they may prove to be a good source of support.

I know it is difficult to leave a job that you love - and depending on your circumstances resigning from a job is not always a viable option unless you have something else to move on to. Your health must come first tho - after the battle you have had with this disease you need to have the minimum stress possible and being so upset that you can’t sleep at nights will not do you any good.

Good luck and I hope the matter is resolved quickly.

Thank you all for your helpful replies.

Glad to hear that some of your colleagues have offered to accompany you to meetings with your manager - I would urge you to take them up on the offer, at least then you will have someone there to back you up and offer moral support.

I know the fact that working on your own gives the manager to get you on your own and say whatever she wants without witnesses but perhaps taking a co-worker in to meetings with you will let her see that you have ppl on your side and may make her re-think her attitude.

Thank you lilac, i am back at work tomorrow and at the moment absolutely dreading it. . Does anyone else think i am making a mountain out of a molehill? I am sorry to go on but this is having a big impact on my life and sleep and i just want it all to end asap

In the meantime, might I recommend you search around for some other job that might appeal to you? It doesn’t hurt just to look. As much as you love your job, you sound so miserable (and who can blame you?!) It sounds like your manager is going to be a pig no matter the outcome of any meeting. The only one to suffer will be you. Of course, if you want to go ahead with pressing for your rights, then go for it. I’ve been through this myself in the past - it’s shattering. I went from being a teacher to working as a vet receptionist. Big career change and rubbish pay, but I’m a lot happier and really enjoy my job!

Will be thinking of you,

Jacki x

Just read this thread and although i am not as informative as the others on this subject I agree with the others, that this is unfair and after what you have been through you would think they would be more understanding. People are so rapped up in themselves these days and don’t consider others feelings.

I hope it gets better and hope you keep us posted!!! How long have you worked there?

Luv mel x

Hi Mounties,

A few thoughts.

Your manager is a bully. Why do bullies bully? Insecurity or jealousy or both. Who is she jealous of? You. Maybe you’re better at your job or better looking or just more fun than she is. Who do bullies target? People who are better at their work than they are and who are for some reason vulnerable. I think that going back to work after breast cancer might be classed as vulnerability.

All this ‘get over it’ business is nonsense. If there had been just one incident and you had mentioned it and your manager had changed her behaviour then it would be reasonable to suggest that you ought to get over it. What you are having to cope with is ongoing bullying; that is bullying in the past, the present and quite possibly the future.

Some ideas. I think you need to arrange an official meeting. Take someone supportive with you to the meeting. Ask that minutes of the meeting be taken. Explain that various incidents have been unhelpful and unnecessary. Say that the use of the word ‘liar’ is unacceptable. Be clear about how you feel and make clear how you would like things to work in the future. Ask for a clear system for requesting leave. Ask for the surveys she has mentioned. If they exist and if there is anything specific mentioned then ask for a meeting with the particular colleagues to put things right. Ask for positive feedback as well as negative feedback about your work. As you tend to work alone consider how you can better work as part of a team. Ask for a meeting in 14 days time, again with a supportive person present, to assess how things are going.

If your manager is uncooperative or continues in this behaviour in any way then contact your manager’s manager and ask for a formal meeting (again with someone to support you). It may be that the bully has bullied before. It may be that the manager’s manager needs to sort out this situation because bullying is a very serious issue.

And remember that it isn’t you who has some sort of emotional problem, it’s your manager.

Best of luck,


Hi Mounties,

I think the way your company are treating you is disgraceful! the ladies above are right - you are being bullied!

Can you not call there bluff and explain you feel bullied and are thinking about speaking to someone about it?

I do hope all goes well this week at work and you manage to resolve the situation.


Hi, there

After a quick read through, I would say you have two choices. You can either tackle this horrible manager by going above her like Sue suggested and getting to the bottom of this bullying and the terrible systems in place. However, tyou have to be prepared to be strong and it may take time to see change. The other option is to leave the job. I know that leaving is letting them get away with it, but in the long run, if it is going to affect your health, who cares? We shouldn’t let bullies get away with it and if you were well and fit, no doubt, taking this on would be a worthwhile challenge. But clearly, you are not yourself and all the added stress and hassle of confrontations may not be worth it. I think whether you put your energy into changing things at work will depend on whether you have believe you have a reasonable chance of changing things. If you feel that despite going to senior manager etc, things would not change enough to make your life better, then it may be a waste of time. I spent several miserable months at a job I hated, trying desperately to change attitutudes and systems, but in the end it ground me right down and I left and was so relieved. What are your options if you left? Could you manage financially for a while if you took a job which paid less, but with less stress until you felt like doing something else? Work takes up a major part of our lives and you are constantly unhappy, no job is worth it.

