See Timeline and Personnel

I joined the University in May 1997 as a Progammer Analyst. At that time, Kathy wasn't my manager. We got on okay, but I could see that she was a very angry person and was dissatisfied with her role and with the way the department was run. She would often send very aggressive emails to people in other teams and copy me in on them even though they had nothing to do with me. A local company held an open day to invite people with IT skills to consider working for them. Kathy attended and persuaded me and JSS to attend even though we were happy with our jobs. It appeared to me that Kathy wanted to create problems for the team. Not long afterwards, my manager left and was replaced by Kathy. I saw an immediate change in her attitude in that she became far more professional and positive. I was very impressed by her at that time, however I noted that she was still very critical of the men in the team apart from me. Those men were more senior to me, and they had known her longer.

After 18 months service, I took up the post of Database Administrator (DBA), but although this had been a grade 3 post, I remained on grade 2 for two years. I met with Kathy to ask that I be promoted to grade 3. She refused, and I said that I would probably have to look around for another job because with the experience I had I could easily have found another job that both paid more and was also closer to home. At first she threatened to have me dismissed. Later during the same meeting, she agreed to promote me to grade 3. I was suspicious of her sudden change of decision, and I asked what caused it. She just said that I had persuaded her that I was worth the increase. Kathy has promoted five women, but has never required any of them to work for two years in their new role in a lower grade. During her grievance interview, Kathy said that I was a Trainee DBA. This was completely false and could easily have been checked out. indeed I checked it out with HR myself, and they confirmed that I was a DBA.

The DBA workload had increased significantly. The number of databases had increased from three to around 25. I also had to provide a lot of technical support for an SAP system that had been introduced, and I still had programming responsibilities. A big factor in my workload was time I had to spend helping Programmers with their work. This had not been part of the role for the previous DBA because at that time the Programmers were fully competent, but the number of Programmers had increased, and some were brought into the team with very little programming experience, and some of those had little desire to learn to be programmers. Kathy had brought them in for personal rather than professional reasons. This meant that I ended up doing a large proportion of their work too. I had been working on average an extra 15 unpaid hours every week. (This was a situation that continued for almost 7 years). Eileen MacDonald and Jackie O'Neil in particular required a considerable amount of my time. For a long time Kathy would not have been aware that I was having to spend so much of my time doing their work because there was no process for me to bring it to her attention. At that time I worked largely unsupervised.

With me doing a large proportion of their work, one would expect that Eileen and Jackie would be grateful, but that was not the case. Jackie is very aggressive, and she would often shout at me, even though she would be in the wrong about what she was shouting about. She had even shouted at the previous DBA when he had offered to do her a personal favour but hadn't done it in the time she would have liked. Eileen seemed much more friendly, however I later discovered that to be false, and that she was gossiping about me behind my back. Now I realise that while I was doing their work for them, Eileen and Jackie were going to Kathy and gossiping about me and misleading her about my performance.

At an appraisal meeting in 2003, Kathy was very happy with my work, but she said she would like me to be more assertive with the Programmers so that they would gain maximum benefit from my knowledge and experience. It must have been clear to her that I lack assertiveness and that some of the Programmers were ignoring my advice to them. It's odd that the Programmers would not hesitate to come to me for help, but they were much less receptive to my advice. Often I'd find myself providing help that would not have been required had they not ignored my advice.

At my next appraisal meeting in 2005, Kathy's attitude changed and I could not have expected what she was about to say. She asked me if I thought I was the best employee in the team, which I took to mean that she thought I was very arrogant. I said I did not. Ever since I joined the Uni, I have sung the praises of my colleague, JSS. I have always considered her to be a genius. Kathy knew this, so there seemed no logical reason for her question. Kathy then said that I had become unapproachable. I assured her that that was not the case, and that I was regularly being approached by colleagues, and that the reason they did so was because I would stop what I was doing and help them right away to prevent them from being held up. Kathy then said that I lacked visibility. Again I said that this was incorrect, and that I was frequently in the company of colleagues, and that at times there had been queues forming in my room with colleagues wanting help from me. I asked her what she meant, and she said that she rarely saw me in room 2b30, which was a room occupied by Programmers. I told her that I don't avoid that room, but that it was more common for Programmers to come to see me in my room and that I would work at my PC to investigate their problems. In reality, I would have been in that room far more often than Kathy, and this was not a genuiune explanation for her criticism. I felt I had sufficiently explained that there was no reason for concern, and she was unwilling or unable to come up with any tangible reasons for saying these things. However, she included them in my appraisal report. I was very disappointed, and for several days I considered what to do about it. In the end, I decided not to do anything.

