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It feels like they'll get away with my WRS breakdown

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by fifihay, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. The Deputy at my school had it in for me. I went on WRS sick leave. It's breaking up my relationship and I've been told maybe that's what she wanted from the start because she saw my partner as her mate and I got in the way. She told us that her 'nutter husband' (her words) had accused her of having an affair with my partner (who works at the same school as us) and was coming to the school to sort him out, she mentioned a knife. She talks about me outside of school and socialises with the parents of kids in my class - one of their Mums is her best friend- I couldn't get anywhere with this particular class of kids difficult parents and didn't realise that one was her best friend and that she was talking about me outside school with her again and that the Deputy's son mixed with them at football or whatever.
    She has hated it whenever I've pushed and tried to get the help the kids in my class needed - she took them off their IEPs in spite of some needing the extra support - so much so that their parents got them extra help from our schools own TAs and LSAs privately outside school. (our TA and LSAs already go above and beyond but are afraid of repercussions themselves I guess as sometimes they pass on info to staff because they feel that the teachers who will be effected by decisions should know that decisions are being made behind the teachers backs which will directly effect their classes, but they plead with the teachers not to say where that info has come from - in their words 'keep me out of it', 'don't say it was me who told you' etc) The Deputy has humiliated and taken the micky out of me in front of visitors and staff, she mocks my age, my height, my clothes, my relationship (he works in the same school and I've been told she resents me being happy with him - but she'll get her way because this whole mess is driving us apart). My family want me to walk away but I am so angry at it making me want to die and destroying the job I love that I am finding it hard to do that. I am on anti-depressants, I have got my Union involved but the compromise package worries me because I shall quickly be out of money whilst still on anti-depressants and it's unlikely my Dr will say I'm fit for work in another school and I'm not sure teaching is for me anymore but after 31 years involved in education it feels like a bereavement to leave it. I'm a mess.
  2. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I'm sorry you are feeling so awful and have been treated so badly by your deputy head.
    If your doctor thinks you are unlikely to be able to go back to teaching again, you could apply for retirement on ill-health grounds. I got it for a stress-related injury.
    If you have not already done so, you can apply for Incapacity Benefit. If the processes that caused the stress were 'abnormal' (i.e. not part of normal process at school) you may be entitled to claim Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit. It is extremely difficult to get this for a psychological injury, but not impossible. (I have it.) However, the DWP takes forever to process the application (it took them 2 years to do mine) and you will almost certainly have to go to appeal, because the DWP clerical staff can't cope with such applications and it needs a judge to look at it. The relevant law you have to satisfy is CAO vs Foulds.
    Although your compromise agreement will probably prevent you from making a claim to an employment tribunal, it should not stop you from making a claim for personal injury. These have to be brought within 3 years of the date the injury was first caused. If you have been made ill to the point where you have had to give up work, your union should support you in bringing a claim against your former employer. You may need to hassle them at HQ level to get them to take this seriously but they can, and do, do this for members. There are lots of hurdles to jump and you would need plenty of evidence, but it's not out of the question.
  3. Thank you, you have mentioned things I didn't even know existed. My family just wants it over with, even my partner just wants it over with, I'm not sure how to face anything. Some days I want her to be brought to task over it, other days she's not worth the effort and some days I'm sad and some angry.
    My Union seem unable to tell me what they think may be gained by any actions. They don't seem to want to direct my actions or say whether they think my case would have any chance even of them taking it to court.
    Some internet sites say you don't need evidence (although I do have some) just the proof that they should have foreseen my stress and done something to help me rather than making it worse but for teachers it looks like a lengthy, drawn out process and my family don't seem to think I have the strength to go through it. They want me to walk away and let people think whatever they want to - but part of me wants people to know the truth - I'm not sure why that seems important to me. I thought that once I'd signed the compromise agreement I was permanently gagged. I also heard that it's the Head and the Governors who decide if the Deputy has to answer to anything and investigates and it is finally down to them to decide whether to bother doing anything about it .... is that true do you know?
  4. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    In truth, it's worth listening to your family and partner and to try to put this awful experience behind you and move on, if you can. This woman has wrecked your 'now'; you can choose not to let her wreck your future as well. I do understand the feelings of grief and despair - I also came close to suicide on a couple of occasions.
    For me, pursuing my bullies was a no-brainer. It was important to me, too, that people knew the truth and that I didn't let my particular bullies get away with what they did. On a purely practical note, I was robbed of many years of salary and the related pension benefits as well as my health. Nevertheless, pursuing a claim keeps the pain current and is extremely stressful. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless, like me, they are bluddy-minded enough not to put up with c.rap and have shed-loads of strong evidence.
    Yes, you do need evidence - and of good quality. To be successful it has to be proved in court that:
    you have sustained an injury
    they caused it
    they should have known that the behaviour was liable to cause injury
    you have suffered loss as a consequence.
    I have seen a letter of claim for a case unrelated to teaching where the complainant was successful citing behaviours very much like those you describe. However, you would need to, for example, get statements from staff or parents who witnessed this woman having a go at you in public. That's not easy: people tend to fear for their own positions and decline to get involved, even if they are sympathetic towards you.
    The CA will 'gag' you from making any derogatory comments about your former employer or any employee. That means you will be prevented from complaining about this woman, in theory. You are right that the responsibility for investigating is first with the Head and Governors. You could write a grievance letter before you sign the CA, though don't be surprised if the Head and LA just sweep it under the carpet. Your next step would then be to complain to the local authority and, if they do nothing, to report the woman directly to the GTC for misconduct. You will also be prevented from bringing a claim for constructive/unfair dismissal but a CA does NOT usually stop you from bringing a claim for personal injury or harassment.
    Complaining after a compromise agreement has been signed can be protected by law but only if you follow the rules on whistle-blowing carefully. Section 43J of the Public Interest Disclosure Act states that qualifying disclosures are protected, gagging clauses in severance contracts notwithstanding. However, before doing so, you would be advised to take specific advice. I have found the organisation Public Concern at Work http://www.pcaw.co.uk/ very helpful.
    Your union needs a kick up the behind! You may need to go to the Regional or even Head office to get someone to listen to you. I have to say that my union has been fantastic for the past 3 years. Even so, they were doubtful that a harassment/personal injury claim could be brought until I hired a specialist harassment lawyer to review the case for them and give an expert opinion. Sometimes they need mobilising.
    Having said all of this, I return to my first comment. Truthfully, if you are able to put this behind you and move on, I think it would be better for you. If you decide you can't do that, I wish you strength.

  5. Thank you, you seem to be able to tell me more useful information than my Union. I've decided to try and get a slightly better deal on the CA and also to write a grievance letter to the Board of Governors because my Union is suggesting that they will move to dismiss me and the head is already interviewing replacements by the look of it before anything is settled. I'm not prepared for it to look like petty retribution so I guess I have to do it now and get it over with.
    Can't say I am strong but I can be stubborn if that counts!!!
    Also want it sorted because I've had a sad week so far. My friend just died of cancer and it puts things in perspective.
    Thank you again.

  6. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    Bear in mind that I am writing only with the benefit of what I have learned through my own experience. I am NOT an expert and, before doing anything, you should discuss your options with your union.
    I am so sorry to hear of the death of your friend. It does, indeed, put everything into perspective.
  7. Fifi, where I came from you can get people like your deputy shut up for good, for a few hundred quid.
    The person is clearly a dangerous fantasist. You are worth so much more.
  8. Heh heh heh, I actually laughed at that one... and it's not often I laugh at the moment so thank you.
    I also realise that advice here is based on experience and I am trying hard to do the right thing via my union but the wheels grind painfully slowly and I was warned that it's almost like the whole process is designed to grind you down so you give up.
    I'm also not sure I understand the way my union speaks to HR before it speaks to me !!!!!!! Maybe it IS the way things are done but it doesn't feel like they're working for me when HR knows stuff before I do !
    No doubt, as my opening thread says ... they'll get away with it !
    So ... am now wondering where oldgreywolf comes from[​IMG]

  9. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Have a word with your union and ask them to talk to you before they talk to HR, so you know what is being said. My union also talked to HR and said off the record they thought the Head was a bully. Didn't change anything though.
    If you're not happy, then go higher up the union.
  10. It's fifty quid in some places I've been in - but you can knock that down a bit by haggling. This person sounds like a right cow. I probably know her.
  11. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    HR will say all sorts of things off the record which they won't back up with action. Bear in mind HR works for the employer, not the victim. In the end, their interest is only in covering their employer's back. I have seen HR witness corruption in action at first hand and still turn a blind eye to it.
  12. GL is spot on once again.
    HR is very keen to slam down the lid hard and run away. So any method of getting a complainant to go away will be used.
  13. They've categorically refused to budge on any kind of additional financial agreement. In a message HR even got my name wrong. They are saying that it's the Head and the Governors who won't budge and now they're threatening to follow the Managing Attendance Preocedure and there's the mention of terminating my employment.
    I really feel sick. The job's made me ill and they're going to sack ME !
    I've actually tried to protect nice colleagues, the children and the school by not taking action but now I just feel completely like bringing as much action against them as I can.
    They can't even get my name right - how disrespectful is that. I'm just an anonymous payroll number at HR BUT at school I am more than that and they're treating me like a worthless nuisance.
    At least their actions are making up my mind for me - I'm not going to lie down and take it and I'm not going to be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life either.
    I know it'll all get shoved under the carpet but at least they've now forced me to have my say.

