What to do when your boss picks on you

(MoneyWatch) In theory, by the time you land in the workforce, everyone you work with and for, should be adults, and more importantly, should act like adults. This means those lessons in kindergarten about being nice and doing things fairly should have had time to sink in. But for some people they haven't. What do you do when you get a boss that acts like a 7th grader? Here's a letter from someone who is stuck in this situation:

I have worked for a group home company for 11 years. I started off with the boss when he owned a few homes now the company has grown. I have always worked overnights. For some reason I seem to bring out the worst jealousy in people, especially women. That is why I work nights alone. 
I come to work on time everyday, do my job to the best of my ability to a point where it seems I am the only one doing the overnight cleaning etc. and I am constantly bashed by an administrator at the head office my boss now has. There are house cleanliness checks done on days I work, but hardly ever other overnights where nothing is done. They nitpick always to find something wrong no matter how much I scrub, scrape, type and file.
The manager lead person now also has jealous tendencies reporting false accusations. They put up cameras 2 years ago and I am written up every other week for anything -- that I sat down, that I was not in view of camera, that I opened cupboards, or even that I didn't smile at the meeting or that I looked at my phone. I am constantly abused by the coordinator yelling 'look at me when I'm speaking to you!' She clearly has a deep rooted hatred for me, almost like how dare you black b***. 
My boss has been fed so many lies and negativity that he doesn't even help or care about me anymore. We were very close at one time while he was building his company now I've been just fed to the wolves whose only ambition is make my life a living hell. I feel if I go somewhere else it's always like this for me.

There are a couple of things that stand out here. The first is that this isn't a one-time occurrence with one boss. When one person treats you poorly and picks on you, the problem is undoubtedly with that person. However, when you repeatedly have problems with other people, then there may be something that you're doing wrong. 

Sometimes, even though you know you're a nice person, you can say things in an abrasive manner or inadvertently offend people. Some things may simply be the result of being raised in one culture and then trying to fit in in another. What you see as polite, others see as rude. Sound crazy? It's not. Even neighborhoods can have variances. So, this letter writer is probably doing something "wrong" if multiple people take strong dislikes to her.

That said, no one deserves to be treated unfairly, even if he or she grates on your nerves. And if you're the one being mistreated by supervisors are mistreating you and picking on you for things that they ignore in your coworkers, that's inexcusable. Here's some advice I can offer this person, but others may find some useful advice here for their own situation:

First, you sound like you feel trapped -- that if you go somewhere else it will always be the same. That flat out isn't true unless you are 100 percent the problem. No matter what you choose to do here, you need to start looking for a new job. A company that hires bad managers will, most likely, continue to do so, even if your individual problem is fixed.

The second thing you need to do is sit down and think -- really think -- about how you know you're treated differently. If you're working overnights alone, then your peers are also working overnights alone. How do you know that your supervisor isn't yelling at them, picking on them for opening a cupboard, or giving them grief over sitting down on the job? What you may see as uniquely cruel treatment may be a result of your supervisor being a world class jerk.

Jerkiness isn't illegal, and if the big boss has already ignored it, there's not much you can do about it. If, however, you can identify, clearly, that you are being treated differently, then you have to ask why. If it's because you simply grate on her nerves, again, it's not illegal. If you have an HR department, you can ask them for guidance in dealing with your supervisor, but if they've been allowing this to go on anyway, they are probably pretty worthless.

However, since you mentioned your race and your supervisor seems to have a problem with that, you need to evaluate if this is due to race. If you feel that this is the case, then you need to file an official complaint. You need to say directly what is happening and you need to use straightforward language. Write everything up and email it to HR (if they exist) or to the owner. The subject line should be "Formal Complaint of Racial Discrimination." This does a couple of things -- puts the company on notice of a problem, and makes it illegal for them to retaliate against you for complaining. They must investigate. That said, if they investigate and find out that your supervisor is a jerk to everyone, regardless of race, then it's not illegal and, therefore, they are not required to act.

But, all these things aside, you've been there 11 years and that's an extremely respectable amount of time to do any job. This one is causing stress. Focus your efforts on finding a new job. It will be better than staying where you are. 

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