Posts Tagged ‘workplace bullying’
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Labor-and-employment attorneys hear countless tales of abuse suffered by employees in the workplace. Employees subjected to mean-spirited or degrading treatment can often feel helpless, or even if they are proactive and make a complaint to human resources, they may simply be told to toughen up, or find a new job. With the realities of today’s increasingly stressful and competitive workplace, it is worth a moment of reflection to consider what level of civility should be expected in the workplace, and what the consequences should be, if any, for those who break such codes of conduct.
Workplaces can have tricky cultural norms, and some people will be more skilled than others at communicating. However, there is a difference between a manager or coworker who lacks tact and one who goes out of his or her way to purposefully target an individual. When one is verbally abused or intimidated, when work is sabotaged, or when humiliation is used as a tactic, that is bullying. And it is not always illegal in the United States.
Tags: abusive conduct, affirmative defenses, bullying defined, bullying law, Healthy Workplace Bill, lawyers, Randi Melnick, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
I was bullied by my boss, and when I reported his insidious acts to Human Resources, he retaliated and placed me on a performance improvement plan and escalated his bullying towards me. When I complained to Human resources about the irregularity of the plan, and the fact that the bullying acts had only accelerated, I was advised to comply or lose my job.
My performance improvement plan was to last for three months, during which time my boss isolated me, excluded me from team meetings, stripped me of critical roles and took every opportunity he could get to humiliate me and call me names. At some point it was so depressing to go to work. Going to work was just to face more and more humiliation and isolation, and I developed body pains especially lower back and shoulder. The pains would never subside even when I was on the strongest of pain killers.
One day I felt I could not bear the thought of going to work. I called in sick and even sought medical attention. X-rays were carried out but the doctors could not find anything wrong and only prescribed pain killers. I decided to take time to clear my mind and assess whether I should quit my job. Surprisingly when I returned to work, my boss demanded that I produce my medical records for the day I was sick. Even though I knew that this was a violation of my privacy I handed him copies. Absurdly he accused me of falsifying the medical records and had disciplinary charges preferred against me. During the hearing he stated that he had gained access to my call records which to him proved that there was no way I could have been sick or sought medical help because according to him I was “roaming the town” based on my call records. Inwardly I was reeling from the fact that he had illegally obtained my call records, invaded my privacy, and had the audacity to discredit my defence and explanation. He demanded that the panel find me guilty. I got a warning letter and from that day he demanded that I no longer attend any divisional meeting. exactly one month later he asked Human resources to have me dismissed for failing to pass the improvement plan. I was dismissed and advised that I could exercise my right to appeal. I appealed against the dismissal. The appeal was never heard, and my dismissal was confirmed a month later.
On the whole the battle against a work place bully is an ugly one. They are usually in privileged positions of power which they abuse. A law suit against the company is the only option I have now. I am actively pursuing that right now.
Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Deer Park Chamber Hears Presentation on Workforce Bullying
By Erica Drexler, Deer Park (TX) Broadcaster, August 18, 2014
Frank Mulcahy discussed the issue of workforce bullying within organizations and the school system to the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week.
Mulcahy was the featured speaker at the luncheon and is a Business Development Director for the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).
“Frank speaks to groups across America about the true costs of workplace bullying, he works with hospitals, schools and businesses on developing a culture on sincerity … when you hear the words bullying, you automatically think of the schoolyard and things that take place there, bullying in the schoolyard is something that’s still there,” said Tim Culp, President and CEO at Deer Park Chamber of Commerce.
Mulcahy has won awards for his talents as a sales professional, entrepreneur and a master presenter.
“So you know that when somebody comes to you with discrimination or harassment, we got ‘Title 7,’ we can protect against that, but bullying falls into a different category where there’s no protection, and as Tim said, it is in classrooms, I did go to Clemson to get certified so I could work with my school districts to help them to stop the bullying in classrooms and it was there that I recognized workplace bullying,” Mulcahy said.
He said that 35 percent of teachers admitted to bullying a student in a survey and 27 percent of individuals have dealt with bullying at their jobs.
