Workplace bullying is one of the subjects that I always try to highlight on my website. I had witness workplace abuse and how people can take advantage of others while some turn a closed eye on reported bullying.
Cherie White is not one of those who keep silent about workplace abuse. In fact, she she is an advocate for bullied youth and has a passion for spreading bullying awareness and reaching out to those who are bullied and abused today.
I am happy and honoured to have her guest posting on MiddleMe and sharing her experiences with us today.
Before I go into the story, I want to tell you that very few people ever come out the winner if they’re a victim of bullying in the workplace. I say this because when I worked in the toxic and poisonous environment, I’m about to tell you of, I saw so many people who fell victim.
Droves of innocent workers ended up losing their jobs and some, their careers, because of the evil actions of a clique of psychopaths who were handed power they had no business having.
These employees were the best and the kindest people, and my heart broke for them. It still does when I think back.
In late 2007, I began working for a sanitation company that contracted with *Shady Grove Living Center in Oakley. My supervisor, *Darnell, and my coworkers were the best. Sure, we had our disagreements and our spats. Still, I could never have dreamed of working with a better supervisor and team. And on many occasions, we’d have so much fun together!
Another great thing was that we didn’t work for the nursing home, only for a separate company contracted with them. So, in reality, no one at the nursing home had any power over us, though they would’ve loved to think they did.
I was already well aware that the site was very toxic, but I always stood back and observed the people and the goings-on around me. And during my first week of employment there, it didn’t take long to figure out who the troublemakers were.
I made sure to avoid the drama queens, the gossips, and the bullies and went on with my business. Another beauty of it was, is there was a long corridor between the actual nursing facility and the sanitation area, so I didn’t have to work with them nor be around them much at all.
The only time I saw any of them was toward the end of the shift when I’d roll the laundry cart full of clean linens down to the main building to stock the linen closets.
Therefore, for the first year and three months, everything went smoothly, and no one bothered me. I got along with everyone and was seemingly well-liked. That is until I put one snarky CNA in her place for trying to be a wise ass.
This CNA, whom we’ll call, *Candi, had it in her mind that we, who worked in the laundry department, were beneath her and expected us to carry hers and everyone else’s water. Although the CNAs didn’t make any more money than we did, Candi and a few others had no regard for us. We didn’t classify as human to them.
After I schooled her, Candi got her little feelings hurt. So, she ran and cried to her buddies in the nursing home clique, like a sissy on a schoolyard playground. She couldn’t stand that I’d smart-mouthed her, and “how dare” I talk to her like that. Oh! “The nerve of” me!
And she took the rest of the day off as a stress leave because she was so upset. And I knew why she was so peeved. She was the type who couldn’t handle being told a thing or two by someone deemed inferior.
It’s hilarious when I think of it! But that’s when the bullying began.
And over several months, one by one, many people turned against me. Luckily, several of my real friends knew how Candi was and who had no respect for her. They were the people who had my back, so I can say that I did have allies who took care of me.
However, there was a clear division at Shady Grove Living Center. There was the administrator, who I’ll call *Beau, *Cammie, the payroll clerk, the department heads,*Harry (who was Cammie’s husband), one maintenance guy, whose name was *Jules, and two CNAs, *Shelly was one and *Cheryl who were only two of their flying monkeys. On the other side were my supervisor, all of my coworkers (except for one suckup), a charge nurse, and the rest of the CNAs who had my back.
Many times, the bullies made false reports about me to Darnell. On the days after my shift (I worked part-time in the evening), the third shift CNAs would complain that I hadn’t stocked the linen closets on each of the halls and that they had no clean bed pads, bedsheets, nor gowns for the residents who’d soiled their beds during the night.
But because I always thought ahead and could easily predict what these people would do, I made sure to pull out my cellphone and take pictures of all my finished work at the end of my shift.
I took photos of all three shelved walls in each of the linen closets, which were chock full of clean linens. I then took pictures of the insides of all the empty barrels, marked “dirty laundry” before clocking out and going home. And the time-stamps on each image left no question of whether I’d done my job.