Thank you all so much for your supportive replies. I was due to have a meeting today with my manager. I then informed him that i had joined a union and had received assistance from them, he went ballistic and insisted that the meeting was solely for the purpose of discussing my issues . After talking to my union rep i have now decided to go for a formal meeting I love my job and have never ever had any complaints

So sorry to hear that they are now threatening you with disciplinary action. They seem to be making the issue worse rather than better. It seems ridiculous that you are getting the sticky end of the stick because you have discovered someone else’s mistakes. Clearly the temp was not fully trained - probably by the management - and as a result he/she has made the errors and now that they have come to light the management are not happy that they have to explain how these errors were allowed to be made in the 1st place. Most certainly sounds like the management are in an uncomfortable position at the moment and they are trying to deflect the heat a bit.

Good luck with your meeting and I hope that they wise up and realise that they can’t treat you this way jsut because someone else has made mistakes.

Hi mounties

I am sorry to hear you aregoing through this at work. I understand completely, it happened to me when I went back. One girl gave me a really hard time and hardly talked to me (she was originally my best mate before diagnosis). She was really aggressive with me and had me in tears every day but I felt I couldn’t prove that I was being bullied. Apparently she had done it lots of time before but hard to prove. I decided to have it out with her (or walk out) and she said I was being aggressive towards her and that I came back with an attitude as I said that I wasn’t gonna let people walk over me. She seemed to think I meant colleagues when in fact I was talking about the world.

I felt that she was annoyed with me for leaving them in the lurch for 8 months (even one of my bosses thought so but couldn’t prove it). In the end I thought ‘sod it’ it is her problem, I get on with the rest of the department 60+staff so it obviously wasn’t me.

I now just make conversation when I have to and if she wants to be funny fine.

It has taken nearly a year to get to this point but I had to get everything straight in my own head to realise that she was the problem and not me. It will take time but hang on in there,

Bullies go for the vunerable but they don’t realise that we are strong as we have just had to beat cancer!!!

Take care. I hope things work out for you.



I had a very similar experience. I started a new job about 10 months after chemotherapy and radiotherapy. At first, I had loads of positive feedback. My performance reviews were outstanding and my manager was always telling me how great I was and that she couldn’t do without me. Then after about 18 months of this I got the call for the recon and had about 10 weeks off. When I went back everything was completely different. I couldn’t do anything right - it was constant put downs and aggressive bullying. Something had changed. I knew that I wasn’t just being super sensitive because other people noticed it. I couldn’t give you any advice because what I did won’t be right for everyone. I just decided life was too short and I handed in my notice making sure that I let her know why I was leaving, although officially I left for other reasons. All she could say was that everyone would blame her.

The problem with a lot of managers is they just don’t realise the obvious, ie, that you can’t speak freely with them no matter how friendly and approachable they
think they are.

Looking back I think she is very sad. She had lots of personal problems and it was simply a case of her taking out her frustrations on the weakest member of the team. I don’t think I could have done anything differently. Even if I had gone through all the grievance procedures the atmosphere would have been unbearable.


Thank you all again for your helpful replies. I think you may have hit the nail on the head sharon, as i know my colleagues have commented that i am different to the person i was prior to dx. i am more assertive and my priorities have changed. Maybe they feel guilty that they weren’t as supportive to me as they could have been whilst i was at home, Just want this witchunt to end so i can just get back to doing my job in peace. Would really, really appreciate any tips

If I were you I’d meet my union rep ahead of the meeting and plan what you want the outcome to be. Just saying how you feel can be quite helpful I’ve found. No-one likes these kinds of meeting but they do sometimes clear the air. Maybe you should say you are a different person now, and you can understand people may be finding this difficult to adjust to, just as you have probably had to make an effort to adjust to coming back to work. Finding someone has made mistakes in your absence must be frustrating, but they must have had to get cover, so that’s one of those things.

I wouldn’t get too paranoid about them having meetings in your absence, they are obviously scared stiff of this meeting, if they had to pay out compensation it would be difficult for a charity, and they probably don’t have the knowledge of employment legislation they need either. Any organisation however small needs to buy into occupational health and HR advice really otherwise they are putting themselves in a very bad position when they get embroiled in staffing issues.

If you just want to get back to your job I’d say so early on, make it clear you really value your job, you want to get back to a situation in which each of your colleagues respects you, and you respect them, but emphasise your priorities have changed since your illness. I’m sure theirs would too given the same circumstances.

And if all that fails, there are other jobs. A fresh start might be a blessing