I’m in shock.
There had been whispers for months, but no-one believed it would happen. Yesterday it did. The PM handed out our Contracts of Employment. I stared at my skinny envelope in surprise.
There was no mention of the legal assistant/paralegal work I was doing. The Contract confirmed I was a legal secretary. It was also thousands lower than they’d told me. I calculated the per annum figure from my wage slip. I was earning a higher figure than on the Contract, but was still much less than agreed.
I went cold.
I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.
I figured there had to be some mistake.
I didn’t have time to ask because we were called into a department meeting. I tried to concentrate on what PHILIP was saying about aggressive marketing. When he spoke of an advert in The Law Gazette I assumed this was another aspect of raising our profile. However, when he unfolded the proposed advert and slid it towards HOWARD I realised I was wrong.
It was an advert for my job.
I stared at HOWARD. He read the advert and smiled at PHILIP.
No one had told me. I couldn't believe nobody look ashamed. I felt invisible.
Once the meeting was over I asked to speak to HOWARD about the advert. Amused, he told me he had no idea I wanted to progress, but that I was getting above myself if I thought I’d ever make a fee earner.
I can’t tell you how bad I felt. The penny dropped. It felt like one big set up. HOWARD hates me. He’ll stop at nothing. I’d believed him about the paralegal job. I’d believed him because I’d wanted to.
It was nothing but another joke.
Last night I wrote out my resignation. I outlined the horrible things HOWARD had done to me and how these things should never happen to a secretary. I said I couldn’t take anymore.
I can’t tell you how sick and scared I was giving my letter to the Senior Solicitor this morning. I left the office crying for the last time. I walked aimlessly - ending up at a local river. I froze after sitting on a bench too long as my mobile phone filled up with voicemail messages from the PM and HOWARD. They sounded worried I would kill myself or something.
A couple of hours later I still didn’t know what to do with myself. I headed for a temp agency, telling them I needed work. I’ll leave you imagine the state I was in. The manager asked me what happened, but I couldn't speak so I handed her a copy of my resignation letter. She took it from me but halfway through said, “I can’t read anymore.” She picked up the phone and spoke to a top firm of solicitors.
“I’m sending her over to you now,” she said. “This is the worst case of bullying and harassment I’ve ever seen.”
I was told to go straight to the solicitors and then come back. She promised she’d find me another job.
The solicitors’ office was very different from the one I worked in. It’s a coincidence, but a friend on twitter recently told me the first half hour is often free. They're right. The Employment Solicitor showed me into a meeting room and ordered tea and biscuits as he read my resignation letter.
“I’ve been an Employment Solicitor for a long time” he said. “But this is the worst case of bulling and harassment I’ve seen in my life. It’s incredible that it’s happening in a solicitors’ firm. The crucial thing is, of course, can you prove it?”
“Every word,” I said. “I can prove every word.”
When I returned this afternoon with my folders of evidence, his jaw hit the floor.
I would have made a great paralegal...If I’d had the chance.
- Bullied By The Boss
- Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."