I took pictures every night, at the end of the shift. And I had proof to show Darnell every time they lied.
When that didn’t work, the bullies only turned up the harassment, as word had quickly spread throughout the nursing home that I took pictures of all finished work.
In a way, it was funny because each of the linen closets was directly across from the nurse’s desk, where the bullies would sit around and gossip. And I remember overhearing them make snide remarks about my camera and my taking pictures, to which I’d only snicker and chuckle to myself.
Harry, the head of maintenance, would talk pretty ugly to me, but I knew I wasn’t the only one because many times, I’d see him talk terrible to several others- even a few who worked for the nursing home. So, I knew I wasn’t alone.
And because I’d already been a victim of bullying in school, I knew what to expect as bullies pull the same tactics, only adult bullies are much more sophisticated with their attacks. Therefore, I was able to prepare, stay a few steps ahead, and outflank them.
Now during this time, I began to witness a couple of the bullies in this workplace clique commit a few illegal activities. In one instance, I worked a double shift to cover for a coworker who was sick.
Early one Saturday morning, I saw with my own eyes, Harry walk into the back door of the nursing home, dressed in camouflage and his bright orange hunting vest. He crept down the hall past the laundry room, then stopped at the time clock and clock in. Harry then filled out a bogus work order, then leave.
He didn’t return until late that evening. He clocked out and then left again. I’ll never forget the look on his mug when he saw me sitting outside on my last break as he drove right by in his shiny new pick up. And when I told a trusted friend at work a day or two later about what I’d seen, she wasn’t at all surprised.
“Girl! He’s been clocking out and going home on the weekends since I’ve been here! And I’ll tell you something else,” *Brenda told me, “Cammie’s been embezzling from this facility, and she’s been ripping off some of the residents who don’t have families to leave their assets to when they leave this world!”
I felt my eyes pop out of my head as Brenda gave me an ear full!
**Everyone knew about it, but it seemed they were afraid to report it. It was also evident that Harry and Cammie were getting fat off the embezzlement and not only those two but the administrator (Beau) too.
We secretly referred to these three ringleaders of the bully group as “The Thieving Three.” Fran, Marilyn, Misti, and Jules were their lieutenants. At the bottom of this little workplace, cabal were the flying monkeys.
There were so many policy violations and illegal activities happening right before our very eyes. They are as follows:
- Beau also had his Winnebago RV on the property for Harry and Jules to do repairs on during work hours. And this was all done out in the open.
Beau would have them work on his camper, therefore neglecting the repairs the nursing facility needed. They would also work on his car. Can you imagine how much Beau was saving on auto repairs while he ran that nursing home?
- Fighting and Assault on Company Property. And by the administrator himself! Beau was having an affair with another employee. When her husband found out, he came to the nursing home to confront Beau. And Beau invited him out to the parking lot to fight. And the two men got into a brutal fistfight in the parking lot, in broad daylight, in front of God and everyone. And it happened while Beau was on the clock!
After the fight was over, Beau sent word to every employee that if they uttered one word about the incident at work or outside of work, they would not only lose their jobs, but he’d make sure they didn’t work anywhere else.
- Embezzlement. Beau, Harry, and Cammie were robbing Shady Grove blind! Beau made off with several hundreds of thousands of dollars, as did Harry and Cammie. And they were moving up in the world quickly. They all suddenly bought new vehicles and vacation homes on the lake. They began taking lavish vacations and taking them anytime they wanted. For the professions they were working in, they were living high.
Cammie was the payroll clerk and bookkeeper of the facility. She would take the money and doctor the books to make everything look legit. Her husband Harry would clock in, fill out bogus work orders, leave for the day, then come back that night and clock back out before going home. They would also take as many days off as they wanted in a year instead of the allotted vacation time allowed.
Cammie would also make herself Power of Attorney over widowed and childless residents with no families. And she would do this by talking them into signing legal documents, agreeing to leave any assets to her and her husband once they passed away.
