Archive for the ‘Print: News, Blogs, Magazines’ Category
Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
Bully Bosses Can Inflict More Damage with Negative References
By Dinah Wisenberg Brin, SHRM, Feb 12, 2018
Employees trying to escape a bullying boss, and even those who have managed to land a new position, may be surprised to learn that their workplace nemesis is causing further damage by providing negative job references.
HR departments similarly may not realize that supervisors are disregarding company policies against giving references that go beyond confirming job titles and employment dates.
With prospective employers often bypassing human resources and calling supervisors for references, bully bosses can and do impair employees’ future job prospects, experts say.
“In the good old days, the references were HR, and in many cases, in many companies, HR still is the traditional venue. But we’ve seen a marked shift of interest in calling the former supervisors,” said Jeff Shane, president of reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor. “Hiring managers have long since figured out that supervisors tend to be far more talkative.”
Job seekers often wrongly believe that their current or former employers will say nothing negative and do no more than confirm employment, Shane said.
Many supervisors, however, never receive company training on how to respond to employee reference checks, while many others forget or ignore the policy, he added. His Rochester, Mich.-based firm checks references on behalf of job seekers, compiles reports on responses from former employers, and, if necessary, sends cease-and-desist letters to companies violating policies or even laws by supplying negative references that cross the line into misrepresentations or lies and that could be construed as defamation.
“We call a great many supervisors as references for individuals. The vast majority of the time, the supervisor has something to say” beyond titles and employment dates; their reviews, even if sincere, often are less than optimal. “In many instances, they know exactly what they’re doing” and that the employee is unlikely to ever find out if the negative review caused a missed opportunity, Shane said.
Nearly half of all reference checks that Allison & Taylor conducts contain some degree of negativity, he said. Even a supervisor who gives an employee a positive letter of recommendation will sometimes go “180 degrees in another direction” when called for a reference, he said.
Smart firms wanting to avoid litigation coach bosses to give only employment dates, said Gary Namie, Ph.D., co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, which refers bullying targets to Allison & Taylor to learn about feedback from a current or former employer. Often the news confirms a candidate’s fear, and “a great many of our clients are totally shocked and devastated” by what is found. (more…)
Tags: Allison & Taylor, bullied targets, bullies giving bad references, Gary Namie, reference checking, SHRM, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Friday, January 26th, 2018
Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis addressed the court in Lansing before former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina on Wednesday January 24, 2018.
You are encouraged to read her complete statement here. Thanks to CNN posting.
She’s a hero to WBI as she pulled seven lessons from this horrific case. The lessons apply also to bullying. Bullied targets will see themselves in the list.
Nassar, the perpetrator, was a “master manipulator.” Povilaitis said, “He manipulated victims and parents. He manipulated his community through the press and social media early in this case. And he tried to manipulate the police department in his interviews. He tried to manipulate prior investigators. … All while knowing the truth, that he did the things he was accused of doing.” Most perpetrators are liars.
USA Gymnastics and Michigan State never held him accountable. Povilaitis said, “History gave him guidance for the future, every previous time there had been an allegation, nothing happened. His lies worked. This court heard from several women, some decades later, who were initially determined to be confused or to be liars. He was believed over these children. … And with each time he got away, he was empowered to continue and perfect and abuse even more.”
On the lessons learned …
Povilaitis said, “we must start by believing … Research shows that false allegations are slim, that most perpetrators are serial offenders and that how a victim, especially a child, is treated when they disclose, if they are believed and supported and not blamed, can affect their well-being for years …”
“there are still people in this very community and elsewhere, I would imagine, who are saying that these women were all in it for the money or the attention. Are you kidding me? After 150 heart-wrenching, raw, graphic, visceral impact statements, how can anyone … believe that? Even to this day, even as this historic sentencing hearing is broadcast around the globe, there are still likely people who doubt.”
