Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple Bully school principals and departmental officers can bully Australian teachers into ill health - and out of work!

Bad Apple Bullies - The Mob Theory.

"Corruption is a team sport." Underbelly: The Golden Mile, 6 June 2010


The Bad Apple Bullies Mob Theory is based on my experience of the Bad Apple Bully-Mob practices in Education Queensland and the Queensland public service but it probably could be applied to many public service workplaces in Australia. 

The theory suggests how the Bad Apple Bully-Mob are able to ignore official Queensland Government polices and how Bad Apple Bully practices have become the dominant culture.

Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple Bullies (one or more than one) are the rotten core of a mob. 

If there was no Bad Apple Bully there would be no Mob.

An incident of workplace mobbing is initiated when a Bad Apple Bully reacts to some form of change suggested by another employee.

The Bad Apple Bully deals with the suggested change in the quickest and easiest way - by destroying the employee who suggested the change.

The Bad Apple Bully moves secretly from person to person, gossiping, hinting and suggesting, maliciously "beating up" half-truths, lies and misunderstandings until she/he has gathered together a Primary Mob who believe that they have common "concerns" about the target. 

The Bad Apple Bully uses the "concerns" that he/she has beaten up among the Primary Mob to camouflage the real nature of his/her workplace harassment.

The Primary Mob 

The Primary Mob are employees who are "sucked into" the mob by the Bad Apple Bully. 

Members of the Primary Mob are selected by the Bad Apple Bully and "sucked into" the Mob because they are easy to manipulate. 

Primary Mob members are easy to "suck in" to the Mob because -

  • Some may be inexperienced.
  • Some may be unintelligent or lazy. 
  • Some members may be "Mr Nice Guy" characters who always take the easy path and "go with the flow". 
  • Some members of the Primary Mob may have a special reason to be grateful to the Bad Apple Bully.
  • Some members may have witnessed the Bad Apple Bully menacing the target. They may be afraid that the Bad Apple Bully will turn on them and attack them in the same malicious way if they do not comply. So they passively allow the Bad Apple Bully to menace and harass the target. 
  • Some may be Bad Apple Bullies themselves and may enjoy being involved in Mobbing. 

The "concerns" of the Primary Mob are based almost entirely on their own gossip, half truths, lies and misunderstandings, rather than on fact.

The Bad Apple Bully's grooming behaviours convince the Primary Mob that they need to destroy their target mentally, physically, financially and professionally. 

The decision-making process employed by the Bad Apple Bully and his/her Primary Mob in deciding to destroy the target is an abuse of the official Education Queensland Government polices.

For example, the Primary Mob do not allow the target natural justice - the opportunity to respond to their "concerns".

All is mystery, suggestion, hint and wink.

Individual members of the Primary Mob may eventually realise that they are involved in mobbing, but by then they (and their misunderstandings, gossip and half-truths) are an important part of the structure of the "concerns" created by the mob.

They cannot escape.

They know how easily the target has been destroyed.

They may be afraid that the Primary Mob will turn on them if they start to "rock the boat".

They continue to lie because they are afraid of the Bad Apple Bully and the Bad Apple Bully's Primary Mob.

The Bad Apple Bully and the Primary Mob reward each other for compliant behaviour with celebrations, ceremonies, special awards and promotion opportunities.

Through this process of "Bad Apple Bully-Mob selection, induction and training", the Bad Apple Bullies and their Primary Mob members eventually become the dominant culture.

They demonstrate to each other that the official Queensland Government policies are irrelevant and that the practices of the Bad Apple Bully-Mob will prevail.

The Secondary Mob 

The Secondary Mob are other employees, other public servants and union officials who carefully avoid "knowing" about workplace mobbing.

Their desks are piled full of complaints from employees who have been abused.

Some members of the Secondary Mob may honestly be unable to cope with their workload.

So they have to prioritize.

Your case may not be a priority, so you become vulnerable to the machinations of the Mob.

You may have spent ten years of your life in part-time study to develop your skills, but when an incompetent Bad Apple Bully attacks you, nobody in Queensland will read your letters asking for help or take the time to investigate the bullying.

The Secondary Mob spend every day of their working lives dealing with distressed targets of workplace mobbing whose careers and health have been destroyed. 

So the members of the Secondary Mob know what will happen to them if they follow the official policies and try to deal with the members of the Mob.


Members of the Secondary Mob have to secondary mob.

It is their function. No Mob -  No Job.



Targets are seen as "troublemakers" who believed in the official policies. 

They caused trouble by discussing their work, asking questions and trying to do their job properly. 

The fact that a target's career has been unjustly destroyed is of no concern to a member of the Secondary Mob. 

They have learned not to care.

They may become very annoyed with the target for "putting them on the spot" and expecting "the system" to work.

So the Secondary Mob passively facilitate the workplace mobbing by -

  • quietly "losing" or falsifying documents,
  • but basing their decisions on those "lost" or falsified documents,
  • delaying investigations,
  • "putting down" the target,
  • "misunderstanding" the complaint,
  • "not accepting" complaints,
  • changing the target's complaint to a complaint of their own that is easier to find unsubstantiated,
  • finding their own complaint unsubstantiated,
  • agreeing between themselves not to "get involved" in resolving the situation,
  • writing official letters to the target full of untruthful and offensive new allegations,
  • refusing the target the opportunity to respond to the new allegations,
  • "blaming the dead man" - claiming that the untruthful new allegations were actually made to them / written by a Queensland Department of Education employee who has now left the employment of the Department and who has destroyed all of his /  her documents,
  • "considering the matter finalised", 
  • advising the target that they "need to have closure", 
  • advising the target to "look to the future",
  • writing Ministerial Briefing Notes Lite,
  • giving the target false assurances,
  • making trick apologies that have double meanings, 
  • delaying, delaying and delaying.

and finally there are -

The Fearful Observers

The Fearful Observers are classroom teachers who suspect that workplace mobbing is happening. 

At first they try to support the target, but they are intimidated by the "warnings" of the Bad Apple Bully that they must not discuss the mobbing.

They believe the Bad Apple Bully when he/she assures them that there are confidential reasons why the target has to be punished.

The Fearful Observers want to feel safe at work themselves and so they need to believe the Bad Apple Bully's false assurances. 

Bad Apple Bullies create a culture of mystery and fear because abusing teachers and bluffing about the abuse is quicker and easier than doing their own job properly. 

And Queensland teachers feel unsafe at work because Queensland teachers are unsafe at work.


Professional Reading:

The worst of slaves: Linking collective corruption with stressFirst published in Stress News, the Journal of the International Stress Management Association [UK], Volume 17, Number 4 October 2005. ,

Republished October 05, 2007 on the Bullied Academics blogspot