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Manager is harrassing/bullying me at work

Community Member

Hi,  I have been having difficulty with my immediate manager at work. She has recently been promoted to a higher role, and I have stepped into her old role. She is constantly trying to discredit me with my managers and colleagues. Gone so far to create the impression that im lazy and bad in my role. She has been doing and saying things over the past few months that I have been documenting, but this week someone put in a formal complaint because I dont wear my mask, but a few people including managers, dont wear them. She has since been watching me like a hawk and today managed to get me in trouble for recycling paper, which is akin to committing a crime in the laboratory I work for. She constantly looks for reasons to complain about me and once took something I said completely out of context to create the impression I am a deviant and dont intend to do my job properly. I dont understand why she targets me as all I want to do is work and forget about the place. She is an avid rule follower, so when I deviate from the rules, she feels the need to "punish" me, even though others do the same thing. What is wrong with this woman and what should I do about it?

11 Replies 11

Community Member

Hi scully78,


Thank you for your post and for sharing your story. I'm sorry to hear that you've been having issues with your manager around being harassed and bullied. I know that work can already be stressful enough, especially if you have any underlying mental health issues. 


Even for me, working at a mental health organisation, I occasionally found available support and attitudes lacking. Fortunately there are things we can do and there are resources. Although I was not aware of it until recently, there is some great information available on heads up on mental health in the workplace. It has a great section on workplace bullying and some of the actions you can take: https://www.headsup.org.au/your-mental-health/bullying-information-for-employees I think it is especially important to form a strong relationship with your HR team, even when things are going well. 


I hope my post helps a little bit and that you can find some useful information on the forums and in the heads up resource. Please keep us updated on how you go at work and I hope things improve in the near future. If you ever need to chat to one of our counsellors over the phone or online you can always click the "immediate support" button at the top right hand corner of the page. They are available 24/7. 💙🙂




Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi scully78,


Im sorry things is happening to you.


What I would suggest doing is just keep your head down and try to do your job to the best of your ability.


I understand that this person is bullying you and this isn’t ok, you could go higher up the ladder and let your Manager know what is going on in your perspective.


Just try to stay calm and not react to what this person is doing.


Eventually people will see this  person for who this person is.


You know yourself and that’s all that matters.





Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello scully, people are allowed not to wear masks under certain circumstances, but this manager has all the intentions to discredit you by way of bullying you, and that's not acceptable in any profession.

Can I suggest what that you document whatever she does to you by date, time and cause and in comparison to everyone else, the more data you can show that this is happening the better it will be if you decide to report this to the Fair Trading Commission and for them to make a decision on what's going to happen. 

You can also consult a lawyer if you want to go down that track, but please let us know.


Life Member. 

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Scully78~

I'd like to welcome you back, it's nice to hear from you even if the reason is not good.


Being bullied is a horrible thing to have to go though, there does not seem a clear way out of it and one ends up feeling powerless and getting to hate going to work.


I've no easy answer but perhaps I can set things out reasonably clearly so you can make up your mind what's best.


The first of course is to do nothing. This means the behavior will most probably continue.


It may of course be you eventually end up in a situation where real trouble is raised against you. That's just a guess of course. The fact you are documenting everything is a really excellent idea and would be invaluable to prove a concerted course of bullying behaviour, much better than dealing with one reported incident.


The other course of action is to make a complaint yourself, and there are various avenues for doing this , starting with any HR system in your work, and ending up with the Fair Work Commission


Now this may well end up with some action taken, particularly using those notes, however firstly the end result may not be cut and dried and secondly making a complaint would for most people, me included, be a very worrying and anxious time.


So I suppose it is a question of balancing two unhappy options, keep plowing on and enduring the bullying, or making a complaint and having to prove it with all the delays and anxiety it brings.


While I'm talking about your work may I ask if you have anyone there who is on your side, and you can talk frankly with? Trying to deal with this in isolation can be very hard.


Please let me know what you think








Summer Rose
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Scully

You’ve had some really great responses, so I won’t repeat. 
I just wanted to chime in about your complaint options. If you want to make a complaint you don’t have to start internally—you can jump straight to an external regulator like Fair Work Australia. Many people do this for a variety of reasons. It’s okay and they will help you through the process.

For what it’s worth, in my view, the bullying is not going to stop unless you take action or leave.

One last thing, the bully is also likely keeping diary notes. Make sure with your notes that you record any witnesses who could verify your version of events.

Kind thoughts to you

Community Member

Hi Croix,

Its very nice to hear from you again :). Thank you very much for your input and for all the others that have lent their support. It is very much appreciated. 


To answer your question, I have already briefly raised the issue with my department manager, who is her direct manager. Though an official complaint was put in against me last week regarding not wearing my mask, I had noticed the week prior to this complaint, He had started to wear his mask properly, which he hadn't done before. I cant help but wonder if he did this with the intent to appear supportive of her decision to put in this complaint? (I am not 100% sure it was her that put in the complaint as it was anonymous, but it is very likely and other staff members believe the same given her nature.) 

The department manager has been taken to HR before. He is married with 2 kids, but developed feelings for a former colleague. She rejected his advances, took her complaints to HR and subsequently left the industry. He made her life unbearable at work. My direct manager is very similar to this man in her style of management and is a huge rule follower. Will NEVER break any rules, its almost obsessive. Never takes off her mask and is known in the laboratory for being a snitch. She frequently "dobs" on her colleagues, which no doubt puts her in a very good light in managements eyes. Can do no wrong!

I dont feel like I can trust the department manager and HR are useless!! But the laboratory manager is a lovely man and I am thinking about talking to him. I dont know if I can trust him, but there is no harm in trying. I dont see a long term future in this laboratory and am prepared to resign with or without a job. 

So, I guess there is no harm in taking this matter further. Its just a matter of when the right time is to do so. In the meantime, I will take a week off work to give my body a break from the stress. 

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Scully78~

It sounds to me as if you have this matter figured out. Taking a week off to relieve the stress could be a very good idea, particularly if it makes decision making clearer.


Your lab does not sound a good place ot work, with an atmosphere of being reported always present, and a departmental manager who has a very poor record.


It does make a huge difference where one works, while I'm sure even the best of them may have the  occasional problem it basically has to be somewhere you are comfortable.


I guess having a friendly face can make a big difference, even if you do not take him wholly into your confidence.


Please let us know how things go



Community Champion
Community Champion



first of all, I do not doubt anything you are saying about what is happening and how it feels to you. I am going to take a slightly differently tack to the other responses and ask ...


what (do you think) makes your manager think or act the way they do?

is it possible she has her own stresses and this comes out at work?

I wonder if part of her actions are a result of own upbringing?


I could be wrong on all accounts, and I know that it may not help you with how you think about the situation. except that I have found reframing thoughts to be helpful for myself.


Listening to you.

Hi again

I think it’s a really good idea to take a break from work. You can use your sick leave, or if you choose to, or don’t have sick leave, you can file a Worker’s Compensation claim, as this is a work related injury/illness.

Either way be sure to tell your GP it’s work related. This will give you a record, just in case you ever need it.

Kind thoughts to you