Then I noticed the change in Kathy's behaviour towards me, and in December 2006, I plucked up the courage to meet with her to try to find out what it was all about. I told her that it was causing me a great deal of stress. I talked about my appraisal report, and asked her if someone had made a complaint about me being unapproachable. She denied it, and amazingly said that it was just something she had overheard in the corridor. Then she said it wasn't a problem anymore. So I was left wondering if she had heard that in the corridor too. I explained to her about Jackie spreading false rumours about me, but she denied she had heard them. I told her that Jackie had come to me one day demanding that I fix a database problem, and I had to explain to her that it was not a database problem, and what she would have to do to resolve her problem. Jackie became aggressive, shouted at me and slammed the door as she left. She then went back to her room and phoned the software vendors. She angrily described me as "our useless DBA" to them. They told her exactly the same as I told her to resolve her problem. Kathy said she was not intereseted in such things because she thinks her staff should resolve such matters between themselves. I told her that I believed she was receiving false reports about me from my colleagues. Kathy had also lied to me at this meeting in order to try to cover up her behaviour towards me. I told her that I wanted it to stop. She goaded me by suggesting that I bring a complaint of harassment if I wasn't happy. She was obviously confident that management would support her, and she was absolutely correct.

In February 2008, I was suffering from stress due to Kathy's bullying as well as another work related issue which was role evaluation. Kathy met with me and suggested I visit the Occupational Health Department. I said I'd think about it. She said that if I didn't refer myself, she would refer me. I decided not to.

She met with me again and said that she was going to refer me to OH. I said that I didn't think that would be helpful, and that I just needed the two things that were causing the stress to be resolved, and reminded her that I'd asked her to stop ill treating me and that she hadn't. I informed her that if it continued then I would have to raise a grievance. She denied any knowledge of me having discussed this with her previously.

I was referred to OH, and I discussed the issues with the doctor. The doctor agreed with me that there was no medical or councelling solution to my problem, and he stated in his report that the University should take me more seriously. Later I received a copy of the letter of referral and discovered that Kathy had lied about me in order to make me appear as though I was some mad man. It included a false claim that I had been aggressive with staff. When I saw this, I became extremely stressed and required five weeks sick leave. It had been about 8 years since I last missed a day's work. I'd never needed to see a doctor in over 20 years.

When I returned to work, Kathy's behaviour was extremely odd, and again she was dishonest. I feel sure that Karen Stark was in some way caught up in this too.

When I was off sick, my doctor gave me a cerificate, and then I needed another one, so I tried to make another apoointment to see him. His receptionist said there was no need for me to see him, and that she would get him to leave a certificate for me to collect. Then I needed another certificate, and when I phoned, the receptionist said the same again. However, when I arranged to collect the certificate, the receptionist said that the doctor wanted to see me first, and made an appointment for 8th May. The doctor had emphasised that it was important for me to return to work as soon as I felt able. My certificate had run out, and so I returned to work on 6th May with the plan that I would collect my certificate on the 8th. When I returned to work, Kathy called me to her office and said I had to return home until I had permission from the doctor to return. I explained that the doctor had wanted me back as soon as I felt able and that my certificate had run out, but she insisted I was to go home.

Prior to me returning to work, I had been in regular contact with Karen Stark telling her what was happening. I told her about the appointment arranged for 8th, but that I intended to return earlier if possible. She said nothing to suggest I shouldn't. I had also been in regular contact with the Departmental Secretary (JH). I told JH that I was likely to return before seeing the doctor too. She replied saying that she thought that the regulations didn't allow it. She quoted a sentence from the Sickness and Absence Procedure that said that if you wish to return to work before your certificate runs out, you must first get approval from your doctor. JH must have told KM that she had told me this. I replied to JH saying that my circumstances were different because my certificate had already run out. I could tell that JH was acting on her own initiative and was just being thoughtful and helpful, but she later followed up by apologising as it may have seemed that she was telling me what to do. I replied saying that that was not the case and thanked her for her concern.

Karen wrote to me asking me to obtain proof that my doctor had instructed me to return to work as soon as I felt able. My doctor agreed to provide this information to Karen on request. He also agreed to confirm that there was no medical solution to my health problem, and that my health would naturally improve once the problems at work were solved. I wrote to Karen to give her permission to contact my doctor and ask about these points, but she chose not to.

On 8th May, I returned to work for the second time, and Kathy arranged a return to work meeting with me by email. She said that I could bring a colleague with me if I so wished, but I didn't. I just wanted the meeting to be as short as possible and private. When I arrived at her office, Kathy noted that I was alone, and said she would go and get Eric Hall to join us. I protested and said I didn't want anyone to join us because I considered it to be a private matter. She insisted that someone else be present, so I went and asked JSS if she would join us. I told her what had happened, and she agreed to join us.

At the meeting, Kathy asked me how I was. I said that I was still suffering from stress but that I felt well enough to return to work. I added that it had caused me more stress to have been sent home two days earlier. This is when Kathy became very defensive and dishonest and aggressive. She said that I should have known not to return because it says so in the Sickness and Absence Procedures (SAP). I said that I didn't think it did. I added that my doctor had said he thought it was nitpicking to have sent me home. Kathy then printed off a copy of the SAP, and highlighted a sentence on it, and then placed it in front of me on the table. I started to read it, but Kathy continued talking. I asked if she could give me a few seconds to read what she had highlighted. She abruptly refused to let me read it. This is because it was the same sentence that JH had brought to my attention, and Kathy, after highlighting it, now realised that it didn't apply in my case. She said that JH had told me not to return, and I said that JH was not instructing me not to return, but was just being considerate. Kathy then implied that she had instructed JH to tell me not to return. I knew right away that this was false. I said that JH had not known that my certificate had run out. Kathy then threatened me with disciplinary action because I had not returned to work when my certificate had run out. I could see she was now being very aggressive. I told her that I'd explained my circumstances to Karen that I would try to return and that Karen had not discouraged me. Karen works in HR and would have known far better than me. Kathy then falsely claimed that on the 6th I had told her that I did not think I was well enough to return. I was astonished at this claim, and quickly denied it. Kathy then said she was disappointed that I had invited JSS to such a stressful meeting, because JSS was pregnant at he time. I said I hadn't anticipated such a stressful meeting, and I reminded her that I was returning to work after being off for five weeks with stress. I also reminded her that it was she who insisted that I have someone else present. She then denied that she had insisted. SL was a team member who had been off with stress for several months. I asked her if she had forced SL to have someone present at her return to work meeting. She said that it was none of my business as it is a private matter. So I asked her why she should insist that my private matters should be attended by a colleague. Kathy was now beginning to lose the plot, and she accused me of being disrespectful. I told her that it was she who was disrespectful. and I asked her to please not raise her voice at me. She then said she would stop the meeting, and get someone else to attend with me later, but no other meeting was arranged.

Immediately after the meeting, I wrote down everything that had been said, and showed it to JSS. This was because I was going to include it in my informal grievance that I was about to raise. JSS disputed only one thing I'd written. I said that Kathy had claimed to have told JH to instruct me not to return to work. JSS correctly said that Kathy had asked "Did you not stop to think that it was perhaps me who had told JH to tell you not to return?" Even though I knew that JH had told me this on her own initiative, I later asked her face to face, and JH confirmed that Kathy had not told her to tell me. In Kathy's grievance she actually states that she told JH to tell me. Also in her grievance she states that she had to check with Karen on whether or not I was allowed to return to work on 6th. She goes on to say that Karen had to then check with another HR colleague. Yet Kathy was adamant that I, an IT employee, should have known that I wasn't supposed to return.

I completed my 25 page informal grievance which I had begun writing during my sick leave and sent it to Peter Kemp. It gave great detail of Kathy's behaviour towards me over several years. In Kathy's grievance papers, she included an email she had sent to Peter shortly after this in which she tells him that she is going to need his full support on this matter. In his reply, Peter said that he fully understands and supports her position. I was disgusted to see this, as it is my view that he should not have been taking sides on this matter.

