Posts Tagged ‘boston globe’
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Victims say the problem is tangled by workers’ fear of retribution, lack of legal protections, and concerns about what constitutes abusive behavior.
By Bella English – The Boston Globe – July 29, 2014
Carol Anne Geary is a veteran librarian who loved her profession and went back to school, while working, to earn a master’s degree in library science. But her passion turned into a nightmare when, she says, she was bullied on the job to such an extent that she was hospitalized with high blood pressure and other health issues.
Geary, who lives in Shrewsbury, was working at a library in another town where she says other staffers verbally abused and excluded her, spoke to library patrons about her in derogatory terms, and made disparaging remarks about gay issues, knowing that she has a gay son.
When Geary took a short leave, on her doctor’s orders, she was bombarded with phone calls, asking her why she couldn’t work from home. The truth was, she could hardly get out of bed. The library, she says, fought her workers’ compensation claim, and then fired her when she was too sick to return to work. “Workman’s comp — they understand if you hurt your leg on the job. But it’s almost impossible to prove that you’re sick because of bullying,” says Geary, who doesn’t want to identify the library because she fears her former co-workers. “We need to make the workplace safe and healthy.’’
In recent months, a spotlight has been turned on the issue of workplace bullying by some high-profile local cases, including Suffolk County Register of Probate Patricia Campatelli, who was suspended over allegations of punching a subordinate after a holiday party. A report by a court-appointed investigator said she “created a fearful atmosphere” in the office.
In July, Leslie Berlowitz resigned as head of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge following several accusations that included subjecting employees to frequent tirades, prompting some to quit in a matter of days or weeks. One former worker recalled that Berlowitz barred entry to the employee kitchen for weeks by posting yellow crime scene tape over the doorway because a worker left a dirty spoon in the sink.
Research suggests that the problem is widespread, with as many as one in four workers saying they have been subjected to abusive conduct on the job. And state legislators are considering a bill to combat it.
Given the apparent scope of the problem, why does it remain so shrouded?