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Workplace Bullying and the Corporate Mean Girls

Human Resources

By Bobbie Wasserman, Published October 17, 2013

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We may think we left the Mean Girls treatment behind when we graduated high school. But, in reality, that same behavior continues well into our professional years in the form of workplace bullying

Yes—it’s true. Corporate Mean Girls are out there. As a former executive director of a national women’s empowerment group, it’s a painful observation.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), both men and women bully, but the majority of bullying is same-gender harassment—which, due to standard anti-discrimination laws and workplace policies, remains mostly legal, and thus very difficult to address and resolve.

Females Target Females with Workplace Bullying

While you’d think women would stick together in the all too often male dominated corporate environment, the sad truth is that, more often than not, women target women. In 2007, the woman-on-woman workplace bullying prevalence was 71%; in 2010, it was at 80%. The American workplace is growing more toxic for women, and at the hands of their fellow women.

From a societal perspective, girls learn to be critical about each other from early adolescence, and it’s particularly vicious among working women, from playing favorites to badmouthing colleagues.

According to WBI:

  • Female bullies target other women in 80% of cases.
  • Bullying is 4 X more prevalent than illegal harassment (2007).
  • The majority (68%) of bullying is same gender harassment.

Bottom Line Impact of Workplace Bullying

As more women earn post-secondary degrees, enter and stay in the workforce, and rise through the ranks to executive level positions, the current situation is likely to persist. According to Chief Executive, “Executive bullying creates an unhealthy work environment—rife with micro-management, information hoarding and self-interest.”

While executives that exhibit this behavior may be successful in the short term, the positive results are often short lived and often result in:

Reduced productivity

According to CEO Magazine, Stanford University’s Bill Sutton has suggested that productivity could decline up to a 40% when workers are distracted by bullying. Aside from the distraction, bullied employees also feel a loss of motivation, which means they are likely to avoid putting in extra effort or working extra hours.

Employee turnover

A report released by suggests that up to 30% of bullied employees will resign from their jobs, and 20% of those who witness bullying will also leave the organization.

Lost company reputation

Companies who develop a negative reputation will have a harder time recruiting quality employees. In a recent survey by Glassdoor Talent, only 58% of respondents would be willing to work at a company with a bad reputation—but, it would take at least a 50% pay increase for them to make the move.

How to Prevent Workplace Bullying

Here’s the good news, you can help reverse the trend and set the tone moving forward.

  1. Set and enforce a high ethical code of conduct. Codes of conduct cover both lawful and ethical behaviors, including abiding by a company’s core values. Holding corporate leadership to high moral behavior that complements company values can improve its reputation as well as employee morale and effectiveness. The code of conduct should set and enforce a “no bullies rule.”
  2. Create a charter. Holding top executives to account by creating a specific charter of behavior provides a specific set of expectations for peers. It can be as simple as a series of words (collaboration, commitment, communication) or a series of phrases that are derived from the corporate mission (customer satisfaction and expectations, growth and profitability, individuality).
  3. Collaborate transparently. Encourage cross-department communication, give credit to team project “victories” and milestone, and encourage and value opinions from team members that might differ from others.

Here’s the better news. Transparency in a ‘no tolerance for bullies’ corporate code, or as Barclay’s former CEO Bob Diamond called it, the “no jerks” rule, can work to a company’s advantage—improving or solidifying a company’s reputation, attracting high quality employees, and improving morale and productivity.



Workplace Bullying and the Corporate Mean Girls

Human Resources

We may think we left the Mean Girls treatment behind when we graduated high school. But, in reality, that same behavior continues well into our professional years in the form of workplace bullying.Workplace Bullying and the Corporate Mean Girls image Mean Girls 277x300

Yes—it’s true. Corporate Mean Girls are out there. As a former executive director of a national women’s empowerment group, it’s a painful observation.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), both men and women bully, but the majority of bullying is same-gender harassment—which, due to standard anti-discrimination laws and workplace policies, remains mostly legal, and thus very difficult to address and resolve.

Females Target Females with Workplace Bullying

While you’d think women would stick together in the all too often male dominated corporate environment, the sad truth is that, more often than not, women target women. In 2007, the woman-on-woman workplace bullying prevalence was 71%; in 2010, it was at 80%. The American workplace is growing more toxic for women, and at the hands of their fellow women.

From a societal perspective, girls learn to be critical about each other from early adolescence, and it’s particularly vicious among working women, from playing favorites to badmouthing colleagues.

According to WBI:

  • Female bullies target other women in 80% of cases.
  • Bullying is 4 X more prevalent than illegal harassment (2007).
  • The majority (68%) of bullying is same gender harassment.

Bottom Line Impact of Workplace Bullying

As more women earn post-secondary degrees, enter and stay in the workforce, and rise through the ranks to executive level positions, the current situation is likely to persist. According to Chief Executive, “Executive bullying creates an unhealthy work environment—rife with micro-management, information hoarding and self-interest.”

While executives that exhibit this behavior may be successful in the short term, the positive results are often short lived and often result in:

Reduced productivity

According to CEO Magazine, Stanford University’s Bill Sutton has suggested that productivity could decline up to a 40% when workers are distracted by bullying. Aside from the distraction, bullied employees also feel a loss of motivation, which means they are likely to avoid putting in extra effort or working extra hours.

Employee turnover

A report released by suggests that up to 30% of bullied employees will resign from their jobs, and 20% of those who witness bullying will also leave the organization.

Lost company reputation

Companies who develop a negative reputation will have a harder time recruiting quality employees. In a recent survey by Glassdoor Talent, only 58% of respondents would be willing to work at a company with a bad reputation—but, it would take at least a 50% pay increase for them to make the move.

How to Prevent Workplace Bullying

Here’s the good news, you can help reverse the trend and set the tone moving forward.

  1. Set and enforce a high ethical code of conduct. Codes of conduct cover both lawful and ethical behaviors, including abiding by a company’s core values. Holding corporate leadership to high moral behavior that complements company values can improve its reputation as well as employee morale and effectiveness. The code of conduct should set and enforce a “no bullies rule.”
  2. Create a charter. Holding top executives to account by creating a specific charter of behavior provides a specific set of expectations for peers. It can be as simple as a series of words (collaboration, commitment, communication) or a series of phrases that are derived from the corporate mission (customer satisfaction and expectations, growth and profitability, individuality).
  3. Collaborate transparently. Encourage cross-department communication, give credit to team project “victories” and milestone, and encourage and value opinions from team members that might differ from others.

Here’s the better news. Transparency in a ‘no tolerance for bullies’ corporate code, or as Barclay’s former CEO Bob Diamond called it, the “no jerks” rule, can work to a company’s advantage—improving or solidifying a company’s reputation, attracting high quality employees, and improving morale and productivity.



Writing and implementing a workplace anti-bullying policy: A new WBI DVD set for employers


The Workplace Bullying Institute has released a new DVD set, “Writing Workplace Bullying Policy and Procedures,” for employers who want intensive guidance and instruction on incorporating bullying prevention and response into their employee relations practices.

The DVD set features Dr. Gary Namie, plus a cameo appearance by yours truly explaining some of the legal implications and offering suggestions on how employers can work with their attorneys in finalizing their policies and procedures. Here’s a piece of the description from the WBI website:

This DVD is the substitute for in-person group facilitation by Dr. Namie. Instructions are provided that allow the designated Policy Writing Group to create the most comprehensive set of policy provisions, informal solutions, and formal enforcement procedures possible. Dr. Namie delivers the step-by-step instructions that will result in a new policy and set of procedures in a single day.

. . . It is suggested that writing be collaborative. The Policy Writing Group explores the organization’s values and expectations regarding abusive conduct at work. No boilerplate works. Policies are not one-size-fits-all. Only those who work at your organization understand the idiosyncrasies of their unique workplace culture. Our process results in a policy specific to your organization with all of the accompanying ethical and logistical questions answered.

The instructions are accompanied by sample terms and provisions.

There are two pricing options: $299 for the DVD set; and $399 for the DVD set plus a one-hour phone or Skype consultation with Gary Namie to review the draft created by the employer. In other words, this is no “plug and play” policy, to be simply pasted into an employee handbook. The DVD set costs money, and it requires work and thought by the employer to follow through. It is for employers who are willing to sweat the details to build a healthy and productive workplace.

When it comes to addressing workplace bullying, there are no panaceas or quick fixes. Employers, unions, mental health professionals, the legal system, and other stakeholders all have to get on board. Teaching organizations how to deal with bullying preventively and responsively is a big piece of the puzzle. This training DVD is a useful step in the right direction.


Workplace Bullying Still On the Rise? Tonight on 'TakePart Live'

Tonight on 'TakePart Live,' comedian Yassir Lester guest cohosts with Cara Santa Maria as they break down the biggest news stories of the day: the United States' history with debt defaults, uranium and pandas traded in China, and anti-bullying campaigns backfiring.

Attorney and women's rights activist Sandra Fluke, psychologist and Associate Professor at Pepperdine University Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis and student at George Washington University Katy Butler join tonight's Chasing McCain panel that continues the conversation from this week's "Raising McCain" on cyberbullying. Join the conversation and tweet us @TakePartLive -- we'll read your comments live on the air.

Also on tonight's show, Cara wraps up her "8 Days Challenge" of reduced waste as we tally up the difference she's made from simply using a reusable water bottle.

Plus, host of Acting Disruptive Max Lugavere and CEO of Malaria No More Martin Edlund stop by!

All that, and another digital dating dose of Love Bytes with Dr. Jess, tonight on 'TakePart Live,' Midnight ET/9pm PT on Pivot. Find Pivot in your area.


PCC site of community conversation to find solutions to workplace bullying

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 4:46 pm

Pima Community College will be the site of a community conversation next week seeking ways to detect and prevent bullying in the workplace.

Anyone with experiences or insights is invited to attend, including supervisors, employees, Human Resources professionals, educators and medical professionals.

“Pima Community College is honored to play a part in finding solutions to a problem that affects workplaces across the nation,” PCC Chancellor Lee D. Lambert says.

For more information, go to

The event at PCC is one of a series presented by the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding during National Bullying Prevention Month. Other upcoming events:

  • End of Bullying Task Force meeting, Thursday, Oct. 17, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Community Partnership of Southern Arizona training center, 2502 N. Dodge Blvd.
  • Prevention and response workshop, sexual harassment/bullying, Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-noon, YWCA of Tucson, 525 N. Bonita Ave.

NCW submits recommendations to avoid sexual harassment at work

New Delhi: The National Commission for Women has submitted a set of recommendations to the Centre to avoid and address cases of sexual harassment at the work place.

NCW has asked the government to ensure constitution of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in accordance with Supreme Court guidelines in its departments, institutions and autonomous bodies to address such cases.

It has also recommended conducting sensitisation workshops for top level management officials.

In its letter to the Secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on October 8, NCW recommended that ICC should be publicised through posters and banners which should have contact details of its members.

These posters should be put at prominent places for spreading awareness on the issue of sexual harassment, the NCW said in its letter.

The Commission recommended that government should ensure that women do not suffer any negative consequences if they register a complaint of sexual harassment.

It also recommended awareness workshops on prevention of sexual harassment at workplace be held to ensure proper orientation of employees on prohibition and prevention of sexual harassment.

The government should assure its staff that all complaints will be addressed irrespective of the stature or seniority of the perpetrator, NCW said. The Commission also emphasised on media and communication strategies to be made to combat violence against women.

It asked the government to bring into force the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which received assent of the President on April 22 but is yet to come into force. NCW said it had asked the I&B Ministry to take strict action to curb obscene portrayal of women in media. The Ministry had formed a high-level committee under the chairmanship of a retired Chief Justice High Court to review the Cinematography Act, 1952.

The Commission had also informed the Ministry of its findings of inquiry conducted into allegations of sexual harassment against a top Prasar Bharti official in the letter.

First Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 20:55

Support LGBT youth, stop bullying, go #SpiritDay

 |  NCR Today

Spirit Day is Thursday, Oct. 17. It is a day when millions of people wear purple to support LGBT youth and oppose bullying. In addition to celebrities, landmarks, media outlets, and everyday people, congregations and faith organizations are also going purple.

Ross Murray over at GLAAD blogs about some of the Catholic and other faith-based groups participating.  In the social media realm, organizations and individuals are turning their icons, logos and profile photos purple to show support. GLADD has a Spirit Day app that turns your Facebook profile purple for the day.  The Twitter hashtag is #SpiritDay.


Canada: WorkSafeBC Bullying And Harassment Tool Kit Released October 2, 2013

Last Updated: October 14 2013
Article by Roper Greyell LLP

In March 2013, WorkSafeBC's Board of Directors approved three Occupational Health and Safety Policies dealing with workplace bullying and harassment.

We remind employers that these bullying and harassment policies take effect on November 1, 2013, and that enforcement by WorkSafeBC prevention officers will begin on this date.

Today, WorkSafeBC released a tool kit to assist employers, supervisors, and workers in complying with these policies. The tool kit can be found on the WorkSafeBC website.

We encourage all employers in B.C. to review their obligations with respect to these new bullying and harassment policies in order to ensure they are in compliance as of November 1, 2013.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.


Workplace Bullying or Worker Abuse?

Bullying is a busy term, and people use it to describe all sorts of behaviour between all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. It is spread very thin, but at the same time does not convey enough about the operation of power, obscuring direction in hierarchical structures, and blurring distinctions between formal and informal sources. In other words, it needs to be contextualized.

These are not trivial shortcomings, and in this post I am going to look at some of the fuzziness of the concept, and some of the consequences of that fuzziness, and suggest an alternative way of describing part of what goes down in workplaces, particularly the part involving abuse of hierarchical power.

Bullying at City Council
One recent situation that stretched the meaning of bullying beyond credibility for me involved allegations and counter-allegations between public figures at a City Council: the Mayor accused a Councillor of bullying the CEO; the Councillor accused the Mayor of bullying her. I was curious enough to try to find out more. I didn’t find much except that the Mayor and Councillor appear almost on a par at the peak of the organisational pyramid, and the CEO is slightly below both.

This situation does not fit my images of bullying, although these three are undoubtedly out to discredit each other (two of them were on competing teams for Council elections). Self-interest, sabotage, ruthlessness, and treachery might be more to the point.

Good luck to whoever has to adjudicate, I thought, and who would that be anyway? Who is in a position to discipline three such people at the top of an organisation? And, while they are busy deflecting attention from themselves by accusing each other of bullying, you might wonder how they are treating those below them in the hierarchy. Some of the toxicity would surely be spilling downwards. Is that also to be called bullying? Whatever; the chances seem slim of it being dealt with effectively, at least by appeal up the line – which is where workers are usually expected to take their grievances. Rough justice if that is the source of the problem.

Workplace bullying elsewhere
While pursuing the Council story, I came across other stories about workplace bullying, including reference to a report that 95% of school staff experience bullying, as well as more than seventy percent of health professionals, large proportions of public servants, police, and the armed forces. Goodness, I wondered, who can possibly be doing all this bullying? Following the trail a little further, it appears that a high proportion is seen to occur between colleagues, as well as being perpetrated by students towards teachers, or staff towards more senior staff.

No doubt colleagues can behave badly towards each other, and students and workers can obstruct authority, but to call all such behaviour bullying, alongside what is happening at City Council, is stretching the meaning towards meaninglessness. These examples are all over the place in terms of hierarchical power; upwards, downwards, sideways – no matter, it is all generically labelled as bullying.

Definitions of bullying are often couched in terms of relationships, or as repeated, unacceptable, deliberate behaviours that may cause harm. If they mention power, it is of the form of social influence rather than the structural variety embedded in workplace hierarchies. In other words, the concept does not differentiate between the CEO’s treatment of the receptionist and the receptionist’s treatment of the CEO even though, in the event of dispute between these two, the CEO is much more likely to have access to legal advice, paid for by an organisation that predictably closes ranks around its highly paid executive. The interests of the CEO are more likely to prevail.

Blowing the whistle on those at the top can be a fast route to unemployment, most likely on some pretext other than the whistleblowing. I have, however, come across one story in which a group of industrial laundry workers acted collectively against an abusive manager (who was referred to in court, and in the media, as a bully). The end result has hopefully been good for the workers, although a lot of damage might have been avoided if the manager had been held to account much earlier.

Worker abuse is directional
Describing a situation as workplace bullying does suggest something is not quite right in a workplace but, as previous examples illustrate, it is vague – too vague when the problem is abusive management. In such cases, it would be clearer to use a different term, one embodying the concept of abuse of hierarchical power.

One such alternative is worker abuse. This concept has appropriate directionality – downwards in hierarchical structures, not upwards or sideways – and shares that directionality with concepts like racism, sexism, and ableism. I know white people sometimes believe they have experienced racism, and men sometimes feel they are at the receiving end of sexism, and the boss may feel abused by a subordinate (although I have never heard any ablebodied person claim to have experienced ableism, which is interesting in itself) but I would argue that these terms (racism, sexism, ableism, and worker abuse) need to be put into social context and understood in relation to divisions of structural power. At the broader social level, white people, men, the ablebodied, and bosses (as classes or groups) occupy positions of relative privilege compared with nonwhite people, women, those with disabilities, and workers.

I will come back to this knotty issue of who can be at the receiving end of what in a subsequent post, but for now my shorthand position can be expressed by example: a CEO is in a position to abuse the power held over a worker, but the reverse does not hold; the CEO cannot claim to be a victim of worker abuse by someone lower on the organisational chart.

The issue of directionality is central to my rationale for introducing worker abuse as a formal concept. Compared with bullying, it is precise in its implication of directionality, thus making the operation of hierarchical power more visible, and ultimately, I hope, more accountable. If the situation at the laundry had been identified in its early stages as worker abuse, the manager may have been dealt with in a timelier manner.

Making hierarchical power visible and accountable
The greater the hierarchical power a role entails, the more potential there is for abuse, but the less accountability there may be in behavioural, ethical, and moral terms. Plenty of people are happy to tell kids, or workers, what they should and shouldn’t do, but fewer are in a position to tell the Mayor, the Bishop, the General, or the CEO to take a good hard look at the way they exercise power. As a general rule those at the top are left to get on with the job of running the show – unless they are caught with their hands in the till.

One-size-fits-all concepts of bullying make it easier for relatively powerful personnel to define situations to suit their vested interests. So, for example, trouble might be pre-empted or deflected by turning the tables and problematising workers instead. A whole raft of terms becomes available for such purposes including finding workers to be uncooperative, unreliable, difficult, insubordinate, unprofessional, unethical and, of course, poor team players and troublemakers. Once the situation has been defined in such terms, it becomes more difficult for workers to get a fair hearing within or beyond the organisation. I have felt much frustration seeing rank and file workers lose jobs on the basis of tired tactics from the top.

If hierarchical power is part of the context of workplace disputes it also needs to be built in to attempts at resolution. Worker abuse, as a concept, makes the operation and direction of power visible and open to challenge, thus levelling the playing field, or at least making it obvious that it was not level to start with.

Raising awareness of victim-blaming
It still seems remarkably commonplace to blame the victim in workplace situations in ways that would be largely unacceptable if the issue was sexual abuse or domestic violence. Provocation-style narratives are still trotted out in rape cases, but they are, in my experience, more likely to be recognised and confronted than if the abuse is located in a workplace. A rapist who described his victim as leading him on, or wanting it, for example, would not remain unchallenged for long. That is as it should be – and as it also should be in relation to worker abuse. My guess is that the inconsistency reflects relative lack of awareness about abuse of power in workplaces; my argument is that this needs to change. I would like to see zero-tolerance of all forms of victim-blaming, including in workplaces, and broad commitment to developing and refining ways of achieving this goal.

In the end
Workplace bullying is not specific enough to convey abuse of power in hierarchical workplaces. Worker abuse is a more useful concept in such situations. It is (downwardly) directional, making power more visible, and hence potentially more accountable. It invites challenge to dominant narratives that blame the victim and prop up the vested interests of those at the top. A first step in creating change would be to raise awareness about abuse of hierarchical power in workplaces, and start referring to it as worker abuse. Worker abuse contextualises a significant component of what is normally referred to as workplace bullying.

Written By Joan Beckwith, PhD
SJS Contributor


A Rise in Workplace Bullying

Most people think that once they’ve left high school, they have left the world of bullying behind. However, new research shows that bullying among adults in the workplace is higher than it has ever been.

Workplace bullying includes mistreatment of one or more employees through verbal abuse, non-verbal behavior or even interfering with a worker’s ability to get the job done, according to USA Today. The article also states that workplace bullying is on the rise and research shows that it can lead to unhappy employees, a less productive work environment and an overall less successful company.

According to the article in USA Today, research shows that the number of people admitting to workplace bullying is on the rise. Many say workplace bullying has given them anxiety and depression. In 2011, one survey reported that half of people felt they were treated rudely at least once a week, an increase from a survey done in 1998 in which 25% said they felt they were treated rudely.

Is there a cause for the recent rise in bullying? According to USA Today, one explanation could be added stress on bosses due to the economic downturn. Other reasons could be narcissistic bosses or bosses who simply don’t realize they’re being rude because they are so overwhelmed with stress.

Overall, statistics show that most employees are not satisfied at the workplace. A study cited by USA Today reported that only 9% of people say they’re happy at the office.

Those who wish to have a healthy, happier workplace that is free of bullying can focus on making their employees feel appreciated, creatively welcome (those who feel stifled won’t try to innovate as much) and encouraged. Having close friends at work also helps quite a bit, according to the article.


Anti-Bullying Campaign; Thanksgivukkah

The Patch blogosphere has been busy this week: check out what your neighbors have been writing about.

Peekskill MS students take a stand against bullying. / Credit: Laura Belfiore
Peekskill MS students take a stand against bullying. / Credit: Laura Belfiore

Here are some of things our readers are blogging about in Putnam and northern Westchester this week.

Check these out and click on a link to read the entire post. Join the discussion by commenting here or on the blogs. Then get inspired and start your own blog!

Support your cause, promote your organization or share your expertise. Contact Community Editor Sarah Studley at to get started.


Canada: Upcoming Introduction Of Mandatory Policies On Workplace Bullying And Harassment - What Employers In Bc Need To Know


On July 1st, 2012, section 5.1(1)(a)(ii) of the Workers Compensation Act was introduced. This section provides that a worker's mental disorder is compensable under the Act where that disorder is caused by a work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment.

On November 1st, 2013, WorkSafeBC will introduce policies that require employers to prevent and address workplace bullying and harassment. Information on the new policies may be found here. The text of the policies can be found here.


The policies require employers to do the following to prevent bullying and harassment and ensure the safety and well-being of workers:

  1. Develop a policy statement on bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated;
  2. Prevent or minimize workplace bullying and harassment;
  3. Develop and implement procedures for workers to report incidents and complaints of bullying and harassment;
  4. Develop and implement procedures for dealing with incidents and complaints, including investigations, follow-up, and record-keeping;
  5. Inform and train workers and supervisors; and
  6. Conduct annual reviews of policy statement and reporting procedures.

Employers should be reviewing existing policies and practices to determine if they satisfy the requirements of the new policies.


Lessons learned from dealing with clerical bullies

 |  NCR Today

Bloggers muse and ponder on the issues of the day. We rant and rave. We dream and vision. The challenge comes when someone asks us, "So? What should we do about it?"

My last NCR blog post was titled, "Pope Francis asks us to be the reform we want to see." As I was writing, I was increasingly aware that I was speaking in generalities. Paragraphs were filled with nice-sounding words that painted a utopian picture and with platitudes that pointed to some ephemeral "what could be" if we only tried to "be the reform we want to see."

A kind reader sent me an email asking for more. He liked the tone of the post but wondered about the practicalities of reform. How do we make it come about? For example, what if we are the unlucky ones stuck with a mediocre or dysfunctional parish or pastor? Pope Francis is challenging mediocrity and clericalism from the top. How do we do challenge the same on the local level?

John Allen writes that we cannot expect rapid change and reform to come from the ranks of bishops. It will take many years for a new breed of men to take over the episcopal reins of the church. This is true.

Change needs to come from the bottom as well as from the top. Recent fresh breezes of hope are providing a graced time for laity in our church and a serious challenge for us all. God may have given us a modern-day Francis to rebuild the church, but it is up to us to put his inspiration to work. We finally have a pope who is adamant about pulling down the pedestals of clericalism. I, for one, will be happy to help!

Special Report: The Francis Interview
Subscribers to our print edition: The October 11 issue includes this special feature with reactions to Pope Francis' interview from Richard Rohr, Hans Küng, Michelle Gonzalez, Richard Gaillardetz and Chris Lowney. Additional copies are available to purchase. Learn more

How do we do this? I don't have a magic answer. I wish I did. All I have is my personal experience and the lessons I learned from it.

Many years ago, my parish lived through the dark ages of an authoritarian priest. He happened to be the sidekick to an even more authoritarian bishop. It was a sadly dysfunctional time in the diocese as a whole. Heads were rolling. Priests and laity were being dismissed without explanation. Lines were being drawn in the sand. Folks sucked it up, grumbled and stayed, or they spoke out and quickly found themselves on the other side of the church door. I was in the latter group.

I learned several lessons about church politics from this experience. My priest friends, who were skittishly looking over their own shoulders at the time, were not willing to stand up for me. They offered a shoulder to cry on and affirmed the injustice that had been done, but that was the extent of their help. I was left alone. But when two of their own were unceremoniously removed from the diocese, we lay folks were expected to raise our voices in loud protest and support.

When power and authority are abused, they must not be supported. For my husband and me, this meant withdrawing our time, talent and treasure, and we had given generously in all. Eventually, it meant walking out the door.

This was our response to an abusive form of clericalism in our parish. I wish I could say our action changed things. It didn't. I also learned that each parish has a small flock of obedient sheep that will continue to do the pastor's bidding regardless of the extent of his nastiness. They will commiserate and grumble loudly about the injustices being committed, but never directly to the priest. Their silent acquiescence is interpreted as support. They remain faithful minions to the clerical bully, and the bullying goes on.

Yes, we need to go beyond talking of reform at the vision level. We need to talk practicalities. We need to share our own experiences and share the lessons learned. I learned that clericalism can only survive if supported and enabled by those in the pews. To this day, I'm saddened by how much support and enabling actually takes place. I'm also saddened by how little support is given to those who have suffered at the hands of dysfunctional clericalism.

What lessons have you learned?


Port Washington's Unity Day

Port Washington field hockey team (Oct. 9, 2013)

Photo credit: Stephen Haynes | Port Washington field hockey team (Oct. 9, 2013)

Athletes in orange high socks and the field hockey players with orange hair ribbons, and even orange programs were distributed at Port Washington on Wednesday.

Orange is not the Vikings’ usual team color.

But it was yesterday. Schreiber High School was among the seven institutes in the Port Washington district to participate in “Unity Day,” a nationwide campaign that seeks to raise awareness about bullying.

October is anti-bullying month and its representative color, of course, is orange.

“We all know someone who has been bullied or you’ve experienced it yourself,” senior forward Chelsea Nachamie said. “That's what teenage life is. But it’s something that’s unnecessary and we’d love to get rid of it.”

Nachamie said that even within her own team she has witnessed forms of bullying. "It was a seniority thing," she said, "but it's something we've worked on and, thankfully, there haven't been any issues recently."

Athletic director Stephanie Joannon said the district’s goal was to generate discussion about the issue and offer support to victims of bullying. Port Washington filmed a public service announcement, had faculty members address the topic and, with the help of its athletes, spread the word through the community.

“I think it's a problem throughout the country and no community is immune,” said Joannon, who is also co-chair of the district’s Safety and Substance Abuse Task Force. “Last year we brought in speakers and this year we wanted to do something that the whole district could join in. It brings everything to the forefront so the coaches, teachers, parents and kids can all talk about it.”

The district also distributed 6,000 orange wristbands with “Unite Against Bullying” inscribed and elementary school students made bookmarks with anti-bullying slogans.

“We took a stand against bullying,” sophomore forward Maddie Cohen said. “I think it was very important that we do something like this because it showed that we, as a team, are united for a good cause.”


Wear Orange for Bullying Prevention Wednesday

Did you show your support on National Unity Day? Tell us in the Schools Forum blog.

Did you show your support on National Unity Day? Tell us in the Schools Forum blog. (File photo)
Did you show your support on National Unity Day? Tell us in the Schools Forum blog. (File photo)

Students, teachers, and parents across the country showed support for bullying prevention with their wardrobes Wednesday.

In honor of Unity Day, local schools and residents joined together to show their support by wearing orange.

Did you or a student you know wear orange Wednesday for National Unity Day? Post a picture of you clad in orange or a quick message of support those affected by bullying in Patch's School Forum open blog.

Sharing is easy.

Visit our Massapequa School Forum blog and click on the open text box under the heading to create a post.

Or, from the homepage, follow these steps:

  • Sign in to your Patch. (Click “Join” if you don’t have an account yet.)
  • Click the "Blogs" tab, near the top of the homepage and then locate the Massapequa School Forum blog in the left-hand column. Click on it.
  • Click in the box that says, “Write a new post” and then click on “Article” at the top.
  • Give your post a headline, enter the body of the story and upload your photos.
  • Click “Post now.”