“The second lesson ;;; is that anyone can be a perpetrator, anyone can be a serial sexual abuser. This defendant stole, cheated and lied. He stole these victims’ innocence. He lied about his behavior and he cheated parents and the community and the world of the trust they held in doctors, prominent physicians and prominent community members. … The only person who sees this (hidden persona) side are his victims. Then the perpetrator goes back, shows only what he wants the world to see. This is how he got away with this for so long and got people to believe him over the many, many, many victims who reported.”
“The third takeaway from this week is that delayed disclosure of child sexual abuse is not unique. In fact, it’s quite the norm. “
“The fourth takeaway is that predators groom their victims and families. This is so confusing to so many women. He was so nice, he gave them presents and trinkets and desserts.”
“The (fifth) takeaway, is we must teach our girls and boys to speak up. … It is easier to put up with discomfort than cause waves. And when they are brave, nothing happens. We teach our girls and daughters to be too nice, to just ignore and put up with uncomfortable situations, to stay silent when they should be allowed to be heard.”
“The sixth takeaway from this week and a half is that police and prosecutors must take on hard cases … They cannot victim-blame or wait until they have the perfect case. They cannot wait until they have dozens of victims who have come forward. Police and prosecutors must also start by believing, be victim centered and offender focused in their work.”
About the abuse …
“It seeps and oozes and permeates into every pore and crevice of a victim’s life. It can alter their life’s trajectory. We’ve seen that time and time again this week when we’ve heard mention of depression and anxiety and panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, self-medication, self-harm, question of self-worth, and even when we heard from Donna Markham some seven days ago about the suicide of (her daughter) Chelsey.”
The fallout …
Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon resigned but will be paid $750,000 for 2 years, then $562,000 per year afterwards if she returns to a faculty position. And she gets a 12-month paid research leave. Quite a soft landing for having treated complaints about Nassar with indifference. Read the story here.
On Jan. 26, the MSU Athletic Director, Mark Hollis, also resigned.
Tags: Angela Povilaitis, employer indifference to abuse, Larry Nassar, Lou Anna Simon, Michigan State University, Rosemarie Aquilina, sexual abuse, USA Team Gymnastics
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Rulings by Courts | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Monday, January 15th, 2018
Many are hoping that 2017 represented a turning point in the fight against workplace harassment, as the #MeToo moment put a spotlight on sexual misconduct. Now some labor advocates are hoping that the momentum of #MeToo helps to fuel an additional campaign against a different and overlapping type of harassment: workplace bullying.
While there’s been increased attention paid to the bullying of children in recent years, there hasn’t been the same kind of focus on bullying among adults, but statistics indicate that it’s a major problem. According to one 2008 study, nearly 75 percent of participants have witnessed workplace bullying at their job and 47 percent have been bullied at some point in their career. Another 27 percent said they had been bullied within the last 12 months. In a 2014 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 72 percent of the respondents said that their employer either condones or encourages the behavior.
There’s no universal definition of it, but the WBI defines it as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is:
– Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or
– Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or
– Verbal abuse.
WBI sprang from a campaign that was started by Ruth and Gary Namie, a husband-and-wife team of psychologists. In the late 1990s, Ruth worked in a psychiatric clinic and was bullied by her supervisor. To their surprise, the Namies discovered there was very little Ruth could do about the situation. Employment discrimination laws existed, but they didn’t cover things like your boss screaming at you daily or a co-worker trying to sabotage your imminent promotion. If you hadn’t been targeted for abuse because of your race, sex or national origin, or because you blew the whistle on something related to the company, there wasn’t a legal avenue for you to pursue.
The Namies also discovered that there were no organizations working on the issue in the United States, so they started the Work Doctor at the WBI website, where they wrote about the issue, drawing heavily on existing research from countries where it was taken seriously (such as Sweden, Belgium and France). They also created a toll-free hotline for workers to call, counseled thousands of people on the issue, and hosted the first US conference dedicated to the subject of workplace bullying.
At the end of 2001, the campaign moved from California to the state of Washington. At Western Washington University, Gary Namie taught the first US college course on workplace bullying, and the campaign evolved into WBI after a group of research students volunteered to do more survey research.
