Posts Tagged ‘workplace bullying’


Anger management issues in the workplace

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

By Sara Fagnilli, Crain’s Cleveland Business, Nov. 21, 2012

It’s a subject made for the movies! But, unlike its depiction in the 2003 film, Anger Management, treatment for anger management issues is very serious business. Haven’t we all been in a work situation where someone loses their temper? Know the employee with a reputation as the “office screamer?” Sometimes it can even be a boss!

While some people may be prone to outbursts of emotion at work, are these incidents simply a reflection of human nature or are they, perhaps, something more serious that an employer must address? Believe it or not, an employee with significant anger issues may be protected by various laws, if that anger is caused by or related to a medical condition.

As is the case with most employment-related disciplinary matters, the answer to the question of how to manage an employee with anger issues is – carefully. Each individual situation requires analysis to assess the issues involved and to determine how an employer should proceed. Are you dealing with the “office bully,” with an employee who consistently loses his or her temper with other employees, customers or clients, or with someone who just has a poor daily demeanor that manifests itself in regular outbursts, perhaps directed at no one in particular? In short, is this just an office bully or someone who has a mental impairment?

Workplace bullying, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons …one or more perpetrators…in the form of verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating or work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done.” Obviously, this definition covers someone who simply behaves badly in the workplace, but it also may describe the actions of an employee with a more serious, underlying behavioral problem. Employers may not, however, play psychologist/psychiatrist in attempting to assess an individual’s actions. Therein lies the challenge for the employer, as it must make an effort to determine the best, most appropriate way to handle such behavioral issues without placing a “label” upon the employee.

If the incident is one for which discipline is appropriate, a part of that discipline could presumably involve the requirement that the employee get counseling – seems simple and straightforward, right? Maybe not.

Requiring an employee with anger problems to get counseling could trigger certain issues and protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). Requiring an employee to obtain counseling could be found to be equivalent to requiring a medical exam. In order for an employer to avoid a violation of the ADAAA, it must demonstrate that such an exam (or counseling) is job-related and that it is a business necessity.

So what do you do with the “office screamer” – the person who doesn’t necessarily become involved in a confrontation with a co-worker or third party, but who has an unpleasant office demeanor that might not otherwise be subject to discipline? While that type of behavior could certainly lead to disciplinary action, a wise employer will want to derail that behavior before it escalates into a disciplinary event. It is possible for an employer – without running afoul of ADAAA regulations – to require that an employee attend a group anger management class. This type of group training can assist the employee in managing his or her interactions in the workplace, without necessarily implying that the employee has a mental impairment.

Anger is a significant workplace and societal issue, and there are professionals who deal specifically with anger management. The basic question, of course, centers around a determination of the source of one’s anger which, in today’s world, can stem from outside forces that ultimately manifest themselves within the workplace. While the majority of employees will not want their personal issues to impact their job situation, some people are unable to prevent that anger from manifesting itself at work. This situation is much more difficult to deal with from an employer’s standpoint. While an employer should be reluctant to delve into an employee’s personal situation, anger left unchecked can have drastic consequences in the workplace. This is an area where an employer would be well advised to proceed with caution and to consult with legal counsel early in the process in order to avoid ending up on the wrong end of an EEOC charge.

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Sara J. Fagnilli is an attorney with Walter & Haverfield LLP in Cleveland. She is a member of the firm’s labor and employment, municipal law, public law and litigation practice groups.

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Let’s Talk with Kalola: Legislative Staffer

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Let’s Talk with Kalola, where targets can share their experiences with WBI’s blog readers. Here we go!

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HRE: Cyberbullies Lurking in the Workplace

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

By Larry Keller, Human Resources Executive, Nov. 21, 2012

Researchers at the University of Sheffield and the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom have released results of three separate surveys of employees questioned at several universities which find that about 80 percent of the 320 respondents said they had experienced work-related cyberbullying at least once in the previous six months, and 14 to 20 percent of them said this happened to them at least once a week.

The findings have serious implications for HR professionals. Cyberbullying can result in lower employee morale, higher turnover and absenteeism, and damage to a company’s reputation if the practice is visible to a vast audience on the Internet, the researchers say. It also raises questions as to whether existing HR policies adequately address the behavior.

