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Harassment at work - desperately need help and support

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by elw90, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    Hello,

    I posted on here before Christmas about an ongoing harassment case that I've been going through. The harassment is by a colleague who put notes on my car, in my pigeon hole and sent letters to my house. He sent emails, texts, phoned me and left voicemails. He used school as a method of his harassment/stalking - taking opportunity to corner me and also using other members of staff to aid his harassment. He also uses social media to post publicly about me and has even used assembly as humiliating method before. All of which, the school allowed to happen.

    After a long battle with school, eventually they put a management instruction in place which prohibited him from contacting me or coming near me at school. The police are already involved for any incidents outside of school. This was fine, but very quickly he found ways around the management instruction. He would follow me when I had to walk around campus and repeat things I was saying so I would know that he was listening. He also started using a withheld number to call me - when I answered he would stay on the phone but say nothing. I am now starting a new job at another school in April, but he has used other colleagues to get information about my new job. I reported all of this to my Head, but he said that there was insufficient evidence and that this did not breach the management instruction.

    At this point, I was feeling so hopeless that I was signed off until end of winter term. At the start of this term, I have returned to work with the hope that things will have calmed down. I did not receive a return to work meeting or any form of correspondence from my Head. I went straight back into work as if nothing had happened with no support offered. Very quickly, the harassment at work started again. This came in the form of unnecessary all staff emails to try and gain attention (detailing his personal details and mental health issues). He started lingering outside the block where I teach and then breached the management instruction by parking in the same carpark (he has been told to use the other carpark as otherwise he will linger and corner me etc).

    This may seem like a small breach, but I know from experience (as this has now been ongoing for a year) that this is how it starts. He tests the boundaries and then escalates. I informed my Head straight away with evidence yet no action has been taken. I was told that he excused this because he needed to take his car to the garage (which isn't a viable excuse as this would make no difference). Therefore, this person has successfully managed to prove that the management instruction is void and offers no real protection. Which means he will be able to go back to his usual harassment as he now knows there will be no consequence.

    I have clearly messaged management about this, explaining my concerns and repeating all recent incidents. Yet no action has been taken.

    I have been in contact with my union, who have requested urgent contact with my Head as of Friday (this all happened last week) yet my Head has ignore their request.

    I do not know what to do. This person has a history of violence and clearly is not giving up. He has even threatened and physically intimidated another member of staff at school during a school day. Yet still nothing is being done. The school seem unwilling to safeguard me. I want to do my job but I do not feel safe to do so. Furthermore, having to constantly prove myself as a victim just heightens my anxiety and stress. I have even had the police speak with the Head, yet in a meeting with me he questioned whether harassment was even a crime.

    I'm exasperated. When I woke up this morning, I had chest pain and stomach cramps as a result, therefore I have been unable to go into work.

    What can I do? I just want to be able to do my job. Any help and support is really appreciated.
     
  2. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    This sounds awful, and certainly illegal (whether it happens at school or outside, the laws of the land still apply). Stalking is a crime. I'd go back to the police.
     
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  4. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    The trouble with police is that there is very little that they can do as we work in the same place and that is where the majority of it is taking place. I will try speaking with them again and see what they suggest. Thank you for your help.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    I completely agree but for some reason they will not act. This person has been involved in numerous incidents within the school and yet no disciplinary action has taken place. I feel that I am being viewed as just a hysterical girl. A quote from an past member of management was "is it worth a man's career" which outlines the viewpoint which seems to be upheld.

    Thank you for the link, I'll look into it.
     
    annascience2012 and agathamorse like this.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    What an awful situation.

    Nothing to add to suggestions already made, but union needs to remind head of their duty of care to you. One of the examples of the duty of care given by ACAS is "Protecting staff from bullying or harassment ...from colleagues"

    http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3751

    You say "The police are already involved for any incidents outside of school" but to be clear stalking and harrassment is a crime whereever it takes place and it's just as much a police matter when it happens in the workplace as when it happens outside. Report what has happened in school to the police too. I don't understand why the police would say that "there is very little that they can do as we work in the same place". I get it that they can't therefore stop him coming into contact with you but there is plenty they can do about his stalking behaviour.

    Also will you union assist you get a civil injunction against him?
     
  7. skellig1182

    skellig1182 Established commenter

    Oh bless you. I can’t really add to the great advice above but just wanted to say look after you and if you need time off then take it. With regards to the new job, Is there anyway of letting them know what’s happening? Perhaps they might be better at supporting you. This may sound silly but but I have a few friends who do self defence/ ju jitsu. Have you ever thought about doing something like that? It will give you a lot more confidence. Seriously those girls can disable someone with just a few fingers. xxxx
     
    elw90 and agathamorse like this.
  8. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    The union rep said that they hope to hold a meeting in which suggested action is outlined. I've asked about taking further action but they haven't said anything regarding that at this stage. It just feels like a never ending nightmare at this point. Some people have even asked why I don't just "let it go", but they don't seem to understand that if I don't pursue preventative and protective measures then in all likelihood things will continually worsen.

