Helping you get through tough times

You’re fired: not just the preserve of Alan Sugar

Arrows by NikkiAccording to the Irish Times it’s increasingly common to be sacked by phone, email and even text. Apparently the CEO of AOL fired his creative director as he found him irritating.

Whether it’s cutting salaries or letting people go on a whim, the media’s always saying employers use the recession to take advantage of employees. The truth of this is isn’t easy to prove as so much evidence is anecdotal.

Being taken advantage of, or being bullied in the workplace is never pleasant – and in some cases can ruin people’s lives.

Not just for the kids

Often we think of bullying as something that happens only in school or sometimes college. We forget that adults can be subject to intimidation and bullying also.

People considered to be confident and outgoing can suffer abuse and bullying. There’s no such thing as a stereotypical victim. The Journal recently published an article on people’s experiences of workplace bullying and contributors stated they never thought they’d be victimised, until it actually happened to them.


Bullying in the workplace is illegal. There are laws against things like sexual harassment and discrimination for gender, sexual orientation and age etc. Despite this, workplace bullying is still common.

When it’s not something really obvious like physical abuse it can be hard to know what’s bullying or not. Subtle harassment in the workplace can include:

  • expecting the impossible from you
  • changing the goal-posts in relation to what’s expected 
  • excluding you from groups or situations
  • expecting you to work in unreasonable conditions 
  • psychological harassment (mind-games etc.)
  • expecting you to work unreasonable hours.

Know your rights

Employers can take advantage (either deliberately, or through ignorance) if you don’t know your rights concerning things like over-time and holiday entitlement etc. It’s important to know what you can expect from your employer, and what can reasonably be expected from you. Citizens information is a great place to find out things like employment rights.

In your lifetime you’ll probably spend more time at work than anywhere else, so you owe it yourself and your mental health to stay informed.

What can you do?

Bullying at work is serious. If possible try to deal with a situation before it gets out of control, but no-matter how long it’s been going on there’s always something that can be done.

Here are a few tips on what you can do to help:

  • respond to the person in a firm and calm manner, be confident and make eye contact
  • know your job description and contract, so you are clear about what can be asked of you
  • tell somebody, an HR manager or area manager etc. as you might be able to solve the issue internally
  • get outside advice, this is particularly relevant if the bully is your employer.

Remember to talk to someone about what’s going on, either a family member or friend or else professional face-to-face help.




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