Interesting case you describe here.
I discussed this with a friend of mine who is an employment lawyer. He has seen the sort of thing you describe happen to others before, in 3 different countries. He has a really lateral thinking type of approach, and has many major wins for his clients under his belt. This is the gist of what he says (I was taking notes!):The cause:
Essentially, if someone - typically a manager - decides to directly or indirectly perpetrate an "attack" on a person/target - threatening their employment prospects - in this way, it will typically be because, for example:
- (a) The perpetrator has been directed to do so (e.g., because management are upset that the target has not toed the line on something that scares them and it may risk exposing their incompetence/law-breaking/mistake, but they don't have a valid reason to fire you).
- (b) The perpetrator feels a personal malicious intent towards you and personally wishes to get rid of you (and sometimes your work associates as well), for some perceived crime or grievance reason - it doesn't necessarily have to make a lot of sense, either.
- (c) You may be perceived as simply being in the way of the perpetrator's career progress, and therefore a threat to be disposed of.
- (d) The perpetrator is a social psychopath and you happen to be his/her unlucky target (not so common, but it does happen and is apparently a relatively well-documented syndrome in corporations).
The perpetrator might not be a "bad" person, per se
, but could be deficient
in some regard of personality/character and is compensating by attacking you, especially if they (say) feel that your presence or good actions risk showing them in a correspondingly bad light, by comparison (this is apparently not uncommon).
The perpetrator may try to use every trick in the book to cast you in a bad light, including, but not limited to some pretty typical ones:(i) Engineering the performance review:
Ensuring that you get a bad performance review or bad 360° feedback reports (e.g., getting your co-workers to "independently" report their concerns about you
, etc., yet it is all fabricated). The co-workers who are dumb/gullible enough to make such reports may have no feelings pf animosity towards you, may not realise that what they are reporting will be used against you - as a hatchet job - but are obligingly making a report because they have been asked or instructed
to do so. People in this category go along with it because they may be just dumb, or fearful for their own safety/job protection, or lack the spine to object to it and daren't object as that would be raising their heads above the parapet.(ii) Entrapment:
Trying to entrap you in a manufactured situation which could show you in a bad light (try to ensure there are independent witnesses to your dealings) - e.g., journalists do this all the time as a matter of course (think fake news).(iii) Falsification:
Falsifying reports about you and what you may have said, losing the context (try to avoid having one-on-one meetings with such people).(iv) Mis-direction:
e.g., (say) to draw people's attention away from something they'd rather was kept covered up/concealed (another journo trick and one well-practiced by politicians).Why does the persecution treatment persist?
What can you do about it?
- You're authorised as the target: Maybe you did something wrong to deserve it in the first place, but regardless as to how it actually started, the only reason you are continuing to get the slow torture treatment meted out to you as you described is probably that the perpetrator (behind the torture) is being supported (for whatever reason) by the boss, and thus by the HR dept.
- Without that support, it couldn't happen and would have been killed stone dead.
- The HR dept aren't there to help YOU - they are most decidedly NOT your friends and are categorically NOT interested in fair play as they are there with the express objective of ensuring that the company personnel are managed rigidly as per contract and to protect from and minimise legal risk/cost to the company under any/all circumstances of employment (think Google's no-option-but-to-fire software engineer James Damore, whose carefully-constructed "open" essay gave the perception that it could effectively implicitly offer a de facto criticism of Google's hiring processes as being sexist, which criticism Google, of course, could never have tolerated or admitted to, as Delmore would probably have been only too well aware).
Probably not a lot as far as you seem to be heading at present. However, instead of repeatedly defending yourself by repeatedly throwing your efforts at a brick wall, treat the whole thing as an opportunity.
You can't really want to work there any more after the way you have been treated. From what you describe, they must want to get rid of you pretty bad. That will have a dollar value - it will probably already have been costing them a lot to get thus far. Somebody's budget will be copping those costs, and it will be an unproductive indirect cost to be charged against profits. You can't run a business like that. Companies can't afford to support dysfunctional and costly petty political fun-and-games, so there is probably something serious at the root of it. Follow the money.
Under what circumstances would these behaviours make sense? Where is the profit in these behaviours? Who is protecting whom, and why?
My lawyer friend suggested that you go and talk to a decent employment lawyer
about it and discuss the idea of constructive dismissal. The company have already goofed and apologised for that goof (from what you write) and that latter point (the apology) is another goof, but it is also a potentially golden egg - admission of mistake.
If you did go to a lawyer, he/she would probably suggest writing a letter (from the lawyer), offering your resignation on payment of (say) 2 years' severance pay in lieu of notice and due to length-of-service + pension severance entitlements, holiday leave, + lotsa moolah (damages) for the unpleasant machinations they have already put you through (and apologised for!), etc. There will be a negotiation, and you might come out with something less (if you wanted to accept it), but you set the upper limit in that initial letter.Interesting negotiations:
If you have a decent and relatively new company vehicle with (say) a $30,000 market value, then offer to buy it for a few hundred dollars, which would correspondingly reduce the potentially taxable payments in lieu.
They will be much more likely to be open to discussing a without prejudice offer as an alternative to being sued publicly in an employment court. It's cheaper and private. No-one likes bad advertising regarding their atrocious HR practices.
To protect yourself after exit, it is vital to make it conditional to the severance agreement that the company agrees to expunge your personnel files and records and performance reports and any copies thereof within two weeks and will not make, keep or provide such records nor make any verbal or written job references or comment to anybody, regarding your employment with the company. (This has teeth. You can penalise them with seriously hefty fines if they breach that.) You will become an unremembered ghost and they won't smear your reputation.