You might think that bullies exist on the playground and not in the office, but unfortunately that's often not the case. In a survey this year, 30% of American adults reported that they'd experience workplace bullying, plus another 19% said they'd witnessed bullying taking place.
So I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their experiences with bullies at work. Here are their stories:
1."I was bullied at work by my 'friends,' and it went on for months. It started when I stood up against one of them for unequally distributing workload in our team and making mine heavier than the rest. She started throwing shade on Facebook and having loud conversations with other coworkers about how much she hates me. She was the queen bee, and anyone who stood up to her would end up getting bullied by her group of friends just like me."
2."I had a supervisor that I KNEW hated me. I did my work well and didn't complain or report them because they were buddies with their supervisor (head designer in garment industry, NYC, 1990s). Well, on my last day, she said to my face, 'I always hated you and tried to make your life a living hell around here, but you didn't take the bait. I respect you for that and like you so much more now that you're not working here.' *_* Yup!"
3."My bully was my old boss. He was trying to teach me the job, but he would get so mean and frustrated when I needed more direction. He had been doing this for 30 years, and me, just a few months. He acted as though I should have known everything by then, but I didn't. He would berate me all the time in front of people, making me feel so small and stupid."
"I quit after four years, and NO, I never really did get the hang of the job because he set me up for failure time and again, almost like he was forcing me out. I came back to the company in a new position with really caring, wonderful coworkers who taught me and let me make mistakes and try again. He's still here, still mean, and he's had about four other people under him in the last seven years alone. But no one does anything about it."
4."When I was new at my job, I befriended a guy and his mates. Little did I know that the guy was sleeping with another girl at work — who was cheating on her long-term partner with him. I started getting death glares at work. People stopped talking to me and unfriended me on Facebook. Then one day after work, I found my back windscreen had been smashed by a rock."
5."My coworkers bullied me in the break room and bathroom. I was extremely skinny without trying and ate like a bottomless pit. I got followed into the bathroom by a group of girls. They spread vile rumors about me having eating disorders. I did not, but I did have issues with food from childhood trauma. I ended up eating in my vehicle to avoid them — if I ate at all. The bullying got so bad that I avoided the bathroom at all costs. I got bladder and kidney infections regularly from holding it for 10-plus hours and not drinking enough."
6."I had a manager at my last position who became unbearable. When we moved on to working from home, she would message constantly, telling me my Teams was yellow and asking if I was there. She was belittling, rude, and arrogant. The best thing was that when I finally went to HR and her manager spoke to her, she called me into her office to tell me that she couldn't believe I went to HR because she was so approachable."
7."I used to be good friends with a girl I Lyft-shared with. We worked in different departments for the same company. One day, a vacancy came up in her department and she urged me to go for it. She even said she would put in a good word, as it would be so great to work together."
8."I was a dance teacher and choreographer at a dance studio. A girl I worked with would constantly undermine me in front of the kids I was teaching, telling me when she thought an exercise I was doing was stupid in front of the whole class, and even gossiped about me with the dance moms."
"Once she texted me that our boss had said I was doing a bad job teaching a class, and that our boss had decided to make her in charge of the class. Interestingly, I heard none of this information from our boss, so I asked her about it. Of course she had never told my coworker any of this. I went ahead and disclosed the other things my coworker was doing, and my boss sat down and talked to her about it, and made sure we never taught the same class again. She didn’t come back to work after that year."
9."I applied for a job at a craft store. One of the supervisors interviewed me, and she hired me. I show up day one, and the manager is furious because the supervisor had hired me. I used a wheelchair at the time. The manager didn’t want an employee in a wheelchair, but she couldn’t fire me for being disabled. Instead, she had several of her friends come into the store and harass me."
"They would get me into conversations and lead me into saying something that wasn’t work appropriate, and then they would walk directly into her office to report me. Like this one lady in particular would come in, start a fight with me, and then walk through the office door like she owned the place. And then the manager would call me in and be like, 'A customer said this about you, and I know I can trust what they say because I know them personally.' The first time she ever spoke a word to me, she called me a liar. When I didn’t do anything she could fire me for, she doxxed me. She gave out my phone number to her friends so they could call me and harass me at home. I finally had enough and I left, but I’ve since been told that I probably should have filed a lawsuit."
10."I took a sick day because of my known mental health condition. My boss told me I'd have a disciplinary unless I returned the next day. I felt compelled to return the next day, and my boss told me to joke about in the team chat and not be withdrawn due to my anxiety. I DID joke on the team chat. Boss then took me to a disciplinary 'for not taking things seriously.'"
11."The boss who bullied me talked badly about everyone, had unrealistic expectations, and gaslit anyone she could. She'd make fun of my eating habits, and she stressed me out so much that I lost 30 pounds. She also made a racist remark insinuating that I was friends with someone before we worked together because we're both of the same ethnicity."
"It didn't help that she had me working alongside her husband. She'd give him the more favorable leads and routes and give me the way-out-there outliers. I realized that I was doing twice the work and getting half the pay compared to her husband, and I called her out for it. She fired me on the spot but asked me to come back same night. Because of her, I don't allow people to treat me like shit anymore."
12."My old boss would out me to random customers (I hadn't come out fully at that point), especially men who she fancied who were being nice to me. She would literally shout, 'Don't bother — she's a lesbian' across the store."
"She once called me on my day off to cover for someone who went home sick. Like the young naive girl I was back then, I agreed to come in. Then she shouted at me in front of everyone for being late and docked my pay.
I went through a stressful time personally and had a breakdown at work. I was told by the regional manager (who was lovely) to take some time off to be with my family. Upon returning to work, my actual manager told me that if I ever do that again she will sack me on the spot.
Needless to say, I handed in my notice three days later. On my last day, I literally walked out giving her the finger. It was great."
13."A coworker who I thought was a friend got on a power trip and started bossing people around. She threatened to fire people when she didn’t have the authority. She even recorded a male coworker going to the bathroom and played it for people. It was so messed up. She was having problems with her marriage and took it out on us at work rather than dealing with her problems at home."
14."I worked at a scammy supplement-selling company right out of college because the pay was high. The oldest guy in my office was physically 40 but emotionally like 14. He often and openly gossiped with managers about the quality of everyone’s work (despite getting regular complaints about his own) but would then be friendly to your face."
"I once took two days off to attend a wedding, and the first thing out of his mouth when I came back was, 'You know you have a LOT of work to do, right?' He remarked more than once that I would be working this job forever because my degree was 'useless,' and when I finally quit, he said he would see me back soon. Dude was straight-up awful."
15.And finally, "I worked mainly in customer service and jewelry at a department store and was not allowed to leave my department. One day, a customer asked me if we had air conditioners. We sold random stuff like vacuums and fans, so I asked just to be sure. My manager's voice cut in and said this on the walkie for all employees to hear: 'Come on, [name]. When have we ever carried something like that? Next time, use your brain and think before you ask a stupid question on the walkie.' Literally coworkers approached me apologizing or telling me what she did was awful, and they couldn't believe she had the nerve to say that."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
Have you ever dealt with a bully at work? Share how you got through it in the comments!
And for more stories about work and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.