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Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies

October 22nd, 2015

Lutgen-Sandvik: Bullied at work? What to do

Bullying in the workplace: How to recognize and address it
By Becky Parker, WDAZ-TV (Grand Forks, North Dakota), Oct. 22, 2015

Bullying is an issue people may think is reserved for the schoolyard, or even cyberspace.

But adult bullying in the workplace can have devastating effects on people’s lives.

One in 10 U.S. workers say they are being bullied at their jobs.

Forty-five-percent say they’ve been bullied at some point during their career, and another 25% say they’ve witnessed workplace bullying.

We spoke to North Dakota State University professor and researcher Pam Lutgen-Sandvik, who has been studying workplace bullying for nearly 15 years. [Note: Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik is a WBI friend & colleague; her research is featured prominently in the WBI training for professionals, Workplace Bullying University.]

She defines bullying as persistent, hostile, aggressive behavior that can be verbal or non-verbal.

Research shows adult bullying can lead to depression, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, PTSD and physical ailments.

It also increases the person’s stress levels and degrades their mental health by making them feel crazy, scared, and anxious.

“It also bleeds into families. When you’re bullied and abused at work you go home and sometimes there’s displaced aggression when you’re screaming at your family members, sort of that, ‘kick-the-dog’ kind of thing. We do know for sure it reduces people’s satisfaction with their personal lives,” says Lutgen-Sandvik.

Here’s what she says you should do if you are being bullied at work:

• Give it a name – define it as workplace bullying.
• Remember that it’s not your fault – bullies often make the victim feel crazy.
• Get some social support – like a counselor – as bullying can degrade your mental health.
• Take some time off from work to regroup and figure out how to address the problem.

“Trying to make sense of it and figure out what you’re going to do is really difficult when you’re in the environment and you’re constantly bombarded with this aggression and hostility. If it’s possible, take some time off of work so you can kind of get your bearings and figure out, ‘am I going to stay? If I’m not going to stay, what am I going to do here?'”

Many people in a bullying situation at work might want to fight back, but that can be risky.

Often, bullying situations at work involve an element of power. In the U.S., it’s usually a manager, but can also be a peer.

If you do choose to fight back, Lutgen-Sandvik says the best way is to talk to someone who has power over the bully.

Bring specific examples of bullying, have other co-workers to back you up, and have a clear goal in mind.

Lutgen-Sandvik says it is not a good idea to confront the bully directly.

“They will escalate the abuse worse than it ever was before, and drive the people out of the workplace because now they’ve become serious threats to the perpetrator. So, directly confronting the perpetrator, it’s really a very, I would say, dangerous thing to do.”


This is Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week and October is Bullying Prevention Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Readers may click-to-purchase Adult Bullying, Pam’s chronicle of her decade of research into workplace bullying, written in easy-to-understand prose.


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Posted in Bullying & Health, Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying University | Post Comment

October 22nd, 2015

Two days left in Freedom Week

WBI Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week

Change your work environment in any way you have power to make it happen!


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Posted in Freedom Week, WBI Education | Post Comment

October 22nd, 2015

Curry for Leaders: No Skin in the Game

Workplace Bullying for Leaders

No Skin in the Game
By Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR

Have you watched a manager bully another manager in a staff meeting?

Has one of the bully manager’s employee’s come to you? Does that employee want you to do something and yet expects you to keep her visit to you confidential?

Have you been bullied yourself and now stay out of the bully’s way?

What can you do?

After all, if you remain on the sidelines, you condone bullying. If a manager bullies a peer of yours, it may be just a matter of time before you’re a target as well.

If an employee seeks you out, and you do nothing, your inaction says “you’re on your own” and need to put up with bad treatment or quit.
If, instead, you interview, you say “I’m not your next target” and “I don’t tolerate bullying.” You tell the employee who feels she or he is the target that you care.

What can you do? Ask for a meeting with your chief executive officer. Give him any first-hand information you have. What have you seen the bully do to department heads that cross him? What turnover have you noticed in the bully manager’s department? What have you heard from employees who’ve turned to you?

