Reviews & Media

The Whistleblower: Defeating Bullies, Harassers & Management Gang Retaliation

REVIEWS

5.0 out of 5 stars (Amazon) By J. Reynolds

February 14, 2019

Inspiring, Compelling, and Empowering

A much needed call for integrity, dignity, and respect in the workplace. The author uses his own incredible experience with professional harassment to shed light on the depths to which it can negatively affects one’s life (personal relationships, health, emotional well-being), and also uses it to provide keen insight on what to do if you find yourself in the same situation.

There is no existing road map for navigating the legal system as a whistle-blower–which makes this work enormously valuable. The author advises on how to approach each aspect of the journey, from hiring a lawyer to creating a record of your interactions. Whereas previously they could be bullied into submission, now whistle-blowers have a resource to help them take stock of their situation, stay strong, and act effectively. A truly powerful personal story that’s given rise to an even more powerful tool for citizens everywhere.

5.0 out of 5 stars  (Amazon) by Sara S.

February 23, 2019

The heart of a lion!

In an era of harassment and bullying, there is a path to justice! As the author describes this requires one to have the ‘heart of a lion’. This book is inspiring, courageous and relatable. Even with the all that’s stacked against you, justice can and will prevail if you can withstand the path, and know you are not alone. “Every employee has a basic human right to be treated with respect, dignity and decency.”

The author provides insights into the systemic root cause of harassment and how this is perpetuated in institutions. The call for educational institutions to create curriculum to address harassment and bullying is critical to advancing humanity.

This book is a valuable resource for us all.

MEDIA

The Daily Progress, February 16, 2019

Attorney pens book to help raise awareness of the toll of workplace bullying

BY JANE DUNLAP SATHE


Shenandoah Titus, Esq.

Shenandoah Titus shares his own experiences in a new book that he hopes will help people recognize the signs of workplace bullying, take steps to resolve the situation and find hope in the fact that they are not alone.

Shenandoah Titus was trying to catch a commuter train when the stress of his work situation caught him by the throat.

“I was walking across the parking lot, and all of a sudden, I lost my breath,” the attorney said. “I literally could not walk another step. I almost collapsed.”

The Keswick resident lived in Northern Virginia then; he was working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as the first program manager for its anti-harassment unit.

Titus tried to stay calm and shake off his symptoms. He caught his breath — and his train. But once he arrived, he said, somewhere between the steps and the train platform, he almost fainted.

“I fell into the crevice between the iron railing and the concrete,” Titus said, pausing as he reflected on how close he came to landing on the tracks.

“I managed to get to work. I was there for about an hour, and then I realized this was not just a bad day.”

Titus left work to see his doctor, who sent him to the hospital. That’s where he had to face the hard fact that his health had been undermined — and not simply by the pressure of his job responsibilities.

The idea of workplace bullying can seem surprising to people who think of bullying as something that gets outgrown, like playground shoving matches, whispered rumors or snarky social media messages. But to employees who deal with it, Titus writes, bullying among adults is real.

Titus describes his experiences as a workplace bullying survivor in “The Whistleblower: Defeating Bullies, Harassers & Management Gang Retaliation,” a new ebook that was published on Jan. 31. His goals are to make more people aware of the physical and emotional toll that unhealthy work environments can take on employees, and to make sure victims know they are neither alone nor powerless.

He uses his legal background to walk readers through his own story of taking his employers to court and reaching a settlement through mediation. “I prevailed, and I take the reader through several steps in a process that will help increase their chances of prevailing if they take this in a legal arena,” Titus said.

His past experience as a police executive in Boston informed his decision to use gang terminology to describe unhealthy work environments in which “management gangs” retaliate against workers who report mistreatment in hopes of making it stop.

“I am not anti-management, and I make it clear that I am not anti-management,” Titus said. “But your typical situation in the workplace is someone who has official authority over you, and that person has abused that authority. In a workplace situation, it is far more challenging — and retaliation comes into play — if your manager or supervisor is bullying you.”

He applies his gang analogy to the closing of ranks behind supervisors accused of abuse.

“The next thing you know, you’ve got all the senior management ganging up on you, because that person is their pal,” Titus said.

Speaking up about bullying and seeking help can be tough, because people often find the topic awkward or uncomfortable. Employees may be afraid of being seen as weak, are hoping everything will blow over, or are simply too embarrassed to talk about their experiences, Titus said. Listeners, meanwhile, may find themselves confronting unwanted memories of painful incidents in their own pasts.

For readers in these situations, “there are going to be a lot of ‘oh, my goodness’ moments resonating through the first few chapters,” Titus said. “They may be saying, ‘Oh, my goodness; I was there’ or ‘This is how my boss talked to me.’”

Behind the legal procedural is a human story. Titus said he hopes to help people who’ve encountered workplace abuse come to grips with what is happening to them, which can help the healing process. He also hopes to encourage empathy and greater awareness, and to remind workers in every enterprise how important it is to treat each other with respect.

“This book is not about the theory of workplace abuse,” Titus said. “This book is about the reality of workplace abuse.

“When one has gone through a gut-wrenching episode of what I call workplace abuse, the typical scenario is the person takes the knocks and hits until they find another job,” or the person eventually quits for health reasons, Titus said.

To convey “a real sense of the seriousness, of the urgency, of this situation,” Titus opens his book with a section honoring whistleblower Christopher Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick, a clinical psychologist at Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wisconsin, was reprimanded and eventually fired after he complained that veterans at his center were being medicated so heavily that it interfered with their mental health treatment. Overwhelmed by stress, Kirkpatrick died by his own hand in 2009. He was 38.

The Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 was passed to add protections for federal employees who face retaliation for speaking up about waste, abuse and fraud — and to make sure supervisors who get back at whistleblowers are held accountable.

As for Titus, reaching out to share what he learned with others has been an important part of his own healing process. After winning his case on July 27, 2018, he started his own law practice to help future whistleblowers.

“I am now well,” he said. “I am living basically a stress-free life running my own businesses.” Those include the Whistleblower Anti-Bullying Resource Network, or WARN, which he founded on July 4 to “help eradicate bullying, harassment and reprisal in the workplace.”

“The money that I received [in the settlement] didn’t go toward buying a new car or putting an addition on my house or going to Paris to sip wine and celebrate,” Titus said. “I used it to write the book, and for WARN.”

In addition to helping victims of workplace abuse recognize and process what they’re going through, Titus hopes to make his readers aware of the toll bullying may be taking on people they know. That’s where his law enforcement background points him to other directions extreme pain can take.

While some victims of bullying turn their agony inward, he said, others may lash out in acts of domestic violence — or workplace violence. In the aftermath of shootings and other workplace incidents, “the story is always the same,” Titus said. When neighbors and acquaintances are asked to describe assailants, “they will say, ‘I was so surprised. John Doe was such a nice person. Kept to himself. Never complained.’

“This is serious stuff.”

For Titus, closure comes from helping others avoid the breathless panic he faced in that parking lot.

“For some, if this may serve as an ounce of prevention, that’s great,” he said. “If they’re in that situation, they will find a great deal of comfort that they are not alone.”

“The Whistleblower: Defeating Bullies, Harassers & Management Gang Retaliation” is available online at Amazon.

Jane Dunlap Sathe is the features editor for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7249 or jsathe@dailyprogress.com