Peter offered Kathy and me the services of an external mediator called Liz Law. We both accepted. My girlfriend, Ruth and I spent a total of 7 hours with Liz discussing the mediation process and the background to the problem. She explained that I was to prepare a five minute statement to read to Kathy, and that Kathy would do the same with me. We were then each to ask questions of one another and to ensure the answers were satisfactory. I spent more time preparing for the joint meeting. Then on the day of the meeting, Kathy announced that she had written a letter of complaint to the Uni stating that I had folded my arms during a team meeting, leaned back in my chair, and grunted when saying Good Morning to her. We each read out our statements. This was my statement:

I am glad to have this opportunity of mediation because I would like answers to a number of serious concerns that I have.

When you first became ISD Manager 10 years ago, you took over the management of the Finance project at the same time, and I was very impressed by the way you approached your new roles. Along with Jaana and Brian, you became a hero of mine.

When I became the DBA, I was pleased with the support you gave me, allowing me to make significant changes to the way the team worked, despite my lack of experience.

When my marriage broke up, you kindly invited me to your home at New Year. I was very grateful to you because it would have been a very difficult time for me to be alone.

Since then, however, I feel that things have deteriorated. I had told you a number of times that I felt you were treating me unfairly and that I wanted you to stop because it was causing me stress, but you didn't stop, and I felt I had no option but to make a complaint because your behaviour has damaged me very significantly.

I first recognised that you were treating me unfairly at my last appraisal three years ago, although looking back; I can see that it was happening before then. You abruptly asked me if I thought I was the best person in the team; yet prior to that you had been concerned about my lack of confidence and assertiveness. You said that I was unapproachable, but gave me no explanation why you thought this. About a year later you said that this was because you had overheard someone say this in a corridor. You also said that I lacked visibility with the other team members, but you didn't offer a sensible explanation. Despite me strongly denying that there was any truth in your allegations, you included them in my appraisal report. I felt very hurt and shocked by that, and I need to know why you did it.

In another meeting with David and me, you attacked me again about the "visibility" issue. I felt that this was in retaliation to a suggestion I made to which you had taken offence. You also misrepresented my views at another meeting in relation to this. I need to know what this is all about.

Despite the fact that I have gone to extraordinary lengths to make our team, including you, look good, I feel that you do not treat me with equal respect and dignity that you provide to other team members. I feel that you strongly favour certain team members, especially Eileen MacDonald. This was abundantly clear when I talked with you in February. This makes me feel like a 2nd class person. For example, training courses, conferences, merit awards, system upgrades. Why do you need to do that?

Since I became DBA, there have been many occasions when I have been badly treated by colleagues. I have been shouted at, sworn at, physically assaulted, had a malicious rumour spread about me. I've been told that I wasn't worth the promotion I received. One phoned a supplier and angrily told them I was a "useless DBA". And, Eileen once said she would never speak to me again. I have told you some of these incidents, and you replied saying that you were not interested. I want to know why, as our manager, you were not interested. I feel you have made me the team's scapegoat.

There have been matters relating to me about which you have appeared to be irrationally obsessive. For example, time off in lieu and also the diagram I drew on the whiteboard to help me with my work as a DBA. I feel that your obsessions were due to things colleagues were saying to you, but you were not being entirely frank with me, and indeed you were dishonest with me, and I want to know why.

At one meeting, you strongly denied that I have trained Programmers. I felt offended by that. How did you imagine that Programmers who had been appointed with little or no experience could be producing programs without substantial help from me?

We had a meeting for you to verify the contents of the DBA role outline for framework. Without warning, you had invited Eric to this meeting. The meeting was very confrontational because you aggressively challenged many of the statements included in the form, including three statements that you had typed yourself a few days earlier. Immediately following that meeting, Ruth and I went on holiday, and that holiday was ruined because of the stress I was feeling. I would like to know why you acted in that way.

You completely ignored me at one meeting and laughed at me at another. I felt humiliated. I want to know why you do this.

You have insulted me twice by calling me "patronising". I want to know why you do that.

You also sent me an email, copied to Eric, in which you criticised me. This was in relation to a matter for which an email containing praise would have been far more appropriate. I would like to know why you did that.