Bullying Sucks: How NOT to be a mean a*&hole

Goddamn I fucking love guest blogs, especially when they are written by people who are as passionate about a subject as the guest blogger I am lucky to introduce today. Sure, some bullies are also victims of bullying and learn that shit from bully parents or siblings, but reasons aren't excuses. Bullying is a huge fucking problem, and because of technology, it's getting easier for these cowards to spew their venom. It's got to stop.


Today, I'm recording a podcast for Dadsaster, who the hell knows when it will go live, but we are talking about bullying. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please enjoy the musings of one of the wisest women I know, Carrie Goldman author of the blog here on Chicagonow called Portrait of an Adoption.

Seriously, fucking knock it off!

Seriously, fucking knock it off!

Bullying Sucks: How NOT To Be A Mean A-Hole

In June, I was called in to work at a summer camp where seven year-olds were calling each other names like “Dumb Ho” and “Stupid Fag.” Seven years old. When I asked the kids what they thought would make them stop using those terms, one kid said very honestly, “tell those other kids not to act like dumb hos and stupid fags.”

And therein lies the problem.

Every time I speak with someone who is being bullied, I ask, “Why do you think you are being bullied?” Nine times out of ten, people give answers that trouble me.

“I’m being bullied because I’m overweight.” STOP. You are being bullied because the other people are choosing to act like mean judgmental assholes, and they are using your weight to justify mistreating you.

“My son is being bullied because he isn’t a good athlete and the other kids are calling him a fag.” NOPE. Your son is being bullied because the other kids are choosing to act like mean homophobic assholes, and they are using your son’s lack of athleticism to justify treating him like shit.

Basically, our society has done an amazing job of convincing victims that they must have done something wrong, that they must be flawed, and that is why they are being targeted. Way too much time is spent putting the burden of ending bullying on those who are targeted. Yes, we should teach empowerment to targets. Yes, we should teach social skills to those who have trouble relating to others. But it’s not enough if we don’t teach empathy and respect to the ones doing the bullying.

This is the same mindset that used to accompany criminal investigations of rape. Cops would immediately ask the woman, “Well, what were you wearing?” Nowadays, cops are trained to focus on the actions of the rapist, not the clothes of the target. We are making some progress in changing the rape culture of victim blaming.

It’s time to do the same for bullying. Let’s teach people that no matter how others may differ from them, it is not okay to act like mean assholes.

Here are a few tips:

• If you don’t want your daughter to exclude other girls, do not act exclude other moms. Little girls are watching and they notice your cliques. If you see a mom standing alone at a school event, be welcoming. As many of us say, the PTA should not be “Parents To Avoid.”

• If you want your kids to be accepting of their own bodies and everyone else’s bodies, don’t make constant little comments about everyone’s body size (or your own! Be kind to yourself. I know how hard this is for women in today’s society). Fat shaming sucks.

• If you want your kids to be empathetic, don’t dismiss the feelings of others. If another mom tells you that your kid has mistreated her kid, do not blow the situation off and dismiss it. Sometimes our little angels can act like little shits. Truth. Listen and investigate and help your child make reparations.

• When someone is upset with you, try to talk it out in real life. Do NOT text it out if you can help it. Miscommunications are made worse over email, text, or social media. Pick up the phone and call.

• Dads, if you don’t want your son to be homophobic, do not mock him when he shows pain or displays an interest in something other than stereotypical male things. If you laugh at him for being a pussy because he would rather take dancing lessons than play football, he will internalize your attitude and either feel ashamed of himself or taunt others like him. Not cool.

• If you don’t want to be a cyberbully, don’t make sweeping negative judgments about the type of person someone is based off reading one blog post or one status update. It is impossible to know that someone is a selfish bitch based on one little teeny tiny glimpse into her life. Attack the issues, not the person.

• Mean people suck. Kids who are bullied do worse in school. Adults who are bullied suffer at work. So just choose to be nice. And if you do find that there are a lot of mean people in your life, fuck ‘em. It’s time to choose new friends! May the force be with you as you lead a life of kindness.

This book is for EVERYONE

This book is for EVERYONE

Keep up with the wise and wonderful Carrie Goldman, the award-winning author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. TRUST ME, this book is fantastic. I've read it, and not just because I was interviewed and quoted in it. This book is a must have resource!


Man accused of stalking tells court he was bullied online

Got a story? Call the newsdesk on 01780 750436 or e-mail

Got a story? Call the newsdesk on 01780 750436 or e-mail

A man accused of stalking a council chief executive and a town councillor has told a court he was the victim of online bullying.

Former Oakham town councillor Martin Brookes said the personal attacks on blog sites caused him “a lot of harm” and were intended to “bully and isolate” him.

Brookes, 47, of Willow Crescent, Oakham denies stalking and harassing Oakham town councillor Charles Howarth and Rutland County Council chief executive Helen Briggs.

Day four of the trial, this time sitting at Loughborough Magistrates Court, was told Brookes was baited and insulted on a blog called Rutland Chat Forum.

Doris Cooke, an employee of Melton Borough Council and moderator of the now closed blog, told the court Brookes was called a paedophile, there were homosexual jibes and taunts and “lots of nasty messages”.

Many were from a user called Lardboy who she believed to be Coun Howarth.

Brookes told the court the attacks had affected his life.

He said: “The police had to come and tell my neighbours that I was not a paedophile.”

The trial had previously heard that the anonymous blog Laughing Stocks set up by Coun Howarth had also been used to attack Brookes.

Defence solicitor David Swingler asked Brookes: “Having looked at Laughing Stocks blog what would you consider as its aim?”

Brookes said: “It was used to isolate and bully me.”

The court also heard that a forum known as Planet Neptune was set up to force Brookes to take down blogs he had posted on his own site, on which he had named people who he believed were attacking him on the Rutland Chat Forum.

Brookes said: “Planet Neptune was set up when I became councillor. They seemed to think it was abusive to name people who were upsetting me and my friends. Planet Neptune was blackmailing me. I did eventually give in and remove the blog.”

Brookes said he started his blog after learning who the members of the Rutland Chat Forum were and published photos of them as they were connected to the council.

He complained to the council but said: “The council said they could do nothing about it. When I realised who some of the people were (on the forum) that’s when my political involvement started.”

He added: “Someone had attacked me since 2008 and when I reported it to the police I had the right to know who that person was. I got no support.

“The blogs caused me a lot of harm. I cannot get a job. When you Google my name it comes up.”

Brookes said his troubles in Oakham began when he posted a picture of members of the town council drinking by the bandstand during a concert.

He said: “A former mayor had publicly said in a newspaper that we should not drink in public. So when I saw them I took a photograph and posted it on Flickr (website) alongside the article with a comment saying ‘Is this not hypocrisy?’

“I believe that’s when my problems started.”

Brookes was on Oakham Town Council twice but stepped down the first time after a few months because he said the attacks became “unbearable”.

He was banned from office the second time after putting an indecent image on the council notice board, which he said had been sent to him and he “considered to be bullying”.

He told the court: “In hindsight I should not have done it.”

At earlier hearings the court had heard that Brookes was accused of sending dozens of texts to Coun Howarth, taking photographs of him as he left a police station and he was seen outside the councillor’s house.

Asked by his defence to explain the texts, Brookes said they may have been caused by an app known as “Chomps” which breaks up several pages of text messages into a series of individual messages.

He said the texts were to find out if the councillor had been arrested (after Brookes’ complaint) and the phone calls were to ask if he was the author of Laughing Stocks.

Brookes denied making anonymous calls. He also said he was in the street where the councillor lived to photograph an historic tree and a development site and was not outside his house.

He said he took pictures while the councillor was outside the police station because he believed it was “in the public interest”.

The court had also been told at an earlier hearing that he had criticised Mrs Briggs’ on his blog.

Brookes said: “I am exercising my right to free speech.”

Asked about allegations that the council had “manipulated” the police, Brookes said it was because an officer had told him he should “move” from Oakham and had file copies of every e-mail he had ever sent to the chief executive.

Brookes said he copied e-mails sent to Mrs Briggs to Rutland MP Alan Duncan, the leader of Rutland County Council and the council’s head of legal services because he did not want his problem to be ignored.

The trial continues on Monday at Leicester Magistrates Court when Brookes is due to be cross examined by the prosecution.


Cyber-bullying and your children

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Posted: Saturday, October 12, 2013 1:30 am

Bullies are nothing new, but Internet accessibility has given rise to a new type of bully. It has created cyber-bullies, who bully others via electronic devices. Cyber-bullies use e-mail, instant messages, blogs, chat rooms, and social networking sites as well as cell phone text messages, and photos to harass their victims.

Cyber-bullies utilize the Internet for the following:

• Send insulting messages

• Spread rumors

• Post embarrassing photos

• Pose as someone else and send messages supposedly from the victim

• Share someone’s secrets online

• Threaten the victim and make him or her live in fear

• Exclude their victim from an online group

Who is affected by cyber-bullying?

Middle –school and high-school aged youngsters are the most likely to be affected. Your child may be a victim and not tell you. Or, your child may be a cyber-bully.

Why do kids cyber-bully?

Children become cyber-bullies for the same reasons they bully in person. It makes them feel important. But unlike bullies, cyber-bullies can hide behind anonymity on the computer and be just as mean or meaner to others.

What are the dangers of cyber-bullying?

Victims of cyber-bullying can get so upset and/or depressed that they attempt suicide or hurt others. While bullies my threaten children at school, cyber-bullies “invade” your home so that there’s no escape from them. Hurtful messages or pictures can be e-mailed, posted online or forwarded via cell phones, making the bullying widespread and long lasting.

What are some warning signs a child is being cyber-bullied?

Warning signs may include; unexplained anxiety, anger, sadness, or fear, especially after using the computer of cell phone. Falling grades, lack of interest in friends, school or other activities, trouble sleeping, more or less interest in the computer or cell phone.

What can parents and guardians do about cyber-bullies?

• Talk to your children. Tell them to let you know if anyone is being a cyber-bully. If someone is, have your child save all communications from that person, including e-mails, Internet Messages (IMs), and text messages.

• Report incidents to the Internet or Cell Phone provider, your child’s school and/or police if you fear your child is in danger.

• Find out how to block the cyber-bullies e-mail address or phone number, or change your child’s online information.

• Note that filtering software cannot prevent cyber-bullying.

What can your children do?

• If one of your children receives a hurtful message, he or she needs to tell you about it, but not send a message back. Responding negatively to the cyber-bully, or forwarding the hurtful message on to others, makes your child a cyber-bully as well.

• Avoid web sites where cyber-bullying occurs.

• To keep others from being hurt, your children should report any instances of someone they know being cyber-bullied.


Worksafe B.C. to target workplace bullying with new policies beginning November


Worksafe B.C. to target workplace bullying with new policies beginning November

HELL'S KITCHEN: Chef Gordon Ramsay and contestant Anthony on HELL'S KITCHEN airing. WorkSafe B.C. is planning a new inititiative to curb workplace bullying beginning Novembers. One B.C. restaurant worker says the sort of shouting and swearing shown in Gordon Ramsey's hit TV series is common in the B.C. kitchens she has worked in.

In one of Vancouver’s swankiest restaurants, the refined decor and exquisite food belie a hostile, toxic work environment behind the scenes, said one longtime employee.

Employees are constantly intimidated, harassed and even threatened, said one woman, who asked to be referred to as “Sarah” and has worked at the restaurant for years.

“I don’t know if people just watch too much Chef Ramsay. But the swearing and the constant screaming and the threats ... I feel I get bullied on a daily basis,” Sarah told The Province. She said she has been threatened with physical violence by co-workers.

The constant bullying is isn’t just unpleasant and sometimes scary, she said, but it makes it harder for workers to do their jobs, and it trickles down to affect the customers’ experience.

After almost a century of promoting the physical safety of B.C.’s workers, WorkSafe B.C. is stepping up efforts to promote mental health on the job, with new policies targeting workplace bullying taking effect next month.

The new policies under the Workers’ Compensation Act take effect Nov. 1, and set out the duties of employers, supervisors and workers to identify, investigate and prevent workplace bullying.

Dr. Jennifer Newman is a workplace psychologist who helps bullying victims, employers, and accused bullies themselves to develop healthier organizations. She said it makes sense for WorkSafe to look out for the mental well-being of employees as well as physical health, because a psychologically healthy workplace is in the best interest of everyone: workers, managers, and the company as a whole.

“If you’re thinking only about your survival from when you’re walking in the door, instead of what you’re supposed to be doing at the job, and someone else is thinking about how they can get under your skin — it’s productivity loss, it’s absenteeism, turnover, all of those,” Newman said.

“A physical injury is pretty clear — something falls on you, you get hurt. But psychological injuries are harder to see,” Newman said. “And psychological injury’s sometimes even more harmful. The scars sometimes last longer than physical injury. ”

By Nov. 1, B.C. employers will be required to establish a policy that outlines the duties of workers, supervisors and employers to prevent or minimize workplace bullying. Many workplaces around the province have already established such policies, but the difference is that starting next month, it will be mandatory for the 215,000 employers and 2.2 million workers currently served by WorkSafe B.C.

Roberta Ellis, WorkSafe B.C. senior vice-president of corporate services, said “Our policies are legally binding, it’s not just a guideline. You have to do it.”

“From an occupational health and safety point of view, our focus is always on preventing it: what can we do to prevent it from happening?” said Ellis.

The first thing the new Occupational Health and Safety policies attempt to do, Ellis said, is provide clear definitions, to differentiate between bullying and regular managing.

“Not every unpleasant conversation you have in the workplace is bullying and harassment,” Ellis said. “It’s not bullying if the person who directs the workplace, the employer or the supervisor, is giving you constructive feedback. If you’re late constantly, or there’s problems with the quality of the work, or there’s complaints, giving that feedback and having the difficult conversation isn’t bullying. It’s managing the workplace.”

For Newman, as a mental health professional, the new policies are part of a positive trend in mental health awareness.

“It’s really part of the paradigm shift toward seeing mental health as something you want to nurture, preserve, strengthen — just like you would your physical health.”

Newman said the importance of mental health in the workplace is only increasing, as more and more jobs in today’s Canadian economy rely more on mental activity and less on physical labour.

“How do we ensure that we are staying mentally healthy? A lot of our work is not physical as much as it used to be, it’s mental. You’ve got to keep your brain well-fed and nurtured and your mind is an important tool.”


Workplace anti-bullying policy starts Nov. 1

The time crunch is on for every store, shop, business or government agency to ensure everyone is nice.

Under the new Work Safe B.C. policies, in effect Nov. 1, B.C. businesses must all have those to ensure bullying, swearing and harassment isn’t tolerated by anyone in the place of work.

“Everybody is obligated. Everybody has to comply,” said Roberta Ellis, senior vice-president with WorkSafe B.C.

And while businesses owners could see a policy as another bureaucratic burden, having one that deals with workplace bullying and harassment can actually help a business thrive by creating a good atmosphere where people want to work.

In consultations WorkSafe has had so far with employer groups, the response has been positive.

Ellis said the reaction has been largely positive from the business community.

“At this stage, we’ve been very pleased with the support.”

“A lot of the employers are quite OK with the rules of the game being clarified.”

Ellis said the intent was to keep the policy as simple as possible. Ordinary workplace interaction doesn’t constitute harassment.

“They’re saying not every unpleasant or challenging situation in the work place constitutes harassment.”

In other words, a manager talking to a worker about showing up late or not meeting deadlines, wouldn’t fall under the policy

“Any reasonable action that you’re taking to manage and direct workers, that’s not harassment.”

What could be considered harassment or bullying though is name calling, insults or verbal aggression, or yelling, a la Chef Gordon Ramsay on Hell’s Kitchen.

“It’s the humiliation and intimidation stuff.”

Maple Ridge municipal hall is currently working on a respectful workplace policy that will encompass the new rules and will be ready by Nov. 1, said Mayor Ernie Daykin.

Staff have been working on that for about the past year, he added.

“We’re on top of it,” added City of Pitt Meadows human resources director Lorna Jones.

The city already joins with the Canadian Union of Public Employees in issuing a joint statement saying that harassment won’t be tolerated at municipal operations.

Now, it’s just ensuring it meets all of the new WorkSafe regulations by ensuring employees are trained on the new procedures. There’s a committee to investigate complaints and forms are available for filing complaints.

“This has been around for a while and we’re just updating with the new WorkSafe requirements.”

Jones said such a policy doesn’t cover elected members of Pitt Meadows council. Councillors are not considered employees of the city.

Legal advice from the District of Maple Ridge said the same thing earlier this year.

Clarence Friesen, with WorkSafe BC, said the new policy will be a “game changer” in workplace rules, given that shouting and screaming are now expressly prohibited.

Ellis said about a quarter of the  2,800 mental health complaints that have been filed with WorkSafe since legislation was changed last year alleged bullying or harassment.

Business owners who want to know where to start, can look at WorkSafe’s website, but creating a policy needn’t be a complicated effort. Templates will create a sample policy that can guide businesses as they write their policies.

The policy can be as short as one page, simply saying that the workplace doesn’t tolerate bullying or harassment and telling people if they see it, to report it. A shop or business must also have a procedure for investigating it.

Just as every business has to have a safety policy, it now must have an anti-bullying policy.

“If an officer is at your worksite, they’re going to want to know that you have a policy.”

“So have the policy and develop the procedures for reporting the incident and dealing with them,” and inform employees, Ellis added.

“Everybody is obliged to comply. If you’re a B.C. provincially regulated workplace you fall under us.”


How To Deal With Bullying In The Workplace

NEW YORK (WLNY) — October is National Bullying Prevention month, and something important to point out — it’s not just children who get bullied. Bullying is pervasive in the lives of many adults.

Jill Brooke, the author of “The Need To Say No,” joined us on The Couch.

As Brooke points out, the current economy drives much of the bullying happening in the workplace. Bullying doesn’t have to be physical or verbal violence – it can be a little more subtle.


“Undermining, unfortunately, has become a blood sport cause people are so fearful of their job and status, she said. “So they will target often good people to do their job, to to do other things.”

“There is an art to saying no and establishing boundaries,” said Brooke. “Learning to say no to the daily avalanche of requests enables you to have more time to devote to study and practice, the raw materials of achievement. It also gives you more time to focus on the causes and people you care about.”


What's behind a rise in workplace bullying?

Many people say the experience of being bullied has caused them to develop health issues such as anxiety and depression. Some have even left their jobs.

On the playground, she's mean. She laughs at our lisp and calls our pigtails ugly. She gets a bunch of her friends to stand in our way when we try to climb the jungle gym.

Flash forward 20 years and, finally, we can wear whatever we want and walk confidently down the street.

That is, until 9 a.m., when we skulk past her corner office and pray she doesn't scream at us for making a mistake on our latest project.

The bully is back.

Across the U.S., workplace bullying is on the rise. The trend has some obvious negative consequences in the form of stressed and unhappy employees. But the ramifications of workplace bullying go beyond tearful staff members hiding out in bathroom stalls.

Hostile workplaces often lead to less productive employees and therefore less successful companies. It might seem too simple, but perhaps the most effective way to increase job performance is to make sure everyone gets along.


The term "workplace bullying" encompasses a pretty wide range of situations, but in general, it refers to repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more people that can include verbal abuse, offensive nonverbal behaviors, or interfering with someone's ability to get work done.

Over the last few decades, the number of people who've admitted to being the target of workplace bullying has increased drastically. In 2011, half of employees in one survey said they were treated rudely at least once a week, an increase of 25% from 1998. (Recent research also suggests that physically unattractive people are more likely to be bullied at the office.)

Many people say the experience of being bullied has caused them to develop health issues such as anxiety and depression. Some have even left their jobs.

While it's becoming increasingly obvious workplace bullying is a problem, it's not entirely clear why bullying is on the rise.

Some researchers say the recent economic downturn has put undue stress on bosses, causing them to lash out at employees.

Many workplace bullies also score high on tests of narcissism and self-orientation. But those who are rude in the workplace aren't necessarily self-absorbed tyrants.

Some of us are so overwhelmed by our work responsibilities that we don't even realize when we're being rude to others, says Dr. Christine Porath, a Georgetown University professor who studies workplace incivility.

In spite of their negative qualities, workplace bullies often get away with abuse, receiving positive evaluations from their supervisors and moving up in the office food chain. As of now, there's no legal way to stop them — federal law doesn't prohibit workplace bullying.

But since 2003, individual states have been lobbying the government to pass the "Healthy Workplace Bill," legislation that would officially label and work to prevent workplace bullying.


Aside from pushing for federal legislation, Porath says it's not easy to convince already-overworked business leaders to pay attention to the issue of workplace bullying. The key, she says, is showing them how incivility takes a toll on productivity by talking in terms of dollars and cents.

There are in fact statistics suggesting incivility at the office hurts a company's bottom line.

As the incidence of workplace bullying increases, rates of employee engagement are plummeting. According to one report, less than a third of American employees say they're engaged at work. And a survey conducted by Neuro Drinks found that only 9% of people say they're happy at the office.

It's hard to say for sure that a hostile office directly causes people to be less enthusiastic about their work (the relationship might go the other way), but research suggests that, in general, an uncomfortable workplace makes people less engaged, less productive, and ultimately less likely to stay at their job.

It also makes them more likely to treat their coworkers poorly: Those who stay at their workplace after being bullied often end up becoming bullies in turn, says Greatist Expert and psychologist Dr. Michael Mantell.

It doesn't end there. Employees who feel undermined at work are more likely to be stressed and to miss work for health reasons.

And getting the death glare from a coworker won't stimulate innovation: Employees are significantly less creative when they feel disrespected. Hostility is even a problem for those who aren't directly affected: One study found that just watching someone get bullied at work is linked to depressive symptoms.

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that those who experience or witness bullying might not have anywhere to seek support.

Compared to older generations, fewer Gen Y-ers (people between the ages of 18 and 34) are making close friends at work. That's a big problem, given that research suggests support from coworkers can buffer the effects of work stress and boost job performance.

Employees who say they have close friends at work are also more likely to be engaged at work and to stick with their current job.


The good news is that recent research on workplace bullying has paved the way for efforts to prevent it.

Mantell helps train managers in workplace harassment prevention, teaching leaders how to investigate the situation when someone reports workplace bullying and discipline the alleged bullies.

Ultimately, when it comes to creating a healthier workplace, it's important to give employees resources before bullying actually occurs — whether that's establishing a social support network or just learning how to label workplace incivility.

When someone does feel bullied at work, it's important to stay calm and turn to a trustworthy coworker or superior. Moreover, the target of bullying should continue to focus on producing her or his best work.

"You can't change the bully," Mantell says, "but you can prevent yourself from being a victim."


Seminar will focus on harassment in the workplace

Preventing harassment and bullying, and in effect, discrimination, in the workplace is an important aspect of any business.

Workplace bullying and harassment is reportedly experienced by more than 20 percent of workers. Reduced productivity and morale are but one detrimental effect of harassment and bullying in the workplace.

This seminar will prepare employers if an employee has a complaint, or you wrongdoing in the workplace is uncovered.

Learn how to properly handle complaints of harassment, discrimination, or bullying when they occur. there will also be a step-by-step overview of Federal and New Jersey State law, and proposed bullying legislation.

This interactive seminar will cover:

The standard for determining whether conduct constitutes harassment;

The legal and practical consequences of bullying;

Related causes of action that can be pled against the employer;
Employer liability, individual liability, and vicarious liability for harassment by third parties;

The importance of affirmative policies and training regarding harassment, discrimination, and bullying;

Establishing an effective complaint or grievance process;

How to take immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains;

The importance of prompt investigation of harassment, discrimination or bullying;

How to conduct an investigation of employee complaints;

Appropriate discipline for those who violate company policies; and

New Jersey’s proposed Healthy Workplace Act.

- See more at:


Help for the bystanders and victims of bullying 

Bullies aren’t confined to the school or the workplace anymore. Today, technology has allowed the bully to pursue their victims into what used to be safe havens. For some, there is no escape.

The casualties of bullying, especially cyber bullying, have been reported in the news frequently in recent years, resulting in mass efforts to combat the problem. What might not be known is that the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) identifies bullying as a violation of human rights.

Inverell’s Kirsty Duffy has a background is in behavioural sciences and has been a professional in the welfare sector for a number of years. She is currently completing a Master’s in Social Work.

Kirsty engaged with Mehi/McIntyre Mental Health Service in Inverell on a project to educate the public on the impacts of bullying, the responsibility of the bystander, and the ways people can make a difference.

They have established a display for the month at the Inverell Public Library as a centre of information for those who have been affected by bullying.

They chose bullying  – one of the many subjects that affect human mental health – to promote the theme of ‘Kindness: Little Acts Big Impacts’ for Mental Health Month 2013. 

“We decided to focus on the issue of bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment and violence and to give examples of how people can, when witnessing bullying, make a difference in somebody’s life,” Kirsty said.

She outlined statistics on how internet access had cultivated the culture of bullying.

“Now nine out of 10 people own a mobile phone, and through mobile phone access, have access to the internet. For 14- to 17 year-olds in particular, 91 per cent of that age group spend a minimum of an hour a day on the internet and up to eight hours a day. And that’s just that age group,” Kirsty said.

“Typically in the past, bullying has been something that has been confined to the schoolyard or workplace and people get reprieve from it when they come home.”

Kirsty said with the majority of people logging on when they get home, or to a presumed place of safety, they are still faced with aspects of bullying. This is a concern for the AHRC.

“It’s having a huge impact on people’s right to education, right to freedom, right to be the persons that they want to be; rights in terms of race, religion, sex, gender, gender preferences  – and that’s where the violations are coming in,” she said.

The AHRC has created a complaints line for all adults and young people and established a campaign called BackMeUp with singer Ruby Rose, which targets the bystanders.

“Because all of us have seen it. One in 10 people have been targeted, but the scary part is, at least one in five are witnessing it. And those witnesses and bystanders are the ones that can make the critical difference in our community, to our friends, our families, our work colleagues that are experiencing bullying,” Kirsty said.

“It is hard to confront bullies, but we all have a choice. Are we the bully? Are we the victim? Or do we want to be an active bystander that can actually make a difference to the mental health and well being of those being affected?”

To learn more about bullying, how to find help and how a witness can make a difference, the information display is up for the month of October at the Inverell Public Library. 

There are many resources listed in the display for help for young people, those in the workplace and victims of elder abuse. Locally, individuals can find support with Mehi/McIntyre Mental Health Service, 1800 011 511. They can lend support or direct individuals to the best service to help both victims and those who feel powerless in the face of bullying.


Workplace bullying study aims to get Tasmanian snapshot

Updated Tue 8 Oct 2013, 10:29am AEDT

A research project in Tasmania is trying to better understand workplace bullying and harassment.

Last year 68 people were injured at work as a result of bullying or harassment.

It is fewer than the 129 reported incidents in 2011, but a higher number than in 2007.

Kevin Harkins from WorkSafe Tasmania says a state-wide survey aims to better understand the problem.

"We have been conducting a pretty in-depth survey with the community," he said.

"Hopefully we'll get enough information from that survey to give us a strong indication about how we move forward with trying to if not resolve the problem then put some strategies in place to help people handle it.

"An early intervention service is one of the things that's been suggested to make sure that if there is issues in the work place that we act on it quickly."

Mr Harkins says the impact of bullying can be wide ranging.

"It can go to causing significant amounts of stress, mental illness, depression, anxiety and unfortunately in worst case scenarios there's been suicide."

"They're the sorts of things we need to put strategies in place to make sure we protect workers."


WorkSafeBC releases tool kit to help employers meet Nov. 1 anti-bullying requirements Featured

Written by  safety-reporter.com03 October 2013
WorkSafeBC has released a tool kit to help employers meet three new occupational health and safety policies coming into effect on Nov. 1.
The new policies were approved in March and have been developed to clarify the obligations of employers, supervisors, and workers in preventing workplace bullying and harassment.

Some of the requirements include developing workplace safety policy statements and creating procedures for responding to bullying complaints. Employees are also expected to be trained to recognize, respond to and deal with bullying and harassment incidents in the workplace.

The tool kit includes animated clips that can be used for training, a handbook on preventing and addressing workplace bullying and harassment, posters for the workplace and a small business guide.

Harry Reid slugs the far-right bully

By Brent Budowsky 10/03/13 12:07 PM ET

Like virtually every Democrat, like most independents, like a strong majority of Americans, I am fed up with the bullying anarchism of the Tea Party right in the House of Representatives, which could, as I charged in my latest column, drive America into a default that would crash the markets. 

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Majority Leader who acts like a majority leader, is mad as hell and not taking it any more. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Speaker who does not always act like a Speaker, and who is goaded and bullied by the junior senator from Texas and Tea Party anarchists in the House, has so far submitted to the blackmail of the bully and caused a shutdown of the government of America.