  14. Oh yes ... and the Governors who will be persuaded to sack me don't even know all the facts because they've not been told by the head or the chair ! I only got the letter today so it's still raw.
  15. I'm noticing the time you posted - very early small hours, which says to me you are under intolerable stress. Your letter arrived on a weekend, yes? Classic bullying tactic, to give you a spoiled weekend and make you stew about the situation when nobody is around to help or listen.
    It doesn't seem fair - but walking away might be better for your health at this point. You have a vast array of liars and cowards lined up against you, and you appear to have feeble legal support. Now you can beat yourself up about how much better it might be, but deal with the situation in the present.
    Unlike many people in similar positions, you have a loving family who will care for you and ensure your survival. When you have, eventually, chosen to leave this employment the sense of relief will be immeasurable. You will get flashbacks, and it might be worth exploring any therapies that can help, but you will get better and be happy.
    This situation as you describe it won't get better for you.
    And if you feel strong enough, you might be able to have a talk with an employment specialist about constructive dismissal, but put your physical and mental health first. They cannot harm you any more when you no longer require them.
  16. fifihay
    there's been some good advice on here. Speaking from my own personal experience...GET OUT OF THERE NOW!!
    No-one looks after your health except you and you do NOT want it to be too late for you to get well again. No job is worth sacrificing health or family and I speak from bitter experience. I nearly lost everything for the sake of a job; now that I am out of there and (OK unemployed) better in all aspects (including losing weight) I can honestly say that I will never allow someone to bully me to the point of feeling suicidal again.
    I hope that you manage to get a solution to this that works for you. I am now financially worse off, but have a fully supportive partner and parents and also get to spend some quality time with my children to make up for last year when I was the b1tch from hell due to being so miserable. NOTHING but NOTHING can make up for what my ex-boss did to me, but I am trying hard to repair relationships and come away from it a better person.
  17. Coming away a better person may be hard ... damaged and different person ... yes.
    It's a long hard slog and in fairness to my Union I am guessing that they are doing their best with the time, money and resources they have, they seem to be very busy - it just feels like a slow and lonely wait for the phone to ring and progress to be made sometimes.
    I will certainly struggle financially but I know that what I want out of this in the long run is an acknowledgement of the damage done to me.... not likely eh?
    People from outside the school are telling me that ranks will close as they have a tendency to with things like this but little birds have told me that so many staff are fed up with things that they WILL speak up and that many are embarrassed by the behaviour of the SMT and very supportive of my WRS - so there's hope still and the big can of worms may yet be opened.
    I will keep posting bits when things progress. [​IMG]

  18. Thankyou for your comments - my anti-depressants make me sleep but sometimes I forget to take them early enough and then I don't sleep until late - can be 2 a.m. before I finally nod off.
    Yes, the weekend was grim, and the letter came at a dreadful time because on the Monday we were burying our colleague and close personal friend - pretty awful few days.
    I do have a loving family, I am very lucky I know.
    It's all up and down rollercoaster ride thing at the moment.
    I have to be ready to walk away (with my chin up) and be sure that I am not simply papering over the cracks and then regret it later when stuff comes crashing in. I think I get three steps forward two steps back type progress at the moment but at least I AM moving in the right direction [​IMG]albeit at a snail's pace.

  19. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    My union were very supportive and I could access the rep during the evening and at weekends if I needed to. Letters also came at times he thought I wouldn't have that support.
    Don't rely on staff to back you up. They will be put under an enormous amount of pressure.
    What do you actually want? If it is another job in education, then I'd take a compromise agreement and move on. If you want to make people aware then if you have financial security and evidence/support from the union consider a grievance and/or an employment tribunal.
    If they are going to go through absence proceedings, then your choices are limited if you are not able to return.
  20. How many teachers are out there, going through this rubbish? I'm really sorry to read all this and can't offer advice, other than to do what I haven't done = walk away. Why would anyone want to come into teaching to be treated like this? It happens so often. I never wanted to do anything else, but anyone who values their well-being and family life would be a fool to come into this job. Profession? Not any longer. Keep posting. Try to forget it all for the weekend. Easier said than done, otherwise I wouldn't be here at 9.45.

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