    I think I will have to contact the police but I often try not to unless there is immediate danger as I dislike feeling like I am taking up their time. I think they feel equally frustrated by the situation as action is difficult. I've been pretty much told that I almost need him to do a big action which would then be easier for the police to then deal with.

    I think I will ask about the civil injunction, thank you.
     
    mothergoose2013 likes this.
  9. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    I wasn't sure whether I should inform my new school as I don't want them to judge me, which seems to be what happens. My current Head has also made a thinly veiled threat about contacting my new school. Is this something that he could do?

    I tried kickboxing which I absolutely loved but stupidly put myself off of it due to allowing myself to become worried about it. Which is stupid, I know. I think I will go back though as you're right, it would help even just with developing confidence. Thank you for reminding me of this.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    Whilst your current HT contacting your new school unless they think there is a safeguarding concern would be - I'd suggest - both unusual and damaging, I think the advice to tell the new school in confidence and briefly first, is a good idea.

    BTW I'd tell your Union about the HT's veiled threat.
     
    mothergoose2013 and agathamorse like this.
  11. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    This sounds horrible, I wanted to send sympathy.
    I echo the posters who have told you to go back to the police. It will then be logged. Go every time something happens. These incidents seem to be minor, but they build a picture of a long term, unstable individual and if he has a history of violence, the police need to be aware at least.
    Keep logging it all, union, police, SLT, wherever you think it might help.
    Kick up a fuss - you are entitled to be angry. This man appears to be stalking you. That is illegal. Your Head seems to be facilitating it. Most odd...
    Yes, do tell your new school, confidentially. He has found out where it is and may well follow you there if possible. (Not for a job, but hanging around outside etc.) You need to make them aware so they can consider their duty of care and (hopefully) do something about it.
    Good luck.
     
  12. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Further thoughts:

    Even if the Police don't think they have enough to arrest or prosecute would it help if they 'had words' with him? The Helpline grumpydogwoman linked might be best people to ask about that.

    Are you keeping a detailed diary of all the incidents, keeping a log of what happened? If not I'd say that's a 'must'. One tip given by a CAB lawyer on here previously was that every time you make an entry in your log sign and date the page. If your diary/log is ever needed as evidence in court your signature and the date show that you recorded the incident contemporaneously while it was still fresh in your mind. Not something you wrote up months later. Contemporaneous records of events carry more weight as evidence in court than things recalled later.
     
  13. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs New commenter

    Is there a case here for constructive dismissal?
     
  14. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Lead commenter

    I can only reiterate reporting it to the police. Whilst they may not appear to be doing anything, they will take repeated reports seriously and it is important to continue reporting any of these behaviours in and out of school if you want them to pursue a restraining order on your behalf.

    EDIT:
    I would also consider letting the head and chair of governors know every time you file a report with the police.
     
  15. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    Thank you so much, I think you're actually right. I will have to inform them and hopefully they will be better at supporting me than my current school.

    I've informed my union and the outcome is that I no longer attend any meetings with my Head as he often will make comments with the intention of trying to stifle my concerns. Things like how I wouldn't want this to go a tribunal, that I need to be able to prove what I am saying and that going to a new school is the "coward's way out." Frustatingly he only did this when we were in a meeting alone and never replied to any of my emails in writing.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    Thank you so much for your support. Just being validated means the world to me as I have started to feel that I am the problem, that I'm paranoid and am viewed as a troublemaker. I will definitely follow your advice and log everything that happens. I currently had a folder with 300 pieces of evidence. Trouble is, it ends up taking up your whole life.

    I agree with you, I need to tell my new school. I'm not confident in doing so but I think you're right that it is necessary.

    Thank you again
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    This is fantastic advice and I didn't realise that my written accounts could be used as evidence. So far I have photographic evidcne and copies of letters and reports but this would really help with these small incidents which are difficult to provide evidence for.

    Thank you for this
     
    mothorchid likes this.
  18. elw90

    elw90 New commenter

    What are the requirements for a constructive dismissal? Would this be up to the Head to decide?
     
  19. elw90

    elw90 New commenter


    Thank you, I think I will do this. You're right that it needs to go into the report. How would I contact the Governors? The Head is definitely aware that the police are involved but this seems to have little impact on his willingness to help.
     
  20. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Lead commenter

    Again, report everything. Lots of little things are as important as one big thing. It may seem frustrating, but it does take time to build a case as they have to show intent beyond reasonable doubt.

    Also, you're not taking up their time. It is what they are there to do, uphold the law. Consider the advice you'd give a child who said they didn't want to ask the teacher for help as it would be taking up their time.

    Don't forget there are a number of support groups who can also help you such as
    https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/
    https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
     
    elw90 and mothergoose2013 like this.

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