Tags: abusive conduct, David Yamada, Gary Namie, Gillian Mason, Healthy Workplace Bill, Jobs With Justice, Ruth Namie, Truthout, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, December 13th, 2017
Battling Bullying in the Workplace
By Rebecca Koenig, U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 13, 2017
It’s Monday morning and you’re filled with dread. You have to present research at the office this afternoon, but the gnawing feeling in your stomach isn’t just performance anxiety. Whenever you speak in front of your team, your boss interrupts to mock what you say. He questions your judgment, calls you an “idiot” and even mimics your voice in an unflattering way. Worse, a few of your co-workers have started to follow his lead, criticizing your work behind your back, and, increasingly, to your face.
You know your contributions are excellent – at least, you used to know. Lately, you haven’t been so sure.
Welcome to the world of workplace bullying. That’s right, the same sort of name-calling, intimidation and ostracism some children experience on the playground can take root among adults in their offices. When constructive criticism crosses a line, or a co-worker undermines your efforts, or your boss starts spreading rumors about your personal life, those are all examples of workplace bullying.
The effects of this abusive behavior can be serious: decreased self-esteem, worsened health and career deterioration. Read on to learn more about the phenomenon and how to combat it.
Understanding the Workplace Bullying Definition
Office bullying is defined as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment” that involves verbal abuse, work sabotage and/or humiliation and intimidation, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, a research and advocacy organization.
It may occur one-on-one (between two co-workers or a supervisor and subordinate) or in a group setting. The latter, in which multiple people gang up on one person, is known as “mobbing.”
Typically, a bully is “an aggressive person who strikes out at a particular person more than once over the course of months,” says Nathan Bowling, a psychology professor at Wright State University.
Workplace Bullying Statistics
One-fifth of American adults have directly experienced abusive conduct at work, according to a 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute survey of more than 1,000 people.
More than two-thirds of office bullies are men, and both men and women bullies target women at higher rates. Hispanics report higher levels of bullying than members of any other race.
It’s not uncommon to have a bully boss: 61 percent of targets reported bullying from people in more senior positions.
Tags: David Yamada, Gary Namie, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
Workplace bullying has reached “epidemic level,” according to a new study, and legal analysts are advising companies to take heed.
The San Francisco-based Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2017 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, released earlier this month, estimated that 30 million American workers have been, or are now being, bullied at work, while another 30 million have witnessed it.
“These proportions are epidemic-level,” the report said. “The number of U.S. workers who are affected by bullying — summing over those with direct bullying and witnessing experiences — is 60.3 million, the combined population of six Western states.”
Unchecked, the repercussions of workplace bullying can result in absenteeism, low morale, high turnover, reputational damage and lawsuits, experts say.
Defining workplace bullying can be challenging, but Gary Namie, the institute’s director, described it as “a form of workplace violence.”
“It is, by our definition, repeated health-harming mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees,” Mr. Namie said. “It’s abusive conduct that takes the form of verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation or workplace sabotage or work interference.”
Peter Dean, president of Leaders By Design at executive consultancy Leaders Edge in Philadelphia and co-author of “The Bully-Proof Workplace: Essential Strategies, Tips and Scripts for Dealing with the Office Sociopath,” said workplace bullying goes beyond someone “just losing their temper or their impulse control for a time.”
“It’s not a one-off,” Mr. Dean said. “It is a targeted attention to one person that is very negative and meant to demean and belittle and degrade that person’s self-esteem.”
And bullying begets more bullying, Mr. Dean added.
“You have one bully getting away with being a bully and it starts to spread in an organization,” he said. “People start to think two things: No. 1, it’s OK to bully here; and No. 2, there’s no way to fight it because it’s accepted.”
The 2007 study said antidiscrimination laws apply in only 20% of bullying cases do. In order to claim sexual harassment, racial discrimination or hostile work environment, the report said, the victim must be a member of a protected status group. Mr. Namie said the Healthy Workplace Bill — which among other things, precisely defines an “abusive work environment” and requires proof of health harm by licensed health or mental health professionals — has been introduced in 30 states and two territories, but has yet to be enacted.
