Definition and Signs of #WorkplaceBullying

For Pret Employees

Bullying in Pret is masqueraded as productivity targets etc. It is widely accepted even from customers as a “normal” work environment. I counter this indifference, saying that before the #metoo movement started to kick butt, sexual harassment was widely accepted as norm. “It’s just men … that’s what they do…” etc.

No, it’s not! Since #metoo and others, now big names once powerful fall like flies (Cosby, Epstein, Weinstein etc.). I believe more than ever that victims and survivors of workplace bullying need a #metoo movement as the problem is epidemic as well since large companies push for profit at all costs! And it does cost! It costs money for survivors who lose their job and health. It costs the company. It costs the Government, health care system etc. etc. Systemic workplace bullying is expensive in the long-run. It’s a lose-lose situation apart from companies losing valuable employees, they also lose reputation in time when the scale of bullying comes to light.

Also, even Journalists accept harassment as part of the job. But they shouldn’t!

Journalists getting used to harrassment


Even more with low-wage workers in the fast-food industry and in Pret. They get used to it and even think it’s part of the job to be bullied, threatened etc. Many don’t even realize they’re being bullied as bullying is often subtle. The wider public think it’s normal at worst or nothing can be done at best. I was gaslit by Pret leadership, one OPs Manager in a grievance appeal’s hearing I raised against a bullying line manager asked me what my definition of bullying is. In shock I couldn’t respond fast enough to realize I was manipulated to think that I wasn’t bullied. I share my full story with Pret at the bottom audio player in an interview on a podcast.

2015-03-24 Worked into the ground - bullying

Link to review.

I based a YouTube slide I made on this review calling it “Worked Into the Ground without Empathy” taken from above review.

Bullying during Bereavement

I’ve sent the “ACAS guide to Bereavement in the Workplace” to Pret’s HR and several OPs Managers to no avail. ACAS has deleted their PDF on this. It was a comprehensive guide for employers. I re-uploaded the 24 page guide again. But I highlight only bullying during bereavement from their guide. I know in hindsight that me “teaching” Pret wasn’t the best of ideas, but I was traumatised and crying out for help and change. My attempts to keep raising the issues were futile. So, I take Pret’s “advise” from their “Pret Values and Behaviours”, one of which says for employees to “never give up”, and I keep raising the issue of workplace bullying outside of Pret publicly after internal efforts failed.

I write about it here: ACAS Guide to Bereavment at Work as well as in the interview.

A few quotes from the guide which I also used in my grievance hearings (to no avail).



Pages 12 & 13 (I added the colour highlights):

»Avoiding discrimination and addressing bullying

Employers should ensure their employees who are likely to be affected by the disability are able to recognise it, especially when performance or absence of a bereaved employee becomes unacceptable over the longer term for no other apparent reason.«

»Addressing Bullying

Bullying is defined as unwanted behaviour or conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. If the bullying is related to a protected characteristic then it is harassment.

Managing bereavement in the workplace

Employers should be alert to inappropriate behaviour following bereavement. Absence through bereavement can place burdens on co-workers and line managers alike who may pressurise (inadvertently or otherwise) or bully a bereaved employee into returning to work or performing their duties to the same level as they did before the death. The intentions of the bully do not matter – what is important is the impact that the behaviour has on the employee who is being bullied.

The PDF then gives examples.



Bullying in its variety of forms:

Definition of bullying

(Entry 1 of 2)

: abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. : the actions and behavior of a bully. Merriam Webster

They changed the dictionary entry from “weaker” to “vulnerable” after a campaign by anti-bullying organisations, because a victim of bullying is not a “weak” person, but vulnerable like in my case, I was bereaved, in shock and trauma. That made me vulnerable, but not a weak person. In fact I was much stronger than the bullies if you think about it as I held out under INTENSE circumstances by a group of professionals including HR, HQ and former CEO Clive Schlee! Schlee labelled me his “late night girl” after I became ill with the emailing, I explain in below audio player. I am still recovering and have not dealt with the aftermath well myself. But I own up to it!

Quote: »A group of dictionary publishers have agreed to change the way that they define bullying after a campaign accused them of presenting perpetrators as strong and their targets as weak.« The Times

The saying, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” is true!


Signs of bullying at work

From: How to Identify and Manage Workplace Bullying

A few examples of bullying include:

  • targeted practical jokes
  • being purposely misled about work duties, like incorrect deadlines or unclear directions
  • continued denial of requests for time off without an appropriate or valid reason
  • threats, humiliation, and other verbal abuse
  • excessive performance monitoring
  • overly harsh or unjust criticism

Bullying behaviors might be:

  • Verbal. This could include mockery, humiliation, jokes, gossip, or other spoken abuse.
  • Intimidating. This might include threats, social exclusion in the workplace, spying, or other invasions of privacy.
  • Related to work performance. Examples include wrongful blame, work sabotage or interference, or stealing or taking credit for ideas.
  • Retaliatory. In some cases, talking about the bullying can lead to accusations of lying, further exclusion, refused promotions, or other retaliation.
  • Institutional. Institutional bullying happens when a workplace accepts, allows, and even encourages bullying to take place. This bullying might include unrealistic production goals, forced overtime, or singling out those who can’t keep up.

NOTE: Institutional or what I call systemic bullying, is exactly what I experienced at Pret, which then went all the way up to the top leadership of Pret. I kept raising the issue of bullying that they passed me on to higher and higher Managers as well as me contacting the CEO, not knowing that it is systemic. I explain in detail in the audio player at the bottom of this page.

Early warning signs of bullying can vary:

  • Co-workers might become quiet or leave the room when you walk in, or they might simply ignore you.
  • You might be left out of office culture, such as chitchat, parties, or team lunches.
  • Your supervisor or manager might check on you often or ask you to meet multiple times a week without a clear reason.
  • You may be asked to do new tasks or tasks outside your typical duties without training or help, even when you request it.
  • It may seem like your work is frequently monitored, to the point where you begin to doubt yourself and have difficulty with your regular tasks.
  • You might be asked to do difficult or seemingly pointless tasks and be ridiculed or criticized when you can’t get them done.
  • You may notice a pattern of your documents, files, other work-related items, or personal belongings going missing.


To keep it short, please watch this video on workplace bullying, it is THE best “tutorial” on the variety of workplace bullying, how to spot it, what helps and what doesn’t. Very insightful. If you don’t read or watch anything I publish, please take 12 minutes and watch this, it sums it up perfectly!


In hindsight, in a nutshell, the following text that I found on Twitter sums up my own experience. As I was in grief and trauma, I unintentionally poked into the hornets’ nest and into the heart of Pret. I went exactly through the following, by the book:

Bullying Summed Up Nutshell


Thank you for reading/watching. Please stand up against systemic bullying, no matter if in the playground, schools, workplaces, even at home or in the neighbourhood. Seek help for yourself and others. Support others. Don’t be silent! Don’t be a bystander or onlooker! Don’t be afraid! If the #metoo movement can do it in relation to sexual violence and harassment against even powerful people and groups, workplace bullying survivors can do the same! I am one example! And I won’t give up!

»Worked into the Ground without Empathy @ Pret A Manger«



I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by
The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.



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