From: Travis Ackermann
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: A Public Servant - Bullied till Broken
Date: Fri Apr 25 23:15:19 MDT 2014
Body:

23 April, 2014

 

On behalf of Weston Wilde

1325 S Hoytsville Rd

Coalville, UT 84017

 

Senator Jenkins,

 

Emotional, physical and mental well-being are inter-woven by human physiology.  What happens to one can strengthen or weaken the others.   Predictably, people who suffer tremendous stress and emotional abuse nearly always exhibit corresponding physical symptoms. Commonly, these secondary effects are cardiovascular and can even be so severe as to lead to heart failure.  Such seems to have been the case for Weston Wilde.

Weston’s life wasn’t flashy or prominent.  He was a quiet, dedicated public servant.  As a technician for the Department of Transportation he inspected highway projects, tested asphalt materials, and helped keep the roadways safe.  Saying that the people who managed him didn’t appreciate his devotion to the public good would be an understatement.

Weston passed away last week after a massive heart attack.  He was only 45, much too young to die.  Though tragic, this event was not random.  Weston fell prey to an extremely hostile work environment – deliberate abuse and torment.  When seen in this context, the story weighs much heavier. 

The first time I met Weston, we were both working to build the Legacy Parkway.  Despite his reserved and awkward presentation, I came to realize that deep inside Weston was a man of purpose, dedication, and experience.  That glimpse of his true nature has stuck with me to this day.

Though we worked for the same organization, our paths diverged, limiting our interaction to occasional meetings and hallway greetings.  Still, I remember when the rumors started about his inability to do his job, and the gossip that he had it coming.  Shortly thereafter some personnel changes were made and Weston was removed from the job he had competently performed for years.

I am still haunted by his rather sudden and drastic change in countenance over this period.   The life ebbed from his body.  He became hollow, expressionless, and very much withdrawn.  I didn’t understand what was taking place in his life, nor could I empathize.  Despite knowing better, I convinced myself that management must have been justified in their actions.  Surely, I thought within, he had done something to merit the treatment he was receiving.  So I kept myself aloof while Weston suffered in solitude.

My perspective changed when I found myself in the same position – the target of an all-out attack - gossip, rumors, name calling, threats, intimidation, false disciplinary actions, and work sabotage.  All of it was aimed at destroying my reputation and painting me in a false light.  The stress of having to slog through this poisonous work environment day in and day out for months on end was debilitating and overwhelming.  Only then did I come to understand the change in Weston’s countenance.  The complete loss of his true identity was the result of emotional and psychological abuse perpetrated at work.

A few months ago I met with Weston, not knowing it was for the last time.  Having come to an understanding of what he was experiencing, an empathy born only through the same exquisite pain, I reached out to him.  I learned his story, how unfairly he had been treated, how completely he had been targeted, how utterly he had been destroyed.  He confided that his pain was ongoing, and though not as severe, the continued abuse would not allow his wounds to heal.  He was just trying to make it through each day.

I am sure that the medical reports will mention nothing about the tremendous stress he suffered at work, for the state of medicine is not quite advanced enough to make that assessment definitively.  I am sure that the coroner’s report will mention nothing about his mental and emotional scars, for those are visible only in a living soul.   But let me suggest, since no one else will, that Weston was bullied until he broke.  His work environment, if not the primary cause, was likely the largest contributing factor to the conditions that ended his life.

                It is important that I share this story since Weston no longer can.  It is compelling evidence that something needs to change.  I am not sure that anyone, even his family, knows all that Weston experienced.  Targets of abuse generally suffer in silence and isolation.  They are branded and scorned – paralyzed by humiliation while onlookers are blinded by fear.   

Sadly, the perpetrators of this violence continue to target other unsuspecting public servants.  Lives continue to be shattered by violence that serves no purpose other than self-promotion and personal aggrandizement – benefit at the expense of others. 

How can this happen?   In a country where the essential purpose of law is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, where was the law?  Where were the protections?  They are missing!  They need to be found!  They just may be found in the Utah Healthy Workplace Bill.  Please, afford Utah citizens the right to protect their good names, their fortunes, their health, and even their lives.   Help us find an answer.

 

Sincerely,

Travis Ackermann