Not so for Harry Reid. He is fighting back. I stand with Reid. America should not negotiate with terrorists, and Democrats should not negotiate with Tea Party radicals and anarchists who practice the legislative blackmail to shut the government down and threaten to drive the nation into default. No way. 

There will be a place for negotiations, after the government is reopened and after a clean debt-ceiling increase is enacted and after the bullies are put in their place.

Reid, the former boxer who knows how to take a punch and throw a punch, is fighting back and standing tall and doing the business of the nation and speaking for a majority of our people. The real battle in Washington is Reid versus the far right bully. The leader is leading. The boxer is fighting. The man of the Senate is standing up for the traditions and values and dignity of the Senate and the good of the country and the credibility of the Congress. 

President Obama is right. Get the government working again, pass a clean debt-ceiling bill and then negotiate going forward. In the meantime, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says our national obligations must be honored. The president has authority to unilaterally extend the debt ceiling without the bullying of the Tea Party anarchists or the bizarre and destructive obstruction from the Banana Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The American people stand with us. The president should act on the debt ceiling — unilaterally if needed. The majority leader of the Senate and former boxer from Nevada is mad as hell and not taking it anymore, and on this great matter he speaking for the people of the nation. 

Female-to-female workplace bullying: Homespun theory on an imperfect storm

October 4, 2013By David Yamadain diversity and inclusion,psychology and workworkplace bullyingTags: diversity,Psychology at Work,workplace bullying2 Comments

[Editor's Note: This is a complete reprint of an article from April 20, 2011, along with comments left by readers. I had to remove the original page because of a technical glitch, but because this post continues to be popular on this blog, I wanted to ensure that it remained available to future readers.]

Among the many aspects of workplace bullying worthy of examination, female-to-female aggression seems to push the hardest buttons when raised in everyday discussions, in person or online.

Some of the angriest and most anguished comments come from female targets. Newspaper articles and blog posts (such as here) about female-to-female bullying prove quite popular among readers and trigger impassioned exchanges.

I often have wondered, what is it about female-to-female bullying that arouses such deep feelings? Why have so many women told me that they will “never again work for another woman”? Thanks in part to a research study presented at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) last week, I now have a homespun theory for why this is so.

I apologize for this long post, but the topic is complex and multifaceted, and I won’t even pretend that this is the last word on it.

“She Gossips, He Shouts”

In their study titled above, Lauren Zurbrügg (Texas A&M U.), Kathi Miner-Rubino (Texas A&M U.), and Anthony Paquin (Western Kentucky U.) examined “gender differences in perceptions of workplace incivility,” based on a nationwide sample of working adults. Here are two of their most interesting findings:

·        Men and women may, at least in the aggregate, “utilize[] different types of behaviors when they behave uncivilly.” Men are more likely to engage in direct behaviors, such raising their voices, swearing, and overt harassment. Women are more likely to engage in indirect behaviors, especially “backstabbing.”

·        Women are more likely than men to perceive certain behaviors as uncivil.

In addition, their summary of representative statements from respondents characterizing identical uncivil behaviors by men and women suggests that female perpetrators are judged more harshly than their male counterparts.

There’s agreement

A 2009 piece in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail on female bullies at work (link here) quotes other knowledgeable individuals offering similar conclusions:

But female bullies can be subtle and craftier than their male counterparts, says Marilyn Noble, who researches workplace bullying at the University of New Brunswick.

“Women tend to use relational aggression. It’s verbal, psychological, emotional bullying. People don’t recognize it – it’s covert, it’s harder to pin down and to prove,” she says.

There’s also a lot of reputation smearing, and female bullies often manipulate others into joining them, says Diane Rodgers, co-ordinator for the Bully Within, a B.C. group of professionals who have organized to fight workplace bullying.

An imperfect storm

So why does female-to-female bullying get such attention? And why does this aggressor-target combination appear to exact such a high price from those on the receiving end? Here is how I connect the dots, based on the observations above and my own surmise:


First, if women tend to bully more indirectly, they will be regarded more negatively. In our culture, we regard covert and indirect attacks as more devious than overt and direct attacks. In some ways, they are more frightening to us.

Think in military terms: “Sneak attacks” are always considered more treacherous and “cowardly,” sometimes associated with “unmanliness.” Direct attacks are considered more “honorable,” even when less effective.

Thus, when women bully in ways consistent with statistical indications, their actions will be judged more harshly than those who bully directly.


Second, if women perceive incivility more readily than do men, then they are more likely to recognize and struggle with indirect or covert behaviors that some men may never even notice. It means that women will suffer more due to bullying behaviors.

Double standard

Third, generally speaking, women are judged more harshly than men in the workplace. A male manager may be regarded as “tough,” while a female manager may be called a “b—h” for acting in the same manner.


Fourth, it’s quite possible that, especially in professional workplaces, female subordinates enter an organization half-expecting female supervisors to be more supportive and mentoring, rather than hostile and undermining. When they experience incivility at the hands of these individuals, their sense of betrayal is more palpable.


Finally, if female bullies are more adept at enlisting others to join in on the mistreatment, this may give rise to more mobbing-type behaviors.

Adding it up

These factors coalesce into an imperfect storm, whereby women who have been treated poorly or even abusively at work by other women are more likely to perceive the behaviors in very negative and hurtful ways. It may help to explain, for example, why female-dominated professions such as nursing have cultures of incivility — “nurses eat their young” is a well-known quip — grounded in characterizations of “catty” aggression.

This also means that women have to be more self-aware of their behaviors than do men, on average. It is unfair that women who mistreat others may be judged more severely than men who act in the same way, but that is an enduring reality.


An important reminder

Folks, notwithstanding the above, let’s keep in mind that prevalence studies indicate that men are more likely to bully others at work. For example, the 2010 national public opinion survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute in partnership with Zogby International pollsters (link here) indicated that some 62 percent of aggressors at work were male.  So…behavior by males counts for a considerable majority of bullying situations.


I’m devoting several posts this week to responses and ideas sparked by papers presented at a panel on April 15 as part of SIOP’s annual conference in Chicago. The panel, which centered on research approaches to understanding incivility, was organized by doctoral student Benjamin Walsh and Professor Vicki Magley of the University of Connecticut’s industrial/organizational psychology program.

I was privileged to serve as the discussant on the panel, offering comments on each of the papers. It is exciting to see graduate students and professors examining these aspects of work and workplaces via their research studies and dissertations.


Hat tip to eBossWatch for the Globe and Mail article.



A.     Mary says:

April 20, 2011 at 2:12 am

I’ve had two male bosses and both of them were good at their jobs and mentoring and respectful to their people.  I’ve had a total of 4 female bosses and only 1 of them didn’t bully me and/or others or protect significant bullies in the workplace.

My experience has never been that of yelling and overtly abusive behavior.  It has been subtle undermining of my self-esteem.  It was not possible for them to touch my performance record — but there was a lot of behind the back tearing down — and perhaps even lying.  It was never done so that I could deal with it directly.  And, no doubt, was happening long before I figured it out.

Every single one of these people has continued to outwardly succeed in their jobs to include drawing very high pay for being the reason that companies have lost excellent employees.

I knew one bully (my co-worker) who was the reason that TWO of our managers left the company.  And — they were good, knowledgeable managers.

What IS that??  I will never get it.

(I have worked my whole career, 30 years, in Human Resources).

A.     Rebecca Hernandez says:

April 20, 2011 at 9:47 am

This article is so true.  In my case after 25 years with the department and excellent evaluations, they promoted a female in which I had trained.  Yet, we were co-workers and never established a friendship.  When I went through four depositions prior to my trial, the Attorney General kept questioning me about being jealous about not being promoted.  I had to keep repeating that I did not want to promote and did not take the promotional exam.  After I filed an EEOC complaint against her, management back dated a request for an investigation by Internal Affairs and told EEOC that I only filed because I was under investigation.  In her request for investigation, she accused me of theft, having affairs, taking kick backs from vendors.  No charges could be founded because they did not happen.  After, the Jury came back with their verdict of guilt against the department and her.  She told the Sacramento Bee that people just need to move on.


·        Deana Pollard Sacks says:

January 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I just read your story, and I would like to commend you for taking action. It is very difficult to pursue a legal remedy through appropriate channels when defense counsel often resort to “attack the plaintiff” (and lie about her) tactics instead of finding out what really happened. It takes guts to pursue a lawsuit, and the bullying often gets worse as a result. I am glad you won your trial.

·        Kachina says:

January 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm

It takes more than guts. It takes financial resources, more personal support than a lot of people have, legal grounds and evidence (and we know that most bullying is mostly legal in most North American jurisdictions). Even when all of those factors are present, there is no guarantee of a “win”…and the appeal process to contend with if successful…no wonder so few cases hit the courts.

A.     David Yamada says:

April 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Mary and Rebecca, thanks for sharing your own experiences here. This topic is a dicey one — as a man I’ve hesitated to write about it, wondering if somehow I’m crossing into territory best left for women to discuss. But I’ve heard too many stories like yours that affirm what these studies and experts are saying.

·        elayne Alanis says:

May 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Hi Dr. Yamada,

This female-female bullying is exactly what is happening and continues to happen to my client…a case you are well aware of as you work with her sister. The extent of their daily mean spirited actions continues to amaze me. All i can liken it to is the harassment leveled at poor Pheobe Prince. Don’t get me wrong…the men there are bad but the women are conniving, scheming, heartless co-workers bent on forcing the target out of the organization. It really is an outrage and no-one will step up and help due to pending litigation. So sad!

·        David Yamada says:

May 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Elayne, being familiar with your client’s situation, I can only agree wholeheartedly with your points. It’s a horrible situation and I hope she (and they) get the justice each deserves.  David

A.     Mary says:

April 20, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Actually, I would just make one other point.  I’m not so convinced that the majority of bullying is perpetrated by men.

I would be more inclined to think (without scientific analysis, or course) that women bullies are much more prevalent — it’s just that the mode of delivery is more insidious and not really named adequately by all of the victims.

A.     Cecilia Sepp says:

April 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I find no “a-ha” moments in this posting, or in the research referenced. This behavior in the workplace merely reflects how women are expected to behave in society, and men’s perception of them.

There is a double standard, and women have not yet found their backbone to stand up as humans rather than “women.”

As long as women continue to accept this marginalization, abdicate their responsibility, and continue to act like 6th graders at the office, this will continue to happen.

Why do women act like 6th graders? Because professionally, most women have not matured emotionally. They refuse to understand that acting like a competent professional does not mean you are acting like a man. It means you are acting like a competent professional. Period.

Women are taught to be submissive, quiet, and “seen but not heard.” You wonder why female bullies resort to subterfuge? It’s because they are taught to act that way.

Until men and women create a partnership to treat each other as equals with an equal expectation of performance and behavior as grown ups, men will continue to find women’s behavior “fascinating” simply because they don’t act like men.

I’ve known more “subterfuge bully” men than women in my career, and it comes back to the same issue: emotional immaturity and lack of self-esteem.

I have managed both men and women. When it came down to promotions or employment terminations, it had nothing to do with if they were acting like a man or acting like a woman. It had everything to do with performance. Everyone was held to the same standard.

A.     anonymous says:

April 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I agree with and like “I would be more inclined to think (without scientific analysis, or course) that women bullies are much more prevalent — it’s just that the mode of delivery is more insidious and not really named adequately by all of the victims.” noted above. I’ve had several different jobs in my career of 15 years thus far, and in these years, have been bullied by women far more frequently than men.

A.     Kathy says:

April 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I think it isn’t just a perception thing. Women bullies can hurt you more BECAUSE of the convert nature of their attacks. He screams in your face and everyone around can see that He’s the jerk in the situation. She talks behind your back and turns your co-workers against you – MUCH more damaging in the end.  Of course if she screamed in your face she would be accused of being overly emotional, or of having PMS.

A.      Lisa says:

May 2, 2011 at 9:55 am

@Cecelia: I suspect that one of the problems in getting “women to stand up as humans,” as you put it, is the impact of the double standard itself. Women who work in cultures that have not studiously rooted out the double standard find themselves punished for behaviors that are rewarded when men perform them. Examples: men who negotiate for a raise are assertive, women who do the same are rhymes-with-witches. Men who interrupt at a meeting are brimming with innovation and authority; women are catty and impolite.

One doesn’t have to get the proverbial smack-down too many times before one learns what path one may tread safely and keep one’s job, even if that path is the one that plays into the worst stereotypes.

 A.    NCM says:

February 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I really have a hard time believing that men bully more than women. In all my years working (42), mainly for male bosses, I have NEVER been bullied by a male. I’ve had some that weren’t the greatest managers, but that’s it…  Men it seems, get mad about things, and get to the point. Women on the other hand, totally different story, I’ve had 2 female managers/supervisors and BOTH were bullies to the hilt.  Unfortunately, guys just don’t see it because it’s so nasty and covert. I’ve never been able to figure it out??  I even had one who was training me to be her “backup” and she was still poisoning the well on a daily basis. GO FIGURE?  Made no sense to me..  Plus, what is the worst about female bullying is, they don’t seem to need a GOOD reason to bully, just the fact that you’re a woman seems to bring it out. Both of my bad female managers went OUT of their way to undermine and kill self esteem and I just don’t get it… It’s no understatement to say I WOULD NEVER WORK FOR A WOMAN AGAIN EVER.

A.  Mary says:

February 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I’ve come to the conclusion that a couple of things are at play.  I realize I’m generalizing, but:  (1)  Men are task oriented and women are relationship oriented.  Men come to work to actually work.  (2)  Women who rise to the management level are PERHAPS pretty insecure and have to revert to what worked for them in junior high school. So, task orientation takes a backseat to making someone else look bad so that they’ll look better.

Additionally, If this woman happens to be great looking the men who could affect change are reluctant to do so just because they are so visually oriented.

A.annonymous says:

May 8, 2013 at 6:12 pm

My female boss I’ve noticed been bullied and it’s always by women. The most recent was,  my boss was asked to give a resource for a project, we didn’t have a resource available to work on it. my boss spent a good while explaining to 2 people why we didn’t. These two then tried to undermine my boss and go to her boss to persuade him to force my boss to give a resource. They then invited her to a meeting to discuss the project. She was worried that she’d be manipulated and bullied in the meeting and went over to talk to the female manager of the project team before the meeting to discuss again why we had no resource. My boss came back from this chat looking very stressed and worried. She has been bullied in the past to do what others want and she struggles against strong personalities. She then a short while later had to go to the meeting in which they had a continguency plan and a resource wasn’t needed. I think the way the whole thing was a total disregard for my boss her authority and her condition as she is heavily pregnant. If they had got their way, it would have stripped away at my bosses authority and leave her open to further bullying.


Bloomberg News

Facebook and Maryland’s attorney general are experimenting with a new system for educators to alert the company about student bullying.

Educators say the pilot project will allow Facebook to more speedily respond to content-removal requests involving their students. But some legal observers are looking askance at the implications of the so-called “Educator Escalation Channel.”

It’s basically a special, dedicated channel to flag content. Each school system will pick one teacher or administrator responsible for dealing with Facebook. All complaints about cyber-bullying would be directed to that person who then emails Facebook directly. The idea is to “give educators a more streamlined way to report possible instances of cyberbullying among their students,” said Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, whose office helped develop the initiative.

The attorney general rolled out the program two days after the state enacted a tougher Internet harassment law.

Scott Greenfield, a New York City criminal defense attorney who blogs at Simple Justice, worries that the partnership between the government and Facebook could cast a wider net of censorship. And while Facebook as a private company can censor anything it wants, the First Amendment would come into play if those decisions are made at the behest of government employees.

Depending on how the complaints are handled, it could “institutionalize a process where the teachers appear capable of making a determination on the value of speech outside the realm of school,” Mr. Greenfield told Law Blog.

On his blog, Mr. Greenfield unpacked the point some more:

While Facebook may be a private enterprise, fully entitled to decide what content is acceptable on its platform and similarly entitled to decide that its users will no longer be allowed to write “Suzy is a poo poo head” on the wall, it’s not that simple when the censor is a state actor and the content at issue is deemed offensive not because it violates any law, but because someone is empowered to stifle speech that doesn’t comport with their vision of redeeming societal value, whatever that means.

Facebook tells Law Blog that it’s not changing its content policy one iota. The company will apply the same standards whether complaints come from the “escalation” contact or through regular channels for reporting abuse, a Facebook spokesperson told Law Blog. The pilot program allows schools to fast-track complaints and provide Facebook with more context to help the company evaluate whether the flagged content meets its standards, the company says.

“We are pleased to work with Attorney General Gansler on the Educator Escalation Channel. Issues raised through this channel will be reviewed according to the same, existing community standards,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

“The state is not actors in the actual decision-making process of what stays on and what’s taken down,” Alan Brody, a spokesman for the Maryland attorney general, told Law Blog


Female police fear reprisals

10:00 AM Thursday Oct 3, 2013
By Cassandra Mason

Tauranga Police area commander Clifford Paxton.
Tauranga Police area commander Clifford Paxton.

An internal police survey has revealed significant concerns among the Bay of Plenty district's female police staff around the reporting of workplace bullying and harassment.

The findings also suggest many local female police fear reprisals from colleagues if they report inappropriate workplace behaviour.

The national survey asked 8863 police employees to rate their satisfaction with the organisation's vision and purpose, their engagement with the job, communication, their colleagues, and workplace respect and integrity.

A report on the findings highlights a widening gender gap and warns that bullying, harassment or discrimination could go unreported by female police. More than 40 per cent of Bay of Plenty female police staff do not believe workplace harassment and bullying would be dealt with effectively.

About 60 per cent said they felt they could raise these problems without fear of reprisal.

Waikato and Bay of Plenty Police Association regional director Wayne Aberhart said the figures were concerning.

"Twenty years ago I would have gone with that and gone, 'that's probably right' but things have changed. Even in the last 10 years the police culture has changed remarkably," he said. "I'm surprised at that."

The Bay district scored a 67 per cent "agreement" rate across all questions.

The overall results were largely unchanged from the previous year and slightly higher than the national average.

Overall, the Western Bay of Plenty recorded some of the lowest scores in the district.

Survey results dipped below the national average, most notably for workplace communication, the belief that NZ police were interested in the wellbeing and opinions of staff, and enjoyment of the job.

Bay of Plenty district commander Superintendent Glenn Dunbier said respect and diversity were taken "extremely seriously" and he was confident that strong processes were in place to deal with inappropriate workplace behaviour. Confidentiality of the survey limited staff's ability to demonstrate that they had been dealt with appropriately, Mr Dunbier said.

"It goes without saying that we would like to see our staff having greater belief in the processes, regardless of gender, and we will continue to work hard to nurture that trust."

Western Bay area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said results would always show "some areas higher and some lower".

"We strive continually towards achieving a healthy workplace, where our members enjoy coming to work, the work is meaningful and they feel valued and recognised."

Nationally, the survey showed overall results had slipped compared to 2012. It also revealed a widening gap between men and women in the safe reporting and effective handling of inappropriate workplace conduct.

"Not only have females held a less favourable opinion on these questions year on year, the gender gaps widened in 2012 and the size of these gaps remained virtually unchanged in 2013," the survey analysts wrote.

This year, 19 per cent of female police had experienced or witnessed inappropriate workplace conduct, compared to 14.7 per cent of males.


By Cassandra Mason

What To Do If A Bully Targets You

Posted: 10/02/2013 6:05 am

Yes, you've read this title correctly and yes, you're still in the "Post 50" column in HuffPost. Bullying isn't just for kids. Although we have no estimates on its prevalence in the adult population, we do know that being teased or poked fun at by co-workers, family members, neighbors, or acquaintances is a highly stressful experience.

One of the few studies on adult bullying was carried out by a Danish team investigating workplace stress. University of Copenhagen researcher Annie Hogh and colleagues (2012) sampled over 1,000 workers from 55 workplaces to learn about the impact of workplace bullying on physiological and psychological measures of stress. They defined workplace bullying as negative interpersonal acts on the job which victims cannot cope with or control. The participants in the study rated the extent to which they experienced workplace bullying in the form of social isolation, direct harassment, intimidating behavior, work-related criticism, and physical violence. They rated their psychological stress levels in terms of the extent to which they experienced intrusive thoughts, avoidance behavior, and hyper-arousal. The researchers also measured the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

All forms of workplace bullying were stressful. The kind of bullying that caused the most stress involved outright harassment and intimidating behavior. However, the subtler form of bullying in which co-workers engage in social isolation of the target proved highly stressful as well. If you've ever been ostracized, you know how painful it can be. You assume that the shunning is somehow your fault. It shows that you must truly have some fatal flaw if others are going to purposefully stay away from you. Perhaps the experience triggers old memories from your pre-teen or teen years, when the cool kids in the class refused to include you in their plans and activities. Unfortunately, the more you question yourself, the more you feel you deserve to be left out, and the more your doubts become self-perpetuating. Also unfortunately, social isolation may be stage 1 of what your co-workers have planned for you, and over time their behavior becomes even more abusive. As they become emboldened by the fact that no one is stopping them, their behavior escalates to outright ridicule, humiliation, and aggressive acts.

Even if the bullying never reaches this point, the stress you're feeling can have a host of unhappy outcomes. Your health suffers, you feel depressed, your self-esteem takes a nose dive, and you may be so preoccupied that you can't think clearly while at work. Instead of focusing on the tasks you need to perform, you're wondering whether someone is poking fun at you behind your back. It's possible that you start slipping up, and your mistakes or slower level of output leads your boss to criticize you as well. Should your co-workers see what's happening, their behavior will be reinforced, and the taunting will only intensify.

The second form of workplace bullying involves uncivil or rude treatment by your supervisors. They may not intentionally be trying to shame or harm you, but instead be sending comments your way that have the same net result. In an experimental simulation on college students, Quinnipiac University psychologist Gary Giumetti and colleagues shared either supportive or uncivil, rude, or sarcastic emails from "supervisors" while the students completed a math task. Students who received the critical emails performed more poorly than those who received supportive emails. According to the theory underlying the study, supervisors who berate their employees for their lack of productivity actually contribute to their becoming less productive in the future by sapping them of mental energy.

Most supervisors probably don't intentionally harass their employees; in fact, if they did, they'd be subject to rebuke from their own bosses. However, they may fail to take the time to examine their wording carefully enough to avoid getting a sensitive employee's nose out of joint. After the initial exposure to a harsh email, whatever the intent of the author, the result is a worker whose mental resources become drained. This can be enough to turn an average worker into one who makes mistakes or worse, develops chronic stress-related health problems.

What do you do if someone in the workplace is bullying you? The first step is to recognize the warning signs in terms of your own stress levels. Are you feeling tired, anxious, or just generally distracted? Have you stopped looking forward to going to work or perhaps started to dread actually entering the office, store, or factory floor? Are you eating more or less, drinking more or less alcohol, getting in fights at home, and having difficulty with your sleep? These signs that something is wrong may lead you to be able to pinpoint the cause as being due to the way coworkers or supervisors are treating you.

Step #2 is to conduct a realistic assessment of your situation. It's quite possible that you're right, and someone is intentionally engaging in those negative interpersonal acts. However, try to take a step back. Are those potentially-snubbing fellow workers gathering around the water cooler really talking about you or purposefully leaving you out? Maybe they just want to share some gossip among themselves. Perhaps they don't think you're interested in the topic of conversation whether it's the local sports team, which brand of baby diapers to use, or the latest world news. It's also possible that they're trying to soothe each other's feelings about something completely unrelated to you, not realizing that they're doing it at your expense. That boss sending you emails littered with exclamation points and capital letters ("GET IT DONE NOW!!!") may just have bad "nettiquete," or maybe he or she is being terrorized by the higher-ups and doesn't mean to humiliate or scold you. An email that may seem sarcastic to you ("I wish you'd get that done today") only seems sarcastic when read with the wrong intonation ("I wish you'd get it done [sigh, eye roll] TODAY"). Maybe your boss was in a hurry and forgot to say "Thanks" or "Please."

If you take these two steps and still feel bullied, option #3 is to preserve your physical and mental health by seeking consultation. Depending on the size and nature of your company, there may be someone you can turn to for confidential advice. This person may recommend some sort of intervention for the taunting office-mates or uncivil supervisor that could include a visit from the human resources department talking about the dangers of workplace bullying. If you are being bullied, you may be reluctant to ask for such a seemingly radical solution, but when done correctly, the intervention should seem like a generalized seminar being given to everyone in the company or division of the company.

Should the bullying be coming from office-mates, and you have good relations with your boss, then it's just plain smart to confide in him or her. Otherwise, the stress that's eating away at your health and productivity will seem to have no apparent cause and you really could get in trouble.

However you decide to approach the problem, it's key that you take action to stop the bullying. While you're about it, it's also important to look out for your fellow co-workers who are being targeted by others, whether fellow employees or supervisors. At the very least, by reaching out a hand to an oppressed colleague, you'll help to create a more positive and hence, productive, workplace environment for all.

I would love to hear from you to find out if you're a target, or have been, of workplace bullying. Please take this poll and register your response: 


i-Sight to Offer 3-Part Webinar Series on Workplace Bullying with Timothy Dimoff

>PRWEB.COM Newswire

Ottawa, ON (PRWEB) October 02, 2013

i-Sight Software today announced a series of free training webinars on workplace bullying. The one-hour webinars will be presented by corporate security expert Timothy Dimoff on October 10th, November 21st and December 12th at 2pm EST.

Workplace bullying is becoming a burning issue for many North American companies. While there isn’t a specific law that addresses bullying regionally, some states and provinces have taken steps to create legislation to address it in the wake of a few high-profile bullying cases that have had devastating consequences for the victims and their families.

But without legal recourse, what is an employer to do when faced with a case of workplace bullying that affects productivity and morale, and threatens the security of employees? How can an employer or manager prevent workplace bullying from happening in the first place? In this webinar series, Timothy Dimoff will address these issues and more.

“Bullying in the workplace is a serious issue,” says Dimoff. “It has been linked to workplace violence and other misconduct and it affects as many as 33,000 American workers every week but, unfortunately, many employers aren’t treating it as a major issue. More than 40 percent of bullying cases are never reported because the employee doesn’t feel that anybody is going to take them seriously,” he says.

“For many organizations, investigating workplace bullying is a growing concern,” says Joe Gerard, Vice President, Marketing and Sales at i-Sight. “Whether it involves peers or superiors, all complaints of physical or mental bullying should be taken seriously, but many employers don’t know what to do when faced with complaints that fall in this grey area. We are happy to have Timothy Dimoff back as a webinar presenter to provide guidance on this important issue. Timothy has deep experience in workplace security and conflict resolution, and will be able to offer solid strategies for employers and managers who need to deal with these issues in the course of their work.”

The three one-hour webinars will cover the following topics: 

  •     Workplace Bullying: What, Why and Who? Bullying behavior in the workplace, by employees and by supervisors, what constitutes bullying behavior and how it differs from harassment and tough management styles.
  •     Investigating Workplace Bullying. A discussion of the steps involved in investigating claims of workplace bullying and cyber-bullying. What is considered bullying and how can an investigator or HR practitioner determine whether a behavior is bullying or just plain rudeness?
  •     Preventing Workplace Bullying. How can companies prevent bullying in the workplace? Types of policies and training that can be implemented, and how to instill a no-bullying culture in the workplace.

For more information and to register, go to

About Timothy Dimoff 
Timothy Dimoff, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority on high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Denison University. 
About i-Sight 
Based in Ottawa, Canada, i-Sight is a leading provider of web-based investigative case management software. The privately held firm works with investigative teams to improve corporate investigations of fraud, employee misconduct, ethics & compliance, security and legal incidents. For information and breaking news related to corporate investigations, visit the company blog at


Taming Disruptive Behavior on Your Staff

The harsh reality is that workplace bullying is more common than many think. This should not be too surprising. Remember when you were in elementary, middle or high school and the bullies terrified students and even teachers? If you were not a target, you knew somebody who was. Bullying does not disappear with age. Bullies, in fact, can be very intelligent, get good grades, and then get hired by companies based on their knowledge and skills.

They are often quite skilled in hiding any signs of bullying during the interview process and for as long as three months when they pass probation and then become a permanent member of the workplace. This is often the time in which the bully comes out of the closet seeking a victim, or pairs up with another bully at work and they both team up to seek victims.

Some facts about workplace bullying are as follows:

  • According to a 2010 Workplace Bullying Institute Survey, slightly more than one out of three (35 percent) of U.S. workers have been bullied at work.
  • Victims of workplace bullying suffer from psychological and physical symptoms resulting from bullying such as sleep disturbances and stress.
  • Victims of workplace bullying are more likely to skip work, decrease their performance and seek employment at a psychologically and physically safer place.
  • Victims of workplace bullying will file lawsuits against their employers and managers for discrimination under Title VII and violations of the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA).