“So it estimates that one out of four people are currently going through or have been bullied and the business is the one who paid the price, because 77 percent of the time the target, not the perpetrator, but the target ends up moving on to another position, so the business has to lose their best and their brightest people, because the best and the brightest are the ones that are targeted, everybody recognized bullying in the classroom, everybody, because we know that the kids are tyrants you know, but what we stop to realize as they grow up and unless you stop them from being bullies as children, they then come to the workplace with us with this new practiced set of skills and that’s when they become workplace (bullies), the bullying to me has been a source of my want to give back to the businesses,” Mulcahy said. “I feel personal about this, you know it’s my calling or my mission … because you know it gets a certain point in your life that you want to give back and the Lord’s been good to me.”
Thursday, August 7th, 2014
By Jeff Mandel – Orlando Business Journal – August 7, 2014
A staggering 27 percent of U.S. workers report experiencing abusive conduct at work; 21 percent report witnessing such conduct. And bullying is four times more common than harassment in the workplace, with 65.6 million people reporting to have been affected.
Bullying in the workplace is defined as actions by an individual or group that are unreasonable, physical or psychological, repeated, and cause an intentional impact on the target, such as humiliation, degradation, offense, intimidation or cause dangerous results to the target, such as risk to safety and/or mental or physical health issues. In short, bullying is considered a form of violence.
And the impacts of workplace bullying have a ripple effect. Not only does workplace bullying impact the target of the bullying, but it leaves a lasting impression on others in the workplace as well. Workplace bullying often results in high turnover, low productivity, lost innovations, difficulty hiring quality employees and even customer retention.
Here are five tips for employers wanting to be proactive in the fight against workplace bullying:
Thursday, August 7th, 2014
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Conference was treated to a presentation on workplace bullying by WBI Affiliates Linda R. Crockett and Sherri Tanchack. Both are Canadian pioneers leading the group — Social Workers Against Bullying.
Linda and Sherri recognize both the importance of clinicians treating bullied patients to (1) understand the work environment as causing the harm from workplace bullying and (2) the necessity of therapists hurt by bullying to heal so as to help others. If you are a social worker in Canada or the U.S., contact them. We met Linda and Sherri at Workplace Bullying University.
Here are the two along with their co-presenter at NASW, Dr. Tracy Whitaker, and the new NASW president, Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler.
Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
By Richard B. Cohen – Employment Discrimination Report – August 4, 2014
Just as last week we re-opened our discussion about the possibility/desirability of enacting legislation to prohibit workplace bullying, it has been reported that the governor of New Hampshire just vetoed such a bill – calling it “well-intentioned” but ultimately “unworkable.”
Chalk up another defeat for anti-bullying legislation, which is batting zero.
The Healthy Workplace Bill
We have not seen the NH bill, but if “workability” is the issue, perhaps New Hampshire should have turned to Prof. David Yamada, of nearby Suffolk University Law School, who is the author of the template legislation that serves as the basis of most of the workplace anti-bullying bills introduced across the country.
We noted last week that he wrote to us on February 25th about our discussion on anti-bullying legislation and said that “I can attest that the need for such legislation is underscored by the terrible inadequacy of existing law, including tort claims (IIED) and other causes of action. … the template bill, a/k/a The Healthy Workplace Bill, sets a relatively high threshold for recovery, higher in fact than hostile work environment standards for sexual harassment. In other words, it’s about creating a cause of action for abuse, not incivility.”
Goodness Gracious — Bullying Can Be Anything!
However, as Law360 reports, “unworkability “resonates with many employers’ concerns that ill-defined workplace bullying laws would invite a wave of meritless employment lawsuits, attorneys say.” Law 360 quotes some incisive comments from various employment attorneys:
- “Any legislation is just going to further clog the court system;”
- “The biggest problem is what the governor identified. That is, ‘How do you define bullying?’”
- “Bullying is so subjective. If it’s just unwelcome conduct — well, goodness gracious, that could be anything.”
One lawyer proposed a more workable solution that no one has seemingly ever thought of: “Everybody should be treated with professionalism and respect, and none of these issues will ever come up.”
Wow — a breathtaking concept! Goodness gracious, what a boffo idea! Wish we thought of that!
