Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tom's story

Tom was a victim of bullying at his workplace. This is his story.


My work record after 34 years in the media was good enough to be appointed to a bureau posting to work some two thousand km's away from the head office. This involved moving my family. On arrival in my new office I found it festooned with homophobic and racist posters. I ignored them but that was just the start. After facing abuse every day I asked my Pic Editor to intervene - nothing was done. Each time I asked for help and nothing was done the tempo of abuse would escalate.

It was during a visit by a chief of staff (whose face was used on the homophobic posters) that my car was trashed in a secure company car park. During this visit my attackers thought it funny to let me know that they had guns and ammunition and were prepared to use them. The cheif of staff removed the posters and directed me not to tell the police investigating the damaged car about the office issues and assured me he would 'fix it". The hostilities continued. The Pic Editor, a man who knew me for many years then called in the HR department. For one day the abuse stopped. The next day the abuse started with a renewed hatred. The head of the HR department later told me he was called to the editors’ office and told his department would not be involved and instead the chief of staff would handle it.

The attacks continued with harassment on the street and threats against my partner. I informed the Pic Ed I was no longer prepared to stay. On my return to the city the real abuse started. I was sent to company doctors only interested in proving me mad. I was sat in a room for eight hour shifts. If I was given a job it would be handed to me with comments like "this would suit your type". I watched as thirty-four years of honourable work went down the drain.

Later accessing my Workcover records I found reports written by my section heads with statements like "Tom is the most overt homosexual he had ever met and could not imagine me taking offence at anything said to him". He also accused me of racism in another report. One of their supervisors said "there was no problem in the office and that Tom had entered into a homosexual relationship and that was the problem". The editor refused my request to confront these men about their racist and homophobic reports.

I have documented all the events and would like the Editor to grant me the independent enquiry the union and my former workmates demanded.

The damage caused by bullying lasts for life. The damage caused to me but also to those close to me is enough for me to make it my life's work to stand up against this vile crime. They have demanded confidentiality agreements and tried in other ways to silence me and to some degree I have functioned beyond it but this campaign has made the events of all those years ago seem as if it was only yesterday.


Thanks for sharing with us Tom.

1 comment:

  1. Tom, your experience is so sad and unfortunately typical of many others. You are right, the damage done by bullying is not easily repairable and improvement can take many years, if ever.
    Standing up for what you believe in is sometimes difficult when you have suffered such trauma, so well done for telling your story.