bullied at work because of my hypothyroidism symptoms

I have worked in a well known supermarket chain for 18yrs, can't remember if I told them I had congenital hypothyroidism or not when I started. Having been hypo all of my life I have never known what it is to be 'normal' but when a colleague at work said I 'acted like a dope' when I was merely queuing and going through her checkout (about 15 years ago) it was the beginning of being aware of my condition and how people perceive me. I have been horribly bullied at work for years by people a lot younger than I am who think I am a complete idiot and I have been so slow in thinking that it was only relatively recently when I was seeing a psychologist that she told me I was being bullied and the penny dropped. I have been in so much trouble at work what with one thing and another where things have come to a head but bottom line is that I HATE it there. I would love to leave but can't and besides, in many ways it's a good little job I have but I feel so isolated and shy and fed up. Anybody else had similar experiences?

44 Replies

  • Havent had any experiences with this had to stop work two years ago. You have to go to the Human Resources Department and complain about these people if they get a telling off might make them think twice about losing their job bullying in workplace not allowed dont let them get away with it best wishes xx

  • Yes very much, though in those days I believed them because I didn't know I was ill with Graves Disease and that was causing problems. Came to a head year ago and had a breakdown. I have been seeing a psychologist for months now and she is great, at least I dare to leave the house now though I still lack confidence. You know you are unwell so please don't let their ignorance get you down you are better than them. Keep seeing you psychologist if you can. I never realised just how angry I was and how belittled until therpy.

  • I had graves' and I can relate to your experience, joprince. I became housebound, but what really sorted me out was not the psychiatric help but getting my thyroid sorted out. Having said that, you are then dependent on being prescribed enough thyroxine, if the only solution is a thyroidectomy. (I went into thyroid storm)

    It's disgusting that other people need to be sorting out their wrong attitudes but we're the ones who end up have psychiatric counselling!

  • This really is the limit! I'm so sorry you've had to put up with all of this.

    Is there a manager to whom you could talk and ask for information about hypothyroidism to be made common knowledge amongst the other employees. They wouldn't have to let on it is because of you, but at a suitable moment you might be able to speak up and say how you have personal experience of this condition and what it does to the brain.

    Perhaps they could circulate this information amongst the other employees - it's not specifically relevant to hypothyroidism, but still very relevant to any condition which is a chronic condition like hypothyroidism:


    Also have you ever wondered if your treatment is optimised? There may be other things you can do to give yourself a better life. Check these pages on the main Thyroid UK website:




    Jane x

  • That is absolutely shocking and I feel so angry on your behalf. You have to try to pluck up courage ( not easy I know when you have been bullied but you are the one who is in the right) to make an appointment and speak to someone in Human Resources, maybe you could even take a friend for support.

    Might be an idea before you go to make notes on what exactly was has been said, who said it, when it was said: dates and times etc and if there were any witnesses. Go in armed with that and they ought to take you seriously. There is something very sad about people who have to bully other people to feel good themselves. People who bully others will sometimes say 'it was just a joke, I was only kidding' and that sort of thing! Having fun at someone else's expense isn't a joke, it is bullying.

    No way should you be bullied into moving on especially as you have said it is a nice little job in many ways.

    Hang on in there, be brave and get it sorted out.

    Liz xxx

  • Why is thyroid problems so understood by many people. At my work someone has a bad back and the way she is treated is so different to myself. No allowance to my bad days!

  • I was talking to my partner about this yesterday. Physical ailments/disabilities= sympathy. unseen illness= shes making it up andjust has to get on with it. PISSES ME OFF. I was saying how more famous people need to get involved because for some reason they can all sympathise with them whether a seen or unseen sickness.

  • Hi, haven't been on this site for ages. so much has been going on. Oh how I agree with what you are saying about physical ailments = sympathy etc because they can be seen (sometimes) I can't argue my point with people at work because I can't think of an answer quickly enough so they think they are right and have beaten me although I do lack the confidence to have debates about differing points of view. Are you having problems then?