You composed a letter referring me to Occupational Health which contained false and serious allegations about me. This was the main reason for me becoming so ill with stress that I required five weeks sick leave. Why did you do that?

You made my Return to Work interview very stressful for me. I felt that you wanted me to suffer more stress to keep me from work longer. Why did you do that?

When Liz asked us to start putting questions to each other, Kathy announced that she would not be answering any questions. She said that if I asked her a question, she would leave the room. Kathy had brought Colin Sinclair, who is her long time friend and colleague, with her as support, and I had brought Ruth with me. I felt that Kathy may have been embarrassed to answer my questions in front of Colin, so I offered to ask them back in the office afterwards, but she refused that too.

My statement contained reference to Kathy's dishonesty. She protested at this, and asked me to withdraw it. The best I could do was to say that she is sometimes dishonest. She didn't like that either. She said that honesty went to the very core of her being. She said that three times, and it didn't gain any credibility with each performance. So I offered to give her examples of where she had been dishonest, but she quickly refused to allow that too. She feigned upset and went to the toilet for ages. Colin said he was surprised that I had said she was dishonest. He said that he had known Kathy for a long time and considered her to be one of the most honest people he'd ever known. At the time I genuinely believed him. I had been a big fan of Colin, and I just assumed that this was a side of Kathy that he didn't know. I later discovered that Colin too was dishonest. When he was interviewed about the mediation during the grievance investigation, he said that Kathy had answered my questions. Of course the investigators didn't ask for any examples of the questions I'd asked.

This was now the third time that Kathy had avoided explaining why she was mistreating me, and it wasn't to be the last. I feel it would have increased her chances of becoming an ex-bully if she were to open up and explain what it is that compels her to do it. It was a wasted, expensive opportunity.

With time running out, Liz tried to create an agreement between Kathy and me. Kathy agreed that if she was to receive any complaints about me, she would let me know about it and arrange a meeting with me and the complainant.

Three weeks later, Eileen MacDonald sent a lengthy email to Kathy complaining about me. She said that I was confrontational and a poor team player. She described an incident that happened the day before, but in a misleading way. I believe Eileen would not have expected Kathy to let me see it. Kathy forwarded her email to me and asked for my comments in advance of a meeting. At last I could see what was happening. Eileen was deliberately giving Kathy a false impression of me, when in fact it was Eileen who was at fault. I replied to Kathy and explained exactly what had happened. Eileen and Una had been deliberately breeching database security procedures several times over a lengthy period and each time I reminded them of the correct procedure. I also asked them to contact me if they ever felt it necessary to breech security procedures, because I knew that it wasn't. The previous day, Eileen had instructed Una to ignore the procedures again and logon to a database using an account that I had explained several times before that they were not to use. From my PC I could see Una logged on. I phoned her and asked her to log off. She agreed to do so, but 10 minutes later when I checked, she was still logged on, so I remotely logged her off myself. During those 10 minutes I'd heard Eileen talking with Una, and it seemed likely that Eileen was telling Una to just ignore me. I also made it clear that it was Eileen who was a poor team player by refusing to answer emails I'd sent her. She had also sent me a very sarcastic email and been very rude to me. I also described an incident from December 2006 when Una had physically assaulted me for no apparent reason, and had refused to explain why she did it.

When Kathy received my email it would have been absolutely clear to her that Eileen was in the wrong because I'd sent her written evidence. Eileen's email had also demonstrated her poor understanding of technical matters. Bizarrely, Kathy replied to me saying that she had only asked for BRIEF comments when in fact she hadn't. She said that because my reply was too long she was cancelling the meeting. She also said that she was going to raise a grievance against me. I immediately raised a formal grievance against Kathy and an informal grievance against Eileen which she passed to Peter. My grievance against Eileen was never processed. In fact Mark Toole has used that grievance as reason to dismiss me. He states that it was insensitive of me to raise a gievance against Eileen two weeks before she was due to go on maternity leave. I raised the grievance two MONTHS before her maternity leave. Her maternity leave and the timing of it formed no part of my grievance. The timing was due to the time that she had chosen to write to my manager. Mark's view is sexist, because his criticism could not have been made if I had raised a grievance against a man.