Cammie helped her teenage daughter get hired at the nursing home as the person who passed the snacks, juice cups, and the pitchers of ice and water around. She fixed the wages so that her daughter would make twenty dollars per hour on the job.
- Nepotism. Harry and Cammie fixed the system where her children and family got first dibs at any jobs. When the nursing home hired these family members, they would receive massive hourly wages, anywhere from double up to five times the going payments for the job.
It didn’t take long for the whisper to spread, but we had to be careful who we talked around because there were eyes and ears everywhere and increasing in numbers.
Beau, Harry, and Cammie ran the place. Right or wrong, anyone who challenged them in any way, was bullied and mobbed out! And so were anyone who slighted or stood up to any of their favorite people.
Again, Cammie increased her attacks. More and more, she’d provoke me, but I wouldn’t bite. She and the cabal instituted several smear campaigns against me and a few others, but we only doubled down in our resolve not to let them shake us.
I must tell you that it got rough at times. On a few occasions, the payroll clerk and a few CNAsthreatened to catch me out and do physical harm. But it never happened, and back then, I went out all the time. I was lucky.
Although the provocations were stressful, I was able to put my hand up to her, tell her what I thought of her, then walk away.
I must say that Darnell was excellent, a quiet guy, yet firm when he had to be. Darnell was like me. He kept his mouth closed and observed everything that went on around him. The man was much smarter than what people took him to be. He knew what was happening, and he took care of us!
I could never have been more grateful to have such a supervisor. However, this only made the bullies more desperate.
**I remember a night when one of the ringleaders’ flying monkeys, Shelly, a CNA, approached me in the hall, from behind and began screaming, cursing, and threatening to jump me over a rumor that had it that I was stabbing her in the back. She threatened to attack me there on the spot physically, and there were bystanders!
When I turned around, faced her, and called her out for being unprofessional, Shelly became twice as angry. Later, I was afraid that I might face termination because Shelly had escalated the confrontation to an unprecedented level. Also, I’d seen so many others whom these people had pulled the same tactic on getting fired left and right!
I remember thinking, “Well, if I do get canned, they won’t be able to say that they didn’t have to work hard at achieving that goal! At least I’ll leave here knowing I put up one hell of a fight!”
One of the bystanders was Deb, the charge nurse, and Shelly’s supervisor and buddy. Therefore, I knew that Deb would sweep Shelly’s behavior under the rug and paint me as the instigator.
Sure enough, she did. These people had a way of turning everything around to fit their narrative and getting others to agree with it.
The other guy was always to blame.
It was always the other guy’s fault.
It was never their fault, and they were never wrong.
They reported the incident to Darnell and suggested that he terminate me right then and there. When he talked to me about it, I calmly explained that Shelly had approached me from behind in a very threatening manner, that I feared for my physical safety, and didn’t know what she would do had I not faced her down. And by this time, I’d worked under Darnell long enough that he knew the kind of person I was and that I was only taking care of myself.
So, again, Darnell had my back and went to bat for me. Also, I had made an awesome friend out of Jane, who was another charge nurse at the nursing home. She, too, went to bat for me as did several of my coworkers.
Each time nothing happened to me, the bullies only became angrier and crazier, until they were all out for blood! It was then that I starting noticing Jules hovering around in the hall just outside the door to the laundry room. Later, I’d see him milling around nearby anytime I’d stop in the hallway to greet and talk to friends. And I’ve got to tell you! He gave me such a creepy vibe!
Next, I began seeing him standing across the street from my apartment, smoking a cigarette. And I could tell he was watching my apartment. Now that freaked me out!
I found out that he and the neighbor across the street had begun dating and that he was there to see her. She didn’t allow smoking in her house, so he had no choice but to smoke outside. Still, I didn’t feel any better. I felt as if I was being stalked!
I knew why he was hanging around so close. Jules was an eavesdropper for Cammie and her group, listening in on our convos in the laundry room and my discussions with friends in the hallway. Everybody knew it because he’d done the same to many others.
My instinct also told me they’d enlisted him to watch my house as well. He was looking for any information with which to report back to Cammie.
The fact that Jules’ girlfriend lived across the street from me was a convenient cover for him and they knew it. Although I knew what was going on, I didn’t speak of it because I knew I couldn’t without sounding paranoid. I did the best thing by keeping it to myself but filing it in the back of my mind.
Luckily, his girlfriend was a good friend of mine and I knew she only kept him around because she was lonely. So, I used it to my advantage and she would volunteer to tell me little tidbits about his checkered past.
Not much later, Darnell, having himself become a target of the vitriol that inflected the workplace, announced to us that he had put in his two-week notice of resignation and was moving on to a better job and a better work environment. Although we were happy that he’d finally found something better and was getting out of that hellhole, we were also deeply saddened because we’d miss him so much. We saw Darnell as our fearless leader, our Captain Ahab, and our hero!
What kind of leader would the new supervisor be? And would they protect us from those devils down the hall as Darnell had?
Choosing not to leave anything to chance, I decided that I’d put in my notice as well. Being the type of woman who would always think ahead, I knew that once Darnell was gone, I’d be totally at their mercy. I had a sickening feeling that the next supervisor would toady up to the bullies in the upper echelons of management and the social order.
I knew that Cammie had long waited, with bated breath, for the day when Darnell would either quit or get fired. Then, she could begin working on the new supervisor, ingratiate herself in them, and turn them against us.
Sure enough, my closest coworker told me she’d overheard Cammie saying precisely that, and she was recommending that the new supervisor terminate three of us. Knowing I was one of the three, I quickly filled out my two weeks notice of resignation and gave it to Darnell.
Darnell introduced us to the new supervisor. She was a short, dumpy woman in her forties and by her facial expression, which was hard and cold, I made the conclusion that putting in my notice was the smartest thing to do and gave myself a pat on the back.
Off and on during the last two weeks, I’d catch those tiny micro flashes of suspicion and contempt the new supervisor would flash toward me and a few others. And the bullies were completely enraged once word of my pending exit reached their ears. But once I was out of there, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I was quite proud of myself for having escaped that toxic place and walked away from the job with confidence and my self-esteem still intact.
But the best and juiciest part is yet to be told!
Six months after Darnell and I walked away from “the cesspool,” that was the environment at Shady Grove Living Center, the fit finally hit the shan. I was outside walking my dog when a neighbor, who still worked at the nursing home, stopped me to relay some exciting news.
Beau, Harry, and Cammie, better known as “The Thieving Three,” had all been fired from the facility earlier that day. The news had traveled that fast!
She told me that the owners of the nursing home had suddenly shown up and had the three of them escorted off the property. An Acting Administrator took Beau’s place. A temporary Bookkeeper/Payroll Clerk and Head of Maintenance took the positions of Cammie and Harry.
Over the next few weeks, several others were fired as well. The DON (Director of Nursing) was let go after having been caught stealing narcotics to feed her addiction to pain pills, as were a few other nurses. The owners also terminated the dietary manager, as were several CNAs, most of who had been loyal flying monkeys to The Thieving Three.
So many got the ax and within such a short amount of time! The owners cleaned that place out! After it was all said and done, I could probably count on one hand the people spared.
It was the buzz around town for well over a month. Harry and Cammie were so scared that by the end of the week after the owners terminated them, they threw everything into two U-hauls and skipped town. Surprisingly, Shady Grove never pressed charges. I guessed that the nursing home didn’t want to end up with a black eye.
Harry and Cammie moved somewhere around Clarkville or Paris, TN, somewhere close to the Tennessee River. Cammie ended up working for the County Medical Center, in the same position she had at Shady Grove. Later, she committed the same crimes there; only the Medical Center didn’t let it slide as Shady Grove had.
They pressed charges, Cammie was found guilty in court, and the judge sentenced her to three years in the state prison. She only served two years.
I’ll never forget the tyrannical reign of The Thieving Three over the employees of Shady Grove, and neither will I forget their downfall. It is why I firmly believe that most bullies usually get their just desserts in the end, just as these bullies did.
(*not the real name)