According to the 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey published by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 28.7 million U.S. managers and employees witness bullying in the workplace on an on-going basis. Regrettably, most witnesses don’t act to fix the situation, because they think it’s not “their issue” or because they fear being caught in the cross-fire. Those at senior levels in organizations often don’t see the problem until the situation explodes because many bullies kiss up and kick down and laterally. Also, a bullying manager can produce great bottom-line results.

Further, bullied employees hesitate to speak up, fearing they’ll lose their jobs or experience other retaliation if they voice concerns.
If you’re in a management or HR position, you have the potential to raise the issue to senior leadership. If your CEO takes what you say seriously, he has options for assessing and addressing this situation. You can urge him to initiate 360 reviews for all managers, giving employees a safe forum for describing how a bully manager leads, communicates and handles those with viewpoints other than his own. You can suggest that an executive coach work with bullies. You can arrange training sessions on how to deal with verbal confrontation.

What can HR do? A LOT.


Lynne Curry is author of Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, Jan. 2016) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.


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Posted in Advice for Employers | Post Comment

October 21st, 2015

A look back at 2012 Freedom Week at the National Press Club: Tales from the Trenches

Lana Cooke, West Virginia State Coordinator, Healthy Workplace Bill campaign

Ernie Cooke, Lana’s supportive husband, Requiescat in pace dear gentle man

Jane Bethel, Virginia State Coordinator, Healthy Workplace Bill campaign

Neil Dias, Verizon

Susan Rae Baker


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Posted in Freedom Week, WBI Education | Post Comment

October 21st, 2015

A look back at 2012 Freedom Week at the National Press Club: American Unions

Gary Namie introduction

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry

NAGE: Nat’l President David Holway & VP Greg Sorozan

AFGE: Local President Charletta McNeill


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Posted in Freedom Week, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment

October 21st, 2015

Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week in San Francisco

Dozens of workers from the Bay Area who have faced workplace bullying attended a rally and speak out at San Francisco City Hall on Monday October 19, 2015. It was held in conjunction with the Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week held throughout the country. Workers from San Francisco General Hospital, City of Oakland, SF Recology, City of Oakland and other employees spoke out about the systemic bullying and terrorism on the job. Workers reported on their vicious treatment on the job and the use of bullying to drive senior workers, minorities and others off the job. They also reported on the racist attacks on African American workers including at San Francisco Recology using hanging nooses to terrorize workers and the need for the unions to start fighting these racist attacks on workers.

The rally was endorsed by:
• SEIU 1021 SEJ Committee,
• SF General Hospital Chapter,
• SEIU 1021 COPE
California Healthy Workplace Advocates, the WBI Affiliate in the fight to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill as state law
The Stop Workplace Bullying Group SWBG, of San Francisco
United Public Workers For Action
Transport Workers Solidarity Committee
Injured Workers National Nework
• Production of Labor Video Project

WBI thanks and honors its good friend and tireless labor advocate, Steve Zeltzer, for organizing the event.


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Posted in Freedom Week, Unions | Post Comment

October 20th, 2015

Canadian Govt Union Sets the Standard to Combat Workplace Bullying

Unions are the only genuine advocates for workers worldwide. They all share the mission of protecting the safety and security of their members at work sites. European, Australian and Canadian unions keenly pay attention to members’ “psychological safety.” Some smart American unions are following suit (MAPE, UNAC-UHCP, IAM, NAGE). However, many are ambivalent about workplace bullying.

Here’s the account of one Canadian union in Nova Scotia, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) that developed an education program — Bully-Free Workplaces: Shifting Cultures. The union effort begins its fifth year this October and has spread to other provinces.

The program offerings include: 2-hour awareness sessions, 6-hour workshops, and 2-hour, four-module format which increases the options for employers and employees who want more information but with greater flexibility to schedule.

WBI respects this union’s program because it does not stop at awareness raising.

The union also offers training for supervisors, managers, human resources, and occupational health professionals who are responsible for policies and procedures, investigations of workplace bullying, and progressive discipline.

The union also strives to heal afflicted work teams, guide bullies through self-reflection, and special assistance for bullied complainant-members.

Hats off to NUPGE/NSGEU which has reached, to date, over 14,000 participants! Read the press release presenting program facts.

All of the services NUPGE provides to its members and host employers can be made possible through the training of key American or Canadian Union leaders at the WBI Workplace Bullying University® by WBI founders, Drs. Ruth and Gary Namie.


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Posted in Unions, Workplace Bullying University | Post Comment

October 20th, 2015

Boston Globe: UMass Faculty Bullying

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.

Continue reading this article… »


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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, WBI in the News | Post Comment

October 19th, 2015

Mason: All Maine workers deserve a workplace free of bullying

An Op-Ed essay by a Maine advocate for the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill published during Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week 2015.

By Deborah B. Mason, Bangor (ME) Daily News, Oct. 19, 2015,

Why do we need a healthy workplace law? I know. I am a teacher. I worked in a public school in Maine. And I experienced bullying in my workplace. I know from personal experience that there are no protections from bullies and no legal rights for victims of bullying.

Today the respect for the profession of teaching is at the lowest point I have ever seen. I have been an educator for nearly 30 years, including 19 years as a classroom teacher. I am one of hundreds of Maine teachers with stories of abuse. I know the fear and pain of not having a safe place to go in the workplace. I know how prolonged stress affects a person’s physical health. I know the frustration and pain of realizing that human, labor and civil rights laws do not apply to teachers who are bullied in their workplace. I know the pain of contemplating suicide as a way to stop the pain.

Studies from the Workplace Bullying Institute show that 49 percent of working American adults report having been bullied or witnessed bullying at work. This can include verbal abuse, offensive conduct (including nonverbal conduct) that is threatening, humiliation, intimidation or work interference – sabotage – that prevents work from getting done.

In 72 percent of the cases, the bully outranks the person he or she is bullying. The bullying of teachers is pervasive in schools, yet the law of sovereign immunity protects public employers and sets up a barrier to equal rights for public employees.

In 2013, state Rep. Sara Gideon sponsored LD 1201, “An Act To Protect Employees From Abusive Work Environments.” The Legislature converted the bill into and passed a resolve, “Directing the Worker’s Compensation Board to Study the Issue of Addressing Psychological and Physical Harm to Employees Due to Abusive Work Environments.”

But Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the bill, stating that the worker’s compensation program already provides benefits to injured employees, and he didn’t understand what such a study would accomplish.

Yet, the bullying of teachers continues. There are too many stories of teachers who have been bullied and who are still being bullied, but have no recourse. Many teachers are not able to come forward: They are teachers who are trying to save their jobs and careers, or have found out they were not allowed a worker’s compensation claim and had to take a disability retirement or early retirement. They are teachers who cannot risk a review of their status or more abuse.

I am able to sign my name to this OpEd because I no longer have anything to lose because I am no longer a teacher. I hope to see another healthy workplace bill in Augusta soon. And this time, I hope we will not see “dead” printed across the bill.

All Maine employees deserve freedom from workplace bullying.


Deborah B. Mason of Albany Township is certified as a Maine professional teacher for grades 7-12 and is currently employed by the United States Postal Service.

WBI thanks Deborah B. Mason


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Posted in Freedom Week, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment

October 13th, 2015

Airline crew treated like luggage, forced into overhead bins

From the nothing-shocks-us anymore department:

It seems security staff for a Chinese airline, 17 fleet Kunming Airlines, has an abusive ritual for new flight attendants who have served 30-50 hours on the job. They make newbies crawl into the overhead luggage bins. They did this on empty planes without passengers present.

A microaggression? Consider, as a rational person, what the abusers are saying about the worth of their coworkers –you are nothing but a piece of baggage.

Management at the airline said that no one has ever complained. Of course not. Think of the humiliation. How exactly does one describe what he or she did on the command of another?

Here’s one instance where social media helped get the word out. The pictures broke the silence that shrouds this kind of behavior. Then, and only then, management felt compelled to state that it will prevent its recurrence. And the company wants to remind customers that no flights were disrupted by this inane and cruel behavior.


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Posted in Humans abusing adult humans | Post Comment



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