Message to the Principal

See Timeline and Personnel

Christine Hallett
On the same day that I lodged my formal grievance against my manager, I emailed the Principal to alert her to the seriousness of the situation which had been on going for several years but didn't seem to be taken seriously. The Principal holds the most senior role in a University, and I was making a desperate plea for help in the hope she would ensure that the issue would be handled properly.

Here's the email I sent to CH. Despite the alarming contents and attached grievance statement, I received no response from the Principal. Days earlier, she had sent all staff a message to say that the University was strongly committed to ensuring that we could all work free from such behaviour. The impression I received was that her statement was false and hypocritical, and that she was part of the problem.

Below is the message that the Principal would have had us all believe. However, the reality is that there is no real commitment to protect staff from bullies. My union reps are aware that Stirling University has one of the worst records for bullying in the UK.

Towards the end of 2009, staff were asked to complete a survey on several issues which included bullying. It was interesting that this survey followed soon after two rounds of Voluntary Severance whereby certain members of staff were offered a year's salary to give up their jobs. KE is one of roughly seven Programmers, which means she represented about 14% of the programming resource. She was desperate to take VS, but she was told by MT that no IS employees outwith the COLT team would be offered VS. Later, I registered an interest in VS, and was duly offered it. KE was furious with MT for having misled her. I was a full time DBA and had a colleague who worked part time as a DBA. This meant that I represented 67% of the DBA resource. Auditors had strongly recommended that the DBA role be covered by more than one person for security reasons. It made no logical sense to offer me a year's salary to leave. There is no doubt that I was being offered VS as a means to cover over my manager's bullying. It is also likely that other targets of bullies were offered VS and that that would have made the results of the survey give the impression that the University's record on bullying is much better than it really is.


Bullying - The definition

The University provides this quick definition of bullying.

Bullying can cover a wide range of behaviours and need not occur face to face. It may also occur in written communication, electronic mail and on the phone, some examples include:

non-constructive criticism which is personal rather than related to the person’s performance
public humiliation
unwanted physical contact
unwelcome remarks about a person's dress or appearance
use of offensive language or obscene gestures
gossip, or making defamatory comments
the display of obscene or otherwise offensive posters or graffiti
isolation or non-cooperation and exclusion from social activities
intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking
failure to safeguard confidential information
shouting at staff
setting impossible deadlines
persistent criticism
personal insults.

There is no doubt that I suffered these from my manager:

non-constructive criticism which is personal rather than related to the person’s performance
public humiliation
gossip, or making defamatory comments
persistent criticism
personal insults

and these from my colleagues:

public humiliation
unwanted physical contact
unwelcome remarks about a person's dress or appearance
use of offensive language or obscene gestures
gossip, or making defamatory comments
shouting at staff
personal insults

However, I was also singled out for unfavourable treatment compared with that of my colleagues, while it was the common view that certain colleagues were given very favourable treatment. For example, I discovered that KM was leaving me out when distributing certain correspondence to the team. She completely ignored me at a meeting, and laughed at me in another meeting. She wouldn't allow me to attend conferences or training. She would listen to gossip, criticise me on that basis, but not explain what she was criticising me about. Whenever I proved that she had no reason to criticise me, it just made her more determined to find fault. She would be dishonest with me to try to cover up her bullying. The final straw was when she did this publicly and tried to humiliate me by making it appear as though it was me who was lying. Even though she had time to stop and think, the temptation to lie in order to cover up her bullying was too great. In situations where normal people would apologise, KM would become defensive and dishonest and dig a bigger hole for herself. I've often felt she has a mental illness, but experts on bullying say it's not an illness; it's pure badness. It is very difficult for bullies to stop bullying, and first of all they have to want to stop. KM isn't anywhere near that stage, and rewarding her with my dismissal will only encourage her to continue bullying. Experts say that it's as difficult for bullies to change their behaviour as it is for paedophiles. I was not KM's first target. A former colleague was ill treated by her too.

The following catch all statement from the Harassment Policy was used by ES to uphold my manager's grievance against me. For some reason which was never explained to me, even this was insufficient to uphold my own genuine grievance of long term bullying which had caused me sufficient stress to require five weeks sick leave.

Differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining feature, however, is that the behaviour is offensive or intimidating to the recipient or a witness. It is not the intention of the perpetrator that is key in deciding if harassment or bullying has occurred, but whether the behaviour is unacceptable by reasonable normal standards and is unwelcome to the person or people subjected to it or witnessing it.

Bully Online is an excellent site that covers workplace bullying and provides an insight into the bully's motives.


See Timeline and Personnel

I worked at Stirling University from May 1997 until I was dismissed in June 2010. I was employed in Information Services as an Oracle Database Administrator (DBA). Around 2005, I began to notice that I was being bullied by my manager, Kathy McCabe (KM), but I now realise that I was being unfairly treated long before then. In December 2006, I arranged a meeting with Kathy to discuss the ill treatment. I made it clear that I wanted it to stop. However, the bullying continued, and in May 2008, I raised an informal grievance following 5 weeks sick leave I had to take due to stress caused by her bullying and dishonesty.

We were offered and we accepted the services of an external mediator. However, on the day of mediation, Kathy refused to follow the procedure for which the mediator had prepared us. She announced that she had written to the University complaining I had my arms folded during a team meeting; that I lean back in my chair, and that I "grunt" when I say Good Morning to her. The bullying continued, and I raised a formal grievance against her. A new Director of IS, Mark Toole (MT) was appointed, and he persuaded me to revert back to the informal stage to allow him an opportunity to resolve the problem. Still the bullying continued, and I was left with no alternative but to go formal again. The final straw came when Kathy sent an email to my team in which she attempted to publicly humiliate me by inferring that I must be stupid to expect her to be able to read minds, and that I am also a liar, when in fact I had irrefutable proof that it was she who was lying. Months earlier during a meeting with Mark Toole, she had agreed that in future, criticism should be delivered privately and should be evidence based. However, acting in that manner would have deprived her of the buzz she receives from bullying.

Kathy raised a formal grievance against me, claiming that it was me who was the bully. It was nonsense aimed to provide a smokescreen. Bully Online recognises this to be a tactic of the bully, and that it is tantamount to being an admission of guilt. Lo and behold, my grievance was dismissed, and Kathy's was upheld. The person that Mark chose to chair the hearing was Eileen Schofield (ES) who was working very closely on a project with Kathy at the time.

Part of my grievance was that Kathy did not protect me from ill treatment that I received from team colleagues, and in my six page grievance statement I included examples of that ill treatment. Kathy had already acknowledged, both in writing and in the presence of Mark Toole and Karen Stark (KS), that my colleagues had ill treated me and that she had taken no action on it. However, when interviewed at the grievance hearing, Kathy was not asked to respond to my allegations of bullying, and she was not asked why she did not act on ill treatment from my colleagues. Instead Eileen Schofield announced that they would carry out an investigation which would involve interviewing my colleagues.

My union representative asked that the process be transparent and that I should have the opportunity to respond to any statements made by colleagues. He stated that as I was the victim of scapegoating, it was likely that statements from colleagues would be partisan. However I wasn't even allowed to see what my colleagues had said. (After the decision was made, I requested and received copies of the witness statements.) Also I wrote to say that I did not feel it was necessary that my colleagues be interviewed as my grievance was not against them, but Kathy's failure to deal with their ill treatment of me. I said it would only create bad feelings within the team. I also highlighted Kathy's inconsistency by failing to deal with an incident where I had been physically assaulted by a colleague, yet complaining to management about me having my arms folded during a team meeting. She said that she considers arm folding to be aggressive. She and every other team member folds their arms during team meetings, but I am the only one she complains about.

When she was interviewed, Kathy claimed that my grievance was riddled with inaccuracies, and gave her own version of the facts. However, these were indesputible facts that could easily have been checked out by Eilen Schofield and Karen Stark. Indeed I was able to check them out myself by contacting HR. Kathy's statement was riddled with lies, including a lie which was to replace a previous lie which she seemed to be abandoning because I had produced evidence to demonstrate it was a lie, but then strangely she repeated the original lie as well.

A few colleagues and former colleagues were interviewed, and those who had ill treated me denied it, even though Kathy had already admitted that it had taken place, and much of it had happened in the presence of several witnesses. This led to my colleagues making false complaints against me that I bully them. A Disciplinary Hearing was held, and lo and behold, I was dismissed. None of the complaints against me had come to light until the investigation took place.

It was obvious from evidence I produced that my colleagues were lying and had colluded, but Mark Toole said he saw no evidence of this. It was obvious that he was being dishonest too. Oddly, it was those colleagues for whom I had done most that were complaining about me. They are all women, and the common theme from their statements is that I am alleged to have a problem with women. UF went as far as to state that I only get on well with two out of 11 women in the team. The truth is that UF had recently cooked me a meal (and several colleagues knew about it), and had invited me to be her friend on Facebook. She had also confided in me that she was upset by Eileen MacDonald's behaviour towards her, and that she didn't want Eileen to be her line manager anymore. She and Karen Eccleson had both referred to me as creepy, yet she had discussed with me and then emailed me a story about a man with his penis stuck in a pipe. She had also brought up the subject of oral sex with me, and then sent me, and only me, an email containing two animated files showing cartoon characters having oral sex, with the message "Just for you Allan, lol". She has also made a number of references to her breasts to me in a non medical manner, and shown me a photograph that her ex-boyfriend had taken of her coming out of the shower with just a towel in front of her. I've definitely never shown any colleagues any photos of me coming out of the shower, because that would be creepy! She made other bizarre claims that were obviously untrue in an attempt to create this false image of me. What she and the others didn't understand is that lying convincingly is not all that easy, especially when you don't know in advance that you intend to lie. Kathy who I consider to be highly intelligent didn't seem to understand this either. And Mark Toole doesn't seem to realise it either.

My appeal against the grievance decision was heard and dismissed by Kevin Clarke (KC). My union rep described it as "really quite outrageous" and "extremely disturbing". He had been confident that the decision would be overturned because of the enormous flaws in the procedure.

Naturally I intend to defend myself vigorously against these allegations, and I intend to use this blog to publish the evidence that was ignored during the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures. I'm sure any reasonable person will be able to see that I am inncocent, and that management has behaved dishonestly in order to protect the bullies and to victimise me because I raised a grievance against my bullying manager. I believe it is in the public's interest that I make this information available.

It also leaves current and future employees who find themselves being bullied with a dilemma. The Uni recommends that individuals take action to stop the bullying. I did precisely that, and now find myself unemployed as a result, and I had the support of my union (UCU) which many employees don't. My representative during the Disciplinary process was DS from the UCU head office. She proved to be an exceptionally talented individual, but nothing was going to stop Mark Toole from dismissing me, even though he was fully aware that I was innoccent and that the complaints were bogus.

After each hearing, the common tactic from each chairperson is to produce a report with a phrase like "I see no evidence to support his case". What they avoid doing, however, is to refer to the evidence I have submitted and state WHY it doesn't support my case. So for example, the University's Bullying policy states that public humiliation is an example of bullying. I submitted my manager's email to my team in which she infers that I'm stupid to expect her to read minds, and that in order to attend a conference, I should ask. She goes on to falsely claim that I've never asked, and thus infers that I'm lying about my claims that I had in fact asked. I also submit my emails I'd sent her asking to attend, as well as her written acknowledgements of my requests to attend. I definitely felt humiliated, but Eileen Schofield simply ignores this and all other evidence in her report. Therefore anybody reading the report on its own could be excused for thinking that it is reasonable to dismiss my claims. They may even think that I'm a nasty, malicious person to have made up complaints without any evidence.

Similarly, at the disciplinary hearing, I responded to a statement made by UF. She claims that for 4 years she avoided any contact with me because she says I have a problem with women, that I see women as vulnerable, that I made one woman's life a misery, and that I give her the creeps. She goes on to say that I had recently added her as a friend on Facebook, and so she deleted me. She had tried to give the impression that I had somehow added her as a friend without her permission which is impossible. She had invited me to be her friend, but that didn't fit with the story she was trying to tell. Mark Toole knows this as he is a big fan of Social Networking. He didn't dispute it at the hearing. However, when he wrote his report, he just says that he can see no evidence to support my claim that she had been dishonest. What he fails to do is to give a believable explanation for this glaring inconsistency, and all of the other glaring inconsistencies. For example, she had recently cooked me a meal. If he genuinely felt that I was being dishonest, he should give examples. I am sure he would have, had there been any.