Tags: 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, abusive conduct, Gary Namie, workplace bullying policy, workplace bulying
Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, WBI Surveys & Studies, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
State Worker’s Bosses Ignored His Allergies. Now He’s $3 Million Richer
By Adam Ashton, Sacramento Bee, May 17, 2017
A Caltrans employee in Nevada County who claimed his supervisors harassed him by ignoring his documented allergies to perfume and certain cleaning products will receive a $3 million payout from a lawsuit he filed against the state.
A Nevada County jury sided with John Barrie in a one-month trial that ended last week, upholding his claims that he experienced retaliation, that his employer failed to accommodate his disability and that he was subjected to a hostile work environment. He continues to work for Caltrans in a position that allows him to work from home.
Tags: ADA violation, bullying expert witness, California Department of Transportation, CalTrans, chemical sensitivity as disability, Gary Namie, John Barrie, Lawrance Bohm, refusal to accommodate disability
Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Rulings by Courts | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Saturday, April 1st, 2017
We at WBI have labored to convince employers that if they view bullying through their “loss prevention” perspective, the only rational action is to purge the one or two destructive individuals who have tormented many more others over the years. It is the rational choice because it stops the losses and prevents future ones.
Still, American employers who face no legal workplace bullying standard are safe to ignore it, when and if they wish. Ignoring and treating it with indifference or flat-out denial that bullying happens on their watch are the typical responses. They do so out of loyalty to the abuser. Simultaneously this sends the message that everyone else is expendable, dispensable and worthless.
We list the following tangible bully-related costs: undesirable turnover, absenteeism, increased utilization of healthcare-workers comp-diability insurance, and litigation-related expenses. This is not simply theoretical.
The New York Times reports that Fox News has paid out over $13 million in case settlements to five women who claimed that network host Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed them. Some of the women worked for him; others were guests on his show.
Tags: Bill O'Reilly, bullied targets, Fox News, payouts, settlements, sexual harassment
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Tutorials About Bullying | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, March 30th, 2017
P.E.I. Widow Awarded Benefits After Husband’s Death Linked to Workplace Bullying
By Sally Pitt, CBC News, March 30, 2017
A Prince Edward Island widow has been awarded benefits after her husband’s death was linked to workplace bullying and harassment.
“I said that from the get-go,” said Lisa Donovan. “I believe that Eric’s workplace bullying and harassment was the reason that my husband had his heart attack.”
Donovan got the ruling from the Workers Compensation Board of P.E.I (WCB) in December 2016, after three years of complex legal proceedings to decide whether the WCB or the P.E.I. Supreme Court should hear her claim, and then whether the bullying that was alleged could be considered a workplace accident.
Donovan’s lawyer Jim Macnutt said, despite an extensive search, this was the first case in Canada he could find of any death being linked to workplace bullying or harassment.
“It took me on this twisted journey that took me three years to navigate, and it was difficult and it was expensive and it was heart-wrenching, and frustrating,” said Donovan. “It was an uphill battle all the way.”
The benefits awarded by the Workers Compensation Board to Lisa Donovan have not been made public.
They include funeral costs, a lump sum for death benefits and monthly payments to cover survivor benefits, based on a percentage of his pensionable salary.
Without this decision, Donovan would have been eligible only for a percentage of his workplace pension.
Surrounded by memories of her late husband and the life they shared together with their two children in her Hazelbrook, P.E.I., home, Donovan reflected on her loss, and the journey she’s been on since he died.
“I thought I would be more, I don’t know, relieved, proving it,” she said. “It still doesn’t bring Eric back, it doesn’t change what happened, but it does give me some sort of closure I guess, some acknowledgement that this experience has happened to us.”
Eric Donovan was 47 when he died after a cardiac arrest. He’d spent 17 years with Queens County Residential Services (QCRS), a not-for-profit organization that runs nine group homes and a number of programs in Charlottetown for about 130 intellectually challenged adults.
