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Firstly, this is a special, not a general question about mobbing (bullying). My mother was without a workplace for a long time, now after two years doing nothing she finally found a place to work at a facility as a production operator in a almost women-only production. Most of them are even same age like her. She did make some mistakes in the beginning, and since then, two more experiencing colleagues are mobbing her.

They communicate very aggressively with her, the shout at each small mistake, talk very bad about her whenever she is around (probably even when she is not around), and they never talk to her in other occasions. During lunch break, every prod operator is smoking but so since she quitted smoking long time ago she is never joining them. My mother says she hardly makes any mistakes now since one month but is still threated very badly. Other new employees are treated much better according to her. She talked to her boss but it seems like he is constantly getting information from the more experienced bully-colleagues that my mother is a bad employee so he did not help her. Past shift when she was alone and not being harrassed by the bullies she said her performance was flawless and she got even compliments from other colleagues. Then, once she was no longer alone, her colleagues continued harrassing her by shouting at her and constantly criticizing her and she started to make more mistakes according to her.

So - what to do? I ran out of ideas how to solve the situation. I also want to add that my mother has academical degree and always worked white collar, never experiencing working with the harsh reality of low educated, unskilled people like some production operators are.

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    1. Can you change "mobbing" to "bullying" (as you switched to it later). 2. Can you give more specifics on what kind of bullying? Was abusive language being used or was the yelling in line (e.g. if you yell in a noisy warehouse that may be the norm)? – Brandin Jul 19 '16 at 19:35
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    It's a lot easier to get hired when you already have a job. You should tell your mom that now is the time to look for better work. – Aaron Hall Jul 19 '16 at 21:21
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I've been from the mop to the top, literally.

One thing that is thoroughly unappreciated by those who have worked outside the "white collar" positions is any sense that you look down on them. If you seem like you are unaccustomed to the work, you are an instant target.

It is a form of bigotry, the same kind that many white collar people have towards those who work with their hands, so to speak. The way you stop the mobbing/bullying/gangstalking is to make it clear that you are not one to be trifled with. If they are rough with her, she needs to be rough right back with them. Do not expect any help from management because they won't care at that level. Nobody is important when they can be replaced easily, and when you are working at that level, you can.

In a production environment, they don't need the best, and they quite frankly don't care if you're the best or worst, just so long as they don't get any headaches from you and the job gets done.

So, to make a long answer short, she needs to demonstrate two things

  1. That she is not looking down on them as inferiors
  2. That she is not to be trifled with. Someone shouts at her, she needs to shout back twice as loud.
  3. That she's not a "rat" who goes to management.

Edit for context: I was working for Public Works. Union + Government job. Damn near impossible to fire anyone. You HAD to settle it yourself because it was almost impossible to get someone disciplined, much less fired. Guy got labeled a rat, everyone made his life hell. After a few attempts to bully me, I got the nicknames of "Satan" and "Devil Man", or sometimes just "that nut". I started out my work career blue collar in a very rough setting.

If your mother is in a similar situation, then this advice applies doubly so, if management is inclined to act, then make sure your mother has everything thoroughly documented. "On this date, at this time, this was said/done by this person, and these people were present(list)"

  • @JoeStrazzere I've been there, and I Agree with you 100% You cannot allow bullying to go unanswered. Forget management, you've got to get right in their face. If they think you're afraid to get down and dirty, you're done – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '16 at 19:24
  • Could it really be "bullying" but rather them giving the new guy a hard time as a way to build the team and see if you're worth your weight? In such a case, you're right. You need to be mean and prove you're part of the team. Such is more true in the blue collar positions where manual labor is needed. – Dan Jul 19 '16 at 19:54
  • @Dan The OP said that other new employees were not singled out for such treatment. I've been in a similar situation when I was younger. I had to do all three of the above before I was respected. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '16 at 19:56
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Assuming she is in an environment where management holds more power than any union present, I would suggest documenting several days worth of shouting incidents. Taking a list of dates, times, and events to the manager will hold more weight than "I feel picked on". If the manager doesn't do anything about it then it's time to go to HR.

If it's an environment where management is powerless, I'd say talk to the shop steward. It's in the union's best interest that workers feel like a cohesive unit and nothing drives a wedge between people like bullying.

  • I disagree, that will only get her labeled a trouble-maker and a rat. What happens after that is ugly. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '16 at 19:26
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    @RichardU Do you recommend starting to carry a shiv after being labeled a rat? I'm just curious about the context you've worked in that bringing a toxic environment to light would be unwelcome by management. – Myles Jul 19 '16 at 21:25
  • Road construction crew, union job. Guy got labeled a rat, everyone made his life hell. After a few attempts to bully me, I got the nicknames of "Satan" and "Devil Man", or sometimes just "that nut". I started out my work career blue collar in a very rough setting. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 20 '16 at 3:24
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    @RichardU I find it interesting to see this in contrast to stories my father in law tells. He was head of HR at a production facility. At great organizational risk they opted to fire both of their lead electricians in the same month over creating a toxic environment through bullying. Also in my own facility construction bids have been lost over contractor employees bullying other contractors. In the incident I'm thinking of it was odd because the bullying wasn't between competitors, they were in totally different trades. – Myles Jul 20 '16 at 13:53
  • I was working for Public Works. Union + Government job. Damn near impossible to fire anyone. You HAD to settle it yourself because it was almost impossible to get someone disciplined, much less fired – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 20 '16 at 14:06

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