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First of all, please pardon my English -- it's not my native language -- so if there are any mistakes, I'll be available in the comments section.

I'm currently stuck in an awkward situation at work and was looking to ask for another perspective on what I could and should do.

So, to start off: I work at a huge, international company as a tier 1 associate (meaning I'm the lowest in the food chain) and have been working here for 7 months. As for hourly targets, I've been achieving them both in terms of quantity as well as quality with the team leaders being very pleased with the work I do, as I've been told multiple times.

About 2 months ago, a friend of mine (let's call him George), who's been working as a proxy to a higher level worker (let's call him Marty for the sake of this story), said that he's quitting and moving on to do different things. I asked if there's any chance I could jump right into his shoes, so-to-say, as I knew I had some of the qualities Marty's looking for. George's hooked me up for a written test, which I passed -- as I was told by Marty -- "the best out of anyone taking it," and soon enough my training's started.

After a week or so, I had a pretty long talk with my manager (Emmett, for the sake of the story) in regards to me taking up the proxy post -- about my goals, how long I plan to stay with the workplace, whether I'd like to pursue education, etc.. Emmett's had some reservations regarding some of my personal skills, which I proved to him to be wrong based on some situations that I faced throughout my employment. What's important to the story is that he's said that none of the people he's talked to has guaranteed him that they want to stay with the company for a longer time. All in all, he's said after that I passed. We went on to Marty and we were both told that starting as soon as my friend quits, Marty and I will be working together.

George's quit, I've worked for a week and then started my half a month long vacation. I get back to work and I start seeing some signs that worry me: there's a guy doing my job, essentially. I thought to myself this: both you and Marty were on vacation, perhaps it was just a task given to him beforehand. Emmett's a professional, he would have told you if anything was going on. So I didn't bother with it since Emmett has never mentioned anything to me. But Marty asks Emmett if it's okay if he has two proxies. The idea gets shut down by Emmett pretty quick. Anyway, I continue on for a month or so and no problem get brought up at all.

One of the team leaders (let's call him Biff) asks me to come to talk to him. I arrive and we talk for a bit. What he's told me is that according to new arrangements, I work two days helping out Marty (the days we both are on shift), and two days I'm directly involved in "the process" (that's what the more physical labour is called, in opposition to the proxy duties I've been doing). He's very straightforward, I'd even say cocky in his delivery. I remain calm and try to persuade him, answering that there's still plenty of work I still have to do, and seeing that Marty was away on a business trip that day, it'd be vital for me to fix the issues for the business to thrive. He agrees but tells me that once I'm finished, I should chat some leader up and get back to the process.

Knowing that no arrangements have been passed on to me by neither Marty or Emmett, I try to arrange a chat with him to ask him about some of the recent happenings. In the meanwhile, Biff would come to my desk and do random and very childish stuff, like kick the wheels of a chair to get my attention and make fun of me taking part in the process the next day. I'd be asked on multiple occasions by two of his proxies when was the last time I took part in the process, or what part of the process I was doing that day, all in mocking fashion.

I had a talk with Emmett about all this, and he's told me that they have limited hourly distribution of tasks available and while he can make an argument for me being on the proxy task for, say half a months time, he can't do it for over 160 hours monthly, and that I'm not the only person interested in personal growth by taking up the mantle of being the proxy (none of which I've known prior to becoming the proxy, or even straight-up conflicting with what I've been told before). As for George, he's only participated in the process when the other higher level worker had to meet up with Marty and be on our shift.

Fast forward to last week, I go up to the stand-up area and shake hands with everybody. When I shook hands with Biff, he just told me "you, dude, are fucked."

What's pretty important to the story is that I have a history of having anxiety disorders since I was a student at a university and had to call it quits because of my mental well-being. Last week, I felt like my professional situation is in danger and I felt like all the conflicts with Biff caused my anxiety disorder to relapse.

Emmett lives with Biff so I can't really go solve all my problems with Emmett since they're in cahoots with each other.

I was hoping you could lend me a helping hand on what I could do and how I could try and solve this situation. I know I have some qualities that could help the business big time and my knowledge and skills are being put to waste by me taking part in the process.

How I could try to fight off the harassment and bullying I described and was on the receiving end of? Who should I try to reason with and make a point about that? Is the situation I described applicable to mobbing? Should I try to find legal advice or seek my rights in court?

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    Who, out of all these people, is your boss and what do they say your duties are? – HorusKol Aug 13 '18 at 4:29
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    Your problem seems to have a few aspects. 1. You didn't get the promotion you was promised. 2. Your tasks are not clear. 3. Someone higher up the chain is being rude (potentially harrassing) you. Is that correct? – Cyonis Aug 13 '18 at 7:14
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    This is a bit TL;DR, maybe you could write a summary? – user Aug 13 '18 at 9:10
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    The title isn't suitable for this site. It's not searchable. – Keith Loughnane Aug 13 '18 at 10:39
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    Could someone edit the title so that it contains the three points from summary, please? – razorramon Aug 13 '18 at 10:57
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Taking Belle-Sophie's summary as the basis for this answer:

  1. You didn't get the promotion you was promised.
  2. Your tasks are not clear.
  3. Someone higher up the chain is being rude (potentially harrassing) you.

You may have no real choice that solves all your problems but to look elsewhere for employment. However, taking each one in turn:

  1. This is arguably the hardest one to solve. If they've decided, for whatever reason, that you're not going to get this promotion then it's going to be rather challenging to persuade them otherwise (as it seems like you've already found out.) The best answer to this is likely what you've been told already - the following makes it pretty clear that the work you're after just isn't there, so they can't give it to you:

    they have limited hourly distribution of tasks available and while he can make an argument for me being on the proxy task for, say half a months time, he can't do it for over 160 hours monthly, and that I'm not the only person interested in personal growth by taking up the mantle of being the proxy (none of which I've known prior to becoming the proxy, or even straight-up conflicting with what I've been told before).

    Also note that some of your arguments aren't really valid for this - no-one can guarantee they'll be in the company for a long time, anyone who says so could easily be lying with no recourse.

    Your only real potential "solution" to this is to hang around and hope that another potential promotion comes up later that you're accepted into, but that' sa bit of a long shot.

  2. Try to, where possible, get as much information as you can in writing about your tasks rather than just having casual chats with people about what's going on. It makes it much easier for you to read through this later to make sure you really don't understand, and if so it then gives you a structured format to ask questions (and of course gives a record of those responses.)

  3. My advice for this is the same as with near any instance of harassment - document the incidents with Biff clearly, concisely, thoroughly and without emotion. Take that to HR, let them handle it, and make sure you remain on point in any meetings you may have about it.

Overall though, I'd have to encourage you to question where an environment where you're being harassed, not offered any kind of promotion and aren't being given any clear instructions over tasks is one where you want to work. It may be possible to fix all the above issues given time, but depending on your situation, it may be possible to fix them much more quickly by bailing and seeking employment elsewhere.

  • Do you think that escalating this issue to higher ups could be a possibility? One thing for sure is that I would have no future in my current department if I did that – razorramon Aug 13 '18 at 14:10
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    @razorramon It depends on which one of the three issues here you're talking about, but I don't think so (save for HR on the third point.) The first isn't likely to get you anywhere (they don't have the work available, you can't demand it by going higher up), the second is likely to get a response of you need to make sure you're clear on your tasks, and the third is HR territory (rather than "going above your manager's head" territory.) Though I come back to my previous point in that would you want a future in a department where you're harassed & bullied. – berry120 Aug 13 '18 at 14:21
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Quite frankly, if one can put any merit to Biff's possibly spontaneous (satisfied/happy?)outburst

[...] "you, dude, are fucked."[...]

it looks like you're on your way to getting fired or demoted to full "process monkey" the very least.

Unless it was another way for Biff to mess with you, adding to your potential harrassement claim.

Somehow it seems you fell from grace while you were away or someone saw a chance to undermine (or get ahead of) you and take your position / give it to someone more favourable to them.

Either way, considering the relationship between Emmit and Biff AND the lack of proxy work AND the vanished promotion I suggest you look for another company to work at if you're unhappy with being (re-)assigned to "process work" or to work with these people any longer.

In the meantime consult a lawyer if you already may have a case to bring to HR (to improve your work conditions regarding Biff's behaviour) and / or court (though I doubt this).

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