Tags: employment discrimination report, Healthy Workplace Bill, richard b. cohen, workplace bullying
Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Monday, August 4th, 2014
By Kathryn Cave – IDG Connect – August 4, 2014
“Every office full of ambitious people has them. And we have all worked with at least one—the co-worker with an inexplicable ability to rise in the ranks,” wrote the Wall Street Journal recently in an article entitled What Corporate Climbers Can Teach Us. “‘How do they do it?’ we may ask ourselves or whisper to friends at work,” it continued. “They don’t have more experience. They don’t seem that brilliant.”
The answer it suggests is the “dark triad” of personality traits identified by psychologists as: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. “These traits are well-known for the bad behaviour that they can cause when dominant in people’s personalities,” explained the article. “At milder levels, however, they can actually foster skills that can help people rise through the ranks.”
Of course, there’s a very fine line between demonstrating these skills for the purpose of career progression and becoming that covert workplace bully. And the latter is a serious problem. Recent research from the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) released in Feb 2014, shows 27% of all adult Americans have directly experienced “repeated abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating, humiliating, work sabotage or work abuse.”
Dr. Namie, Director of WBI and widely regarded as North America’s foremost authority on workplace bullying, tells us that bullies also usually exhibit this dark triad. In fact, he demonstrates that the sort of qualities that facilitate career progression are indelibly linked to workplace bullying. “Look at that package,” Dr. Namie tells us: “these are the people who are willing to meddle with others. They fill their days with political gamesmanship. And the other people, the targets, come to work to do their job.”
“[For the bullies] climbing the ladder is all of their work,” Dr. Namie continues. “It is their focus. It becomes a zero-sum game where they must obliterate all competition. They see co-workers as competition as opposed to peers, or a possible pool of friends. They see them as someone to dupe, overcome and climb over. And it is just Machiavellian. And some people don’t have that view at all. They’re co-corporative. They’re nice. They’re kind. The targets are in that group.”
Saturday, August 2nd, 2014
Tags: Gary Namie, got a minute, NFL, target, who gets bullied, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Media About Bullying, NFL: Jonathan Martin, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
By Holly Ramer, Associated Press, July 28, 2014
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill Monday aimed at protecting New Hampshire state employees from abusive work environments, saying it was well-intentioned but unworkable.
Lawmakers passed the measure after hearing from current and former state workers who said they experienced workplace bullying. It would have required state departments and agencies to develop policies to address harassment.
But Hassan said the legislation’s definition of “abusive conduct” was overly broad and would have made the most routine interactions potential causes of action. For example, workers could claim abuse if they believed they had “unreasonable” workloads, felt co-workers weren’t answering emails in a timely manner or had received constructive criticism from supervisors or peers, she said.
“The bill also attempts to legislate politeness, manners and the interpersonal relationships of co-workers,” Hassan said.
The governor said state employees deserve respect and the opportunity to work in respectful environments, but she argued the legislation would lead to a dramatic increase in lawsuits, which would in turn hinder productivity.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diane Schuett, said she hopes lawmakers will override the veto.
“We all know there’s bullying in school, and just because someone graduates from school, doesn’t mean they stop doing it, and it carries over into the workplace,” she said. “It undermines the efficiency within state government if you end up with one or two employees being harassed on the job, either by another employee or a supervisor, and you end up with the entire agency being aware of it and feeling like they have to pick sides.”
Schuett, D-Pembroke, and other supporters said the state has no written policy against abuse in the workplace nor any office procedure to follow to address such issues. But Hassan said existing state rules give employees an avenue for making complaints.
Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees’ Association, disagreed. She said in the two years since the bill was first introduced, the governor has done little more than have the state personnel division develop an online “Respect in the Workplace” training presentation.
“It just feels like more stalling,” she said. “The governor has the power to issue an executive order to take this more seriously … If the governor wasn’t going to support the legislation, the governor’s office should’ve pitched an executive order and has not done so. So we’re very upset.”
As for the concern about litigation, Lacey said state employees already have been using the courts to seek relief.
The WBI response to the veto.
Tags: abusive conduct, bill, bill veto, HB 591, Healthy Workplace Bill, law, legislation, Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984, SEIU/NAGE, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
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?