  • Sorry meant misunderstood. Thyroid/ brain!! Hope you can get H R to help you and make these people who have bullied you stop it. X

  • People cant see anything therefore it doesn't exist same old story :(

  • I have said this before on this site- the law is there to support you, use it! I am talking about thedisability discrimination Act. I go on a similar site for people with narcolepsy and cataplexy, another 2 conditions people are ignorant about and their worker regularly tells people to assert their rights. The basic thing is, your employer has to make reasonable adjustments to enable a disabled employee to work. Perhaps there is already info on this on this site, sounds like it is needed. One thing I had put in my DDA support plan was that any manager I had had to read the information I provided.Perhaps you need to require them to educate your colleagues so they realise how lucky they are not to be lumbered with conditions like these.

  • It's interesting what you say. I have a doctor who denies I should still have any of the problems of being Hypo because " I am on the correct dose" so no help there. I have tried to look online as to whether Hypothyroidism comes under the disabililty act and I am not sure - especially when my doctor says I am ok. As for going to Human Resources, I told my Line Manager years ago I was having problems with my work colleagues and she kind of turned a blind eye to it if I didn't mention names. Two years ago my manager gave me a Ninety Day Notice saying she was making me work more hours and I kicked off and got upset at the mere thought of it, I was only doing 11 hours a week but who would want to work more hours at a place they were bullied? As things are now, after making a big fuss people are a bit nicer towards me now but it's all fake so I don't feel any better really and not only do my colleagues dislike me and judge me but the management don't like me because I didn't do what they wanted me to do like all the other puppets do. Does Hypothryoidism really come under the Disability Act?

  • I used to be treated like i was making everything up and doing it for attention but I went to my HR department and my work now do a big tyroid awareness campaign and I provided posters and leaflets from this site as well as my own and although you won't understand fully unless you or a close relative has been through it they are more aware and now ignore my thyroid brain and are used to repeating things for me because I am a lot slower to grasp things than I was 5 years ago. There are things to do so please don't give up x

  • Tory I'm the same at my work so know where your coming from. Nowadays people are so wrapped up in themselves its unbelievable

  • This is totally disgusting and you can have them for constructive dismissal - do you have any allies who would back you in a court - this is just not on and I am beyond angered that any managers can allow it to happen.

  • I went for constructive dismissal and 'called their bluff' they settled out of courtthe night before the hearing and got just enough to pay the solicitor. Have you tried talking to Citizens Advice they are usually very helpful.

  • My heart goes out to you and I can only imagine how isolated you must be feeling.

    You sound a very shy person so for you to bring this situation to the manager attention must be a daunting task but if you can't do it alone how about asking a friend or relative to help you, I know if I lived near enough I would be the first one to step in as I absolutely HATE bullies. They are weak individuals who take pleasure in causing other people pain and, what you have got to remember is, you are better than them.

    If the thought of a one to one meeting with your manager is to stressful for you maybe writing a letter would be better. You can explain how you feel and what you have been through over the years whilst in the companies employ. Sending a letter would be a starting point and once the letter has been received in cannot be ignored by the company and you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

    Stay strong.

    Moggie x

  • I hate bullies too Moggie x

  • This is bullying at work - pure and simple - by any definition. If your organisation is a large chain it should have a bullying and harassment policy that you should be able to see.

    Are you in a union? Their regional reps should be able to help. If not I'd repeat what LizH has said, going to your manager or HR dept first, giving them the details of what is happening and asking to see the bullying and harassment policy. Perhaps you could also ask what the procedure is for taking it to the supermarkets head office. Sometimes making them aware you may take it further up the chain of command helps them to take claims far more seriously. Write down what you want to say first as stress make us all prone to brain freeze and likely to forget.

    It is useful to try and take someone with you if you can. Sometimes though if the bullying is endemic, even the nicer people there might be reluctant. But try.

    As LizH said, keep a diary of everything that has happened in a day as soon as you get home, no matter how trivial, it all acts as evidence.

    These might help. Hopefully the links will come thru



  • I know exactly how you are feeling as I have just been through it myself! I started my teaching career about the same time as I was diagnosed why hypothyroidism. For a long time I put my tiredness down to a new and very demanding job. I struggled on until my levels were better (never felt quite right as still struggled with brain fog and poor memory). Last year new head teacher started and she put me on capabilities. She was a bully and made my life hell. I had a very good friend who helped me through two grievances (which were not upheld). I finally resigned this year and went for constructive dismissal. I have since dropped the constructive dismissal because it was seriously effecting my health and very few people would back me up (all to scared to speak up as they were afraid of loosing their jobs). I am now unemployed and sat at home with zero confidence. So I do know how you are feeling. Please PM me if you want to know more.

