My boss has a history of bullying multiple people in the past to work crazy hours to meet absolutely unrealistic deadlines which have led to numerous cases of serious depression and even one (thankfully unsuccessful) attempt of suicide among his employees. I have heard a story of one person getting so depressed, it led to a divorce and him emigrating to another country.
He is known in the industry for developing a start-up company with his partners and selling it for a couple dozen million euros.
In public he is a very soft spoken and friendly person. I would say he seems like the friendliest person I have ever met, which causes cognitive dissonance in my brain. This is how a lot of other business owners, managers and generally people in the industry know him.
In Sweden, where I live, it is a part of the culture to avoid confrontations at all cost so to what I have seen so far is that most people who had any guts to deal with the situation quietly quit.
I have done something stupid. I confronted him publicly and demanded a change. Lots of people supported me privately, but not a single one joined me in the public.
His reaction was cutting my benefits, creating obstructions to my work, not inviting me to meetings, ignoring me, taking away my projects and assigning made up meaningless tasks to me.
I have informed HR and after some behind closed doors talks I was offered either relocation to Germany (as I am German myself) or 6 months pay and resignation. Since I have a mortgage, wife and two preschool kids, I have chosen the latter.
Now I am searching for a new job and facing a true job seeker's nightmare:
- interviews being cancelled at the last moment
- people that tried to recruit me in the past do not even reply to my emails
- yesterday's interviewers hanging up the phone
Last Friday a friend of mine from the company I have had an absolutely fantastic interview last week, after which I received super short rejection email, told me everyone approved me, but last week they received an email from my current boss telling them not to hire me, because "I am conflicting" and "will certainly cause problems".
Today, I had a quick chat with a union representative and a lawyer. Both told me that technically he is just exercising his freedom of speech and it'll be hard to run a legal action against him, but I should collect all the evidence and proofs of all the interactions between him and me, so I went back to office after work hours and found out that my inbox is missing lots of emails sent to him and HR.
This guy destroyed my reputation and all the evidence of this.
Now I am having a panic attack and trying to calm myself with whiskey while my wife and kids are watching a movie.
How can I prevent my former boss from sabotaging future job opportunities?
TL;DR I have a bullying manager who is very well-connected in the industry and is destroying my reputation.