“A key issue . . . is to raise awareness of the impact of cyberbehavior — to prevent it [from] happening — or escalating,” says Carolyn Axtell, senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield’s Institute of Work Psychology and one of the authors of the study. “Due to the lack of social and physical cues online, people are less aware, and therefore less considerate about the other person’s reaction. Organizations could . . . set norms and expectations about online behavior — what is considered acceptable and what isn’t.”

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Erie TV News: Workplace Bullying On the Rise

Monday, April 8th, 2013

By Ashley Doerzbacher
April 5, 2013

Many people think of kids when they hear the word ‘bullying,’ but it turns out, it can continue way past the school yard, and carry over into the work place.

Morrison Foerster, a law firm in New York, has looked into workplace bullying, and said that it is on the rise. The main reason, they say is power.

The Rutgers University basketball program is one public example to look at. We first reported on this earlier this week. Former coach Mike Rice was fired after videos surfaced of him throwing basketballs at players, and even and pushing them. Now, the university has cleaned house, letting the assistant coach and athletic director also go.

Sharon Parella, of Morrison Foerster, spoke with an Dr. Gary Namie, an expert on workplace bullying, and he says it’s all about gaining power.

“They see what gets other people ahead, they see a path toward reinforcement, themselves to gain status, stature, career enhancement and they take it,” said Dr. Naime, of Workplace Bullying Institute. “[It’s] Not necessarily about money. Status, position, all the goodies in the workplace that they desire go to the highly aggressive person.”

Dr. Namie said that bullying crosses over gender, race and ethnicity, but that men bully more than women do, even though women are targeted more than men.

Link to original article

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New WBI Instant Poll: Who protects bullies in the workplace?

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Did (does) the bully have someone who provides protection against punishment?

View Results

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Reference Checking firm: Allison & Taylor Press Release

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

As many of you know, we have often recommended Allison & Taylor’s reference checking service to Targets as they search for a new job. A recent press release details their efforts to help workplace bullying Here’s an excerpt:


Some suggest that bullying victims are simply people who “can’t take the pressure” at work. Not so, says Jeff Shane, Vice President of Allison & Taylor Reference Checking, a firm that offers “Cease & Desist letters to stop workplace bullying. “Bullying has become an unpleasant fact of life in too many workplace environments. What makes it especially insidious is that it often continues even after someone has left a job, with the bully continuing to make their life difficult by them a poor reference to a prospective employer.”

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Concord Monitor: Former DHHS employees file suit alleging workplace bullying

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

By Tricia L. Nadolny

Two former state employees have claimed in a lawsuit they were bullied by a supervisor after reporting that she regularly took paid two-hour lunch breaks. Sandra Miner of Pittsfield and Carla Haase of Concord say they complained about the abuse to officials at the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, but nothing was done.

The harassment – which they describe as being carried out by their supervisor Lisa Derepentigny as well as a “clique” in the office – was so intense that both women suffered severe emotional distress and took early retirement, they claim in a lawsuit filed at Merrimack County Superior Court.

A department spokeswoman and Derepentigny both declined to comment. The lawyer handling the suit at the attorney general’s office did not return a message left yesterday.

The women, until they left their positions in summer 2012, were employed by the Division of Child Support Services, where they worked under Derepentigny. That supervisor, as well as her “clique of favored employees,” regularly took lunch breaks that were three to four times what was allowed, according to the suit.

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David Yamada: Emerging American Legal Responses to Workplace Bullying

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

David Yamada, author of the Healthy Workplace Bill has a draft of another important legal essay on workplace bullying.

Here is a link to his announcement for the upcoming publication.

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It’s Your Community Detroit radio with Vanessa Dehna-Garmo

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Host WDVD-FM Detroit radio host Vanessa Denha Garmo interviewed Dr. Gary Namie for her show on March 31, 2013. They talked about the history of WBI, the Healthy Workplace Bill, and solutions for individuals and employers.

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Here’s a link to the show’s page.

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



Comprehensive vs. Incremental Piecemeal Approaches to Stopping Workplace Bullying

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Let’s assume your organization (Executive Team, HR and Legal) WANT to stop bullying. One of the first questions the group must answer is whether or not you jump in with both feet or move more slowly. Here are the pros and cons of each approach.

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