Can you afford, as a manager, to expose yourself or your company to increases in health care utilization at a time with double-digit health care premium increases? Can you fully achieve the strategies and goals of your company knowing that your employees are not fully focusing on their jobs but bullying? Can you allow your company to be exposed to preventable lawsuits and other legal actions? Can you permit, condone, allow, ignore, or minimize behavior that is harmful and hurtful toward any employee under your management and leadership? Clearly, the answer is no.

Thus, as a manager and steward of organizational assets, including your employees, you must do something. But what? As a manager, there are five concrete actions that you must take to prevent workplace bullying when it occurs.


The Shutdown Is Workplace Bullying Gone Wild

Posted: 09/30/2013 5:34 pm

Congress evolved into our national nutcase." So says Gail Collins, in her excellent New York Times piece "Congress Cracks Up."

I'm not sure how many ways I can say I agree with Mrs. Collins, but suffice to say, I agree. Some of the members of the 113th Congress are acting probably more irrationally than any we've seen in decades. But, from what I see and what I've learned over the years, I'd say they aren't acting just like "nutcases," they're acting like what they are... workplace bullies.

In October of 2012, I wrote a piece on The Huffington Post, called "Who Did You Bully Today?" In it, I listed types of adult bullying that are not only getting in the way of efforts to keep kids from brutalizing each other, but are actively giving these kids full on bully lessons. Among the groups I listed was the United States Congress.

This is some of what I said then about our elected officials:

There are some great politicians out there, dedicated and devoted to the public good, and many are active supporters of violence prevention. But, as a group, "hired" by us to work together in essentially a two-party system, they would earn a great big "dysfunctional" label and earn it easily...

I'm hoping they'll gaze into their collective mirror and look at what's not working in their own halls. I think many of them would like to see more civility in the process of legislating.

I still await this civility, and have a feeling I will be "awaiting this civility" for a long time. We currently face a government shutdown and the tactics being used by the "shutdown" gang are textbook bully tactics.

Here's what I've learned about the types of workplace bullies from years of working with our Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention partners, Workplace Bullying Institute founders Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie, and from studying the work of the late workplace bullying activist Tim Field.

The first four types come from the Drs. Namie, and the last four come from Tim Field

See if the behavior of our people on the Hill doesn't sound like the types of schoolhouse nemesis we've all faced.

1) The Screaming Mimi -- These are the specialists in "the outbursts." Some of the rants are well timed, and some are just uncontrolled. Either way, it's not the most effective tactic, although they rarely know that. They're the classic "slam them into the locker" types.They tend to lose their temper at each other and sometimes the host in double screened news show interviews. It's fun to watch for a few minutes, until you change the channel because really nothing of value is being heard or said.

2)The Constant Critic -- Haven't we all experienced the "know it all"? They rarely know it all, but they'll let you know they do, both on the floor and on the networks. Like Downton Abbey's dowager countess, "I am never wrong," and the elementary school tattle tale, it's always someone else's fault. Always.

3)The Two-Headed Snake -- I like to think of these folks as the "divide and conquer" champions of the playground. The "enemy of my enemy is my friend" tactic is at work here. Backstabbing is their game and they do it well.

4)The Gatekeeper -- This one is my personal favorite when it comes to Congress. If you can't do something yourself, then keep someone else from doing anything at all. Obstruction, obstruction, and more obstruction. Nothing gets done, and they like it that way.

5. The Attention Seeker -- The "grandstanders"! The speech makers that everyone starts to tune out are in it for themselves. They love the attention, they love the press, they love to be noticed. They're the class clown with a mean streak, and the show off that no one likes. They don't play well with others, because it's all about them. 

6. The Wannabe -- These are the Hill dwellers who just aren't very competent. Knowing this, they'll make sure others look as clueless as they are. It keeps the focus off their deficiencies. If little Johnny isn't the best student in class, he'll make sure little Susie and little Bobby look worse than he does.

7. The Guru -- In their minds, they are above all criticism and above reproach. They may be experts, but in their minds, they're the only experts. Possible "teacher's pet." This is the kid with their hand raised-all the time.

8. The Sociopath -- This is the most dangerous type of bully, with no empathy, no loyalty, no bonds. Like many sociopaths, they are master manipulators, and can be charming in getting to their goal, which is always to look out for themselves. Period.

And we want our children to stop bullying each other? Ms. Collins asks in her excellent piece, ""So, what do you think is wrong with these people?" I would simply answer, see above.


Let’s talk billions: the hidden costs of bullying

Christine ThomlinsonAuthor page »

Over the years I’ve encountered many organizations where bullying is a pervasive part of the culture. In some cases, I’ve represented victims of this behaviour. In others, I’ve conducted investigations into allegations of bullying. Sometimes this has even come up in training sessions where I’ve been asked to come and speak to employees about respect in the workplace. The work that I do is usually designed to try and avoid the legal costs associated with workplace bullying – avoiding damage awards for victims or legal costs associated with litigating cases involving bullies. However, there is a hidden cost to bullying that often gets overlooked.

There is certainly more public attention on bullying than ever before. The tragic Canadian cases involving Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd have shone a spotlight on bulling and its potential harmful effects, so why does this behaviour persist and why are we not insulated from it in our workplaces?

I have had the opportunity to speak to many individuals who have been accused of (and in many cases been found to have engaged in) bullying behaviour and it’s interesting to hear why they behave the way they do.  Here are some of the things that they say:


  • “When I push them hard, it gets results!”
  • “They just don’t understand the kind of stress that I’m under.  I don’t have time to worry about how they feel.”
  • “If they can’t handle the pressure, they shouldn’t be in the kitchen.”

To me, these comments provide much insight into the types of organizations that are tolerating this behaviour and, in some cases, actively encouraging it by rewarding and promoting bullies up through the ranks.  What these organizations fail to see are the hidden costs of this form of management style.

First of all, little attention is often paid to the costs associated with disability leaves and absenteeism. Victims of bullying behaviour will often take time off, sometimes for an extended period, in order to cope with the behaviour, and they will often do this for years, as opposed to ever complaining about the behaviour. All of this is easily quantifiable and goes straight to the organization’s bottom line – in some cases substantially.

Second, contrary to the opinions of some managers, bullying is not an effective way to maximize an employee’s performance. There may be some evidence which suggests that an employee is motivated by the bullying behaviour – for example, they may truly work faster when they’re afraid they will be yelled at or threatened with losing their job. However, the evidence supports the fact that a non-bullying form of management would actually be far more effective in maximizing this same employee’s performance. In addition, many employees actually do not show improved performance in response to a course of bullying – some perform far worse in these conditions and others go off on leave, as noted above.

Third, organizations that become known for their bullying culture can hurt themselves in terms of their recruitment prospects and also in terms of public opinion and confidence.  If you think for a moment, my guess is that you will be able to think of at least one Canadian employer that has become well known in the press as of late for the many complaints of bullying and harassment against it which have been reported. If you think about the impression you now have about that particular organization, ask yourself if this is the impression you would want the world to have about your organization.

According to the Workplace Bullying Project Team at Griffith University in Australia, the financial cost of bullying to businesses is between $6 and $13 billion per year and can include decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, staff turnover and poor morale. Consider the current economy, where we’re all being stretched to do more with a decreasing amount of resources, and where an aging workforce is threatening a looming labour shortage.  It may seem like we lawyers talk about the evils of bullying because of the threat of litigation and/or because we are interested in promoting a utopian workplace. In fact, the reality is that organizations can simply no longer afford to ignore the high cost of bullying.


Godfrey Bloom and the thin line between fun and harassment at work

 in Opinion by Kate Russell. Permalink.

HR pro Kate Russell says the MEP's latest gaffe highlights the need to be careful what you say in the workplace.

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom managed to put his foot in it several times over the last few months. From the man who brought us the bongo-bongo land comment, we now have a remark (a joke we are told) that the "women in politics" conference fringe meeting was "full of sluts" who did not clean behind their fridges.

We all have to be a bit more careful about what we say in the workplace these days and people in the public eye even more so. The episode has caused considerable embarrassment, though UKIP leader Nigel Farrage tried to explain it away, saying “Nearly everything he has said has been meant as a joke."

Everyone likes a joke at work. We’re not robots and it’s enjoyable to have a chat, a laugh a bit of a banter with colleagues. It breaks up the day and relieves tension when the going is tough. But where’s the line? What’s OK and what’s not OK?

Why does it all go wrong? Banter often starts off harmlessly. There are jokes, cartoons, nicknames, funny text messages and shared moans about the boss. But over time jokes can get sharper, more loaded, more risque. And of course people change their views about what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s such a slippery area that managing workplace banter is no joke for employers. Unfortunately we really have no choice in the matter.

The cost of workplace harassment can be high. It can breach the law (harassment sits within the anti-discrimination legislation) and therefore may lead to costly employment tribunal claims; it can attract bad publicity; it damages morale; it can be a huge waste of time and it can cause people to leave.

The starting point is to introduce a dignity at work policy. This will set out the standards required. It should give examples of what is and isn’t acceptable.

Commonly if you talk about workplace banter, bullying and harassment, you employees will roll their eyes and huff as if you’re being a real spoil sport. Sometimes they say things like “Sexual harassment? How do we get some of that then!” While a good deal of harassment is pretty minor stuff and can be corrected quickly with a swift statement of the facts and an instruction not to repeat it, some can be more serious and it can be very upsetting for those on the receiving end. It’s helpful to do some training so that employees understand why some jokes and throw away comments just aren't OK in the workplace.

Over the last few years I have been asked to come in to do this type of training to ensure that employees get a wake-up call. It’s always interesting to watch the penny dropping and they come to the realisation that we managers are not trying to spoil their fun. We’re trying to save their skins. If they say or so do something daft and inappropriate, not only will we be vicariously liable, they may have their necks on the line as well.

In addition to communicating the standards, employers have to monitor and enforce them. It’s no good having a policy and a training session if you then ignore them. Managers have to walk the walk and talk the talk, so set a good example. If you ever catch yourself saying “I probably shouldn't say this, but …..” DON’T!

The remarks of the type made by Mr Bloom are frankly extremely unwise. If he had thought about it for a nanosecond he would have realised that the press would have a field day, his party would suffer and he would be discredited as a politician (again). He may not have meant any harm, but it’s certainly caused it. It was all so avoidable.

Take my advice and make sure your day has a happy ending.


Screen Queensland CEO Bryan Lowe on leave since investigation was launched into claims of workplace bullying

THE boss of Queensland’s taxpayer-funded movie industry body has been on leave since an investigation was launched into claims of workplace bullying.

An outside agency has been called in to probe the allegations against Screen Queensland CEO Bryan Lowe.

Staff and others have been told he is sick, and rumours are growing within production circles that he will not return to the role. The limbo is creating further uncertainty in a sector already struggling to attract big-budget productions.

Mr Lowe has refused to comment and a Screen Queensland spokesperson said only that it was “an ongoing matter”.

It is the latest controversy to grip the agency.

At least seven senior staff have left in the year since Mr Lowe took the top job at the organisation responsible for boosting movie and TV production in the state. The Courier-Mail understands that the investigation involves allegations by three of the former staff about Mr Lowe’s style of management, with claims of harassment, poor communication, failing to engage with colleagues and bad language.

It is understood most, if not all, of the complaints were considered and dismissed by the Screen Queensland board.

In August the matters were referred to the State Government’s Corporate Administration Agency. The CAA called in an external company, Workplace Investigations, which is headed by Christina Turner, a workplace bullying specialist and former human resources chief with the now-defunct ABC Learning Centres group.

Mr Lowe went on leave and, more than a month later, has not returned.

Industry sources told The Courier-Mail the repeated cycle of investigations and internal turmoil had put Mr Lowe and other staff under considerable emotional pressure.

The investigation is thought to be close to completion.

A statement from Screen Queensland, issued via the office of Arts Minister Ian Walker, said: “This is an ongoing matter that Screen Queensland continues to take the appropriate steps to address.”

Acting chairman Michael Hawkins is performing the role of executive chairman and recently appointed Arts Queensland deputy director-general Kirsten Herring is attending board meetings as “an observer”.

Richard Stewart — a 30-year film and TV veteran and the first executive director of the Queensland Film Commission, as it was known before being renamed Screen Queensland — said the situation was very unsettling for the industry.

He said the big staff turnover had created uncertainty, which had culminated in Mr Lowe’s absence.


Rockwood promotes EPLI program as protection for workplace bullying


Annie: Teacher may want to look for new job

Published: September 28, 2013

DEAR ANNIE: I work for an institution of higher learning. Since getting hired five years ago, I have taken advantage of my surroundings to earn a degree that is directly related to my job.

After three years, my boss told me my degree is pretty much useless. And I didn't get the promotion I had worked really hard for. It went instead to a guy with no degree who has been here less than a year.

This incident, along with several others targeted at me, makes me feel like a victim of workplace bullying.

The sad part is that no one sees my boss as the problem. My co-workers alienate me, as well, fearing they will be targeted next. I was once an energetic and cheerful person with hopes and dreams. But I have changed because I have been too "job-scared" to reach out beyond human resources for help. I'm not sure whether I can get fired for doing so. -- Sick and Tired

DEAR SICK: Complaining to human resources is not going to get you fired, but we can't guarantee that your boss won't find other, less-obvious reasons to get rid of you. If you can document instances of bullying or make a case for your boss singling you out, human resources should help you. Unfortunately, unless your boss is removed from his position as your supervisor, or you are transferred to another department, your situation may not improve. You now have a degree in your field. This may be a good time to look for another job where you can apply what you have learned.

DEAR ANNIE: Yesterday, I attended a funeral mass, and I observed the deceased's 72-year-old niece checking her email on her iPhone.

She was sitting between her older sister and me.

This woman still works full time and has a great deal of job pressure. I know from firsthand experience (more than 52 years) that she is extremely sensitive to criticism of any sort, especially from me.

I didn't do anything at the time, but felt her actions were totally out of place. Should I have said something? -- Silent Observer

DEAR SILENT: No. The important thing was to maintain as much respect as possible. While it was rude of her to be using her phone during the mass, you were right to do nothing. Based on her level of sensitivity, speaking up might have created a scene that would have been more disruptive than her phone.

Read more here:


Back to school often means back to bullying

Labor Day has passed. The kids are back in school. And, it’s that time of year when signs of bullying emerge among school-age children.

On any given day, more than 160,000 children stay home from school for fear of being bullied. Because of the seriousness of this issue, Beaumont Children’s Hospital developed the No Bullying Live Empowered, or NoBLE program. NoBLE provides integrated education, guidance and support for children and families affected by bullying.

"This is a particularly difficult time of year as many children are anxious just returning to school after summer vacation,” says Marlene Seltzer, M.D., director of Beaumont’s NoBLE anti-bullying program. “Now, with social situations like trying to make new friends, pressures of navigating a new school or being around kids who were mean-spirited the prior year, the physical and emotional stresses can multiply.”

Dr. Seltzer adds, "Every indication of bullying should be taken seriously and explored. It’s very important not to dismiss the physical or emotional signs of bullying."

Some of the emotional signs of bullying can include:

  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Fearfulness
  • Loneliness

 Some of the physical signs of bullying can include:

  • Excessive headaches
  • Unexplained abdominal pain
  • Bed wetting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and muscle pain
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Frequent colds/coughs/sore throats


Top 10 in Law Blogs: Advertising Week, Revenge Porn, Workplace Bullying

I’ve talked in these intros before about how great I think Ronald Urbach’s interviews are—and that opinion remains unchanged as he has a good one. Check out his post as he interviews the Chairman of Advertising Week and looks back at the event’s first decade in existence. Total posts on the LexBlog Network today: 177.

For more of the best, check out LXBN, a complete review of the top insight and commentary across the LexBlog Network.


Taking the bull by the horns: is workplace bullying the next major battleground in employment law?

Uma ChandrasekaranAuthor page »

Employees are increasingly bringing the playground into the boardroom.  The Society for Human Resources Management’s 2011 survey found that 51% of employers had incidents of bullying in the workplace.  A growing number of states have taken notice of this concerning trend.   Since 2003, 25 states have considered Healthy Workplace Bills that would let employees sue for workplace harassment withoutdemonstrating that the harassment is based on a protected class such as sex, race or national origin.

In April 2013, Pennsylvania became the latest state to propose legislation prohibiting this conduct.  Pennsylvania joins Massachusetts, which introduced legislation in January 2013, along with nine other states with active legislation.  The pending bills are all variations of the Healthy Workplace Bill advocated byHealthy Workplace Campaign, an organization started in 2001 with the sole focus of introducing workplace anti-bully legislation. 

The Pennsylvania and Massachusetts bills, for example, define an abusive workplace environment as one where “an employer or one or more of its employees, acting with intent to cause pain or distress to an employee, subjects that employee to abusive conduct that causes physical harm [and/or] psychological harm.”  The bills state that physical and psychological harm must be established by “competent evidence” but do not define what that means.

Following the contours of Title VII harassment cases, the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts bills provide that organizations can escape liability by showing they exercised “reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any actionable behavior and the complainant employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of appropriate preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.”  Both the bills distinguish between victims who have and have not been subjected to an adverse employment action.    

If an employer or employee is found to have created an abusive work environment, the bills would permit a court to order any relief that was “deemed appropriate, including, but not limited to: reinstatement of the bullied employee, removal of the offending party from the complainant’s work environment, back pay, front pay, medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.”

To date, no laws have been passed and it’s too soon to tell how courts might apply the laws if they ever get past the legislative floor.  Opponents of the bills criticize that they appear to be nothing more than a legislatively imposed civility code.  There is also concern that the bills provide  little guidance as to what constitutes inappropriate behavior and may expose companies to frivolous lawsuits from disgruntled employees.  But the trend suggests that it may only be a matter of time before employers will need to be ready to navigate the murky waters of workplace anti-bullying laws.

So, what should employers do?  In order to stay ahead of the curve, employers should always be striving to foster a culture of respect.  Such actions could include: 

  • Institute Anti-Bullying Policies.  Although employers should already have harassment and non-retaliation policies in place, those policies are typically tied to protected characteristics and conduct in the context of anti-discrimination statutes.  Anti-bully policies could consider a broader range of conduct.  The policies should define bullying and provide examples of such unacceptable behavior.  Such policies would also communicate a reporting procedure and provide for disciplinary action for violations of the policy.  Notably, employers should proceed carefully with policies designed to prevent bullying and harassment on social media to avoid running afoul of the NLRB.  See our prior posts on the NLRB’s position regarding social media for further guidance
  • Provide Regular Workplace Anti-Bullying Training.  Employers could also incorporate regular anti-bullying training with employees and managers to ensure early detection and prevention.  Training with employees could include examples of inappropriate conduct, avenues available to report bullying and scenarios for discussion.  
  • Provide Support Services.  Employers could also consider instituting programs to provide a support network for employees who may be bullied or targets of bullies to prevent and address this conduct.  These types of programs include coaching, counseling, Employee Assistance Programs and other wellness programs. 


Apologies for bullying in order, probe finds


CIT Photo: Josephine Huynh

The Canberra Institute of Technology owes an apology to victims of workplace bullying there over the years, according to the territory's Public Service Commissioner.

But according to the long-awaited official report on the allegations that have dogged the school for years, accusations of a toxic culture and systematic bullying have been blown out of proportion.

Nevertheless, ACT taxpayers have already paid $670,000 for a team of specialist investigators to look into the bullying claims and the spending looks set to continue, with 19 misconduct investigations still under way over eight employees.

Commissioner Andrew Kefford's report on the years of controversy at CIT has been published by the ACT government and contains eight recommendations for reform, with an apology to victims the first item on the agenda for change.

Mr Kefford also wants to see changes to the workplace culture at CIT and a commitment to more transparent management and better complaints handling.

The commissioner was called in to investigate after an "improvement notice" from WorkSafe ACT in April 2012 ordering CIT to put its house in order and provide a workplace safe from bullying and harassment.

In his report, Mr Kefford says that complaints from 42 past and present workers at CIT over a 10-year period provided clear evidence that all was not right at CIT for a significant period of time.

"The fact that complaints were received about the workplace experiences of 42 current and former CIT employees covering more than 10 years is clearly evidence in the institute's management of people," Mr Kefford wrote. "That some of these matters are still contested is evidence in itself that the process used to deal with those issues could have been done better."

Mr Kefford noted the allegations were "not large in number" in an organisation with 1000 staff and more than 20,000 students, but he found that, in some cases, inept handling of bullying complaints made matters worse.

"It is unfortunate that the way in which a small number of cases workplace issues have been managed has made things worse, not better," he wrote.

Despite the referral of eight individuals from CIT for investigation for misconduct under the Public Service Management Act, Mr Kefford said most of the complaints fell "into the category of failings in management of workplace issues".

He also found the public portrayal of CIT throughout the controversy had been unduly negative.

"The public portrayal of CIT has sometimes been of an agency characterised by entrenched and systematic workplace bullying," Mr Kefford wrote."That is not, and has not been, the case. It would be a significant and damaging overstatement to describe the overall culture of CIT as toxic."

Despite the desire of CIT and the ACT government's Education Directorate to move on from the controversy, Mr Kefford conceded that some present and former staff were likely to remain unhappy with the investigation into their complaints.

"There will always be cases where individuals remain unhappy at the end of an investigation or review process," he wrote.


Guardian Article Seriously Claims You Shouldn't Report Sexual Harassment At Work

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted:   |  Updated: 09/26/2013 10:22 am EDT

At least that's the argument made by lawyer Vanessa James, who wrote a Sept. 23 piece for The Guardian urging women to register complaints about sexual harassment only as a last resort. According to James, the responsibility falls on women to set boundaries for what's appropriate, and they shouldn't complain about being sexually harassed if they weren't clear enough in setting said boundaries. Yup, we feel like banging our heads against our desks too.

Here are five of the most frustrating, victim-blaming parts of James' piece:

  1. "A successful court case does not give you back the career you lost." Sure, a sexual harassment court case may not give you back your career, but this is just evidence that we need a system overhaul -- telling women to stay silent about harassment shouldn't be the answer.
  2. "To progress fully in a career, ability is only part of it –- you have to be liked and trusted by your colleagues. A woman who has raised a grievance or complaint (however justified) will no doubt feel vulnerable in the long term because of it." So basically, you're telling women to prioritize popularity above their need to stand up for themselves? Again, not the message we should be sending.
  3. "If you do not define your own boundaries then you cannot expect others to be able to either." There's of course something to be said for making it clear what you're comfortable with and what you're not, but the idea that failing to spell out your boundaries makes it okay for people to treat you inappropriately is all kinds of messed up.
  4. "A female employee who instigates sexist jokes has demonstrated to others that she enjoys risqué banter and so once that boundary is broken down she has to be comfortable with that behavior in her working relationships.” That logic doesn't quite work for us -- making one joke or comment doesn't mean you are asking to be sexually harassed.
  5. "The formal route should be seen by women seeking career progression as a last resort." We don't think women should only seek help when they're at their wits' end. We should be empowering women (and men) to report sexual harassment and prevent future incidences. James' op-ed does quite the opposite.


Harford panel talks about rise of bullying in schools, workplaces

Increasing role of social media and its impact on problem debate

Fallston bullying discussion

Moderated by Jonita Shoaff, left, program coordinator for W.A.G.E. Connection, Harford County experts discuss bullying prevention and the rise in cases in schools and the workplace, during a program in Fallston Wednesday night.(Krishana Davis, The Aegis / September 26, 2013)

With Bullying Prevention Month just days away, a small group, made up mostly of women, gathered at the Veronica "Roni" Chenowith Activity Center in Fallston Wednesday evening to discuss rise of bullying in schools and workplaces, as well as the role social media has played in the problem.

The event, which was hosted by the county's Commission on Women, featured a panel discussion of Harford-area experts who deal with bullying and who provided tactics and remedies people can explore to handle bullies.

Before the panel discussion began, one 13-year-old Bel Air area middle school girl, whose name has been withheld, shared her story of being viciously bullied on social media sites, such as ooVoo, Instagram, Vine, Twitter and the anonymous question-answer site, after sticking up for a fellow classmate.

"You shouldn't bully people and tell them to commit suicide or die because you don't always know what's going on with person," said the young teen. "You are still a person and people should care about each other."

All of the panelists agreed that new social media technology is shifting the traditional dynamic of bullying. Now, they say, bullying is not just occurring in the school yard, but continuing once a child gets home.

"The bullying that occurs on social media is a trend based on status stress," said panelist Bobby Audley, a public speaker and team building facilitator.

Harford Sheriff's Office Deputy First Class Lori Denbow, a panelist who works in the school policing unit in Harford County, said social media has enabled people to say things to another person that they wouldn't traditionally say in an in-person setting.

"It's so much easier to hide behind the screen," Denbow said. "Parents need to be in the room as their students interact online, check their passwords and the sites they go on."

Audley, however, said he does not believe all social media is bad.

"Studies show that social media can increase empathy as people learn about other cultures and increase their interactions online," he said.

Panelist Rod Burn, who has spent years working in human resources, said bullying does not just occur in grade school, but also in the workplace. Burn said workplace bullying is more complicated and often harder to remedy.

"In the adult world, a lot of people don't report bullying or aggressive behavior by a co-worker because they are afraid to lose their job," said Burn. "A lot of people are willing to put up with a lot to keep that security."

Another panelist, Amy Wagner, director at Family and Children Services of Harford County, said one sign that an adult is experiencing a hostile work environment might be that that person is missing a lot of days from work or isolates themselves from their co-workers.

One attendee, Rhonda Davis, 45, of Fallston, also mentioned her frustration with bystanders, who witness someone being bullied, but do not intervene. The mother of three said she sees this type of behavior exhibited by children, but also adults in leadership positions.

Davis said her 8-year-old son had been experiencing bullying from a youth football program coach and was ready to quit the team.

"What I don't understand is how the assistant coaches who witnessed the actions of this coach sat by and did nothing," said Davis. "One coach even told me — 'Oh, I thought you knew.'"

Davis said her husband spoke with the coach, who toned down his aggressive behavior, but she said she believes there needs to be a larger system of accountability in such situations.

"What I don't get is the lack of communication and empathy," said Davis. "It's like the coach couldn't see the frustration on the kids' face or when they are too scared to approach you."

Panelists said parents have to stay engaged with their children to watch out for signs they may be experiencing bullying. Wagner said there is a untold "no snitching" code among many school-age children.

"Kids endure the risk of being bullied at the risk of being shunned even more by their classmates if they tell," Wagner said.


Canada: New WCB Bullying And Harassment Policies Take Effect November 1, 2013

Last Updated: September 26 2013
Article by William Duvall

Since July 1, 2012, bullying and harassment have been expressly prohibited conduct at the workplace under Section 5.1 of the Workers' Compensation Act, RSBC 1996, c 492. In this respect, employers and workers have been provided limited guidance on how to conduct themselves as it relates to bullying and harassment by WorkSafeBC – with the exception of WorkSafeBC's Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual Policy item C3-13.00 (Policy C3-13.00) and Practice Directive C-3. This will soon change.

Effective November 1, 2013, British Columbia employers, supervisors, and workers will be operating under a new set of three (3) legally binding WorkSafeBC policies that have been developed to assist in the prevention and/or minimization of bullying and harassment in the workplace.

For employers, the most important of these three WorkSafeBC policies is Employer Duties – Workplace Bullying and Harassment (D3-115-2). Effective November 1st, all employers will be expected to comply with this policy. This policy sets out what WorkSafeBC considers to be "reasonable steps" of an employer in preventing where possible, or otherwise minimizing, workplace bullying and harassment. These include the following:

  1. Developing a policy statement with respect to workplace bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated.
  2. Taking steps to prevent where possible, or otherwise minimize, workplace bullying and harassment.
  3. Developing and implementing procedures for workers to report incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment including how, when and to whom a worker should report incidents or complaints. Included must be procedures for a worker to report if the employer, supervisor or person acting on behalf of the employer, is the alleged bully and harasser.
  4. Developing and implementing procedures for how the employer will deal with incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment including:
    (a) how and when investigations will be conducted;
    (b) what will be included in the investigation;
    (c) roles and responsibilities of employers, supervisors, workers and others;
    (d) follow-up to the investigation (description of corrective actions, timeframe, dealing with adverse symptoms, etc.); and
    (e) record keeping requirements.
  5. Informing workers of the policy statement and steps taken to prevent/minimize harassment and bullying.
  6. Training supervisors and workers on:
    (a) recognizing the potential for bullying and harassment;
    (b) responding to bullying and harassment; and
    (c) procedures for reporting, and how the employer will deal with incidents or complaints of bullying and harassment in (c) and (d) respectively.
  7. Annually reviewing items #1, 2, 3, and 4 above.
  8. Not engaging in bullying and harassment of workers and supervisors.
  9. Applying and complying with the employer's policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.

Because the definition of "bullying and harassment" includes any inappropriate comment by a 'person' towards a worker that the 'person' knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, policies must be designed to consider non-workplace parties such as a member of the public, a client, or anyone a worker comes into contact with at the workplace.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.