According to his widow, he loved his job and had “a special way” with clients, helping them feel more comfortable and more involved in the community.
Tags: bully Nadine Hendricken, bullying linked to heart attack, cardiac arrest, Eric Donovan, health and workplace bullying, heart attack, P.E.I., QCRS Inc, Workers Compensation Board, workplace bullying
Posted in Bullying & Health, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Target Tale, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
A journalistic trend in recent decades has been the reliance by American progressives on international press outlets to tell the truth about our own country. One such source has been the UK-based international paper, The Guardian. They have a US edition with US based reporters and columnists. But if readers want to see how the US actions are perceived around the world, best to read the world edition. Official government pronouncements have always been designed to portray the US in the most positive angle. However, under Trump, facts are only one optional account of decisions made and actions taken. The Guardian is more important to Americans than ever.
The Guardian’s focus this week on Workplace Bullying for an entire week illustrates the paper’s boldness. Workplace Bullying, in fact, is a British term coined by the late pioneer Andrea Adams. The national prevalence is 31% (the US prevalence is 27%).
The paper is soliciting stories of workplace bullying from April 3 to April 6. Begin the submittal process with their encrypted online form.
While on-site, consider subscribing to help support the caliber of journalism rarely seen in the US.
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
The cover story of Counseling Today magazine is about bullying. A significant portion of that article, written by Laurie Meyers, features an interview with WBI’s telephone coach for bullied targets, Jessi Eden Brown. Jessi maintains a private practice in Seattle in addition to continuing to provide coaching for targets who seek her advice after discovering her services posted at this WBI website.
Jessi is the most expert advisor to targeted individuals in the U.S. Her fees are inexpensive and worth every penny. Time precludes offering free advice, so please don’t insult her and ask. [Neither can WBI offer free advice by phone as it did for 18 years.] Here is Jessi’s information page.
An excerpt from
Fertile Grounds for Bullying
Counseling Today, April 21, 2016
By Laurie Meyers
Bullying isn’t confined to childhood or adolescence. Adults can experience bullying too, particularly in the workplace. Bullying in the workplace involves less obvious behavior than does school bullying and can be almost intangible, says Jessi Eden Brown, a licensed professional counselor and licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in Seattle.
“Bullying in the workplace is a form of psychological violence,” says Brown, who also coaches targets of workplace bullying through the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), an organization that studies and attempts to prevent abusive conduct at work. “Although popular media theatrically portray the workplace bully as a volatile, verbally abusive jerk, in actuality, the behaviors tend to be more subtle, insidious and persistent.”
Instead of shoving and name-calling, Brown says, workplace bullying includes behavior such as:
– Stealing credit for others’ work
– Assigning undue blame
– Using public and humiliating criticism
– Threatening job loss or punishment
– Denying access to critical resources
– Applying unrealistic workloads or deadlines
– Engaging in destructive rumors and gossip
– Endeavoring to turn others against a person
– Making deliberate attempts to sabotage someone’s work or professional reputation
“It’s the fact that these behaviors are repeated again and again that makes them so damaging for the target,” she explains. “The cumulative effects and prolonged exposure to stress exact a staggering toll on the overall health of the bullied individual.”
What’s more, those bullied in the workplace often stand alone, Brown notes. “While the motivating factors may be similar between workplace bullying and childhood bullying, the consequences for the bully and the target are unmistakably different,” she says. “In childhood bullying, the institution — the school — stands firmly and publicly against the abuse. Teachers, staff, students and administrators are thoroughly trained on how to recognize and address the behavior. Students are given safe avenues for reporting bullying. Identified bullies are confronted by figures of authority and influence — teachers, administrators, groups of peers, parents. When the system works as intended, there are consequences for the bully, as well as resources and support for the target.”
Tags: abusive conduct, counseling, Gary Namie, helping bullied targets, Jessi Eden Brown, psychotherapy, Ruth Namie, telephone coaching, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Bullying & Health, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Products & Services, WBI Education, WBI in the News | 4 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (