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WBI BLOG

Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies



September 18th, 2014

Santa Clara Sports Law & Ethics Symposium and the NFL

WBI proudly participated in the Fifth Annual Sports Law and Ethics Symposium at Santa Clara University on Sept. 11 hosted by the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics. Planning for the event preceded the NFL inadequate handling of the multiple domestic violence incidents by player-employees. But the symposium was immersed in the headlines of the day.

Gary Namie, WBI Director, joined a panel exploring Bullying and the Locker Room Culture. My contribution was to educate the audience about adult bullying in the workplace and overlap with the Jonathan Martin/NFL case. Esteemed colleagues on the panel included

Brandi Chastain, U.S. Olympic and World Cup women’s soccer champion turned advocate for youth safety in soccer

William Pollack, PhD, Harvard Medical School clinical psychologist and author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood

• Jim Thompson, founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance an organization dedicated to transforming all youth sports into positive, character-building experiences

Paraag Marathe, President of the 49ers of the NFL opened the Symposium. He refused to address the then-current domestic abuser Ray McDonald presented for the team. I was able to ask if the integrity and character of players was part of the recruitment and hiring process. He emphatically said that players with skills but no integrity had a place on the 49ers roster. He also cited the extensive psychological testing that all potential player-employees face. Hmm.

KPIX-TV San Francisco coverage of the Symposium

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, NFL: Jonathan Martin, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI in the News | Post Comment



September 18th, 2014

NH Gov. veto of partial workplace bullying bill holds

New Hampshire lawmakers uphold veto of workplace bullying bill
By Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press, Sept. 18, 2014

The New Hampshire House on Wednesday upheld Gov. Maggie Hassan’s veto of a bill aimed at curbing workplace bullying among the state’s employees, despite strong calls from several lawmakers to go against the governor.

Supporters of the bill fell roughly 50 votes short Wednesday of the necessary two-thirds to override the veto. The majority of Republicans voted to sustain the veto while a majority of Democrats voted to overturn it.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment



September 18th, 2014

WBI TN State Coordinator — Jackie Gilbert — plays key role in state policy creation

Original story in the Shelbyville (TN) Times-Gazette

A Middle Tennessee State University business professor continues her push for a more civil workplace.

Dr. Jackie Gilbert, a professor of management in the MTSU Jones College of Business, joined forces with like-minded people across the state and nation to help craft legislation and guidelines that will help do just that within government agencies.

Gilbert was part of a group of advocates who helped shape the Healthy Workplace Act, which was signed into law in June by Gov. Bill Haslam. The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, grants legal protection to those government agencies that adopt a model policy to combat abusive behavior in the workplace or craft comparable guidelines of their own.

The law applies to any agency, county, metropolitan government, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state. By enacting the law, Tennessee became the 26th state to introduce the Healthy Workplace Bill and the first to pass it. The national grassroots legislative movement began more than a decade ago to get workplace anti-bullying laws passed in every state.

“Respectful interaction at work is a priority,” said Gilbert, who has incorporated anti-bullying concepts into her teaching. “This law is going to set the stage for providing some guidance for what is acceptable and what is not acceptable at work.”

Gilbert is a member of Tennessee Healthy Workplace Advocates, which worked toward passage of the bill. She was recently appointed to serve on a workplace civility workgroup that is advising the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, or TACIR, on developing a model policy for Tennessee’s state and local governments. The legislation requires that a model be in place by March 15, 2015.

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment



September 13th, 2014

Dr. Namie on Labor Pains Podcast

Listen to Dr. Gary Namie be interviewed by Larry Buhl on the Labor Pains Podcast. The program covers workplace issues of today and tomorrow. Here Gary and Larry talk about workplace bullying and the NFL.

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See more Labor Pains Podcasts here.

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Posted in NFL: Jonathan Martin, WBI in the News | Post Comment



September 11th, 2014

IDG Connect – Bullied at Work: What Can You Do?

By Kathryn Cave – IDG Connect – 9/9/14

Our recent research revealed the sheer scale of bullying in IT workplaces. This showed that 75% of professionals we surveyed claimed to have been bullied at work, while 85% had seen others bullied. However, for me, the most serious part of it all was the sheer intensity of the first-person accounts.

We reviewed over 400-in-depth testimonials and these made for pretty harrowing reading. Quite aside from the steady grind of debilitating misery, 22% described the experience as 10/10 “virtually unbearable” and a number specifically mentioned suicide.