    Take care


  • Have pm,d you

  • Hi feelold, I had a virus which destroyed my hearing nerves (and i suspect also my thyroid) the struggle to get back to work and cope with family took its toll and hypo was not diagnosed for several more years. At work I also became the object of jokes but I had to work harder than most to be "on the ball all the time" . my life was very uncomfortable at work, as my deafness was the "disability" and the hypo tiredness slow thinking was ignored, so classed as "deaf and daft" . i felt when i made complaints via union or boss then i was treated with "kid gloves" incase i took things further, i became more isolated and ignored. eventually I left, the constructive dismissal approach was suggested to me but i had no fight left in my body, just such awful sadness that people could be so cruel.

    10 years down the line I wish this web site had been there, it is only now that i am learning about the symptoms of hypo and the effects. Now I am reading how people are feeling, i could cry because I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE FEELING LIKE THIS!

    So my advice to anyone going for unfair dismissal, please get someone strong to support you all the way, someone who knows you and what you have been through.

    thanks for all the advice on this web site.


  • Hi Mary

    At the time I also felt very alone, but unfortunately it seems to be happening more and more. I did have some one strong to support me (from outside work), however when your work colleges are too scared to back you up, you are very much on your own. Although constructive dismissal may be the right thing to do, you need to be very strong and I am afraid I just wasn't strong enough. Who is when you feel like we do?

    Take care


  • I completely agree Mary. I came to this site when feeling low and had a lovely response but I needed only read previous posts to know none of us are alone. No matter how isolated I feel the reality is, sadly, that someone else is going through this and feeling it worse.

    Donna x

  • Bullying in the work place is a very serious matter for your employers they MUST act and if they don't they are liable to you. So do act and please keep a paper copy of everything, copies of what was said at meetings, times, dates etc. This can be vital down the line.

    Do act and give them the chance to sort it out, if they don't get legal advice and take action.

    You don't lose your rights when you lose your health.

  • Go to HR and tell them if it is not sorted you will take it further.....there should be a bullying and harrassment policy. Whether you have a medical cindition or not they should not be employing people who bully. You also may not be the only one these people are bullying so you should report them.

    My heart goes out to you. Please dont put up with this any longer. Xx

  • I am a 30 something Police Officer, it came as a shock to realise I was being bullied after all we are the Police and are supposed to protect people, my problem and yours I suspect is bullying undermines your confidence, you start to believe you have in some way brought this on yourself and you forget that there are laws to protect you from this behaviour. Arrange a meeting with HR, explain your situation, how you are being treated. Keep a diary of ALL meetings, conversations etc where you highlight the bullying you are receiving, also detail any incidents of bullying or unfair treatment. Do not let other people's small mindedness ruin your life. I can assure you that HR will not want to risk a tribunal, the problem is that managers and staff lower down the company food chain have a complete ignorance of the Equality Act, maybe it is time you taught them a lesson. Good luck x

  • Oldntired, yes this definitely rings a bell with me. I was bullied, by my boss, my colleagues all knew as did hresources as she sat in the next room so could here her but did nothing.

    My thyroid problems resulted in anxiety depression but I still did my job. She would blame me for everything even if clear that someone else something.

    The comment I had one day was "oh you seem less emotionally unstable today ". What !! She had the problem but made my live a misery.

    My family all told me I didn't have to put up with it but I was so cowed down I thought I had to put up with it.

    I would deal with it differently now but I understand how very hard it is.

    You DON'T deserve this, you are a better person than them and that's why they pick you. Mostly because they feel inadequate themselves.

    NOW back to your problem,

    if your manager is approachable speak to them first or letter, if not go higher till someone listens.

    Tell them of your medical problem, give information on thyroid, and say its covered by FDA which is now equality act.

    Explain you need help dealing with the bullies and get management on your side.

    If you want to pm me as a shoulder to rant feel free.

