September 11th, 2013

Another teacher suicide with workplace bullying causal factors


Several factors typically merge that exacerbate the misery that convinces individuals who choose to die by suicide to act. Research has found that in workplaces where bullying operates simultaneously with several other negative conditions, it is the bullying that has the greatest deleterious effect on people — bullied targets and witnesses. Given that many people’s identities are centered around work and what one does for compensation, work can dominate home life factors.

Finally, to connect the dots, misery from work travels home readily. Bullying at work inevitably strains domestic relationships. Thus, for targets exposed to unremitting stress at work from bullying, a very personalized form of abuse, eventually it feels like the world is closing in on them. Taking one’s life suddenly becomes an option when no alternatives are visible.

Such a case was reported in the Bassett Unified School District in southern California. Jennifer Lenihan was a Bassett High art teacher, known by students for personally buying class supplies, creativity and loving the art museum. According to press reports quoting her stepfather, Lenihan was driven to suicide by the school principal, Robert Reyes and assistant principal Jimmy Lima. There were reports of the two administrators shaming Lenihan in front of teachers and students. And she was assigned a class with which she was unfamiliar (a classic tactic used to destabilize good veteran teachers) and told to teach the class or lose another class she wanted to teach.

She took stress leave, receiving half her salary for a short time. Her claims for disability insurance and workers’ compensation were both denied. She took out a personal loan to live. The district gave her two options: resign or apply for a waiting list for rehire. She was at the end of her rope. Her mother had given her rent money. The next day, July 1, she took her life.

Teachers union officers said the treatment Lenihan received is common at the district. Further, Reyes and Lima have a record of bullying teachers. The new district superintendent said there was no “written form” record of complaints from Lenihan. He said the district has no “morale” problem.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 at 10:06 am and is filed under Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Unions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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