The trouble is there is no legislation to target this problem and many professionals simply can’t believe this is happening to them at work. This situation is worsened further by the fact the majority of bullies (76% by our findings) are in a senior position to their victim – this leaves many people absolutely terrified to make a fuss or appear a troublemaker.

So what can professionals realistically do about it? We’ve consulted two experts, one from each side of the Atlantic, to gain their viewpoints. We’ve included both sets of answers below.

US Perspective

Q&A with leading expert, Dr Namie, of the Workplace Bullying Institute

What practical steps can employees who feel they’re being bullied take?

It is critical for people who suffered emotional damage to strip out emotionality from their pleas for relief. Best to make the business case that bullies are too expensive to keep. It is impersonal and not emotionally charged. Sticking to facts allows the bullied target to make a presentation to the highest level manager or executive who agrees to listen to them.

Do you have any other particular advice for people who think they are being bullied?

Because bullying happens long before it is recognized, it’s important to pay attention to changes in your personal mood and wellbeing. If your health is adversely affected, trust your gut and connect the dots to see that toxic work conditions may be responsible. The sooner you make the causal link the healthier you will be.

Is there anything unique to the US which professionals ought to know about?

Employment law in the US provides the weakest protections for workers among the OECD nations. For this reason American employers not only treat bullying with indifference, they can encourage it with impunity.

Is there anything else you would like to share which might help individuals across the globe counteract this?

A lesson from our 17 year campaign against workplace bullying is that supporters and critics alike must see bullying as a form of non-physical workplace violence. Because it generates trauma in the most severe cases, it is a form of abuse akin to child-abuse and domestic violence. Therefore abusive conduct at work deserves the same societal and legal attention that other forms of abuse have earned.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in WBI in the News | Post Comment



September 10th, 2014

The NFL Shield: Tarnished Symbol of Corporate CYA

The NFL — the No Effin’ Liability league for the boys of football — has struck again. As a multi-billion dollar enterprise (owned by revered American entrepreneurs — celebrities themselves who own celebrity labor), the league of owners of American professional football has shown itself to be incredibly inept. Their mouthpiece, the “commish” Roger Goodell seems driven solely to protect the NFL brand. He certainly is not a competent CEO though paid $44.2 million per year to be incompetent. I’m not sure he could work the drive-thru at McDonalds — it’s too fast moving and accuracy matters.

You see Roger got caught crafting corporate policy in a very public way, then revising it to be more punitive publicly, only to get caught acting unilaterally and reflexively, all the while completely ignoring his own stated “policy.” The man doesn’t know “strategery,”willing to act without thinking.

Ray Rice, star player for the Baltimore Ravens, was caught on a New Jersey casino hotel security video entering an elevator with this then-fiance, Janay Palmer. That same camera caught him dragging an unconscious Janay from the elevator minutes later.

Conclusion to be drawn by any reasonable person: Rice struck Palmer in the elevator. Local law enforcement, the district attorney and the judge seemed to believe an unknown third person must have assaulted her in the elevator. Charges were dismissed. The NFL also engaged in such magical thinking. Goodell was allowed to assume that if the courts didn’t care to protect Palmer and jail Rice, the Ravens and NFL had little to worry about. And the only worry for the team and league is LEGAL liability. Just protect the shield, baby (tip to Al Davis).

Goodell decided that he had better punish Rice in some way. He grazed him with a 2-game suspension. Even within the NFL’s hierarchy of punishments, the penalty was light as compared to a pot smoking 6-game suspension. The inequity was obvious to all immediately but not to Goodell. Weeks later, he publicly declared that a domestic violence first-time violation committed by a player (nothing said about the distinction between proof, accusation, arrest, indictment or conviction) would draw a 6-game penalty. What to do with Rice retroactively? Suddenly two new domestic violence cases emerged with San Francisco and Carolina players. What to do? Goodell waited.

Into the breach strode that paragon of journalism, TMZ, with the missing link — video from the elevator. At last, Goodell could see what had actually happened between the video sequences taken outside the elevator. He rapidly, within the day, compelled the Ravens team to fire Rice and the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely (which in the past has always been the route to redemption and restoral of playing privileges).

Goodell expected praise. Instead, there have been calls for his head. ESPN talking head, attorney, and former NFL quarterback Steve Young opined that the Ravens should have acted like a responsible corporate employer and sent Rice home without pay pending an investigation.

I’ll let ESPN’s Keith Olbermann explain why Goodell and the Ravens and county officials screwed up. He calls for mass resignations. Obermann says Goodell “comforted the violent and afflicted the victim” and is an “enabler of men who beat women.”

As an institution, the NFL is screwy. The people in charge seem incapable of owning the responsibility for what they have done. It’s all deflection and denial. Just protect the shield, baby.

It’s corporate CYA!

Coming: Part II — The NFL’s Personnel Problem

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, NFL: Domestic Violence, The New America | Post Comment



September 6th, 2014

Entrepreneur: Bosses Who Pick on One Employee Ruin Everyone’s Productivity, Study Shows

By Laura Entis – Entrepreneur – Sep. 4, 2014

You shouldn’t call people names. You shouldn’t yell, or belittle others. These are lessons we’re supposed to learn as children, but unfortunately, such behaviors persist long after we’ve left the playground: Workplace bullying is sadly commonplace.

It doesn’t just take place among coworkers. A common tick of the Bad Boss is to select an office scapegoat on whom he or she can dump any built up frustration/anger/aggression at whim.

It makes sense that direct targets of their bosses’ abuse would experience a decrease in productivity; if your boss is frequently yelling at you, your work will likely suffer.

But a new study from a team of researchers at Michigan State University found that when a boss frequently bullies one employee, the entire team’s productivity decreases. The study involved looking at verbal abuse and demeaning emails in a controlled lab setting.

“That’s the most disturbing finding,” lead investigator Crystal Farh said in a press release, “because it’s not just about individual victims now, it’s about creating a context where everybody suffers, regardless of whether you were individually abused or not.”

According to her research, while targeted individuals contributed less (as one would expect), their team members “descended into conflicts” and also, on average, were less productive.

Farh’s main takeaway? In the wake of any situation where a boss is bullying an underling, everyone on the team – not just that employee – will need help repairing interpersonal relationships and rebuilding trust. In other words, bullying bosses are truly toxic because their bad behavior spreads, infecting the entire office.

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Posted in Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | Post Comment



September 5th, 2014

MA workplace bullying advocate profiled

WBI partner, Greg Sorozan, described his work as a “patient activist” to Dr. Lisa Gualteri of Tufts University School of Medicine. Greg is a mental health counselor, the President of SEIU/NAGE Local 282, Massachusetts State Coordinator for the Healthy Workplace Bill, co-director of the Mass. Healthy Workplace Advocates, and graduate of and instructor for the Workplace Bullying University.

Rather than re-post the interview. I suggest reading the interview at the source. It’s the portrait of a compassionate and committed professional.

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions | Post Comment



September 5th, 2014

Dr. Namie on Purpose Rockstar

Purpose Rockstar is a wonderful program hosted by Derrick Duplessy, Executive Director of the Duplessy Foundation. Here is Purpose Rockstar’s goal:

Our goal is to inspire you to craft your dream job with examples of people who have created meaningful careers, Purpose Rockstars. We have 100+ case studies of people from every type of career.

Dr. Namie was a recent case study for the program. You can hear the entire interview by following this link.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, The New America, WBI in the News | Post Comment



August 30th, 2014

Officevibe: Workplace Bullying is a Huge Problem

By Jacob Shriar – Officevibe – August 27, 2014

Workplace bullying is a serious issue.

It’s an issue that I don’t think gets enough attention, considering how big of a problem it is.

I was really shocked and surprised when I learned at how often bullying in the workplace takes place.

A recent survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute shed some important light on this issue.

Let’s look at some of the more interesting numbers from the survey:

  • 27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work
  • 21% have witnessed bullying
  • 56% of the time it was from the top-down (more on this later)
  • Hispanics and African american workers experience more of the bullying
  • Most employers either deny or discount the bullying
  • 38% of co workers did nothing (although I don’t blame them)

These numbers are incredible.

The 2 numbers that really stick out at me, are the fact that 56% of the time, it comes from a manager or senior leader, and that most employers deny or discount (25% and 16% respectively).

This is why I’m such a big fan of having a flat hierarchy. It’s been proven many times that power corrupts, and so it doesn’t surprise me that most of the bullying comes from someone in a higher position of power than you.

For the employer to hide or discount it as not being serious is so stupid. It’s incredibly serious, because it has a major effect on your company culture.

According to a study from the Sauder School of Business at UBC, workers who witness bullying have a stronger urge to quit than those who experience it firsthand.

A lot of people don’t stop to think about this. The bullying doesn’t only affect the person that was bullied. It has a terrible effect on morale. And as the study showed, just witnessing workplace bullying gets people to want to quit.

This is what happened to me personally at a company I used to work for.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in WBI in the News | 1 Comment



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