Matt Witheridge's Answer:
Thanks for the email. I am very sorry to hear about the situation you have been dealing with. There is absolutely no reason to justify the lack of dignity at work you have experienced. It is inhumane, unnecessary and illegal.
In the first instance I would like to clarify some of the threats that have been levelled at you. Firstly, you should be entitled to a break if you are working an eight hour day. Every state has different regulations for this, so you may have to check to see what the rules are for your state. Secondly the claim that you will serve a jail term for not filling in the paperwork properly is also nonsense. In the rare case that there were any criminal proceedings brought because of a filing error, it would be the organisation who would be ultimately liable and not yourself.
In any case of bullying and harassment I would urge you to check to see whether your organisation has a bullying and harassment policy and if it did, utilise it and make a formal complaint against your line manager. However, in reading your email it sounds as if you might be working for a small, perhaps family owned business. These are notoriously poor for having adequate procedures for making such a complaint. In many cases, rather than helping your situation, making the complaint can often make things worse. Nevertheless, you should still file a complaint so there is a formal record of the bullying you are receiving.
From the amount of abuse it appears you have suffered, I am glad to hear that you are leaving. In the majority of situations, especially in bigger more diverse organisations, I would really urge people to use the grievance procedures, both informal and formal as it will give them breathing space. Even if you think it will be a pointless exercise in terms of resolving anything internally, it is a must.
Nevertheless, in some situations it really is better to make a clean break. You do not deserve to be treated like this at work and prolonged exposure to this sort of intimidating behaviour will have dire consequences on your physical and mental health. The most important thing to consider throughout all of this is your quality of life.
What can you do to resolve this? It really depends on what you would like to see happen. It seems from your email that you are planning on leaving (or have already left) this job. You can file a complaint at The Better Business Bureau. You may even wish to take your employer to court.
It is also important to point out the pitfalls of such a route. Taking a case can be a very expensive process with no guarantee of success. On top of this it often takes many months to conclude and forces the complainant to constantly relive their experiences. The whole process is often extremely stressful and does not give the complainant a chance to move on, which is vital.
In the worst case scenarios, cases can drag on for years with numerous appeals and can leave the complainant considerably worse off both financially and in terms of mental stability. This is why it is vital to seek expert advice before advancing on such a journey.
To anyone who is currently experiencing a case of bullying and harassment the most important thing to do is to get support. Seek this support from friends, family and colleagues and especially your Union if you are a member. Suffering in silence is the worst thing possible.
For free objective and confidential advice in the U.K phone the Andrea Adams Trust's National Workplace Bullying Helpline or go online and visit us at www.banbullyingatwork.com for information on Ban Bullying at Work Day which is 7th November 2007.