Sexual harassment at work charge against Doordarshan official

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Officials said that a copy of the inquiry report had been sent to the Information and Broadcasting ministry. ReutersOfficials said that a copy of the inquiry report had been sent to the Information and Broadcasting ministry. Reuters
SUMMARYOfficials said a copy of report has been sent to Information and Broadcasting ministry.

A senior Doordarshan official has been served with a chargesheet after an inquiry committee looking in to a complaint against him has found that the action of the officer constituted "a prima facie case of sexual harassment."

Now, smartphone app to report sexual harassment

Senior officials said there had been a complaint against the Additional Director General (ADG) rank officer by a junior colleague who had accused him of using abusive language and inappropriate behaviour. Following the allegations, the Doordarshan set up an inquiry committee to look into the allegations.

Sexual harassment case: Phaneesh Murthy removed from iGate board

"The respondent was immediately transferred out of the position he occupied when the complaint was filed so that a fair probe may be conducted without the possibility of any kind of influence being brought into play," Prasar Bharati member (Personnel) Brig (Retd) V A M Hussain said.

"The respondent has also been served with a chargesheet in which he was asked to respond to the charges against him within 10 days although he had sought a month's time. His response has just been received and further action is being taken in this regard," he added.

Officials said that a copy of the inquiry report had also been sent to the Information and Broadcasting ministry which had asked Prasar Bharati to initiate necessary action at the earliest and inform the ministry.

In a letter to Prasar Bharati, the I&B ministry had said the "inquiry committee is of the view there exists a prima facie case of sexual harrasment" and sought that action should be taken as per the procedure laid in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Senior Prasar Bharati officials also said since the officer, against whom allegations had been made is a government servant, he is subject to government of India service rules which require that an internal committee probe the complaint.

"Only in the absence of those rules could a police complaint be filed," an official said.

Officials said that as per her request and to ensure there is no possibility of any influence being brought


Mean girls, all grown up, now workplace bullies

They’re terrible and it’s not OK and there’s little legally to do about it

  • Tessa Cheek
  • September 24, 2013
  • Civil Rights
  • 1 Comment
Mean girls, all grown up, now workplace bullies

“This is a dirty secret, really,” said Karen McGee, a Denver women’s leadership coach who first became interested in woman on woman bullying in the workplace when members of her monthly roundtable began to raise the issue in their meetings.

“Addressing it seems to play into the stereotypes we wish to avoid,” she said. “If we talk about it openly, the fear is it will make us all look bad. And it does.”

She’s right. There’s something regressive and embarrassing about acknowledging the behavior of real-life dragon ladies who, more than a century after the dawn of the women’s movement, seem intent on sticking their stilettos in the eyes of their co-workers or subordinates. After all, there’s an unwritten code – or at least an expectation that the code exists – that women need to stick together in the office.

But the code is often broken when it comes to time for evaluations, promotions, and all manner of other ways workers can stab or get stabbed in the back.

Some women bosses feel pressure to demonstrate their toughness to male superiors by being especially, even unfairly, tough to women they manage. Some female managers may feel their battle to the top, characterized by unfair hurdles and expectations, made them the professional they are today and have no problem asking the women who follow them to succeed against similar odds.

On the flip side there’s also the subtle undermine, where women consistently hijack an employee’s personal life and time by assigning them projects on Friday afternoon and due Monday morning; ‘forgetting’ to include them in meetings, social business gatherings, email chains; speaking badly of them to colleagues until they are too isolated to ask for help.

Members of McGee’s group have labeled it as everything from a lack of support to all-out sabotage from female bosses and co-workers.

“Really the best catchphrase is bullying,” said McGee, who spoke on the issue Friday at Denver’s Women’s Leadership Roundtable.

There are statistics

“When a woman is a bully, which happens 38 percent of the time, she chooses a woman target 80 percent of the time,” explained Dr. Gary Namie, of the Workplace Bullying Institute, a Washington state think tank that conducted a nationwide survey on the issue in 2010.

The Institute found woman-woman bullying is on the rise and that targets of the bullying are just as unlikely to report the mistreatment as are victims of sexual assault.

“It’s because of the shame factor,” said Namie. “There’s a great deal of shame for an adult to admit they have been targeted for abuse and humiliation.”

There’s also often well-warranted fear.

“Seventy-two percent of bullies are bosses,” said Namie, adding that although most employees eventually resort to confrontation, it rarely works. In fact, 78 percent of bullied employees who come forward end up losing their jobs — they either quit, are ‘constructively discharged’, or outright fired.”

Unfortunately, laws designed to protect women in the workplace offer virtually no legal recourse for women being strong-armed by other women. Discrimination law, which according to the Institute, protects against only 20 percent of workplace bullying, is narrowly defined, often hinging on differences between aggressor and target — factors such as age, race or gender.

It doesn’t directly involve men and it’s not about sex

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for discouraging and prosecuting discrimination in the workplace, doesn’t prosecute same-sex bullying (unless it’s clear-cut sexual harassment). Further, the Commission doesn’t keep statistics on instances of woman-woman discrimination, or bullying more broadly.

“Let’s say a woman is bullying somebody because they’re Hispanic, that could fall under EEOC,” said Joseph Olivares, a public relations officer at the agency. But “if it’s because [ a woman] is not as attractive as other people, that would not fall under the laws the EEOC enforces.”

Rita Kittle, the supervising trial attorney for EEOC in Colorado, says the discrimination titles her team uses to launch prosecutions actually could cover some instances of woman-woman workplace bullying precisely because the conflicts pivot around gender.

“Just because it’s same-sex harassment doesn’t mean it’s not covered by Title VII” of the Civil Rights Act, she said. “Not meeting gender stereotypes is one form of that discrimination.”

Even so, Kittle admits, her department has never had a woman-woman case and the legal grounds could be tricky to establish — especially if there’s nothing in the aggression specifically tagged to sex or gender.

“There’s this magic gap in existing discrimination law that women bullies exploit,” said Namie, asserting that aggression against women by men, which would fall under Title VII, often fails to when both aggressor and target are women.

“That’s what creates the problem for the woman who is targeted,” he said. “She’s not going to be believed, the law doesn’t back her up, and … in the absence of law, companies don’t have to create good policies.”

For over a decade, Namie and his wife Ruth, also a psychologist and herself a target of workplace bullying by another woman, have lobbied for the Healthy Workplace Bill. Among other things, the measure would provide a precise, legal, definition of an “abusive work environment” while also requiring targets to demonstrate harm to their health.

“The research shows that bullying has tremendous health harms,” said Namie. “In the physical sense, there’s cardiovascular issues, ulcers, and colitis. Now we know that stress also changes the brain, affecting memory and ability to concentrate. The person who was falsely called stupid will be rendered or at least appear to be less competent over time … Then you have the psychological injuries: anxiety, depression, even PTSD.”

There’s no law; let’s make a law

The Healthy Workplace Bill has yet to gain traction in Colorado, though Namie says there are advocates pushing a grassroots effort to raise its profile nationwide.

“I was a victim of a woman bully, that’s how I got involved in the first place,” said Joyce Espinosa, one of the bill’s coordinators in Colorado. She added that, although many legislators and members of nonprofits are sympathetic, her group has essentially struck out when it comes to institutional or legislative support.

“It’s been really hard,” Espinosa said, noting that both she and her co-coördinator lost their jobs around incidents of bullying. They have been working on promoting this legislation while also reëstablishing their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, groups of women like those who attend McGee’s roundtables have taken it upon themselves to air some mean-girl laundry and strategize solutions.

One of the first steps to addressing women-bullying-women challenges, McGee suggested, was not to think of it solely as a “lady problem.”

“There’s a broader issue here,” she said. “What is it about the work environment that enables this behavior to continue unabated, that even encourages it?”

“Women either feel they must be, or actually are, in a position of competition instead of collaboration with other women.”

Namie agreed that larger systems are at play when it comes to women effectively rebuilding the glass ceiling below them.

“This kind of bullying runs counter to stereotype. The idea is that women leaders will all be more nurturing than males and everything will be wonderful,” he said. “But the record is clear, women are just as capable of being tyrannical as men. If the corporate structure rewards aggression, they will be aggressive.”



How common is bullying in the workplace?

24 Sep 2013

Cognitive Neuroscientist and Business Improvement Strategist, Dr Lynda Shaw, has called for more to be done by businesses and the HR industry to tackle the “crippling effects” of workplace bullying, which she says is rife in the UK, but often goes unnoticed and unreported.

Dr Shaw states that she believes bullying is one of the major crises facing business today, highlighting estimates that show one fifth of all UK employees experience some form of bullying and harassment, and that employees with disabilities are at least twice as likely to report having experienced bullying and harassment.

Commenting, Dr Shaw, said:

“When we think of bullying we probably think of much reported cyber bullying and bullying in the playground, but businesses need to face up to the issue of bullying in their workforce.

“Both employees and employers are suffering as a result of workplace bullying, with high sickness rates, high employee turnover and low morale. Employers are responsible for taking preventative action against bullying and harassment, but they often turn a blind eye perhaps because they believe adults should just be able to sort it out amongst themselves.”

Anti-bullying policies and training staff on bullying is essential for all businesses says Dr Shaw, who goes onto suggest that some HR departments may need to hire specialist companies to deal with the issue.

She states:

“Specialist training can advise on ways to prevent bullying and how to deal with it effectively when it does arise. Mediation companies can also provide trained professionals to mediate between the bully and their target where possible.”

Arguing that more needs to be done to raise awareness of workplace bullying so that all businesses can enforce a zero tolerance policy, Dr Shaw said:

“Some bullies do not realise their behaviour is bullying. Bullying can vary from spreading malicious rumours, unfair treatment, to picking on someone, undermining a competent worker, denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities, ignoring, humiliating or excluding someone, to undervaluing their work performance. 

“Bullying can happen face to face, by email, by letter, on social media or by phone so it may also not always be obvious to other people.”

Concluding, Dr Shaw said:

“Bullying at work is in no one’s best interest. It creates a miserable working environment, de-motivates employees, causes poor performance and stifles careers. 

“If everyone did something to address workplace bullying we could solve it. Whether it be encouraging supportive work relationships, training staff on the effects of bullying, following a bullying policy or ultimately recognising when it is happening and addressing it immediately, it is imperative that bullying is not tolerated any longer.”


Can religious faith help us to deal with workplace bullying?

In talking about responding to, coping with, and recovering from bullying and other forms of interpersonal abuse at work, the role of religious faith often receives only obligatory acknowledgment. For targets of workplace bullying, religion usually is tacked on to a short list of possible sources of support, along with family, friends, therapy, and coaching.

I think we need a deeper conversation about how faith can help people to deal with this form of mistreatment.

I’m probably not the best person to be raising this question. My own faith remains very much a work in progress. For much of my adult life, I considered myself a hopeful agnostic. During the past 10 years, I have come to believe in a higher force, and I sense that God’s reality is somewhere in the intersection of our major faith traditions, informed by insights from science, psychology, and spirituality. For those reasons, it probably won’t surprise people to know that I associate with Unitarian Universalism.

My own “loose parts” religious beliefs notwithstanding, I see a lot more potential for religious faith to help people through their most challenging experiences of work and vocation. While the secular workplace should not be governed by any particular set of religious beliefs, one’s personal faith and convictions can be a powerful source of strength and support in dealing with abuse of all sorts, including bullying at work.

In making these points, I am not trying to argue for or against organized religion or any specific religious beliefs. Furthermore, to anticipate what I’m sure will be one response, I readily concede that some religious institutions may harbor and enable bullying behaviors as well.

Rather, I’m looking at this from the most grounded, individual level. For those whose worldview includes an embrace of a faith tradition, I believe it can help them weather life’s storms in the workplace. I’d like to see more attention devoted to that source of support.


Royal Colleges jointly address issue of undermining and bullying in the workplace

RCOG/RCM press announcement

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have joined forces to reduce undermining and bullying behaviour in the workplace with a new joint statement published today.

The two Colleges condemn undermining and bullying behaviourand are working together to promote a positive working environment for the profession and to deliver better care to women and their families.

In obstetrics and gynaecology, the General Medical Council trainee surveys have shown that undermining and bullyingbehaviour is a problem for trainees. The RCM’s surveys have found that 43% of students and fully qualified midwives reported that they had experienced bullying and harassment from a colleague. Bullying has been cited as a major reason why many midwives leave the profession. In addition, the 2012 NHS England Staff Survey reveals that midwives experience harassment or abuse from managers.

This joint statement arises from a workshop held early in 2013 between the RCOG and the RCM where a joint action plan was developed and work is underway to implement a strategy to address undermining in the maternity and obstetrics and gynaecology workplace. The action plan includes the development of a tool kit for organisations to use in addressing unacceptable behaviours.

Dr Tony Falconer, President of the RCOG, said:

“Maternity care requires multi-disciplinary team-working between different healthcare professionals. Tensions can run high in busy labour wards, especially during emergencies or when staff are overstretched. The stress can be great but that does not excuse bullying behaviour between colleagues and we must do what we can to ensure that doctors and midwives work together in a conducive environment.

“Ultimately, our shared goal is to provide high quality care for mothers and their babies and we have to do this collaboratively.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“We know that women are more likely to receive high-quality maternity care when midwives and doctors are working well together and showing each other respect.  There is no excuse for undermining or bullying behaviours in maternity services, sadly the RCM and NHS surveys reflect that there is inappropriate and bullying behaviour across and between the professions.

“The RCM is delighted to be working with the RCOG to stop inappropriate behaviours and to support midwives and doctors in developing positive and productive working relationships to improve services for mothers and babies.”


Bullying in the work place must stop

Cognitive Neuroscientist and Business Strategist Dr Lynda Shaw is calling for more to be done by businesses and the HR industry to tackle the crippling effects of workplace bullying which is rife in the UK, but often goes unnoticed and unreported.

With widely accepted estimates of one fifth of all UK employees experiencing some form of bullying and harassment, and employees with disabilities at least twice as likely to report having experienced bullying and harassment, Shaw believes bullying is one of the major crises facing business today.  

Workplace bullying can often increase during times of austerity when businesses are undergoing change and anxiety can run high in the workforce. However Dr Shaw believes businesses and their HR departments are often afraid to address it.

Dr Shaw says: “When we think of bullying we probably think of much reported cyber bullying and bullying in the playground but businesses need to face up to the issue of bullying in their workforce. Both employees and employers are suffering as a result of workplace bullying, with high sickness rates, high employee turnover and low morale. Employers are responsible for taking preventative action against bullying and harassment, but they often turn a blind eye perhaps because they believe adults should just be able to sort it out amongst themselves.”

Whilst having anti bullying policies and training staff on bullying is essential for all businesses, Dr Shaw suggests that some HR departments may need to hire specialist companies to help deal with the issue. “Specialist training can advise on ways to prevent bullying and how to deal with it effectively when it does arise. Mediation companies can also provide trained professionals to mediate between the bully and their target where possible.”

Dr Shaw argues that more needs to be done to raise awareness of workplace bullying so that all businesses can enforce a zero tolerance policy. “Some bullies do not realise their behaviour is bullying. Bullying can vary from spreading malicious rumours, unfair treatment, to picking on someone, undermining a competent worker, denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities, ignoring, humiliating or excluding someone, to undervaluing their work performance. Bullying can happen face to face, by email, by letter, on social media or by phone so it may also not always be obvious to other people.”

Dr Shaw concludes: “Bullying at work is in no one’s best interest. It creates a miserable working environment, de-motivates employees, causes poor performance and stifles careers.   If everyone did something to address workplace bullying we could solve it. Whether it be encouraging supportive work relationships, training staff on the effects of bullying, following a bullying policy or ultimately recognising when it is happening and addressing it immediately, it is imperative that bullying is not tolerated any longer.”


Start naming bullying

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A few weeks before the opening of schools there was much conversation about bullying in our schools, and it created great awareness for parents and their children. But what about workplace bullying? Being bullied as an adult is one of the hardest things to deal with. This treatment tends to create self-blame; doubt—you come to believe that you’re thoroughly incompetent, when you were once an award-winning worker with the certifications to prove it; erosion of one’s self-esteem and confidence. It’s a disassembly of one’s adult personality and it’s harmful.



Workplace bullying defined
It 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
• Conduct which is threatening, humiliating or intimidating
• Work interference, sabotage, which prevents work from getting done
• Exploitation of a known psychological or physical vulnerability



What bullying is not ...
It is not incivility, simple rudeness, or the routine exercise of acceptable managerial prerogative. When abuse becomes routine, the work environment is toxic. Quality work and employee engagement are impossible. Neither is bullying conflict between two equally-powered individuals who simply disagree over intellectual ideas. Therefore, conflict resolution tools are a waste of time. Wrong solution for the improperly defined problem. Bullying is violence and not subject to mediation.


Bullies are too expensive to keep
Employers are reluctant to confront hyperaggressive managers and staff. They fear lawsuits and difficulty replacing the staff considered “indispensable.” The truth is that it is costlier to fail to act than it is to pursue solutions. Bullies are undermining legitimate business processes and harming people in secret. Employers need to examine the real costs of unwanted turnover, absenteeism, and complaint settlements. The bully is expensive. So how should people deal with bullying? What’s the best way of doing it? Clearly they need to take action, but this can prove to be difficult. So here’s a three-step model which can be the road to positive, good mental health and you have a seven out of ten chance of losing the job you once loved, so you’re already at risk. You suffer no more risk to follow these steps.


Step one: you’ve got to come out of hiding—you’ve got to name bullying. If you claim illegal harassment or discrimination, you should be able to go to Human Resources and say, “I want to claim that I’m being harassed.” The employer must take it into account and must investigate. But if you go down and you say you’re bullied and there’s no policy against bullying, some employers will tell you, “You know, it’s a shame what has happened to you, but we don’t have a policy against it, and sorry, there’s nothing we can really do.” That delegitimises the person. They feel that they’re worthless because of something that’s happened to them. So, as soon as people name it, they suddenly know what to call what happened to them; when they can name the phenomenon, they can point the finger to a wrongdoer and say, “That person is the source of the problem; I’m not.” That’s the first step toward mental health. The journey towards resolution is naming it. However, it takes people a long time to get there because of their work ethic and their unwillingness to complain and come forward; they stay silent too long, but step one is to name it. They need to know they’re not alone; they need to know they didn’t cause it. To be continued….


Latin America's the best workplace

Published: 23rd September 2013 03:50 PM

Last Updated: 22nd September 2013 03:50 PM

Colleagues passing snide remarks at you or your supervisor threatening you with dire consequences. If this is part of your work burden, a global study of workplace bullying co-authored by Prof Nikos Bozionelos of Audencia Nantes School of Management, France, might interest you. “This study was mainly done to aid MNCs since they operate in multiple countries and therefore it is essential for them to understand the cultural differences that might crop up. Companies need to know what sort of behaviours are acceptable and the ones that aren’t, when dealing with employees,” begins Bozionelos. While type of industry, salary and gender all influence acceptability of workplace bullying, a country’s culture of work is the biggest factor, stresses Bozionelos.


The study was based on information obtained from 1,484 alumni and current MBA students from 14 countries worldwide spread across five continents and was released in March. Bozionelos was also careful enough when it came to procuring the data. “I didn’t wish to put a negative spin on the whole thing. I approached people giving them a set of examples of behaviours such as mean comments, physical threats, etc, and asked if they were subject to them instead of labelling it as ‘bullying’,” he reasons. The data took about eight months to compile and Bozionelos took care to study “similar people in similar jobs in multiple countries.”


Bozionelos says white collar bullying thrives in USA and UK, with one in five/sixth person there being bullies. “Bullying can happen for a multitude of reasons — a sense of satisfaction, showing power and dominance, low self-esteem of the bully and even physical disorders like stomachache or heart problems can force someone to vent out the frustration on others,” explains Bozionelos.

Orientation matters

Bozionelos says that bullying is high in countries that concentrate highly on performance. “Countries like USA, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong are oriented towards bullying since they see it as a way to achieve results. Meanwhile countries with a ‘humane’ view of things are less likely to tolerate bullying such as South America — Argentina, Mexico and Columbia, and northern European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland,” says Bozionelos. The study labels Latin America as the best place to work if you are in the pursuit of bosses who are culturally inclined to kindness and do not resort to bullying. Office bullying is tolerated in eastern European countries like Poland and Greece, and Taiwan. The prof feels in Asia, where the culture expects a person to submit to the interests of the group plus a strong acceptance of hierarchy make workplace bullying more acceptable.

Negative effects

While Bozionelos does agree that while bullying does bring results, it comes at a cost. “In extreme cases, shouting, unfair division of labour or employee segregation can cause physical trauma. As a result, workers can feel trapped, develop anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts,” feels the professor. This also depends on how much the employee accepts bullying. Bozionelos provides a counter view. He explains, “You can say that workers in countries like UK may fall victim to bullying at the same rate as Asians, but suffer more because of their ‘belief’ in an ideal of fairness. They may feel that workplace bullies are abusing both the employee’s level of acceptable behaviour and that of society as a whole.” You can find the study in the Journal of Business Research. Details at


Bullying in the workplace...

Mention the word "bully" and many would relate it to school bullies, with mean kids shoving others at the playground. Think again.

Just when you think you are safe from bullying by venturing out into the working world, presuming that surely everyone is mature and will not resort to childish bullying tactics to get their way, you discover that the workplace is no different and it seems like school all over again with a whole new set of nightmares.

Victims of workplace bullying are usually emotionally abused; there are no scars or bruises but the pain they suffer goes deeper.

Here are accounts from some victims.

The Newbies

Newcomers are common targets as they are new to the company and have yet to form relationships with others; hence they are seen as easier to bully because they have no one to support them.

Sometimes, newcomers are also seen as threats, especially in a competitive working environment.

Megan is a 19-year-old sales assistant who is currently being bullied by her 25-year-old co-worker.

"I only started this job about three months ago. As soon as I started she thought I was taking all her shifts and (she was) complaining all the time," she says.

While Megan was learning the ropes, this co-worker became progressively nastier to her.

"She would talk to other colleagues about me behind my back, I would walk in the room and they would stop talking, then they would whisper and giggle and look at me and just subtly be really mean.

"She has also been trying to sabotage me and another colleague by giving me incorrect information, and telling me to lie to customers. She even hid a signed contract from one colleague just to get him in trouble.

"There was one incident where she told the manager while I was standing there talking to him that I shouldn't be getting any shifts because I don't know what I am doing.

"I have confronted management with it and I believe they have indirectly dealt with it but have taken no real action.

"It affects me because I feel really nervous coming to work and I don't like walking into the same room as her. It really upsets me and I have cried at work before.

There was a day when I just couldn't come in to work because I didn't want to have to deal with it anymore. I have wanted to leave my job but it is just one person and I try not to let it get to me."

Min, in her 20s, also experienced bullying some years ago while working at her first job.

"On my first day I felt discriminated against. I felt unwelcome. During the first week I even had to go lunch by myself.

"I would get a very bad response and support from the Technical and Software Department whenever I needed help.

"I later found out that everyone in the company hated my senior who likes to lick the boots of the company general manager and never actually does his work.

"All he does is talk to the GM the whole day and come out with all sorts of recommendations and command others to do it. Because of that, there's (a lot of) office politics going on with this senior and other departments.

"I later confronted the Technical and Software colleagues and asked why they treated me that way. They told me they thought I was recommended by my senior and presumed that I'm his ally.

"I said it was very unfair that they judged me without asking or verifying. In the end, I became close to them and turned against my senior."


It is not just bright-eyed fresh grads who are prone to bullying; on some occasions, even those nearing retirement are targeted.

Lynn could not believe that someone like her, in her 50s, could be a target for bullying.

"I just rejoined the company; I had left many years ago to care for my family, among other reasons. The person who is bullying me is in her 40s. She is always trying to put me down. She tried to separate me from others by telling them I'm a loner," she says.

"Bullies are insecure. She saw me as a threat and told others that I was incompetent. It did not help that she is popular among colleagues; some believed her."

Lynn was not easily affected by the bullying, given her years of working experience.

"As an older person, I know where I stand. I just let others know. I also found out that she is mean to others, not just me. My colleagues are now more careful in dealing with her," she said.

Guys, too

Aside from women, men can also be victims of bullying at the workplace.

Alex was 23 when he joined his company and somehow became the target of a senior colleague.

"She would tell blatant lies about me in front of the boss. I tried to defend myself but as she was second in command, naturally he believed her more than me.

"She would try to sabotage my projects, make life difficult for me at work and also turn my colleagues against me," he said.

It did not help that one of his superiors was sexually harassing him. He quit soon after.

Potential targets

As the above examples show, targets of bullies can exist at any stage of working life. "Firstly, bullies always target people they think they control," said psychologist Karen Goonting,

She added that an employee could also become a target if he/she:

> Has at least one vulnerability that can be exploited;

> Is different from others;

> Is conscientious, a quiet achiever, good at his/her job, is agreeable and well-liked;

> Shows independence of thought or deed;

> Gets more attention from others than the bully does;

> Has inappropriate social skills and has annoyed the bully;

> Is unassertive and prefers to avoid conflict;

> Has a dispute with the bully; and

> Is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She added that sometimes, a victim can be chosen because the bully's previous target leaves the organisation.

"If there is no likelihood that you will be physically assaulted, the quickest way is to inform the bully personally, assertively and respectfully that you will not be bullied," Goonting said.

"Be prepared with concrete examples of the bullying ... the bully may feign ignorance or, as often happens in Malaysia, say it was all a joke and you are over-sensitive."

Bullies pick targets they think they can control, so "the objective here is to show the bully that you will not allow him or her to control you."


Panel Tackles Bullying From Schoolyard to Workplace

The first Community Conversations: For Today’s Woman will be held Sept. 25.

Harford County organization will host a panel on bullying on Sept. 25. (Credit: Patch Courtesy Photo)
Harford County organization will host a panel on bullying on Sept. 25. (Credit: Patch Courtesy Photo)

Harford County is tackling the issue of bullying in the schoolyard and the workplace in its first Community Conversations: For Today’s Woman.

A panel called, “Stand Up and Be Counted: Schoolyard Bullying to Workplace Harassment” will be held by the Harford County Department of Community Services and the Harford County Commission for Women on Sept. 25 in Fallston.

The evening will include a discussion about the rise in bullying and incivility from childhood to adulthood, and will include ways to handle those situations and more.

Several community leaders will take part in the panel, including:

  • Deputy First Class Lori Denbow, a member of the School Policing Unit of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office
  • Amy Wagner, clinical director of Family and Children’s Services in Harford County
  • Rod Bourn, coordinator of professional development at Harford Community College
  • Bobby Audley, founder of Bobby Audley Speaking, a company that serves as a resource for leadership, communication and team building

The panel discussion will take place Sept. 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Veronica “Roni” Chenowith Activity Center, 1707 Fallston Rd. in Fallston. The panel discussion is open to the public free of charge. 


Australia: The anti-bullying amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 – new protections for workers including volunteers

Commencing on 1 January 2014, the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 introduces a new sphere of protection to workers experiencing bullying in the workplace. While the amendments operate within the framework of the Fair Work Act, the insertion of a much broader definition of "worker" than the ordinary meaning of "employee" used in the balance of the Act extends the scope of these provisions to the typical workforce of not-for-profit organisations such as volunteers, trainees and work experience students. The prevalence of bullying complaints by volunteers in the NFP sector was one of the topics discussed at the 15th National Conference on Volunteering, held in Adelaide last week.

The new jurisdiction represents the Government's response to the 2012 report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment titled: 'Workplace Bullying "We just want it to stop". The report's principal recommendation was that there be a mechanism for workers to take bullying complaints to a national body for early intervention and resolution. Incidentally, the Report also found that the average cost to employers of resolving a formal claim of bullying is between $17,000 and $24,000.

These important new provisions are summarised below:

  • From 1 January 2014, workers (who are, as mentioned, defined very broadly) employed by a constitutionally-covered business, who reasonably believe they have been bullied at work can apply to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an order stopping the bullying.
  • The definition of "worker" is taken from the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth & State, excluding Vic and WA)which includes contractors, sub-contractors, outworkers, apprentices, trainees, volunteers, work experience students etc – a significant expansion of the meaning of 'employee' in the Fair Work Act.
  • 'bullied at work' means where an individual or a group "repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member; and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety". This is consistent with the definition of bullying in the revised WHS Code of Practice. However, this means that low level workplace conflict that does not create a risk to health and safety will not be actionable.
  • to avoid doubt, the Act specifies that "reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner" is not bullying. This provision is going to generate a lot of case law because so many bullying allegations arise in the context of performance management and the question of whether such management is reasonable (or unreasonable) is always going to be a matter over which the worker and employer differ.
  • the right to complain is provided only to workers of a constitutionally-covered business – that means a trading or financial corporation or a foreign corporation (as well as the Commonwealth, a Commonwealth authority, a company incorporated in a Territory or a business conducted principally in a Commonwealth or Territory place). The right does not extend to workers of a partnership, sole trader or corporation with minimal trading activity – these workers are otherwise protected by the Fair Work Act. There could be an argument that certain Not-for-profit entities – depending on what they do - are not 'trading' corporations and so their workers will not have the right to complain.
  • the words 'reasonably believe' appear to reflect an objective test but the Explanatory Memorandum refers to an employee "feeling victimised or humiliated" which arguably introduces a subjective element to the test.