    All the best T x

  • Sorry, I have not been on this site for ages. What is the FDA and are we really covered? I believe you but have been unable to find any information about whether Hypo is covered by the DIsability Act. It's a long story but Personnel/Management don't really like me because I wouldn't change my hours of work to suit them and went to the union, recently they have started tackling the bullying because apparently other people have been bullied. Part of the bullying is racism because for a long time I was the only white person on my shift and being a lot older than them also meant I was an easy target, I was being mobbed. So I am neither popular with my colleagues who think I am stupid and management who think I am trouble.

    Thank you so much for letting me rant. What does pm mean?

  • I read your post and felt anger for you as you're suffering needlessly every day for something that shouldn't be a big deal really! So you might be suffering with brain fog (as we all are when we're undertreated) due to your hypothyroidism, but that doesn't make you a total idiot or make it ok for people to look down on you.

    I can only suggest you adapt the post you've written and send this to your HR department as it tells a whole story very simply yet very heartfelt. No-one should have to feel like this and somtimes these bullies don't even realise how upsetting they can be...amazingly! It only takes one strong person to come onto your side and all the bullies will follow like sheep! Because you feel isolated and sad you probably think no-one will listen to you at work, but if you do let someone know you'll very likely get a really good result?

    At least if you try you can have one of two results:-

    1. Things will change, people will be more understanding and it will make you feel a whole lot better


    2. nothing changes so it's time to look for a new job as you don't need to waste anymore time with people like these.

    I'm so sorry you're going through this, I hate to think of anyone being humiliated for something they have no control over.

    The best of luck with getting this sorted 'oldandthyroid' and I hope you manage to improve your medication and health with the help of this wonderful site.

  • I totally understand. I was in charge of monthly payroll for over 150 employees as well as a separate payroll for Directors. I worked for same company for over 25 years and had most of my thyroid removed early 70's and suffered badly ever since, feeling like a guinea pig being uses for tests with a lot of radioactive activity. This has left me with very bad joint/muscle pain.

    I ended up having a major panic attack at work, taking 3 people to get me home (I remember screaming but nothing else). I never went back to work and now have trouble driving or leaving the house, 5 years on. All my G P offered was antidepressants.

    I am now undergoing breast cancer, having gone through a mastectomy, chemo and radiotherapy.

    This has taught me "life is short" and you are worth so much more than these bullies who should be named and shamed. Please hold your head up, be proud of who you are. You need to find the courage to report these cowards.

    I send you love

  • I quit my job before being diagnosed, perhaps things would have been different had I known about being hypo at the time. I can't offer any real advice but hope you can find the strength to do some of the things others have suggested.

    Huge hugs,

    Donna x

  • I agree with everything above. This is not acceptable. An earlier post, Moggie, suggested someone might be able to help by going with you. This what support is all about. Which area do you live in?

    Take care


  • I live in london

  • After I had my thyroid removed I found it very difficult to cope with every day things at work and even more difficult to cope with any challenges. My responses were slow, I found it hard to make decisions, I developed anxiety, I struggled to sequence things and to take in information that was sequential or required a series of actions that I had to remember. I felt frightened a lot of the time and was very sensitive to the environment around me.

    I had trouble at home as I was very slow to respond to being asked a question. My family got fed up with me being so distant. I felt like I was being bullied at work and had no support at home either. My senior manager cut off conversation with me after I talked to HR about some of the problems.

    One of my colleagues made unnecessary rude comments about my poor memory. Another caused a lot of trouble undermining my professional reputation and using the knowledge that I had a long term condition as a lever for advantage. I eventually resigned. However, there is hope and things can get better.

    I've learned to cope much better with the problems that my thyroid disease brings. I have stopped attributing my problems to external factors and understand that my anxiety is internal. I'm learning ways to lessen the stress response. I'm very careful about my medication, don't drink caffeine or alcohol. I get exercise and manage my diet. I have joined in with a group (run by a psychologist) called 'act mindfully' and have learned some new skills to cope. I'm doing a lot better at work and my confidence is slowly creeping back.

    I would recommend getting all the help you can gather from your family, friends and your GP. I have explained the symptoms I've experienced to my family so that now they understand better and are more supportive.

    I tell people at work that I have a long term condition that I manage well. I don't tell them too much as thyroid disease is so misunderstood. I don't know what else to recommend except to say that I totally sympathise and understand how you feel and that living with a thyroid condition is challenging and you deserve a lot more sympathy and understanding than you are getting. I wish you the very best.

  • I can relate to your experience because I was bullied as a teenager because of my weight & bad skin. Iv`e come to the conclusion that people stink!

  • Hi! oldandthyroid,

    I have not been bullied, but have been laughed at for doing or saying daft things, you know speaking before thinking it out first, I used to feel daft but not any more, if people can't except me for who I am then they are not worth bothering with, these people are nasty and stupid and I'm sure others can see through their nastiness. Keep your chin up your the better person.

    love Cazy xx

  • Hi. Your situation sounds horrible and I totally believe that you are being bullied. Prooving it however can be difficult. Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) - GOV.UKhttps://www.gov.uk/acas?Cached This site has a free and confidential helpline. If you are in a union you could give them a ring.Perhaps you could chat to your psychologist as well about options.

    You need to think about an end result which would suit you you ie stay and do nothing, stay having complained, a transfer to a different store etc.

    Personally,I would definitely seek advice before approaching HR. If you do decide to take action against your employer you need to be armed to the hilt with evidence. Perhaps you could achieve eg a transfer in a different way? You also need to be careful that you highlight all of your strengths as an employee in spite of your thyroid status.

    Feel free to PM me if you want to rant!

  • It's your job, yours! Not theirs and it won't be theirs while you stand in their way. Think mean, when they say things, think truly mean things back, you can think what you like, F*** *** (or something polite if you wish) is a good start. No one has any right to lower your esteem, see the union or the boss, print out this web page and show it them. You, are a fantastic human with life stories and skills, so different from theirs. You are your own woman!

  • This happened to me - terrible bullying at work which combined with feeling very I'll forced me to give up my job. Soon after leaving my GP discovered that my T4 was over 30 and signed me off sick. Wish I WD have known - I WD have stayed at work but gone sick and they WD have been forced to pay me. Also as I was approaching retirement I CD have got early retirement. Hope my experience/mistakes helps others.

  • I really feel for you - noone should have to put up with this. The people you work beside are just not that bright, are they? Not kind or caring either. I agree with all the wonderful supportive comments above, and hope you find a way forward that suits you. take care, and let us know how you get on xx

  • Hi, I was recently severely bullied at work, micromanaged, threatened with job loss, reduced salary etc. etc. for four years.

    Now I find out (a year ago) I have thyroid issues and have been taking medication for a year.

    These two things MUST be connected surely.

    By the sounds of your awful experience, you have suffered medical effects too?


  • Ali, I'm so sorry you've been bullied. When you don't have the energy or the will to fight back because of illness it's particularly awful. :(

    Just wanted to reply as I don't think your post will be spotted easily - this thread is two years old and I don't think the original poster posts here any more.

    Do please feel welcome to post a new thread - unfortunately, I know you're not alone in having gone through something like this and there will be many who can empathise.

    Hope you're getting better now x

  • I was bullied at work due to my hypothyroidism - symptoms. I had worked for a well known healthcare corporation for more than 30 years. Nearly 4 years ago i had an accident that revealed my thyroid cancer. i had the thyroidectomy and radiation treatment which seems to have taken care of the cancer but the hypothyroidism and symptoms are devastating. During this time it seemed that the manager and the consultant on the team began to become less tolerate of my symptoms and they began to bully me. Soon it was most of the team that began to "enjoy" my condition and the fact that i was an easy target. I was attacked during meetings and brought to tears; then accused of being "too sensitive". I was feeling tired, sluggish, and weak and i even noticed i was moving slower and having more muscle aches. I also noticed i was having memory problems, depression, and problems concentrating. I had no one to talk to about it, especially with all the tormenting that was occurring.

    I also became my mother's guardian 18 months ago due to medical/physical changes alone with mental disorder. I had to face many decisions regarding her care and believe that my illness has delayed decisions with her care as well. I did apply for and receive FMLA after i became made aware of this type of leave through my sister. She was shocked that the healthcare company i worked for did not make me aware of it when i had the Thyroid surgery and then later when i needed time to attend to my mother.

    Well i was shocked when only a few days before Christmas my employer let me go with a modest severance package.

    I'm at a loss


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