Archive for the ‘Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things’ 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 (
Tuesday, November 14th, 2017
Written by Laurie Ruettimann after the Uber and Weinstein harassment scandals, but before Alabama’s Roy Moore’s misconduct.
I’m a 20-year Veteran of HR. Something Needs to be Fixed
By Laurie Ruettimann, Vox.com, Oct 18, 2017
Women are a human resources nightmare.
The national conversation has once again turned to women’s experiences of sexual harassment. Nearly two weeks ago, the New York Times and the New Yorker published allegations of rape and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein against actresses in Hollywood and beyond. These experiences go back decades, and they are often, but not exclusively, related to women who met Weinstein in a professional capacity and felt pressured, out of fear for their safety and their careers, to comply.
In other words, these women were harassed in the workplace.
Earlier this year, Susan Fowler blew the whistle on sexism and harassment at Uber. Fowler and her colleagues complained to Uber’s leadership about the culture of harassment within the organization, and they were routinely dismissed by everybody — including the HR department.
It was only when Fowler wrote a viral blog post detailing her complaints that Uber got serious. The company hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation to understand why so many women had such bad things to say about their employee experience. The report was damning, and more than 20 people were fired for inappropriate conduct, including allegations of sexual harassment and management ignoring multiple reports of sexist behavior and harassment. Former CEO Travis Kalanick, who was not accused of harassment himself but reportedly did nothing to stop it when allegations came in, as well as other sexist and toxic behavior, resigned under pressure from investors.
That could’ve been a watershed moment for women in the workforce, but it wasn’t. That’s because corporate America, and human resources in particular, don’t care about women. They care about minimizing risk to enhance the value of a brand, which ultimately leads to greater revenue and stronger profits.
In short, nobody cares about women. Once the shock-and-awe of Harvey Weinstein is over, very little will change for the average worker in America. I know this because I’m a 20-year veteran of human resources. In that time, I worked at big organizations like Pfizer, Kemper Insurance, and Monsanto. I left my corporate job in 2007 and started writing and speaking about HR in an attempt to transform the entire function. I haven’t done a very good job because HR still sucks.
Tags: HR, HR fails women, HR is useless, human resources, Laurie Ruettimann, sexual harassment
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Tutorials About Bullying | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
The first glowing positive public headline read “Apple will make products (iPhones and iPads) in the U.S.” Yea! Good news, right? Maybe not so. Reading the details revealed that one of Apple’s major manufacturers in China, the Tawainese company Foxconn, was searching for an American location. Not Apple itself — its contracted manufacturer. Apple not only makes its gizmos offshore; it hoardes millions in profits offshore to avoid a US tax bill.
Foxconn, the astute reader remembers, was rendered infamous years ago when it coerced a spate of employee suicides. Investigations uncovered the fact that young workers were crammed into tiny employer-provided apartments too many for the space allotted. (Think factory towns under total employer control.) Then, at the worksite, the workers were forbidden to speak with one another on the Apple products assembly line. The prohibition extended to any talking, not gossip or non-work-related communications — any interpersonal contact!!!!
Worker have a fundamental human need to belong to groups, to be included. When that need is thwarted in cases of social exclusion or ostracism, individuals suffer social harm. Neuroscience research reveals that the social pain endured is real pain — the kind taking painkillers will reduce. Hence, the suicide by jumping off the roof of Foxconn buildings in China.
Foxconn institutionally abused its workers for some unknown reason. The solution to their suicide “problem” — probably considered nothing more than a public relations crisis — was to install netting to catch the jumpers before hitting the ground below. Great fix, huh? No need to attack the root cause — the Foxconn policy and practice. Better to simply minimize the deaths by suicide with “safety” nets. Stupid (or as Trump would say “Sad!).
Foxconn couldn’t convince Pennsylvania to give them a substantial prize for the locating there. But union-busting Scott Walker delivered Wisconsin. As the following report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states, the state will pony up $3 billion of taxpayer funds to entice the company to locate in either Racine or Kenosha counties. Further, the full-control Foxconn style practiced in China is likely to be replicated, or attempted, in Wisconsin. The newspaper story stated that the “factory project would involve a virtual village, with housing, stores and service businesses spread over at least 1,000 acres.” That is, employer-controlled housing.
Will Americans be willing to cram 10-15 people into spaces designed for two or three? Or will the company simply provide gymnasium-size quarters with cots so workers can sleep up to 6 hours before getting back to the assembly line?
Most important, watch to see how they manage interpersonal relations in the factory. Will Foxconn prohibit workers from talking to one another as they did in China? There’s not a single U.S. labor law to prevent it. [The Wisconsin legislature in the session immediately prior to Walker and the Republican takeover, not only sponsored the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill, it held hearings I attended. The bill did not pass, but at least workers’ rights were on the lawmakers’ agenda. Now, not so much.] And Walker and his Republican thugs have paralyzed once union-proud Wisconsites into fear of union organizing.
Watch for the proactive installation of nets to catch suicide leapers in Wisconsin. Why do we let this happen in America????
Read the Journal Sentinel article that follows.
Tags: abusive conduct, Apple, Foxconn, Gary Namie, institutional bullying, suicide, Wisconsin jobs, workplace bullying
Posted in Bullying & Health, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | 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 22nd, 2017
A brash owner of a small marketing firm in Manchester, Connecticut is making news by describing his hiring interview strategy. Unapologetic about being comfortable leveling applicants with personal questions not related to performance — thus demonstrating his loathing of “political correctness” — he gives what he calls the “snowflake test.”
“A snowflake is somebody who is going to whine and complain and come to the table with nothing but an entitled attitude and an inability to back their perspective,” Kyle Reyes, owner of Silent Parner Marketing, told the Fox Business Network. “Snowflake is a mentality.”
“Snowflakes” don’t get hired. The company says this on its About Us page: “Political correctness be damned. We are who we are and have what we have because of a greater good. We might call that greater good by different names…but faith is an integral part of who we are.”
Using Reyes’ reasoning, victims of sexual harassment and bullying, who complain, would be “snowflakes.” In other words, he won’t hire anyone who if abused or harassed would complain.
Gee, with a boss like him, wondering what are the odds that something wrong, unlawful or unethical will happen????
There are surely alternative marketing companies in New England to work for. Good luck.
Tags: bullying, complainers, hiring interview, Kyle Reyes, Silent Partner, snowflakes, whiners
Posted in Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, The New America | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Saturday, February 6th, 2016
Sam Harless and Texas State Rep. Patricia Harless, co-owners of Fred Fincher Motors, a used car sales lot is the place where former top salesman Bradley Jones was tortured by taser at the hands of coworkers.
Here’s the Feb. 5, 2016 story on Inside Edition.
Tags: Bradley Jones, Fred Fincher Motors, Houston, Patricia Harless, Sam Harless, taser, torture, workplace bullying
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Humans abusing adult humans, Target Tale, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Monday, November 9th, 2015
Here in America, employers claim that loyal, engaged, hard-working employees have disappeared or are extremely rare. Work, like many social functions operates on the notion of an implicit contract between the parties. In exchange for compensation, workers lend their talent to employers. Employers, in turn, have the exclusive right to optimize profit from the relationship. The deal should be a mutually beneficial one to both sides.
History shows that contempt for workers was common in the bad old days.
Tags: distrust, employee monitoring, employer-employee relationships, exploitation, feudal, flexispy, Gary Namie, surveillance, workplace bullying
Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, The New America | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Bullying of Faculty Alleged at UMass
By Laura Krantz, Boston Globe, Oct. 18, 2015
Power struggle roils chemical engineering department
It began as minor personality clashes among professors, the type that can be common at any university. But what evolved at the University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineering department has proved far nastier.
Over three years, the dispute has turned into an ugly power struggle over an aggressive — one report said “bullying” — attempt by four members of the department to recruit others in a coup to oust their department head.
Documents and e-mails provided to the Globe paint a picture of the extended battle. Some involved in it describe screaming at faculty meetings, a rigged department election, vindictive annual reviews, and an attempt to block a professor from securing a full-time position.
Facts about who is ultimately to blame are harder to find. What is clear is that for the prestigious department in the state’s flagship public university, with its renowned faculty, millions in funding, and promising research, the imbroglio created a poisonous atmosphere that has disrupted the scientists’ work.
Beyond the department, it pulled in the faculty union and Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, who called the situation “quite serious.”
On one side, professors accuse four colleagues of trying to bully other faculty into supporting a bid to undermine then-department head T.J. Mountziaris, who served for nine years.
On the other side, professors said Mountziaris, who lost his chairmanship last year and is on sabbatical, made life difficult for some faculty, going so far as to block one person’s attempt to shift to become a full-time professor.
Tags: abusive conduct, bullying in the academe, Gary Namie, professors, UMass, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, WBI in the News | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (