Posts Tagged ‘locker room culture’

Rare news: Bullied target gets new NFL job — Jonathan Martin

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

This may be the happy ending denied so many bullied targets. The most famous of all targets in recent times, Jonathan Martin, has landed a new job. He was traded by the Miami Dolphins, the team with the abusive work environment that compelled him to voluntarily leave, to the 49ers coached by Jim Harbaugh, his college coach at Stanford.

And he’s happy. Read the press account.

WBI research with bullied targets found that after bullying, 29% made more money, 37% were not bullied again, 65% were not able to match their lost income, and 26% never found another job. So, Jonathan Martin is one of the lucky ones. Of course, he still has to win a job on the 53-man roster this summer, but at least he has been given the chance.

We wish him luck.


For now, it appears this story ends, you can follow the full NFL story from the start in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin Read the NFL investigation report.


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Report to NFL on workplace conduct/bullying at the Miami Dolphins

Friday, February 14th, 2014

On Nov. 6, 2013, the National Football League hired Ted Wells and the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to conduct an independent investigation into issues of workplace conduct at the Miami Dolphins after the departure of Jonathan Martin from the team last October.

… even the largest, strongest and fleetest person may be driven to despair by bullying, taunting and constant insults

From the Conclusion, NFL Report, Feb. 14, 2014

The long-awaited report exonerates Jonathan Martin, the player targeted for abuse by a trio of fellow players.

Many of the key report conclusions illustrate how this NFL story is one of workplace bullying: (italicized comments by WBI)

The mistreatment of Martin is consistent with a case of Workplace Bullying
   The legal team recognized that bullying is abusive conduct and that Martin was the abused party.

Martin did not fabricate his allegations of harassment
   As is true with bullied targets, they are not the liars; it is most often the abusers, the bullies, who lie.

Repeated acts of harassment contributed to Martin’s departure
   Bullying involves repeated acts

Incognito knew that the harassment affected Martin
   Perpetrators are aware that they harm others. Some derive pleasure from it.

Martin was subjected to persistent harassing language
   Persistence, again, repeated acts

The harassment was humiliating and contributed to his mental health issues
   The investigators made the causal link. Humiliation causes mental distress.

The bullying trio harassed other Dolphins personnel
   Cruelty spreads like contagion when unchecked

It is unclear the extent to which the abuse resulted from racial animus
   Illegal harassment/discrimination can be part of bullying, but bullying often is not based on race or gender.

Culture of the Dolphins offensive line does not excuse the mistreatment
   Just because it’s the NFL doesn’t mean bullying is acceptable.

Coach Philbin and the Front Office did not know about the harassment
   Complaints are often kept at the lowest level. Executives are shielded by lower-level managers.

This is a remarkable report. Read it in its entirety for yourself.

Follow the full NFL story in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin


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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, NFL: Jonathan Martin | 3 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »

APA: The Richie Incognito Case: Workplace Bullying or Just “Locker Room” Culture?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

By Efua Andoh, Psychology Benefits Society (American Psychological Association), Nov. 21, 2013

Richie Incognito’s harassment of Miami Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin raises many complex  questions about workplace bullying, jock culture and American culture overall especially regarding issues of power disparities, masculinity, and race.

As a 6 foot 5, 300-plus pound lineman on the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins, Jonathan Martin doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of a bullying victim. But as has now come to light, Jonathan Martin was the target of persistent harassment by Richie Incognito, a fellow lineman with a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the league. Incognito’s lewd and threatening voicemails, some of which included racial slurs (Martin is African American and Incognito is white) have been made public. Reports have emerged that Dolphins coaches may have explicitly instructed Incognito to “toughen up” Martin and that some Dolphins teammates even participated in the abuse. The apparent straw that broke the camel’s back was Incognito and others standing up and leaving a lunch table as soon as Martin joined them – a schoolyard tactic if there ever was one.  Martin abruptly left the team after that incident and checked into a hospital for treatment of emotional distress.

While the Dolphins initially downplayed Martin’s departure, the team has indefinitely suspended Incognito, and the NFL has launched its own investigation. Yet, Martin’s decision to seek help has met with a mixed reaction. While some players have been sympathetic there has been a collective shrug from a number of others who have dismissed Incognito’s behavior as simply part of the “locker room culture.” Some have said that Martin should have “been a man,” implying he should have responded to aggression with aggression.  Sports Illustrated quoted one anonymous player “I might get my ass kicked, but I’m going to go down swinging if that happens to me, I can tell you that.“

This story raises troubling and complex questions about workplace bullying, jock culture, and American culture overall regarding issues of power disparities, masculinity, and race. It isn’t cut and dried; emerging research shows us that some of the things that many dismiss as simply “locker room” culture are antecedents to workplace bullying.   In fact, bullying targets – and bullies — come in all sizes, ages, and kinds.



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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Media About Bullying, NFL: Jonathan Martin, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI in the News | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »

The Workplace Bullying Institute solution for the NFL bullying problem

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

10 Steps to Ensure an Abuse-Free NFL Workplace

1.  The change must be at the NFL level and not remain buried within the Dolphins organization alone. 

2.  Be careful to not move from zero awareness to zero tolerance. The most extreme swing will make compliance officers of all coaches and compel snitching among players. Resentment would ensue. Allow time to learn new ways to interact. Tolerate up to two offenses prior to termination.

3.  Create a policy to draw “the line in the sand.” Unacceptable conduct must be specified. Behavioral standards must exist for comparison’s sake.

4.  Demand that the policy pertain to all employees — owners to rookie players and all coaches in between. Apply the standards consistently. Do not resolve on a “case-by-case” basis that allows for exemptions for favorites.

5.  Before formal complaints can be filed, require that bullied players first consult with a member of an Expert Peers Team trained in the nuances of workplace bullying so that the ambiguous experiences can be clarified, strategies provided and information about the policy and procedures explained safely and confidentially.

6.  Write the policy or code to address only the most severe, health-harming forms of abusive conduct that has absolutely nothing to do with performance (playing the game successfully). 

7.  Allow non-humiliating rituals to continue (such as rookies gathering helmets at the end of games … see coach Pete Carroll). Render extinct hazing, intimidation, financial extortion, and other non-physical forms of abuse.

8.  Devise safe, non-retaliatory, non-stigmatizing procedures that enable complaint filing and 3rd party investigations.

9.  Provide healing, restorative justice solutions for affected targets, bullies and witnessing coworkers. 

10.  Identify veteran & retired players known for toughness (e.g., Ray Lewis) who can be league ambassadors on the topic.

Roger Goodell, call me at 360-656-6630.
Gary Namie, PhD

Follow the full NFL story in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin


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The (alleged) workplace bully speaks

Monday, November 11th, 2013

The Fox Sports network allowed the named Miami Dolphins bully, Richie Incognito, to rehabilitate his image by telling his side of the story while on suspension from the team. It’s a classic example of BullySpeak, a language disembodied from reality and personal responsibility (though he does admit evidence that has been too public to deny). In the video below, catch these highlights:

3:15 mark — “maybe I need to change” (contrition)
4:00 mark — “people want to drag me back in” (to being the troublemaker he is documented to be)
4:22 mark — “if I had known” (I hurt target Jonathan Martin but didn’t know)
5:20 mark — “I’m embarassed by my vulgar text” message (that was shown to the world)
7:35 mark — “it was not an issue of bullying” (because I say it is not)
7:55 mark — “my actions were coming from a ‘place of love'” (really? he said this)
9:11 mark — “knucklehead stuff” (is all I have ever been guilty of for which I was kicked off both college and professional football teams — that’s all, just a guy havin’ fun)
10:15 mark — “I’d hug him (Martin)” “why didn’t you come to me?” (just more lovin’) Here’s the complete quote:

I think, honestly, I think I’d give him a big hug right now because we’ve been through so much and I’d just be like, ‘Dude, what’s going on? Why didn’t you come to me?’ If he were to say, ‘Listen, you took it way too far. You hurt me.’ … You know, I would just apologize and explain to him exactly what I explained to you, and I’d apologize to his family. They took it as malicious. I never meant it that way.

You see, all bullies are misunderstood, mischaracterized and misrepresented.

Follow the full story in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin


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Posted in Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Media About Bullying, NFL: Jonathan Martin, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment () »

When executives promote workplace bullying — the Philbin Dolphins’ regime

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

On Wed. Nov. 6, Miami Dolphin head coach Joe Philbin called a press conference amid the swirling controversy about Jonathan Martin’s allegations of an abusive work environment and subsequent suspension of Richie Incognito designated the principal bully. Philbin was said to be rather defiant. He insisted that he IS indeed responsible for the locker room culture (aka, work environment) and describes his as a culture of “honesty, respect and accountability.”

Head coaches of professional sports teams, probably more than general managers, set the rules and limits for player conduct. They are the executives who actually work with the employees. [Owners are more akin to the Board, individuals who rarely directly interact with the employees.]

The problem with Philbin’s holier-than-thou pronouncements were baseless. According to reporter Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

players were annually directed by coach Joe Philbin to “cut out” the rookie hazing … While Philbin tried to rein it in with the Dolphins, he and his coaching staff never policed it

The blockbuster headline is that reporter Kelly learned that a coach or coaches asked Richie Incognito, the suspended alleged bully, to “toughen up” Jonathan Martin.

Oops! Philbin won’t tolerate bullying? Really. The players told the Sun-Sentinel he did tolerate it. Furthermore, they didn’t simply look away as Incognito humiliated Martin, they TOLD him to do so.

The workplace culture starts at the top. Philbin is culpable. Even if he was not the coach who told Incognito to pour it on, he supervised the coach or coaches who did and he is responsible.

The upward extension of responsibility of executives for supervisors’ misconduct is an inherent part of a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that defined managers as agents of corporate employers. And the employer is vicariously liable for that misconduct, with or without awareness.

Follow the full story in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin


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