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Millie Suk
Millie Suk
Attorney • (800) 552-5528

Bullying in the Workplace

4 comments

The topic of bullying has gained national attention over the past year or so as bullying has been to recent teen suicides. But bullying affects more than just teenagers and it can be found all around us – including in our workplaces. According to a recent article in our local newspaper, nearly 35% of employees reported have experienced bullying in the workplace. This led me wonder how “bullying” is defined and, more importantly, what can be done about it.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute :

Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
  • Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done

An additional aspect to any type of bullying is that it is typically a pattern of behavior and not just a one-time event.

So the big question is: what can or should we do about it? Here a few tips:

For employees:

  • Recognize you’re being bullied and realize you are NOT the problem.
  • Recognize that bullying is about control and not about your performance.
  • Learn about your company’s policies and procedures regarding bullying and take the appropriate steps (if some are laid out). Contact your Human Resource department.
  • Document all instances of bullying – date, time, what happened, who was present, etc.

For employers:

  • Create a zero-tolerance anti-bullying policy.
  • If bullying is witnessed, address it IMMEDIATELY. Train managers and supervisors to do so as well.
  • Encourage open communication with employees, consider an open-door policy among management and/or have a human resource contact.
  • Take all reports of bullying seriously.

Think about it.

4 Comments

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  1. I.Q. says:
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    Check out this anti-bullying rap song to help spread awareness and understanding to teens!!! http://soundcloud.com/i-q-productionz/foggy-planes

  2. Lynn Johnston says:
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    There is on person at work who has bullied every one in the place. She was a group leader and she bullied Management so bad with her yelling an screaming that she was forced to give up the position but that hasnt stopped her she still continues to
    Bully everyone. she makes snide comments about management and people who are not management she thinks she is the best thing out there.

  3. Brenda says:
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    It is about performance when the bully is your supervisor along with your boss and a male co-worker determine your performance “expectations” and can manipulate them so you can never get a “satisfactory” review on your performance review.
    I do use email to help in the documentation and this university’s HR employee relations tells me I am documenting too much and not doing my work. I believe I am doing my work.

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    Targets, victims and witnesses of bullying have a few avenues to pursue (as compared with victims of sexual harassment) when subject to repeated and obvious acts of aggression, spreading malicious rumours, excluding someone socially or from certain projects, undermining or impeding a person’s work or opinions, insulting a person’s habits, attitudes, or private life and intruding upon a person’s privacy. Others include being rude or belligerent, destroying property, assaulting an individual, or setting impossible deadlines. Although bullying is recognized as detrimental to occupational health, there is little political or corporate interest in stopping it.

    In schoolyard bullying, the bullies are children, whose behaviour is controlled by the leaders, i.e. the school administration. In workplace bullying, however, the bullies are often the leaders themselves, i.e., the managers and supervisors. Therefore, reporting a bully to the HR dept, for example, may expose the target/victim to the risk of even more bullying, slower career advancement, or even termination, on the grounds of being a “troublemaker!”.
    Workplace bullying has severe consequences, including reduced effectiveness and high employee turnover. An employee who suffers any physical or psychiatric injury as a result of workplace bullying can confront the bully, report the bully to the HR department or to the trade union, if any, or bring a claim of negligence and/or a personal injury claim against both the employer and the abusive employee as joint respondents in the claim. If the law does not persuade employers to deal with workplace bullying, the economic reality will persuade them. Training sessions can help when combined with a confidential reporting structure, but it is difficult to alter the basic nature of some individuals, who may need counselling.

    Maxwell Pinto, Business Author