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My mom is a store manager at a big dollar store corporation. She has worked there nearly 5 years and has loved it however, she recently got a new district manager. He moved her to a different store that was completely trashed and gave her no help to fix it. She has been trying her best and he has been honestly what I consider to be bullying her. He has called her in the exact words he used "useless" multiple times and it's wrong to me no one should be demeaned like that. So if I was to talk to her boss and tell him that he is seriously messing with her mental health (which she has a bad history with and I'm scared this is going to push her over) would I potentially get her fired? Is it wrong for me to say something? I honestly don't know what to do but I'm immensely worried. Please help

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    A country or region tag might be useful here. – pip install Monica Dec 4 '19 at 18:07
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    It is her life, her job and her future. Not yours nor mine. So none of your business – Ed Heal Dec 4 '19 at 20:32
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    If the tables were turned, how would your boss interpret your mother doing this for you? Maybe you can role-play her boss and help her practice standing up for herself instead. – spuck Dec 4 '19 at 21:22
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    "tell him that he is seriously messing with her mental health" Please do not disclose details about her mental health to her bully, or to anyone else for that matter. If you're trying to get her fired, or if you want your mother to stop talking to you for the rest of your life, there are easier ways of achieving those goals. If you really want to help her, help her by preparing her resume, and help her by encouraging her to apply to other jobs. – Stephan Branczyk Dec 5 '19 at 0:44
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So if I was to talk to her boss and tell him that he is seriously messing with her mental health (which she has a bad history with and I'm scared this is going to push her over) would I potentially get her fired?

Yes, you could.

Whether she would be fired over this depends on location / culture / how much of an arse the boss is, but it certainly strikes me as something that's more likely to harm, rather than help the situation. Instead, I'd recommend talking through possible lines of enquiry your mother can take, herself, with you acting as an advisory (if that's what you both deem appropriate.)

If it were me, I'd recommend two separate angles. Firstly, she needs to ensure she's being pro-active in requesting the help that's required to get the store up and running well, and actively following those points up if that help isn't provided. Secondly, she needs to record everything (including the above requests / responses for help, and every time the boss calls her useless or something equally as demeaning.)

After a while, there's then two potential options:

  • Being pro-active and disciplined in creating that paper trail has lead to a better outcome, where she's more on top of the situation and is able to turn the store around - fantastic. Everyone's a winner.
  • Nothing has changed, her requests for help are ignored and the manager is still an arse - in which case she has a fantastic paper trail for going to HR and filing a complaint. This shouldn't be used lightly of course, but if he's treating her like dirt anyway, there's not much to lose.
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    If your mother is an adult, then it's up to her to communicate with her job, not family members. You can help in other ways, as this answer points out, but the job part is up to her. The only time you should talk to her boss is if she is not coming in and not able to communicate that herself (like in the hospital). (This comment is US-centric.) – thursdaysgeek Dec 4 '19 at 18:19
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    Agreed with @thursdaysgeek , Having a family member intervene in this way is a very 'bad look'-- it will reflect poorly on your mother and make her look incapable and unprofessional. It may actually make the bully bolder, since it shows 'weakness'. – Meg Dec 4 '19 at 20:10
  • I agree that standing up for your relative is only a last resort and should likely not be done without permission of said relative. And it can get that relative fired. But if all else fails it is still an option, if only to show your relative that you care – user180146 Dec 5 '19 at 10:33
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Short answer: YOU ABSOLUTELY can get her fired

Longer answer.

Say nothing, as any action you can take will only hurt your mother.

Putting on evil, bullying manager hat

If I were a bullying manager, and I was calling someone "useless", and her son came up and said something to me, I'd think even less of her. I might fire her outright, by noting everything still trashed, and documenting that as evidence of her being useless, and firing her on the grounds of incompetence.

Worse, I might simply make her life hell until she quits. Here's just one thing such a person might say to your mother.

are you really so weak and useless that you have to have your kid fight your battles for you?

Any problem she has I would say

"Do you need your kid to handle that for you too?"

Remember, you just told me how to get rid of her. She's getting sick from this, so I can just play on that, then she'll quit.

So yes, it is absolutely wrong of you to say something.

If this manager is as much of a jerk as you say, said manager would absolutely use that against you mom in the ways I outlined, or worse.

This is a battle she needs to fight on her own. You cannot help, and can only harm things.

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    I don't know if those examples are really needed... – Tvde1 Dec 6 '19 at 13:06
  • @Tvde1 plenty of room for you to provide a better answer, or edit this one if you like. – Old_Lamplighter Dec 6 '19 at 13:40
  • "you cannot help, and can only harm things" you can absolutely help. there's so many ways to help. provide a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear (with the occasional interjection of "god, what an asshole"), maybe help comb through job sites and proofread cover letters. it's really just the one specific form of help in the question that would be bad. – user371366 Jan 31 at 5:16
  • @user371366 except that that has nothing to do with the question asked – Old_Lamplighter Jan 31 at 13:33
  • Richard, neither does "you cannot help, and can only harm things" – user371366 Feb 4 at 4:43
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I honestly don't know what to do but I'm immensely worried.

Any issue that your mother is having is between her and her boss. If she feels that he is being demeaning, she can and should be able to speak up for herself. If the boss continues his behavior, she can and should escalate through the appropriate channels within her company.

You can speak with her and remind her of the options that are available to her, but at the end of the day she is the one that needs to talk to the boss and/or whomever else within the company that can help resolve her issues. Your mother is a store manager, she should be sufficiently capable of managing her own problems without your intervention.

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It may or may not get her fired but it's almost certain to make it works and it's damn sure not going to help resolve her situaion, which is undeniably extremely unpleasant. I can sympathize, I really can - I've been there where I'd have liked nothing more than to ride in like the wrath of god and lay down some harsh words on someone mistreating loved one at work. It's a totally understandable urge - it's also one you absolutely have to fight so for pity's sake don't do this!!

This doesn't mean you can't help though - you just can't act on her behalf directly. Even a good manager wouldn't take the sort of interference you're proposing well, and nor should they - the employment relationship is between the employer and the employee.

What you can do is help and support your mother to do this on her own. Work out a plan of action with her (which may include her talking to her boss) and help her with all the preparation she'll need. If she's going to talk with them you can help her work out what she's going to say, how she should respond to any push-back etc. If she's going to send some written communication then you can help her word it, heck you can even write it yourself if you want (as long as she knows what you are writing and is happy to put her name to it) but it has to come from her. If she needs to consult with anyone outside of the business then you can (most likely) go with her and offer support. If she decides to look elsewhere you can support and encourage the job hunt.

So there's lots of things you can do to help - but talking to her boss for her is not one of them.

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