FWC must commence dealing with applications within 14 days of receipt. That abbreviated time frame means that employers will need to be in a position to respond very promptly to the issues raised in a worker's application. FWC can deal with a bullying complaint by making virtually any order it considers appropriate except an award of monetary compensation.

Commentators have mixed views about whether this new jurisdiction will be heavily utilised by workers.

FWC anticipates receiving 3,500 applications in the first year and it has been given additional funding of $5.35 million a year to resource the jurisdiction.

Possible Coalition Government amendments

It is possible that the Coalition Government, under PM Abbott, will introduce a 'filtering' process whereby bullying complaints will need to be submitted to a regulatory agency (possibly the Fair Work Ombudsman) for vetting before they are allowed through to FWC. However, any Coalition amendments are unlikely to take effect before the anti-bullying laws commence on 1 January 2014.

Pro-active risk management

To minimise their exposure under the new law, employers and affected organisations should commence a thorough review of their anti-bullying and harassment policies, update them where necessary and ensure that their workers (including volunteers, trainees and work experience students) are instructed and trained in the application, operation and effect of the policies. Refresher training at regular intervals is recommended.

Any anti-bullying policy should provide a fair, efficient and confidential complaint mechanism and the consequences of non-compliance with the policy should be made clear to all "workers", taking into account the very broad definition of that term.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.


Seon Supports National Bullying Prevention Month with the 'No Bullies On My Bus' CampaignPDFPrintE-mail
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and to raise awareness, Seon is launching an ongoing anti-bullying campaign, "No Bullies On My Bus."

Seon is stepping up in a big way to support anti-bullying efforts. As the No. 1 provider of mobile video surveillance equipment for school buses, our cameras have captured evidence of bullying on thousands of school buses across North America. Not only that, but cameras deter bullying behavior from the get-go. Camera systems are one tool to stop bullying on the school bus, but perhaps even more important is taking strides to prevent bullying through anti-bullying awareness campaigns, policies, and education.

What is Bullying?

According to, an anti-bullying awareness organization, bullying is defined as "unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose."

What are we doing to stop bullying?

Bullying can happen anywhere — in the classroom, on the playground, online, but it often starts on the ride to school. We believe that creating a safe and respectful environment on the school bus can go a long way to combating the bullying problem. Supporting anti-bullying campaigns helps educate the public and put a stop to bullying.

So what are we doing? Check out what we have planned to support National Anti-bullying Prevention Month this October:

  1. "Bullies Aren't Cool" Coloring Contest — Seon's coloring contest is open to all school-aged children. The winner will receive a cash donation from Seon to support anti-bullying education and awareness at their school. Find out more by visiting our Coloring Contest Page.
  2. Supporting Other Anti-bullying Campaigns — Seon supports "Pink Shirt Day," an annual campaign in Canada to support anti-bullying. We also have joined "The Bully Project," the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film, "Bully."
  3. Anti-bullying Buttons — Seon is promoting our "No Bullying On My Bus" campaign at the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Annual Summit. Our anti-bullying pins will be distributed to visitors of our booth (#400) to pass onto school bus drivers, students, and anyone that would like to support our cause.
  4. Awareness Campaign — We will be continuing our blog series on anti-bullying to raise awareness and provide resources to support anti-bullying strategies. Each week in October we will discuss different anti-bullying tools and strategies.

We are thrilled about our "No Bullies On My Bus" campaign and invite the public to stand together as a community against bullying.


Bullying, Mobbing and the Role of Shame

Posted: 09/18/2013 6:22 pm

Have you ever felt guilty about something you did, even though you were never caught? Have you ever been ashamed of yourself, even though others might not know how you secretly feel? Guilt and shame are human emotions that everyone feels at one time or another. For some, these powerful emotions become so familiar that they become character traits, whether the stereotypical Catholic or Jewish bad boy who feels guilt every time he thinks of nuns or mothers, or the hyper-sexual bad girl who feels shamed for behaving like her brother -- whose own hyper-sexuality is a marker of his virility.

Although we often use the terms shame and guilt interchangeably, those who study these emotions are careful to distinguish them. Guilt is an emotion we feel about a specific behavior, while shame is an emotion we feel about who we are. Shame is a corrosive, destructive emotion that leads us onto the path of self-loathing where, in defense of ourselves and in a desperate struggle to break free of our painful feelings about our self worth, we justify our actions--and our identities--as caused by something or someone else. According to psychologist June Tangney, the more shamed we are, the greater our anger and the less we are able to feel empathy -- because we so want to stop the painful feelings of shame that we realign our perceptions of the world so that we are not ashamed. It's not our fault. We aren't bad people. Everyone does it. We had no choice. Others made us do it. The process is called cognitive dissonance -- our ability to distance ourselves from our pain by altering the way we perceive the people and events surrounding it.

In contrast, guilt is an emotion that is more closely correlated with empathy. When we feel guilty about something, we do feel bad, but we feel bad about a specific event in which we behaved in a way we know is contrary to our values. We are more likely to understand how others perceive our actions, and we are more willing to cooperate with others, become self-reflexive, and take corrective action to alter the behavior.

Understanding the distinctions between these two emotions can go far in helping us understand and cope with workplace bullying and mobbing. To do so, consider the three distinct roles that shame plays in bullying and mobbing. Shaming plays a critical role in controlling the behavior of everyone involved.

For the target, being shamed is a humiliating experience as they are systematically told and reminded that their worth as a human is not valued. As the target is shamed, they withdraw into themselves, begin to feel inherently flawed and worthless, and in an ironic twist of the knife, metaphorically join the aggressors through self-loathing. Just as the aggressors make it clear they are unwanted and not valued, the target of bullying or mobbing feels, on some level, that they must be what they are viewed as. As the bullying behavior turns to mobbing, more and more people join in the shaming, and the sheer number of people who turn against them reinforces the sense that if "everyone" feels that way, then there must be something to it.

And that feeling just infuriates the target who has been shamed. They may internalize the shame and self-loathing, but on a conscious level, they know it is wrong, that it is undeserved, and that it is causing them excruciating pain -- and threatening their livelihood. Yet the very reason they are shamed -- to make them feel bad about themselves, to drive them away, to push them to the edge and make them snap -- thus proving how deserving they are of the abuse -- is exactly what feeds the anger. The target who has been shamed will feel escalating anger that may well reinforce the aggressors' perceptions that they're crazy, if not threatening and dangerous, but will actually make them somewhat crazy, threatening and dangerous -- which is hardly adaptive behavior for those who want to live and work safely and sanely. In other words, the target who is shamed is unlikely to empathize with their aggressors, is more likely to become emotionally unstable and increasingly angry, and is more likely to internalize the sense of self-worth to such an extent they may become self destructive -- through bad decision-making, increased use of drugs and alcohol, and in prolonged cases, sometimes driven to suicide -- if not homicide. Shaming targets is a no-win situation for anyone who seeks healthy relationships and humane behavior.

A second way in which shaming operates is in the manner in which it escalates bullying into mobbing. In my new e-book, Mobbed! A Survival Guide to Adult Bullying and Mobbing (available on Amazon), I discuss how collective bullying, also known as mobbing, is triggered and enflamed. One of the key ways in which an abusive manager can persuade otherwise kind and decent people to help eliminate a worker, is by encouraging the "small betrayal." A small betrayal is easy to provoke; all a manager needs to do is tell a target's coworker that they understand how stressful the target's problems have been; how they do not have to worry about anything happening to them, they'll be fine, but the target has never been happy and it's in their best interest to leave. That's about all they need to say.

The coworker will likely agree -- yes, it is a pain to listen to their coworker complain about how they're being treated. They do sometimes wish they would just leave and find another job. And once they openly agree with the manager who is abusing their fellow coworker--generally followed by some perk or promise from the manager that has them leaving the office happy (while their coworker is miserable, yet again . . .) -- the closer they are to the targeted worker, the more they'll feel the pangs of shame.

And feeling those pangs, they will walk down the hall and back to their own office thinking about how nice the manager was to them to give them that perk, that promise, or that reassurance they'd be safe and no one will bully them. And the more they think about how nice things are going for themselves, the faster cognitive dissonance will kick in -- they'll start seeing their friend and coworker as bringing the problem on themselves, "always" being miserable, "never" happy, and on and on -- until by the end of the day, they will feel no shame at all for their small betrayal. At that point, they will be primed for the bigger betrayals that are sure to come. Shaming works to turn bystanders into perpetrators by encouraging small betrayals, thus conditioning them for larger ones as they transform their own shame into the conviction that it's not their fault -- the targeted worker deserves their abusive treatment. The more we are convinced that our aggression is deserved, the less we will restrain it, and the more we will persuade ourselves that it isn't shameful, it's the opposite. It's moral.

Finally, a third way in which shaming works to intensify workplace aggression and undermine any potential for empathy and cooperation, is through the increasingly popular tactic of bully shaming. Bully shaming is the public ridicule of a worker as a "bully," encouraging them to not only get fired, but to be driven from their careers if not any opportunity for employment. Facebook pages devoted to bully shaming print names and photos of the people they accuse of bullying behaviors, focusing on individuals over group aggression, and delighting in the demonizing of people who for most commenters, are complete strangers. To be accused of bullying in this day and age is to be found guilty -- and worthy of public ridicule, banishment from employment, and humane treatment.

What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong is this -- first, public accusation in the internet age can destroy anyone's reputation and career without the opportunity for fairness, reason, or objective investigation. Second, even if the person so accused has acted badly, if not abhorrently, by publicly shaming them, they are likely to become more defensive of their behaviors, less empathetic of the concerns of others who accuse them, less willing to cooperate and change their behaviors, and far more angry -- and potentially aggressive -- the more they are shamed. In other words, if the person is unfairly accused of bullying behaviors, they are given no opportunity to defend themselves, while if they have acted badly, chances are shaming will lead them to act even more badly.

If the goal of opposing workplace bullying is indeed to promote more humane workplace environments, decrease workplace aggression, and reduce the potential for workplace violence, shaming targets or shaming bullies is counterproductive. It may be tempting to shame someone who has hurt or disturbed us, it may even bring perverse delight in watching their public downfall. But peace-building in the workplace requires each of us to develop empathy for others. Shaming our coworkers, no matter how badly they've behaved or what mistakes they've made, by pointing fingers and telling the whole world that they are bad people and deserving of bad treatment, is no way to build healthy workplaces or communities. By focusing on the bad behavior, rather than the bad person, we are far more likely to motivate our coworkers to change their behaviors, become cooperative, and empathize with our own concerns. The secret to the shame game is that no matter how it's played, it can't be won, except by those who choose not to play it.


Australia: New bullying laws commence on 1 January 2014 – Is your workplace prepared?

Last Updated: 18 September 2013

For employees the experience of bullying can have a devastating impact on feelings of self worth and psychological and physical wellbeing. For employers costs can include staff turn over, productivity loss, damage to workplace culture and, in some cases, significant legal costs and adverse publicity. In a recent decision the Victorian Supreme Court awarded an employee almost $600,000 in damages due to an employer's failure to act in relation to the sustained workplace bullying of one of its employees.1

Bullying applications to be heard within 14 days and simple new definitions of "bullying" and "worker"

Government's proposed new anti-bullying measures in the form of recent amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (which commence from 1 January 2014) create new avenues of recourse for a worker who reasonably believes him or herself to be the subject of workplace bullying. In particular, a worker will be able to seek an order from the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that the bullying stop and the application must be heard within 14 days of being made.

Importantly, there will be a new national definition of "workplace bullying" and the definition of "worker" is wider than an employee including for example contractors and their employees.

Reasonable management action (e.g. performance management) is an exception to bullying.

Stop orders and civil penalties for employers

To address a bullying complaint, the FWC may make any orders it considers appropriate, other than an award of money, to stop the bullying. If an employer does not comply with an anti-bullying order the employer can be exposed to a penalty (up to $51,000 per offence for companies and $10,200 for individuals).

When considering the terms of any order, the FWC must take into account factors including:

  • any final or interim outcomes arising out of an investigation into the matter; and
  • any procedure available to the worker to resolve grievances or disputes.

These new changes make it vital that employers take appropriate steps to respond to complaints of bullying and investigate (where appropriate) efficiently. Depending on the seriousness of the complaint, an external investigator and legal advice may be desirable meaning that employers will need to act swiftly. The changes also make it crucial that employers have robust policies in place which address bullying in the workplace and that employees receive appropriate training on these policies.

Given the rise in bullying via social media and other electronic communications (such as 'flaming' through email), employers also need to ensure that appropriate social media and electronic communications policies are implemented and enforced. Relevant policies should encourage the notification of complaints of workplace bullying through the appropriate channels.

Lessons for employers

The new laws commencing on 1 January 2014 are significant and have far reaching implications for employers.

Before 1 January 2014, employers should:

  • familiarise themselves with the new workplace bullying laws;
  • review, and in particular update, existing bullying policies, bearing in mind they may be subject to review by the FWC;
  • ensure their employees have received appropriate bullying training;
  • consider their complaints and investigation processes; and
  • treat bullying complaints seriously as an employee can bypass internal processes and lodge a complaint with FWC.

How HWL Ebsworth can help

HWL Ebsworth can undertake a review of your bullying policy to ensure it complies with the new workplace bullying laws and can provide training to both management and employees on the new laws and the changes needed in the workplace.


1Swan v Monash Law Book Co-operative [2013] VSC 326

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.


Bullying Linked To Psychosomatic Problems In School Children, Presence Of More Girls May Lessen Effects

(Christopher Hayes, CC-BY-SA-3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0) Italian researchers analyzed various studies to determine if school victimization leads to psychosomatic problems among children and teens.

Although various studies have given clear evidence that school bullying may lead to psychosomatic health issues, other studies refuted the results. Now, Italian researchers confirm that being bullied at school leads to psychosomatic problems. Although the results of their researchpublished in Pediatrics covered the usual ground, they also wandered into some surprising new territory as well.

Girl Benefits

To quantify the association between psychosomatic complaints and peer victimization, the researchers performed analysis of various studies published since April 2012. After retrieving 119 studies, the researchers next identified those that specifically examined the association between being bullied and psychosomatic complaints in childrenand adolescents. They found 30 which satisfied their inclusion criteria. Finally, the researchers performed two separate meta-analyses on the six longitudinal studies and 24 cross-sectional studies, respectively.

The bullied children and teens showed a significantly higher risk for psychosomatic problems than those who were not bullied. Yet, among the cross-sectional studies, the researchers discovered an interesting and unforeseen ‘protective’ factor. The magnitude of psychosomatic effects decreased significantly in study samples where there were proportionately more female participants. Score one for girls!

“Given that school bullying is a widespread phenomenon in many countries around the world, the present results indicate that bullying should be considered a significant international public health problem,” the authors wrote in their study. Unfortunately, bullying does not necessarily end with school. For adults in the workplace, bullying may also become an issue that causes pain and difficulties.

Adult Bullying

Seeking to test the hypothesis that the risk of experiencing workplace bullying might be greater for contract employees as compared to permanent or ongoing employees,another set of researchers conducted a telephone survey in South Australia in 2009. Employment arrangements were classified into four categories: permanent, casual, fixed-term, and self-employed.


A total of 174 respondents (about 15 percent) of the respondents reported workplace victimization. Although risk of workplace bullying did not vary significantly by sex, age, or even job tenure, it was higher in professional occupations as well as among employees with a university education. Another category of employees who were more likely to be bullied were those who had separated, divorced, or had become widowed; their odds of being victimized at work were higher than either never-married or married (including common-law marriages) colleagues.

The most surprising result of all? “Contrary to expectation, workplace bullying was more often reported by permanent than casual employees,” the authors wrote in their paper. Apparently, the much idealized 'permanent position' may have at least one downside.

Sources:  Gini G, Pozzoli T. Bullied Children and Psychosomatic Problems: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2013.

Decision an insight to approach in new bullying jurisdiction

Michael ByrnesAuthor page »

Harris v WorkPac Pty Ltd places a relatively high threshold to establish workplace bullying and has the potential to inform the Fair Work Commission's future approach.

The recent decision of Commissioner Cloghan in Harris v WorkPac Pty Ltd [2013] FWC 4111 provides an illuminating example of an assessment of workplace bullying by the Fair Work Commission. With the enactment of recent legislation [1] conferring a specific workplace bullying jurisdiction on the Commission to commence on 1 January 2014, the decision is a timely insight into the approach of the Commission in its newly conferred jurisdiction.

The facts

The proceedings concerned the unfair dismissal of the Applicant, Mrs Karen Harris, who had commenced employment with Rockingham Business Centre (Employer) on 29 November 2004. At the time of her dismissal, Mrs Harris held the position of Recruitment Co-ordinator Team Leader.

During the course of her employment, Mrs Harris worked with a Ms Rachel Maye who had been engaged as a Business Centre Administration Manager. In early December 2012, Ms Maye resigned from her position. As a part of the process around leaving her employment, Ms Maye participated in a telephone exit interview with the Employer's managerial staff.

During her exit interview Ms Maye made various complaints against Mrs Harris in respect of Mrs Harris' apparent treatment of her, reading out "excerpts" from a notebook in which she kept a record of her interactions with Mrs Harris during her employment.

Among the claims made during Ms Maye's exit interview (and later put to Mrs Harris) were that:

  • Mrs Harris was aggressive in every dealing she had with Ms Maye;
  • Mrs Harris constantly belittled Ms Maye, both in one on one dealings and in front of other team members and she treated Ms Maye with disdain;
  • Mrs Harris swore and screamed at Ms Maye regularly;
  • Mrs Harris constantly embarrassed and humiliated Ms Maye in front of other staff members and showed no respect to Ms Maye as a team member;
  • Ms Maye felt that Mrs Harris complained about Ms Maye with the purpose of getting Ms Maye into trouble.

Ms Maye also provided to the Employer a number of specific examples of such behaviour which had occurred between 1 July 2011 and 22 October 2011 and during July 2012.

Following Ms Maye's complaints, on 19 December 2012 Mrs Harris was advised that she was required to attend a meeting on 20 December 2012 with the Employer to discuss “serious concerns the management ha[d] in relation to allegations relating to [her] treatment of a fellow team member [Ms Maye]”.

At 8:26am on 20 December 2012, Mrs Harris received an email detailing further information regarding the allegations.

At approximately 2:30 pm, following a meeting with the Employer in which she denied the allegations and provided a written response, Mrs Harris was advised that her employment was being terminated immediately for bullying Ms Maye which the Employer considered gross misconduct. Mrs Harris collected her personal belongings and left the premises.

On 3 January 2013, Mrs Harris made an application to the Commission for unfair dismissal.

Applicant's evidence and Submissions

During the hearing, Mrs Harris submitted that

  • Allegations that she bullied Ms Maye were fictitious, vexatious and without basis;
  • Ms Maye's allegations “[were] extremely vague, to the point that many of the alleged incidents cannot be recalled. The only specific examples relate back to July and October 2011, over 12 months before any complaint was lodged”;
  • the complaints of bullying and harassment were only made after Ms Maye tendered her resignation;
  • there was no impartial investigation and the process followed in the investigation was flawed;
  • she was denied natural justice in not being given the appropriate opportunity to prepare and respond to the allegations; and
  • the Employer’s response to the allegations, by dismissing Mrs Harris, was disproportionate and failed to take into account her eight years of dedicated service with no prior warnings.

In summarising the allegations made by Mrs Maye against her, Mrs Harris stated the allegations to be:

"petty and unfounded and reading between the lines, the basic gist of it all was that I didn’t want to be her friend.”

Employer's evidence and Submissions

The Employer submitted that:

  • Ms Maye had made allegations against Mrs Harris before tendering her resignation;
  • Ms Maye resigned from her employment “due to the treatment she received from the Applicant and that treatment came to the Respondent’s attention through an exit interview with Ms Maye”;
  • the allegations were sufficiently serious so as to warrant an investigation that was "impartial and conducted promptly, confidentially and objectively in accordance with the respondent’s harassment, Unlawful Discrimination and Workplace Bullying Policy”;
  • it is commonly accepted that bullying is behaviour that intimidates, offends, degrades or humiliates another. Mrs Harris was found by the Employer to be “constantly aggressive towards her [Ms Maye], dismissive of her" and, "embarrassed her, humiliated her and belittled her to the point she felt she had no option [but] to resign”;
  • it took “bullying in the workplace incredibly serious[ly] and once satisfied bullying had/was occurring was required to take steps to ensure the health and safety of all employees”;
  • it considered all other options, but in light of the seriousness of the behaviour, it was determined that Mrs Harris’ employment had to be terminated due to gross misconduct.

The Commission's Findings

In light of the conflicting evidence, the Commissioner was satisfied that while the working relationship between Ms Maye and Mrs Harris had its difficulties it appeared that the Employer had not acted on Ms Maye’s complaints until she resigned from her employment. The Commissioner held that such a course, of itself, was inappropriate.

Notwithstanding the conflicting evidence as to what actually occurred, the Commissioner noted that neither Ms Maye nor the Employer could provide any contemporaneous documentation of the alleged bullying incidents nor any written record of the disciplinary investigation setting out the reasons why the Employer formed the view that Mrs Harris was “guilty of bullying” Ms Maye.

While being satisfied that there were certainly differences between Ms Maye and the Mrs Harris, having evaluated all the circumstances, the Commissioner was not satisfied that the alleged conduct of Mrs Harris as set out in the disciplinary investigation occurred.

The Commissioner noted the contrast between the apparent lack of response to Ms Maye's original complaints and the speed with which the disciplinary process against Mrs Harris was carried out following Ms Maye's exit interview. The Commissioner found:

"While events can unfold quickly, it does not mean that an employee has been treated unfairly. However, in these circumstances, it was essentially one person’s feelings regarding another person’s behaviour - behaviour, which was in the main, 17 months old and denied. In my view, a more thoughtful approach was essential."

Having found that Mrs Harris was unfairly dismissed from her employment and given that reinstatement was not sought, the Commission considered an award of compensation to be appropriate and reserved judgment on the quantum of that compensation.

Assessment of Workplace Bullying

Following the determination that Mrs Harris was unfairly dismissed, the Commissioner made a number of interesting observations in respect of the treatment of workplace bullying by the Commission.

Most significantly, the Commissioner stressed that not all conflict between employees in the workplace should be classed as workplace bullying and that employees required, by mere fact of their presence in a workplace, some degree of resilience. To that end, the Commissioner stated:

"While the Commission does not and should not endorse the view that “anything goes” at the workplace, it is also important not to confirm as bullying and gross misconduct behaviour, as in this case, which is not pursued with any vigour and relates to incidents which occurred some time ago."

The Commissioner went on to state that:

"In my view, the Commission should guard against creating a workplace environment of excessive sensitivity to every misplaced word or conduct. The workplace comprises of persons of different ages, workplace experience and personalities - not divine angels. Employers are required to pursue inappropriate behaviour but need to be mindful that every employee who claims to have been hurt, embarrassed or humiliated does not automatically mean the offending employee is “guilty of bullying” and “gross misconduct”.

New Anti-bullying Provisions

This decision is particularly timely given it was handed down in the wake of the introduction Fair Work Commission's new anti-bullying jurisdiction which will come into effect on 1 January 2014. The provisions in Part 6-4B of the Fair Work Act 2009 allow workers engaged by a constitutionally covered business [2] who reasonably believe they are being bullied at work to apply directly to the Commission for an order to stop the bullying.

The new provisions include a definition of bullying which states that a worker is bullied at work if, while the worker is at work, an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behave unreasonably towards the worker and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

The new provisions expressly exclude from the definition of bullying "reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner".

The Commission's powers will extend to making an order for the bullying to stop if it is satisfied that bullying has occurredand there is a risk it will continue to occur. Those orders can be made against the employer, co-workers and visitors to the workplace, including union organisers, but cannot include financial penalties, reinstatement or compensation.

At this stage, it is premature to speculate as to how the Commission's workplace bullying jurisdiction will evolve over time. Certainly, decisions placing a relatively high threshold to establish workplace bullying such as Harris v WorkPac Pty Ltd have the potential to inform the Commission's future approach. Given that potential, the decision may well be of some comfort to employers anxious to come to terms with the scope and possible future use of the Commission's new powers.

This article was first published in the Law Society Journal, September 2013 


Top Five Coping Responses to Workplace Bullying Печат Е-мейл
Автор ani2007   
The empirical research literature on workplace bullying clearly demonstrates the painful impact on recipients, targets. The stress-related physical and psychological health consequences are more extreme than effects of other types of workplace harassment. Thanks to recent advances in neuroscience, we know the effects of psychosocial stressors like interpersonal bullying activate pain pathways in the brain. That is, bullying literally causes pain.

This single-question survey asked bullied targets to describe how they chose to offset the pain.

Most strategies (75%) pursued to cope with the pain of bullying could be characterized as negative, some to the point of being self-destructive.

The top five strategies were:
1. Withdrew from family & friends
2. Overeating
3. Drank alcohol more heavily
4. Took it out on family & friends
5. Turned to religion, faith or spirituality

Social withdrawal makes recovery from the harm of workplace bullying more difficult. Social affiliation with others is the best strategy to reverse the effects of distress. Unfortunately, few bullied targets engage. The tendency, driven by shame and distress, is to disengage. Withdrawal of different sorts was the most prevalent strategy adopted by survey respondents.

One-third of respondents reported that they drank more alcohol due to their bullying experiences, ranking it third in the top five list. Drinking more heavily represented 11% of the vote when considered with all other possible coping strategies. A negligible percentage (0.7%) began drinking for the first time in their lives. Bullied targets in this Workplace Bullying Institute study reported more drinking than in the random sample study conducted by Dr. Kathleen Rospenda  the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Psychiatry, 2009. Rospenda's wisdom is worth repeating. It is very hard to separate the impact on drinking of bullying from other deteriorating family conditions that accompany bullying.  Even those who increased drinking chose several other strategies. Finally, it seems bullied targets don't much turn to using recreational drugs or increased their use (only 2% of respondents).

Respondents did choose to do positive things to ease the pain. Within the list of positive actions, relying on one's religion, faith or spirituality was most frequently chosen. In fact, it was the fifth most prevalent strategy overall and the only positive in the top ranked five strategies.

The choice of actions taken to ameliorate the pain from workplace bullying is probably rarely a rational, conscious decision. If it were, then only positive behaviors -- engagement with family and friends, exercise, commitment to learning something new, and turning to one's preferred faith -- would be more prevalent. When targets face their darkest moments in the early stages of bullying, stress limits their ability to see alternatives. Later, when sufficiently over the shock of learning what has happened to them, targets seek information and help. Like the Workplace Bullying Institute, family, friends and coworkers who advise them must be ready to help targets recover by leading them to positive, health-enhancing, stress-busting behaviors.

You can read the full report at the Workplace Bullying Institute website (

The Workplace Bullying Institute, founded by Drs. Gary & Ruth Namie, is the first and only U.S. organization dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying that combines help for individuals, research, books, public education, training for professionals-unions-employers, legislative advocacy, and consulting solutions for organizations.

Research on fast-tracking your career, avoiding workplace bullies

Keep fit and dress well .. Avoid the workplace bullies.

Keep fit and dress well .. Avoid the workplace bullies. Source: News Limited

GOOD looking and laid-back employees have an easier time at work while unattractive or neurotic workers are "easy targets" for workplace bullies.

Research published in the international journal Human Performance reveals that disagreeable, neurotic or ugly workers cop more abuse from bosses and colleagues.


An Australian workplace psychologist yesterday advised workers to scrub up and behave "laid-back" to fast-track their careers.

Susan Nicholson, a partner of Mentors Psychology for Business based in Sydney, added that workers should enhance their looks by dressing well and keeping fit.

But she warned that women who flaunt their beauty might suffer a backlash from female colleagues who find them a "threat''.



American researchers Brent Scott, of Michigan State University, and Timothy Judge, of the University of Notre Dame, have found that workers are more likely to engage in "counterproductive work behaviour'' (CWB) against unattractive, anxious or hostile colleagues.

Attractive people are judged by others as friendlier, more likable and more socially appealing.

Workers with "agreeable'' personalities - who are warm, altruistic and considerate - are more popular.

"Although it is difficult to alter one's physical attractiveness and, presumably, one's level of agreeableness, employees should realise that, whether fair or unfair, appearances and personality matter in the workplace,'' they wrote.

"For two employees of the same age, the physically attractive employee is likely to receive more favourable treatment from his or her co-workers.

"If job applicants are advised to 'dress for success' to fare better in the eyes of interviewers, one might be equally well advised to do the same in the workplace.''

The study concluded that "agreeable employees are less likely to be targeted for harmful behaviours because their co-workers find them more pleasant to be around.''

"It may also be that co-workers use disagreeable and physically unattractive employees as 'scapegoats' on whom they can vent frustrations,'' it said.

"Frustration provoked by some event (such as) getting yelled at by one's boss (or) failing to receive an expected reward, may be displaced 'downward' on to disagreeable and physically unattractive co-workers because those individuals are perceived as easy targets''.

Ms Nicholson said bosses and colleagues tended to give good-looking people "the benefit of the doubt''.

"They're warmer towards them and smile at them more,'' she said.

But beauty could backfire for women.

"If a man is good-looking and successful that's seen as positive,'' Ms Nicholson said.

"But if a woman is very capable, confident and very good looking sometimes it can have the reverse effect because other women can feel threatened.''

Ms Nicholson said workers who dressed professionally were considered to be "more intelligent and capable''.

Professor Peter Gahan, director of the Centre for Workplace Leadership at the University of Melbourne, said research showed companies paid a "beauty premium''.

"People who are perceived to be more beautiful or handsome are more likely to be promoted, all else being equal,'' he said.

"Taller people on average get paid more than others.''

Professor Gahan said people with "paranoid'' personalities might perceive they are being bullied, when they are not.

"Maybe people who are more paranoid would magnify the negative perceptions about social exchanges at work and interpret that as bullying,'' he said.


Dress neatly and professionally

Keep fit and well-groomed

Don't throw tantrums

Don't be prickly, cold or distant.

Don't take everything personally.



9/13/2013 @ 12:35PM |706 views

Millennials Have The Power To Banish Workplace Bullying

Generation Y is less tolerant of bullying than other generations. Can they reverse the rise of workplace bullying?

The Bully: A Discussion and Activity Story

The Bully (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I wrote an article on why women are the worst bullies in April 2012, I didn’t think I would still be getting comments and emails about it nearly two years later. But evidently, workplace bullying isn’t going away.

Woman-on-woman bullying  is actually on the rise, according to Dr. Gary Namie, psychologist and co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). “Bullies are of both genders, but women bullies tend to disrupt relations or pit worker against worker. Men would rather push people around to show hierarchy,” he says.

The damage inflicted by bullying can often be worse than from sexual harassment, according to Dr. Namie. “The bullying is so personalized, it usually touches upon the target’s deepest insecurities.”

Over 80 percent of female bullies choose female targets.

Bullying varies from ostracizing victims to spreading rumors and betraying trust. Unfortunately, action against it is rarely taken. WBI found that the majority of targets believe senior executives in their organization consider bullying to be irrelevant and not worthy of attention.

How Millennials can change the status quo

But, there’s good news. Millennials have grown up with anti-bullying campaigns in school. Having more information on what constitutes bullying makes them more vocal against it and less likely to put up with it.

“The younger generation is quite intolerant of bullying,” says Dr. Namie. “We’ve found they’re less likely to believe they have to continue to stay in that environment. Many know they’ll hold multiple jobs in their lifetime, so they’re quick to get out of a bad situation [compared to the older generations],” he says. In time, the intolerance to bullying will trickle down to other generations as companies face employee turnover from it.

Plus, despite the rise of Internet trolling and reputation damage through social media, Dr. Namie says the internet has actually had a positive impact on the case against workplace bullying. Online forums dedicated to sharing stories have generally been supportive, he says. A whopping 72% of people surveyed had never heard of “workplace bullying” before reading the term online.

Millennials may be less tolerant, but it’s up to the company to fix it

“Employers have the power to nip bullying in the bud,” says Dr. Namie.

“I’m always surprised when small companies don’t address a bully. If you have six employees and one is a bully, that’s a significant percentage of your workforce that’s unhappy. In a bigger company, one bully out of a hundred wouldn’t make as big a dent.”

Yet, under six percent of respondents in a WBI survey said their organizations had a defined policy enforceable against bullying.

Australia: The Bullying Code: Harmonised work health and safety laws pushing boundaries into white collar work

Employment Update (Australia)
Last Updated: 12 September 2013
Article by Andrew Ball and Donna Trembath

Australia has an impressive track record in legislating and enforcing work health and safety laws as underscored by the recent harmonisation of work health and safety laws in most jurisdictions across Australia1.

Safe Work Australia's draft Code of Practice on Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying ("Bullying Code") is a game-changer that marks the first meaningful development in work health and safety law for employers in "safe" industries and office workers for many years.

The Bullying Code, once finalised, will set a national benchmark for managing workplace bullying that is likely to have a strong impact on employment law.

As a by-product of harmonised workplace health and safety laws in Australia, the Bullying Code can be expected to resonate much more strongly than single State work health and safety initiatives have done in the past to combat harassment or bullying2.

In practical terms the draft Bullying Code is also revolutionary because it expands the frontiers of work health and safety law into mental well-being.


Safe Work Australia is an independent statutory agency responsible for improving occupational health and safety arrangements across Australia.

It has presided over an occupational health and safety harmonisation process that was agreed by all jurisdictions in principle in 2008 and which has led to the Commonwealth and six of eight States and Territories (other than Victoria and Western Australia) legislating close to "mirror" Work Health Safety Acts from 1 January 2012 onwards.

While work health and safety laws apply to all industries, in practice the regulatory burden and risk of criminal prosecution is concentrated in dangerous industries such as construction, manufacturing and mining.

This is reflected in the Codes of Practice that complement work health and safety legislation being focused on high risk work such as work at heights, near cranes and around gas cylinders.

Where Codes of Practice stray into office worker territory it is mainly to lay down guidelines on matters such as amenities, lighting, ventilation and first aid, that are so well established as to have become standard.

The Bullying Code, while relevant to all Australians, pushes the boundaries of work health and safety law into white collar work.

Employers in "safe" industries that might not otherwise be heavily impacted by work health and safety law will need to pay attention to the Bullying Code if only from an employment law and human resources management perspective.


The Bullying Code was issued a second time for public comment ending 15 July 2013. It attracted 105 submissions and remains in draft form until finalised.

The Bullying Code defines workplace bullying as "repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety". It provides examples of behaviours that could potentially be considered workplace bullying including not only overt behaviours, but behaviours that are more subtle, and likely to be more difficult to prove, such as unjustified criticism or complaints, withholding information vital for effective work performance, setting unreasonable deadlines or constantly changing deadlines, setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person's skill level and excessive scrutiny at work.


The Bullying Code provides that employers should develop a workplace bullying policy. It recommends face to face training on the policy with facilitated role plays, group work and opportunities to ask questions.


Where an allegation of workplace bullying indicates a serious risk to health and safety, the Bullying Code states that an investigation may be the most appropriate way to manage the situation. It recommends that an external investigator is engaged if there is no one at the business who is suitably impartial or qualified to lead the investigation. This is consistent with an increase in the number of instructions we have received in recent times from clients who seek our advice or wish to arrange a privileged third party investigation of bullying complaints.

If the investigation substantiates the bullying allegation, appropriate actions are said to include gaining a commitment that the behaviour will not be repeated and monitoring this over time, transferring a worker or workers to another area, apologies, demotion or dismissal. It also suggests that the business look to itself for any behaviours that might have arisen from underlying factors such as workloads, staffing levels and training.

If the investigation does not substantiate the bullying allegation, the Bullying Code nevertheless suggests providing assistance to resolve any outstanding issues such as mediation, counselling, or changing working arrangements.


The Bullying Code places equal emphasis on not only responding to bullying but taking preventative steps. It suggests talking to workers to find out if bullying is occurring, monitoring patterns of absenteeism and workers compensation claims and holding exit interviews to flush out bullying.

Even if a workplace has experienced no bullying complaints the draft Bullying Code recommends scheduling periodic reviews to check if antibullying controls are working, including through gathering evidence on whether supervisor and manager training has been effective and whether workers feel empowered to raise complaints.


Once the Bullying Code is finalised it will be up to the relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory work health and safety Ministers to approve the Bullying Code and give it legal effect in their jurisdiction.

While not a law as such, section 275 of the harmonised work health and safety legislation makes a Code of Practice admissible in prosecution proceedings under the legislation. The court or tribunal hearing the proceedings may use the Bullying Code to determine what could have been done, in a practical sense, to protect workers from bullying. That said, there is nothing to prevent an employer from adopting another method outside a Code of Practice that is equivalent to or of a higher standard than the standard required in a Code.

The Bullying Code should be seized upon by inhouse employment lawyers and human resources managers as it carries the imprimatur of work health and safety law and will create a national standard for best practice management in relation to workplace bullying in Australia. The Bullying Code will also complement recent changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) which, from 1 January 2014, will open up a new venue for employees to raise workplace bullying claims before the Fair Work Commission.


We consider the Bullying Code and the new bullying provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) will be a catalyst for modifying behaviours in the workplace.

For example, to avoid bullying claims:

  • by employees who say they have been subject to unjustified criticism or complaints, managers should think carefully before criticising or complaining about an employee and consider doing so in a structured meeting with the employee rather than making ill thought out remarks in front of the employee and others.
  • based on employees' being set tasks unreasonably below or beyond their skill level, employees should be provided with job descriptions when employed, and writtenperformance reviews on an annual basis, that confirm the expected skill level and typical tasks (including mundane tasks like photocopying, or, at the other end of the spectrum, difficult tasks) required of the role.
  • based on over-scrutiny, managers who are scrutinising employees in relation to legitimate concerns about issues such as late arrival at work or lack of attention to detail should consider elevating these issues to formal performance management with an agreed monitoring process so that the employee is aware of the process.

These are some of the examples of how the Bullying Code is pushing the boundaries of work health and safety law into white collar work. In our view, these trends are likely to lead to a shift in the thinking of many organisations about the importance of actively managing employees.


1 Western Australia and Victoria have yet to sign up to the harmonised laws.
2 Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 (Queensland); Code of Practice - Violence, Aggression and Bullying at Work 2010 (WA)

� DLA Piper

This publication is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. It is not intended to be, and should not used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. DLA Piper Australia will accept no responsibility for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this publication.

DLA Piper Australia is part of DLA Piper, a global law firm, operating through various separate and distinct legal entities. For further information, please refer to

Seminar Addresses Workplace Bullying

MCC will host a Preventing Workplace Bullying seminar on Thursday, September 19 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.


The below information came from a McHenry County College press release. 

Bullying in the schools is a serious problem for our children.  What do you think happens to these bullies when they leave the playground?  They go to work. 

Roughly one-third of the workforce will experience bullying in the workplace, said panelists of “Rebel Without A Cause: Best Practices for Responding to Workplace Bullying,” at a recent Section of Labor and Employment Law Conference in Chicago. 

In fact, according to U.S. Dept. of Justice statistics, about two million violent crimes occur at work each year.

McHenry County College is committed to helping organizations to head off this serious issue by offering Preventing Workplace Bullying on Thursday, September 19 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the McHenry County College Shah Center, 4100 W. Shamrock Lane in McHenry.

By definition, bullying is persistent, offensive, intimidating or insulting behavior that makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable. 

Without intervention, bullies generally do not accept responsibility for their behavior; they are unable or unwilling to recognize the effect of their behavior on other people. When left unchecked, workplace bullying leads to increased stress, reduced productivity and harm to the physical and emotional well-being of staff members.

The seminar is facilitated by Sheri Bland, trainer, strategic planner, coach and president of Sheri Bland Solutions. She will offer practical instruction on how to recognize and prevent bullying in the workplace. It shows bullying behaviors that—while not illegal—are typically prohibited by organizational policy.

Health of man allegedly bullied by Ray Hadley deteriorating, court hears

Sued: Ray Hadley.

Sued: Ray Hadley. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The staff member at radio station 2GB who is suing talkback host Ray Hadley for workplace bullying is allegedly suffering from an ongoing medical condition as a result of his treatment and his health has recently deteriorated, a court has heard.

But the announcer does not want the basic details of the case released to the media, opposing an application by three media organisations for court documents.

Richard Palmer is suing Mr Hadley for damages resulting from the psychological harm he allegedly inflicted during an incident on February 7.

The statement of claim in the matter has not been released, but it is understood Mr Hadley called Mr Palmer into his office because he was unhappy that the digital content manager had not uploaded a podcast of the Ray Hadley Morning Show quickly enough on to 2GB's website.

Mr Hadley allegedly began verbally abusing Mr Palmer, with the latter reportedly recording the interaction on his phone.

The radio host was temporarily stood down over the incident after the recording was played to Macquarie Radio's managing director Rob Loewenthal. But he was then quickly reinstated following intervention from higher up the chain.

Mr Hadley reportedly apologised to 2GB staff over the incident, but Mr Palmer is suing him for damages in the NSW District Court.

On Tuesday the young man's barrister asked that the hearing be brought forward because "my client's medical condition has regressed significantly".

Fairfax Media subsequently confirmed that this alleged medical condition is directly related to the alleged psychological harm he suffered at the station.

Counsel for Mr Hadley, Sandy Dawson, later told the court that they wanted Mr Palmer examined by their own medical expert.

He also opposed, on behalf of his client, an application by Fairfax Media, Channel Seven and Channel Ten for access to the statement of claim and defence in the matter.

He said it was standard practice for such documents not to be released until a matter had concluded because they may contain "untested allegations".

Minding the Workplace

The New Workplace Institute Blog, hosted by David Yamada

Why targets of workplace bullying need our help: A rallying cry from the heart

Early Monday morning, a reader of this blog left a comment that specially captured what workplace bullying can do to an individual and why targets need help from family, friends, co-workers, and advocates who are not in harm’s way. Her comment starts with an explanation for why she hasn’t posted more responses to blog posts and commentaries about workplace bullying, mobbing, and abuse, then goes into a more general description of how smart, independent, resourceful individuals can be rendered powerless in the face of sustained, continuing mistreatment.

I shared this comment on Facebook, and the response was overwhelmingly positive and supportive of the sentiments and insights expressed by this writer. I decided that her words should be highlighted for readers of this blog, not merely tucked into a comment to another post.

I’m sharing it below in its entirety, with a few very minor edits and typo corrections, and with deep thanks to this reader, Lilydalelah, for her courage and eloquence. Under her comment, I’ve included the responses that were posted.

Let this be a rallying cry from the heart. Here goes:


Some targets may consume and be affected or comforted by info that strikes a chord, but are either still silenced (for a variety of reasons), struggling to find their “voice” again, or may be dealing with the fear of opening a floodgate.

I, for example, find posts, articles, and research studies all the time that I would love to respond to.

I often begin writing, and find I have written nearly a book by the time I am through. Too long and tangential to post, but too painful to proofread, edit and reorganize, I end up throwing the un-posted draft info my notes, and exasperated by the “reliving” of the trauma during the writing, I force myself to shift gears and just give up on whatever I was trying to say.

I find it nearly impossible to write a brief comment, instead, tangentially spilling the endless intertwined tornado of horrors.

In my case, it is a trauma that I cannot escape, as despite my best efforts, defense mechanisms, and sacrifices, the trauma keeps escalating, despite my job ended almost 3 years ago. However, the stalking, threats, harassment, and so much more, continue in a terrifying smear-campaign, via cyberspace, involving impersonation of my identity, and technical tactics tweaking search engines to keep the lies and fabrications of me as “crazy” and “a threat” discoverable… permanently.

I find so much I want to reply to, and resources to reach out to, but don’t know even where to begin.

The learned helplessness stage is so crippling. I am not sure how or if many voices can be still heard once the abuse goes on for so long, and becomes so all-encompassing.

With an unimaginable plethora of losses to acclimate to, and to mourn, plus fears of present and future we are saddled with, the oft seemingly-hopeless efforts, to grasp for a even a thread of hope, that anyone still cares, or that a future is even still possible, and the mounting stress of becoming more aware of the degree of danger we are in, the healing cannot even begin, until escape and safety is achieved.

I think that those with the most to say, are the targets most silenced.

Ones that escaped the workplace mobbing, by becoming too ill to work, only to find they are dragged into a whole new cycle, of becoming a target of a bully-turned-cybercriminal, becomes totally devastating to every aspect of a target, and the death of all hope of being able to pick up the pieces, and move on to heal someday.

I think it is probably why so many targets of mobbing die within a few years of “escaping” the abusive workplace. Only we never (or rarely) hear from these targets to even know what became of them.

Most are isolated, even by those who supported them, as the strain continues and becomes too much for supporters.

As for anyone else who could have helped, these targets are written off as “crazy” and not many help-resources see through to the “normal” person who is suffering a “normal” reaction to an abnormal, ongoing trauma.

By this stage in this multifaceted, multiple-cycle process of destroying the target, at work, then in every facet of life via online tactics, severe mental injuries like cPTSD [ed: Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder], and various systemic physical illnesses result, and also cause targets to isolate and be silenced. The ailments caused or exacerbated by years of fight/flight stress, will probably kill the target soon, if target is not first driven to end it sooner, to escape the daily fear and continued torture of what I guess most closely equates to being buried alive, and then forgotten about, by anyone who once cared.

The suffering that overtakes the target, every waking moment, becomes so intense, as escape inevitably becomes impossible, so one begins to hope, instead, for the air to run out quickly so the pain will end.

I am sure that sounds “crazy” and will likely be circulated as “proof” of this rumor, but I am just going to hit “post” without proofreading, or this will become yet another draft to add to my collection of things I hoped to say someday.

My point is simply:

We are too far-gone, exasperated, terrified of retaliation, or even fear physical assault plus the many other risks we now bear from what was maliciously and permanently put online to smear us. We are sick, in pain, and are probably very isolated.

We have often become hopeless, after years of coping and clinging to an inner strength, that is now gone.

Some of us are dead. Others may soon be.

Thus it is hard for targets of these most severe and ongoing forms of workplace bullying, cybercrime and mobbing, to actually respond to valuable, insightful posts.

But I think we are reading, and learning from the experts. Some of us consume information continually, and have so much we want to say in response.

Yet some of what we learn, frightens us even more, since depending on the situation, for some, there is no way to stop it. We spend stretches of time in avoidance, finding ways periodically to dissociate from the horror, but that reality lf the nightmare eventually engulfs us again. We can never hide from it for long, particularly when a bully resorts to cyber-tactics, to ensure no escape, healing, or future employment is possible.

We learn that as bad as it all has been, indeed it can, and likely will, get worse.

We remember in earlier stages, when we read of the cycle, and the stages ahead, and thought: “what happens to ‘most targets’ can’t possibly happen to me.”

And then it did.

Despite the knowledge, and every effort to prevent it, we were dragged helplessly through the cycle, and beyond.

We need support, and help from others, because our own (typically strong) abilities to cope, are now depleted.

We need advocacy, major legal changes, and awareness by others, so we are not inadvertently “re-victimized” by societal ignorance.

Our usual resourcefulness and ability to land on our feet, is no longer, as the damages progress. It always seems the road to solution is so close, yet for us alone, remains perpetually just out of reach.


Several readers responded to this comment:

Al Thomson says:

Lily speaks for all of us. It’s hard to defend one’s self after a psychological beating. We can ruminate and relive the events and outcome endlessly in a quest for closure that simply never happens, though we keep on hoping. I want to shed my status as a victim, at risk of being seen as a gadfly or nutcase, in the same hope. I thank her for sharing. I’ve had the good fortune to experience therapy that helped me view the situation objectively, as in a movie. Panic attacks are like hurdles on the way, each time I speak out. It may well be a false hope to pursue more creative ideas, but continue to do so. I know PTSD will likely be with me the rest of my life and somehow feel inspired to express the traumatic experiences in different ways, always hoping that one more person will understand, or that it may help someone else. I thank you and appreciate every word you said.

cfehner says:
Lily, your post is most eloquent in conveying why those who are targeted often can’t help themselves. I teach about workplace bullying to union representatives and this is a concept I try to convey. They often say to targets that “if you won’t file a grievance, I can’t help you”. I know how damaging this is to a target like yourself hanging on by your fingernails. We have come up with another approach to a toxic workplace that unions can use while keeping the targets anonymous and safe. It’s something I learned by the school of hard knocks. Thank you for your powerful words. I will be sharing them with my classes in the future if you don’t mind.

Been There says:
Lilydalelah, there is nothing “crazy” about what you say and you are not exaggerating about targets dying. A woman in her early 50s who worked where I did was bullied into quitting. A few months later she had a heart attack and died. Another woman, of the same age, at the same institution, was bullied and either quit or got fired. A couple months later, she suffered a stroke and lost her ability to speak. I don’t know what happened to her.

There were many times I felt as though my heart was going to squirm out of my chest. The chest pain would last for weeks, not hours, not minutes, not days. It was perpetual. If I had started out with any kind of risk factor, I’m sure I’d be dead too.

Bullying a practice for the whole workplace to solve

Bill Eddy

Workplace bullying needs to be addressed at the organisational level.

Workplace bullying needs to be addressed at the organisational level.

Research indicates that workplace bullying has a more negative effect on employees than sexual harassment, perhaps because there are more procedures in place for dealing with sexual harassment. To be honest, the problem is really a cultural one. The workplace culture must reject bullying, as there is little the individual worker can do. Successful programs aimed at reducing playground bullying focus on the school environment. Likewise, workplace bullying needs to be addressed at the organisational level.

A comprehensive approach might include:

■ Policies against bullying: Leadership in the workplace must establish clear policies against bullying and for healthy conflict resolution. Clarifying that bullying is any type of unwanted, aggressive or negative behaviour will help employees begin to understand where to draw the lines. Clarifying what the consequences are of workplace bullying (and that the organisation will enforce them) can go a long way to helping employees feel safe. Employees as a group should know what the policies are, as bullies often distort their understanding of the rules to allow their inappropriate behaviour.

■ Prevention of bullying: Programs designed to reduce school bullying often have a committee of representatives from different parts of the school community. This committee then develops and disseminates prevention activities. By involving all levels of employees and management, such a team approach has a better chance of changing an organisational culture than simply a top-down initiative. However, top management has to strongly support it in a meaningful way, or it will fail.

■ Staff training: Training all workers to support each other and ''set limits'' on their co-workers may be more effective than just setting company policies. When workers feel that ''it's not my problem'' there is more likely to be aggressive, bullying behaviour. Practising conflict scenarios and what co-workers can say and do is a particularly useful approach.

■ Confidential lines of communication: Many bullies are in positions of authority over their targets. So lines of communication that require reporting such problems to one's immediate superior do not work. There need to be independent people for reporting bullying.

■ Counselling: It would help employees and organisations to have a resource person for bullied individuals to use to discuss bullying experiences in confidence. This may help employees and organisations reduce the downward spiral of self-doubt and health problems that bullying often triggers.

■ Consequences: There have to be real consequences for bullies that everyone can see. That way other potential bullies will be more careful to follow the rules and other potential victims will know that they will be protected.

■ Healthy workplace laws: Some states and countries are considering healthy workplace legislation that would establish expectations for employee behaviour, and also provide for legal redress for workplace bullying.

If you are being bullied, there are several things to consider.

■ Don't take it personally. Avoid becoming self-critical or becoming isolated. Bullying behaviour is about the bully, not the target. There is nothing you could have done to deserve this behaviour.

■ Get help. Talk to someone about the bullying, even if it's a friend, family member or co-worker. Don't try to stop the bully alone. That is a mistake many individuals and organisations make.

■ Find out your organisation's policy about bullying. There may be a resource person to whom you can report the bullying. The best policies encourage co-workers and managers to work together to halt bullying behaviour and to have the bully removed, if necessary.

If you are being bullied by your immediate supervisor and if your organisation says you have to talk to that person, look around for someone else to talk to.

■ Remember you have choices. Many excellent employees leave organisations that allow bullies to run rampant. You don't have to tolerate a hostile work environment. Knowing you have choices and investigating your options (such as other jobs) will give you strength. Bullying is not about you. It's about the bully's personality problems. You don't have to be stuck.

Understanding that bullying is primarily an unconscious behaviour may assist organisations and individuals in approaching this more effectively. Most workplace bullies may be ''high conflict people''. Realising this helps understand that the problem is:

■ A problem of long duration that won't just go away.

■ It is a deep and serious problem, rather than a minor problem.

■ It is a problem that must be solved at the community level, rather than putting the burden on the individual target.

Bill Eddy is CEO of the the High Conflict Institute and the author of several books. He will be leading a workshop on ''How to combat bullying and increase safety and productivity at work'' on September 26 at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, sponsored by the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia. Contact 6260 7117.

07 September 2013

Employers need to plan for new Government's evolution in workplace relations law

Although the Coalition Government elected today promises workplace reform that is more evolution than revolution, employers will need to carefully consider its effect on their operations in the next 12-18 months.

Its policy retains the framework of the existing Fair Work Act, which it said has "many positive aspects", and amends it rather than starting again from scratch. In the vast majority of cases, employers need not take any immediate action. Any change will not be passed until much later this year at the earliest.

No restrictions on individual flexibility arrangements

The Coalition Government will not permit individual flexibility arrangements to be restricted in an enterprise agreement.

The "Better Off Overall Test" will be retained for such arrangements.

There is no plan to reintroduce Australian Workplace Agreements.

Workplace bullying laws to be retained, but slightly amended

The Coalition supports and will retain the amendments made by the previous Government to the Fair Work Act to include workplace bullying.

They have, however, foreshadowed two amendments:

  • workers making an application to the Fair Work Commission in respect of workplace bullying will need to show they have first sought help from an independent regulatory agency such as a state work health and safety body; and
  • the scope of the workplace bullying provisions will be expanded to include the conduct of union officials towards workers and employers.

Greenfield agreements – new good faith bargaining requirements

The Coalition Government will introduce good faith bargaining requirements for the negotiation of greenfield agreements. These negotiations and the greenfield agreement will need to be completed within three months; if not, the Fair Work Commission will have the power to make and approve the agreement as long as it provides fair working conditions that are consistent with prevailing industry standards.

Australian Building and Construction Commission to be revived

The Coalition Government will re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, replacing Fair Work Building and Construction. It will administer a national code and guidelines governing industrial relations arrangements for government projects.

A new threshold for protected action

The Coalition's policy is that before "protected action" can occur the Fair Work Commission will need to be satisfied that there has been genuine and meaningful talks between the employer and employees and that the claims made by both parties are "sensible and realistic".

Fair Work Review Panel

The Coalition promises to implement some of the recommendations of the Fair Work Review Panel that were not implemented by the previous Labor Government, including:

  • clarifying the circumstances when annual leave loading is payable on termination;
  • amending the "Better Offer Overall Test" to include consideration of non-monetary benefits; and
  • requiring an employer and employee to hold a meeting to discuss a request for extended unpaid parental leave, unless the employer has already agreed to the request.

Paid Parental Leave Scheme

While the Coalition has promised to introduce its own Paid Parental Leave Scheme, the full implications of this, and how it will interact with pre-existing employee entitlements, are not yet clear.

Right of entry

The Coalition will reverse the right of entry amendments passed in June this year, and seek to limit union entry for discussion purposes to:

  • a union covered by an enterprise agreement at that workplace; or
  • a union as a bargaining representative seeking to make an agreement in that workplace where there is evidence members have requested their presence.

For award-covered workplaces or non-union covered enterprise agreements, entry will be permitted only where a union can demonstrate it has, or had a representative role in that workplace and it has members who have requested their presence.

The coalition will give the Fair Work Commission powers to resolve disputes about the frequency of unions' workplace visits.

The proposed changes will not affect union rights to enter to investigate OHS breaches or represent a member in a dispute over an award or agreement.

As always, the Clayton Utz Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety team will keep you informed of developments as the Coalition's policies are implemented in this vital area.

 Code of Silence is a Challenge When Employers Address Workplace Bullying

While a certain amount of levity in the workplace can promote collegiality and teamwork, if employees' playful banter crosses the line into relentless taunting and bullying, morale can suffer and the risk of lawsuits can increase. Yet employers may find it difficult to uncover and eradicate bullying because employees are afraid to speak up.

The immense pressure for victims to remain silent is illustrated in a recent Chicago Tribune article that gave prominent attention to the subject of workplace bullying. The news report described in detail how employees of a Chicago suburb routinely engaged in taunting one another, with one incident that allegedly involved a physical assault.  The issue finally came to light when, following a tip, a police department detective interviewed the main target of the conduct, who reluctantly confirmed that he had been subjected to mistreatment. But even then, the individual was adamant that he did not want anyone to get in trouble.

According to the article, the city’s investigation included an admission by a co-worker that the employees tickled and spanked one another, had food fights in the break room, and poured water on each other’s chairs.  At the conclusion of the investigation, two employees received one-week suspensions and supervisors were reprimanded, the news report stated.  Notably, the supervisors were found to have been aware of some of the conduct but indicated they did not think the teasing rose to the level of bullying.

Employees also cited fear of retaliation as a reason for their reluctance to come forward to report on a retail store manager’s conduct in a recent case in the Montana U.S. District Court. In that case, the District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer on claims by the terminated store manager, after the employer defended by showing the details of its investigation.  As described in the court's opinion, employees eventually came forward with their reports of alleged bullying when the store manager was on a leave of absence. The employer conducted an investigation and heard that the store manager had grabbed and bruised the arm of an employee, used profanity, and bullied employees. The investigation also included review of video footage.  After investigating, the employer concluded that the store manager had violated the company’s code of conduct, warranting termination. The district court held that the reasons for termination were not pretextual.

