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WBI BLOG

Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies



February 13th, 2018

SHRM: Bullies as References for Targets

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. Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | Post Comment



January 31st, 2018

April Workplace Bullying University offers time-limited tuition discount

The Workplace Bullying UniversityThe nation’s only comprehensive evidence-based training in the phenomenon of workplace bullying designed for professionals. Designed by the Drs. Namie and delivered since 2008. Come to San Francisco for the experience of a lifetime. It will change you forever.

Professionals from the following disciplines attend:
– Healthcare — nurses and physicians
– Legal
– Unions
– Mental health — psychotherapists & psychologists
– Higher education
– Schools, K-12
– HR & Management
– Diversity management
– Risk management
– Government
– Life/Executive Coaches

In addition, well healed former bullied targets seeking to re-invent themselves as training, coaching or consulting professionals attend.

Tuition only $1,500 if deposit paid by Feb. 14

Regular tuition is $2,400 per individual. Take advantage of this time-limited deep discount.

Visit the Workplace Bullying University website for program details.

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January 27th, 2018

Burger King teaches the stupid public about Net Neutrality

Wow. A corporation teaches Net Neutrality. Reminder, the FCC just deprived the American people of it. We at WBI rely on the internet to get our message out. Surely, we will be stuffed into the slow lane. We never have carried any sponsors or pro-capitalism messages.

Watch and learn.

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Posted in Employers Doing Good | Post Comment



January 26th, 2018

Michigan Asst AG Angela Povilaitis, Prosecutor of sex abuser Nassar, speaks for all abuse victims

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.

###

You are encouraged to read her complete statement here.

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Rulings by Courts | Post Comment



January 25th, 2018

Washington State Hearing for Healthy Workplace Bill – Jan. 24, 2018

Jan. 24, 2018

WA State Senate Labor & Commerce Committee Hearing on SB 6435, the Healthy Workplace Bill.

It is the anti-workplace bullying legislation written by David Yamada, Law Professor, Suffolk University, Boston, for the Workplace Bullying Institute. The principal sponsor is Sen. Annette Cleveland with co-sponsoring Senators Karen Keiser, Patty Kuderer and Rebecca Saldana. Five supporters testified, including WBI Director Gary Namie by phone.

You might find the two business lobbyists who opposed the bill for its reference to “vicarious liability.” Had they known existing law since 1998, they would understand vicarious liability places responsibility on employers for misconduct of their agents — employees and managers.

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Comment



January 15th, 2018

Truthout: Workplace Bullying Affects Nearly Half of US Workers. It’s Time We Did Something About It

Workplace Bullying Affects Nearly Half of US Workers. It’s Time We Did Something About It
By Micahel Arria, Truthout, Jan. 11, 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.
Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | 1 Comment



December 31st, 2017

If wishing could make it happen – have an abuse-free 2018

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Posted in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2 | Comments Off on If wishing could make it happen – have an abuse-free 2018



December 14th, 2017

A Congressional Bullying Example, Call to Resign

On a nearly daily basis, another man is accused of past sexual transgressions against a woman or women (Tavis Smiley and Russell Simmons among the most recent) and they lose their jobs or company.

Rather than commenting piecemeal on each new report we chose to write a short book on the topic. We are applying lessons from the MeToo phenomenon to workplace bullying situations. In this way, bullied targets can fight back capitalizing on MeToo successes. Watch for its Jan. 2018 release.

However one of the stories about politicians caught our attention. And it illustrates bullying, not simply sexual harassment.

The male idiot this time is U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX). He was targeted by Bill Maher in past years for being a stupid lawmaker. This is the same congressman who is the former owner of the domain “BlowMe.org,” and who admitted in 2014 to “having wet dreams” about a staffer.

Now CNN has details of his abusive conduct while in office directed toward both women and men. The source is his former communications director Michael Rekola.

Rekola said that Farenthold routinely exploded with rage and anger, slamming his fists down, swept everything off his desk, leaving staffers to clean it up. He called staffers names — idiot or f**ktard. Rekola described the work environment as so toxic and stressful that he suffered a stomach ailment causing him to vomit daily. This, of course, is very familiar to bullied targets.

According to Rekola, Farenthold routinely made lewd comments about the appearance of women including reporters and lobbyists, remarking on the size of women’s breasts and buttocks. There were references to the “redhead patrol,” something which was also mentioned in the lawsuit Farenthold settled with over $80 million taxpayer dollars. Apparently Blake has a thing for redheads, or so he would like us to think.

To appease the MeToo proponents demanding his head, Farenthold has agreed to not run for re-election. That may well not be sufficient, given the zeitgeist. Farenthold must resign. This behavior is an unnacceptable abuse of power whether directed toward men or women.

What was required of Al Franken must be required of any lawmaker accused of such abusive conduct with an underlying sexual harassment history. Let’s hear from Rep. Jackie Speier, Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In these times, there is no other socially responsible position than to condemn abusive conduct.

This could strike a blow for justice for bullied, not just harassed, targets.

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December 13th, 2017

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year 2018

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December 13th, 2017

Relationship with sexual harassment

For women bullied at work only: Which statement best describes your experience?

View Results

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Posted in WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies | Post Comment



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