As these recent examples illustrate, the workplace can be fraught with conduct that makes employees feel uncomfortable, yet they may fear adverse consequences from being the one to break the silence.  So how can employers be proactive to prevent and address such conduct and overcome the reluctance of employees to speak up?  First, ensure that anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct provide alternate means for reporting concerns and explicitly state that retaliation is prohibited.  One alternative may be a hotline that takes reports.  Moreover, employees should focus on establishing an environment where conduct expectations are clear and all policies are enforced, not just posted. Frequent training, periodic meetings where employees can air issues outside the presence of their co-workers or supervisors, and accountability for supervisors who fail to meet expectations are all important steps to create an environment of trust where misbehavior is reported and corrected before it spins out of control.


Top Ten Tips for Fighting Bullying in the Workplace, a Updated Guide re-launched today

>PRWEB.COM Newswire

The team at also invited readers to contribute their experiences with workplace bullying to make the fight clearer and stronger. They can reach the team on

The article lists the top 10 tips for fighting workplace bullying, such as, making sure work regulations cover bullying and cyber-bullying, also Promoting a healthy work environment where no one is taken advantage of and no one gets credit for work they did not do.

The article highlights the importance of implementing a culture of diversity lessens the possibility of bullying a fellow employee as well as making sure bullying incidents are reported and following up on the case until it is seriously addressed. It is also highly recommended to confront the bully in a staff meeting and making sure everyone understand the employee is not comfortable with the way he/she is being treated.

Macartan Mulligan, Co-Founder of, said “we took information from several of our readers on how to report and fight workplace bullying and we have incorporated their tips within the article.”

The article comes out in an endeavor to define bullying extensively and support is with statistics and numbers because education is the first step to combating bullying correctly. It is also raises the need for tougher more strict rules on preventing workplace bullying in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize someone’s career. features many pages dedicated to parents, teens, teachers, health professionals as well as posts related to cyber safety and the latest news about law making concerning curbing Bullying worldwide as well as inspirational Bullying Poems and[Bullying Quotes.

The website makes a habit of updating its bullying statistics and cyber bullying statistics regularly because it is essential to understand how widespread the bullying epidemic is.

He also added that anyone suffering from bullying in any form or way can always reach out to the team of NoBullying and they will be given advice on how to stand up to bullying or protect themselves online.

The founders of the website hope that viewers can truly learn about bullying definition as well as school bullying and workplace bullying and put a serious effort to making it stop by education and caution and not by violence. is not a mere website but an actual movement against bullying.


New Girl on the Block: Identifying and Coping With Workplace Bullies

Posted: 09/04/2013 12:57 

Have you ever been the victim of humiliating or intimidating tactics such as ridicule, verbal abuse, being the butt of all jokes, being excluded and having your contributions purposefully ignored by a boss or colleague? Workplace bullying can take shape in many unidentified forms. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, workplace bullying is "repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators."

Workplace bullying, once a condition suffered in silence, has garnered widespread national attention in recent years. More than 50 million Americans have reported being bullied at work at a point in time in their career. I myself am included in this number. Behind closed doors, I was praised for my achievements, but belittled in public forums. My days on the job seemed to be a comedic movie script one day and the next, seemed more like a movie nightmare.

Unfortunately, women are more likely to become targets of workplace bullying than men. Studies conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute show a strong gender dynamic at play: 62 percent of workplace bullies are male, while women comprise 58 percent of targets. According to Planned Parenthood, adjectives associated with masculinity are "competitive," "non- emotional," "tough-skinned" and "aggressive." Whereas, words used to describe femininity include "passive," "sensitive," "emotional," "weak" and "nurturing." The unanswered question of why women are more likely to become victims of workplace bullying still lingers. Are women considered nurturing and passive-aggressive both inside and outside the workplace, making it easier for men to become bullies?

Research has shown there are many reasons why an individual bullies in the workplace. The most popular reasons include:

Bullies often times belittle others in order to boost their own ego and self-worth.

A bully may abuse his/her position of power in order to gain control over their victim.

Organizational Culture
The morals and values dictate the workplace culture as well as expectations that are considered respectable behavior among employees.

Being new to the organization or considered "different" among counterparts may cause a person or group to become primary targets of workplace bullying.

Perceived Threat
Bullies may view an individual as a threat both personally and professionally.

Workplace bullies, and bullies in general, seek validation and often struggle with personal emotional issues. Being bullied at the workplace can also become emotionally draining and lead to other detrimental effects such as health woes and severe depression. Just remember, it's not you, it's them. Take the necessary steps to ensure you do not become a victim. It can lead to resignation from the job because of the stress incurred -- or far worse, termination.

Identifying the problem is the first step to combat workplace bullying. Many individuals are fearful to speak out or confront their bully due to possible repercussions -- which makes it almost impossible for the victim to find a solution. If the bully has created allies to support his/her claims against the target, potential repercussions include limited growth opportunities such as raises or promotions within the company. The intended target may also suffer from inferiority, low self-esteem and lack of confidence established by the bully. As a result, it makes it difficult for the bullied to speak out, especially since they feel their voices will go unheard and their claims will be undermined.

Unfortunately, an inability to cope with workplace bullying can lead to devastating health effects (i.e. mental, emotional and physical). Regaining power and control over the situation is the first step in the coping process. This includes backing and following up all information and conversations in writing especially verbal conversations! Having information compiled in writing will prove to be fruitful and beneficial when bringing claims against a workplace bully.

The next step is limiting the amount of personal information individuals may know about you throughout the workplace. Remember, that old saying "less is more." The less personal information the bully may know leads to less criticism and allegations. In addition, limit the amount of time you engage in water cooler gossip and identify someone to vent and discuss the situation with that is not associated with the company. Staying silent will not alleviate the situation, but will only make matters worse and heighten the mental and emotional turmoil. Lastly, familiarize yourself with the anti-bullying procedures associated with the company to gain a better understanding of the reporting process against workplace bullies.

Greenwich school club aims to halt bullying

| September 1, 2013 | Updated: September 1, 2013 3:41pm

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) — A student club established to end bullying at Greenwich High School claims more than 300 members just days after a student committed suicide, possibly due to bullying.

Blake Sherwyn, a school senior, says school officials are failing to confront bullying as a reason for the death of 15-year-old Bart Palosz. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday at his family's home.

The Greenwich Time reports ( ) that Kim Eves, the district's spokeswoman, said a police investigation continues and school officials are not permitted to provide details.

Sherwyn and other students established GHS Connections, a club they hope will provide a safe haven for students who are bullied.

Elias Frank, vice president of the senior class, told fellow students that because of Palosz's death, he believes he failed the school and his classmates.


Katherine Clark Makes Campaign Stop in Framingham on Kitchen Table Tour

The congressional candidate took questions about gridlock, immigration and bullying in the workplace in Framingham Friday morning.

At a gathering at a Chestnut Street home on Friday morning for the fifth stop on her Kitchen Table Tour, Katherine Clark took questions from voters about immigration, workplace bullying and financial reform. Credit: Clark for Congress Campaign.
At a gathering at a Chestnut Street home on Friday morning for the fifth stop on her Kitchen Table Tour, Katherine Clark took questions from voters about immigration, workplace bullying and financial reform. Credit: Clark for Congress Campaign.

Submitted by the Katherine Clark for Congress Campaign:

Katherine Clark joined a group of voters at a Kitchen Table Tour stop in Framingham to talk about issues that need to be on the table in Congress.

At a gathering at a Chestnut Street home on Friday morning for the fifth stop on her Kitchen Table Tour, she took questions from voters about immigration, workplace bullying, financial reform, and congressional gridlock.

Clark has also stopped in Lexington, Arlington, Cambridge and Revere during the tour and will have events throughout the Fifth Congressional District as she discusses her priority of going to Congress to stop Republican extremists from attacking women's rights and changing the conversation to creating jobs, increasing the minimum wage, improving our schools, and stopping the epidemic of gun violence. 

Clark, a Democratic state senator from Melrose, told voters that it's important to find ways to move issues forward in Congress regardless of party affiliation.

"The Republican extremists in Washington are betting that we'll just accept obstruction and dysfunction as the new norm," Clark said. "But the issues facing our families, our communities and our country are too important for that. I won't stand on the sidelines and let them attack women's rights and block anything from getting accomplished. I'm going to go down there and fight for women and families."
Clark was sworn in for her second term as a Massachusetts state senator representing Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield and Winchester on January 2, 2013. She was first elected in March 2008 to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

She serves as the Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. She also serves on the Joint Committees on Public Health and Public Safety and Homeland Security. Clark is a member of the Advisory Council for the Department of Early Education and Care. In 2011, Clark was appointed to the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy Advisory Board at the University of Massachusetts Boston.


Notes From a Queer, Working-Class, Italian-American Man in the Workplace

Posted: 08/29/2013 9:02 pm

If you think workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination have ended, you are mistaken. For decades workers have been complaining that their respective employers demoralize, deprofessionalize, bully, and harass them. As of recently, an abundance of articles are circulating in the media about workers who are mobilizing and refusing to endure these circumstances, especially due to a lack of fringe benefits and pathetic salaries/hourly wages. Rhetorically speaking, can you blame them when they cannot pay their inflated rents, feed their families, and suffer from the emotional and psychological abuse of their bosses. Having tolerated a work environment of a city agency where I experienced sexual harassment, homophobia, and bullying, I can relate to these workers' experiences. The thought of awakening to another day of being enslaved to my city employer was dreadful, causing me all sorts of somatizations. The doors to these city offices need to be ripped off the hinges because the tax payers deserve answers to why management conducts itself unethically and why they are overpaid, unprofessional, dishonest, and incompetent. Here I will narrate my work experience where homophobia, bullying, and harassment were common phenomena and typical workplace behavior.

From the very first day of my employment with a city agency, I was objectified by my supervisors who were gay men. They were senior management who had distorted views of their power, and they lacked respect for boundaries, EEO policies, and compliance with federal, state, and local laws. They made it obvious through their remarks that they thought I was a sexy, youthful, and intelligent man, who was worthy for their eyes and sexual fantasies. I was willing to ignore their comments about my choice of clothing and appearance since it was flattering to be perceived as a sexy Italian-American man. However, when messages were conveyed me from my direct supervisor that my European style clothing was too form fitting and my big butt was noticeable, that is when I decided to pursue a sexual harassment case with the agency's EEO office. The criticisms were followed by directives to dress in baggy clothing, shave my facial hair, and to wear suits, in order to stop my virile gay supervisors from focusing their attention on my butt. The real issue: they were unable to control their small heads.

Without reservation, I filed a sexual harassment case with EEO, hoping this office would be willing to listen, investigate, and transfer me to another office. When I interviewed with the EEO investigator, I did not have to finish my sentences because the investigator realized the implications of the comments: the managers were prying on me and taking advantage of their power. With cases of this nature, I was told that a transfer occurred automatically, in order to protect the employee from continued harassment and retaliation. But this was no ordinary case because those who were implicated were top management, making nearly $600,000 among 4 of them, and bon fide city workers with decades of "experience." They were all politically connected within the agency. Subsequently, the investigator avoided contact with me regarding my case and transfer, and the so-called "investigation" dragged on for 4 months. Of course, it was my doing that led to an expedited process because I contacted the head of the agency to demand this case be investigated promptly and thoroughly.

EEO determined that their review of the case indicated no probable cause. They did not mention their internal, unspoken policy of protecting management who is above the law and deemed immortal and invincible. Foolish me, who is always idealistic, optimistic, and naïve, for believing in the system. When I consulted with a private attorney who specialized in sexual harassment cases, I was informed that pursuing legal action was a waste of my time. Only women (i.e., young, white women) receive attention in a court of law, but those cases require a woman to be groped, fondled, and demoted. And here we have a case with gay men who were making sexually inappropriate comments. EEO attorneys were aware that my case did not require legal action, so they decided to sweep it under the rug and lie about what my witnesses reported to them. This is a form of implicit homophobia within municipal offices and the judicial system. Gay men who abuse, bully, harass, sexualize, and objectify other gay men in the workplace are not perceived as perpetrators because they are middle-class, white, privileged, and well-educated.

Taxpayers should be concerned about the treatment of city workers because it results in a loss of thousands of tax dollars (and I am being generous with that estimate). Due to abuse, bullying, and harassment, workers are leaving their jobs. They know their self-worth, and they will seek employment in environments where they are valued, compensated properly, and respected. Tax dollars are being flushed down the drain on the hiring process, training, administration, and let's not forget the endless hours of time spent on processing papers. The irony is the workers are better equipped at performing the essential job duties for an office. Thus, when they leave, the managers don't have a clue on how to maintain operations. Once again, more tax dollars are lost with the occurrence of disarray.

Instead of worrying about whether I would resign, the managers would plot against me behind closed doors. They would send an email each day to me, thinking their logical skills were more developed than mine, demanding reports and evaluations be complete by COB, or by AM, or PM. (For those of you not familiar with this stupid office culture language, it means close of business, or morning, or afternoon). The instructions were always confusing, ambiguous, and grammatical and syntactically bizarre. I would highlight their lack of understanding of basic words, such as the similarities between detail and describe, and the differences between technical and clerical duties. When I stopped obeying their commands, they wrote me all sorts of nonsense about being insubordinate and disrespectful. What they conveniently overlooked is my ability to communicate effectively. In email responses, I carefully crafted letters that invoked the social work code of ethics, laws against discrimination, and basic codes of conduct for a supervisor and subordinate. To their chagrin, this outsider, who they took a chance on hiring, was willing to challenge their authority from a resourceful place and demand to be treated like a professional--and not a slave laborer.

The managers insisted that any rule, law, and policy be subjugated to their needs, even if the consequences were fatal to others. When I sat in my cubicle and listened to them, using an authoritarian tone, they did not care to hear a response from other employees. There were attempts by non-management to provide important, logical details, but power clouded the managers' basic human capacities. Based on a book that was published six decades ago, Are Workers Human? Taylor writes that leadership is about achieving the purposes of a group for whom the manager represents. When leaders use force and fear to compel workers to follow his/her directives, this tactic is called domination--not leadership. Clearly, what I experienced is not leadership.

People, who do not possess privilege due to their race, gender, disability, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, are subject to these social structures that are dictated by tyrants who impose their values and judgments. I hypothesize that policy and law neither prevent nor protect the occurrence of ongoing exploitation, prejudice, discrimination, oppression, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, queerophobia, and cripophobia. In actuality, there exists lip service, a lack of enforcement, and politics and power all of which overshadow the laws

I rendered a resignation letter because of the constant exhaustion from fighting the oppressors. I decided that it was in my best interest to depart and use my skills and motivation and passion to pursue a doctorate in social welfare. My discipline has been writing about an emerging countermovement to oppose the powers that be which have bureaucratized, corporatized, red-tapped, deprofessionalized, and reduced us to assembly line workers. This also adversely impacts those individuals who are served by these workplaces because they, too, are marginalized by these oppressive forces. I implore the public, taxpayers, governmental officials, and managers, to understand that the workplace is not intended to enslave, exploit, discriminate, and oppress workers. In the words of FDR, "No country, however, rich, can afford the waste of its human resources." Every person counts and their dignity should always be a priority.



Workplace bullies target less attractive employees


August 28, 2013 - Updated 145 PKT 
From Web Edition

ISLAMABAD: Some workplace bullies will target anyone for any reason and the preliminary research has shown that less attractive employees are more likely to become victims of bullying than others.


Though much of the bullying research has focused on what leads someone to bully others, very little attention has been paid to what characteristics may draw their ire.


A new study examined whether physical attractiveness and personality traits made people more likely to be the target of aggressive or hostile behavior from co-workers, Fox news reported.


"We focused on the victim because the research literature has implicitly assumed that bullying behavior is due to the traits of the bully," study author Dr. Timothy A. Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, said.


"To reduce bullying, we need to see the whole picture", he said".


Previous studies have shown that attractive people are perceived as both friendlier and more likeable than unattractive people. They are treated better, receive more attention and experience less hostility from others, compared to their homelier colleagues.


Research on personality traits has found that people who are victims of bullying tend to have a more negative disposition - a tendency to be angry, anxious, emotional or irritable.


IN the last HR Talk column we looked at how to manage age discrimination in the workplace. Of course, aging is something we all experience, but what about when the source of discrimination is a person’s sexual orientation?

EM Phil Collier
Phil Collier

With 1.7 million lesbian, gay and bisexual employees in the UK, and in an economic climate in which every organisation must find ways of doing more for less, no employer can ignore their most critical resource of all – their workforce.

Research by lesbian, gay, and bisexual charity Stonewall shows that employees are more productive, creative, loyal and successful when they have the confidence, support, and security to truly be themselves at work.

Sadly, this research also shows that more needs to be done to achieve this in many organisations – finding that nearly one in five lesbian and gay people has experienced bullying from colleagues because of their sexual orientation. Almost 13 per cent of the national workforce has witnessed verbal homophobic bullying in the workplace and more than four per cent have witnessed physical homophobic bullying at work.

Turning a blind eye to homophobic behaviour in the workplace – be it open discrimination or subtle undercurrents – can not only the impact health and wellbeing of affected employees – but can also have serious effect on the bottom line – affecting productivity and retention rates, as well as driving up recruitment costs, not to mention the potential legal fees that may be incurred.

Under the Equality Act 2010, UK workers are protected against discrimination, victimisation and harassment because of sexual orientation. Employers can be liable for the conduct of their employees, and must show that they have taken sufficient steps to prevent such behaviour.

In 2013 Stonewall named Accenture employer of the year. As a large management consultancy it clearly invests a lot of time and money in ensuring employees feel accepted, regardless of sexual orientation – but that doesn’t mean that small businesses cannot be just as effective when it comes to celebrating diversity.

So what steps can you take to achieve this (and ensure compliance with the law):

lBe aware that homophobic workplace ‘banter’ can amount to sexual orientation harassment;

lAdopt a social media policy that sets clear standards for employee use of social media;

lProperly investigate complaints of unlawful behaviour;

lTake disciplinary action against any employee found to be discriminating against or harassing another;

lImplement and adhere to rigorous equal opportunities and anti-harassment policies.

It’s no revelation that open, friendly, supportive workplaces result in higher productivity – the key is to make sure that this applies to everyone. By taking consistent and meaningful action to address ddress working cultures and recognising the strength of their diversity, employers will be more able to unlock the full potential of thier team.

City investigates after lifeguard claims workplace bullying

Brooks Bulletin

City of Brooks officials are investigating after a lifeguard with the Lakeside Leisure Centre was suspended after attempting to bring attention of ongoing disrespect and bullying by a pair of pool shift supervisors — despite having the signed and witnessed support of nearly half a dozen current and/or former employees.
Johnathon Williams, 17, had been working at the leisure centre as both a lifeguard and arena operator during which time he says he experienced countless instances of unwanted bullying in the workplace.
“I was constantly threatened, sworn at and told what a terrible job I was doing,” he says.
After bringing the complaints to the attention of the City of Brooks human resources department which he said resulted in little satisfaction, Williams’ legal guardian and grandmother stepped in.
“I told him he should be standing up for himself,” said Melinda Robinson.
Robinson and Williams began collecting statements from former and current employees for a meeting earlier this summer, this time with senior city staff. 
However, some of the statements Robinson read were serious enough that she sought legal advice first.
“As I read the statements from other employees, I took them to a lawyer. I was advised to take them to the RCMP,” she said.
Upon hearing the statements, an RCMP constable accompanied Williams and Robinson to the city meeting.
Days after the meeting, on August 9, Williams received a letter from the City of Brooks suspending him for a week, for ‘harassment of city employees and creation of a poisoned work environment’.
“Information has come forward that you are harrassing employees to get them to sign your petition while working,” read a city letter to Williams.
Robinson said she is at her wits’ end and worried about more than just her grandson now.
“Now city staff is trying to track down who has signed letters and what they’ve said. I’m worried about the employees currently working there.”
Mayor Martin Shields said the matter is currently being thoroughly investigated by the city’s HR department.
“Staff is working to track down all the pieces of this and get to the bottom of it,” he said.
City CAO Alan Martens said the city doesn’t comment on outcomes of personnel or internal staffing matters.
“When we hear complaints we investigate and look to resolve them. However, if and when we were taking any kind of action, we wouldn’t speak to the specifics of any particular case,” he said.
Shields said from the point of view of city council it has one employee — the CAO — and concerning themselves with individual employement issues may be a tough road for elected officials to travel.
“Our CAO is responsible to our elected body and that position is charged by council to ensure things run properly,” he said.


Seven days, seven ways to deal with bullies


If you think you are being bullied at work be sure to raise it with your HR department or your supervisor. Picture: Thinkstock.

BEING bullied as an adult is one of the hardest things to deal with.

Try these techniques in the fight against this insidious form of harassment, and remember - you are not on your own.

Identify if you're a victim of bullying. The Australian Human Rights Commission defines it as the repeated and intentional use of words or actions to cause distress and risk to a person's wellbeing. If you feel safe enough, approach the bully and tell them their behaviour is unacceptable. 

If you experience cyberbullying, block and report the instigator, be vigilant with passwords and private information, and be wary when sharing photos. 

According to the National Centre Against Bullying, it can be overt or covert behaviour such as harassment, defamation, embarrassment or exclusion via digital technology. 

Being victimised at work? Check your company's policy on bullying and inform HR or a supervisor. Follow up to ensure something is being done. Workplace bullying involves unreasonable and escalating behaviour directed at one or more workers, and the "repetitive, prolonged abuse of power", psychologist and bullying expert Evelyn Field says.  

If you're being targeted in a social forum, try not to show how much the bullying is having an impact. Social bullying includes spreading rumours, damaging a reputation, humiliation or exclusion. Calmly tell the bully you won't put up with the harassment, or ignore it and walk away. 

Seek support. Dealing with a bully can take a mental and physical toll, so don't face it on your own. Turn to someone who makes you feel comfortable - a friend, family member, colleague or a workplace or external psychologist.  

Hold on to evidence. You have nothing to be ashamed about by exposing a bully. Keep a diary of events, including dates, times and witnesses, and print all emails or online communication. If they verbally bully you, write it down and have a witness sign it.

Move on. Leaving a job or social group may not be easy, nor the win you hoped for, but if it means less stress and a chance to put it behind you, it might be the best solution. Cut off all contact with the bully and keep your head held high. You're not to blame.

 Workplace bullying costs businesses billions

WORKPLACE bullying is rife, and can cost businesses billions each year. So what can you do about it?

Workplace bullying can have catastrophic consequences. Christine Hodder lodged two formal complaints, about bullying, harassment and victimisation by officers at Cowra Ambulance Station, where she was the first female staff member in 1999. The first complaint was in 2001 and the second was a few months before she committed suicide in April 2005, at the age of 38. "In the past six years I have been badly treated as other staff members collectively bullied, belittled and intimidated me," she said in the complaint. "The staff in this station has constantly alienated and attacked my character and physical appearance since my arrival." A subsequent NSW State Parliament inquiry into the Ambulance Service found that bullying and harassment existed within the service. Hodder's husband, Jason, said at the time, "People need to be supported. You can't just say, 'Put up or shut up'."

Bullying "rife"

It appears that bullying behaviour is rife in Australian workplaces. A survey of 800 employees by Drake International found that half of the respondents had witnessed bullying and 25 percent had been bullied. Frightening statistics indeed, but there is a difference between bullying behaviour and harassment, says Dr Annie Wyatt, a senior lecturer and occupational health and safety consultant at the University of New South Wales.

"Harassment can be a single instance of offensive behaviour which usually involves race, age, sex or other criteria that come under anti-discrimination legislation," she says. "Bullying is a pattern of unreasonable behaviour and is defined as a workplace hazard. Often, there is no proof and no witnesses, and even if work colleagues know what is going on, they tend not to speak up." Workplace bullying can cause several problems, including anxiety disorders, stress, depression and insomnia.

"Workplace bullying involves the repetitive, prolonged abuse of power," says Evelyn Field, a clinical psychologist and author of Bully Blocking (Finch). "That is, unreasonable, escalating behaviours aggressively directed at one or more workers and causing humiliation, offence, intimidation and distress."

Just like the schoolyard bully, the most obvious and easiest-to-detect bullying behaviour involves swearing, taunting, put-downs and even physical abuse, but more common is an insidious form of subtle intimidation: silences when the target of the bully walks into the room, bitchy comments in front of other colleagues, the spreading of malicious gossip to co-workers, not being invited to crucial meetings, rolling of eyeballs when the target speaks, being stripped of critical duties and constantly set up to fail, and being excluded from social events.

Everyone is at risk

According to Ms Field, workplace bullying can affect anyone, in any career, at any level, within any organisation, at any time. "Workplace bullying cuts across all professions, can be perpetrated by both genders and happens between management, employees and co-workers. There are also cases of bullying going upwards - employees bullying their managers."

Research indicates that while it is usually men who do the bullying, as they are more often in management positions, there is evidence that women use bullying behaviours too. "While male bullies harass men and women, women appear to prefer to choose other women as targets," says Ms Field. There are two main types of bullies: those with an anti-social personality disorder, and sociopaths, who take pleasure in hurting people.

The rest are normal people, who would generally be horrified when it is pointed out that they are exhibiting bullying-type behaviours. "Most bullies are not aware that what they are doing is classified as bullying. They'll justify it by [saying] they are just getting the job done, that their colleague has brought it on themselves or it is simply a personality clash," says Dr Wyatt.

Green-eyed monster

Dr Wyatt says there are various reasons that bullying takes place. "In difficult financial times, there is competition for resources, so people undermine others to shore up their own position." Another theme evident in the research into workplace bullying is envy. Mostly, the targets of bullying behaviour are "successful, high-performing employees. The perpetrator envies them and seeks to undo them," says Dr Wyatt.

This is what happened to Lynne Lomax* from Geelong, Victoria, who had started a listings magazine that was bought out by another company. "I had always been a high achiever and was confident in my ability," she says. "However, my boss was verbally abusive and the intensity of the attacks were difficult to cope with. The more he harassed me, the more I was determined to make him see what an asset I was. I got to the point where I was working 80 hours a week, but was still being told I was useless. I had to email him when I wanted to leave my desk to go to the toilet.

The bullying had a devastating effect on me; I had a breakdown and suffered post-traumatic stress. When WorkSafe were investigating the complaint, I found that many other people had been bullied by him over the years." "The targets of bullying are often caught by surprise," adds Ms Field. "Over a period of time, self-doubt creeps in and they lose their confidence. It's like a brainwashing; they can start to believe that they're underperforming."

Taking responsibility

In today's corporate culture, an organisation may condone bullying as part of a tough management style, but it has serious economic consequences. According to the Workplace Bullying Project Team at Griffith University, the financial cost of bullying to business is between $6 and $13 billion per year and can include decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, staff turnover and poor morale.

"When bullying is entrenched in the culture of an organisation it is often thought of as a rite of passage, as it is the way that the perpetrator has learned to manage," says Ms Field. But there is a clear difference between a tough boss and a bully. "A tough boss can still be fair as long as they are treating everyone equally," says Ms Field. "Whereas bullying behaviour targets an individual as the odd one out, and a bully will mete out different treatment to the target." There is a line between bullying behaviour and managers making unpopular decisions. "Justifying decisions that people may not like is entirely different [to bullying]," says Dr Wyatt.

The wider issue, she says, is the lack of people-management skills in the workplace. "Many people are promoted because they are good at their jobs, but they may not have the interpersonal management, listening and communication skills needed to manage their teams. Hence, they may manage in a fear-creating manner which leads to greater problems."

When employees are valued and are working together, their organisation thrives. However, this fact can be lost on someone who aims to increase their own personal power through intimidation. So what is the best practice when a workplace bullying complaint is lodged? Field says it's important to validate the target's perception of the situation. "By taking their complaint seriously, the situation can be resolved. A denial makes it worse."

"Employers need to realise this issue is important," adds Dr Wyatt. "There need to be enforced policies, procedures and training for all staff about what constitutes acceptable behaviour. There is training available and organisations have a duty to take it up."

* Name changed.

What to do if you are being bullied

Dr Wyatt says if you suspect that you are being targeted in the workplace, arm yourself with as much information as possible.

- Document all alleged bullying behaviour.
- Determine whether you can deal with the situation yourself by informing the person who is bullying you that it is unacceptable. It may be valuable to have a witness present.
- Find out who in your organisation is the most appropriate person to discuss your concerns with.
- Engage in a discussion with your employer. This can be difficult, but it is the action most likely to stop the bullying.
- If you feel you need to see a psychologist, your GP can organise a referral.
- Talk to your occupational health authority, union or a lawyer.

 March 16th, 2013

Hirsch: Help schools go beyond bullying

Program note: Watch the AC360° documentary "The Bully Effect" on CNNI at 8 p.m. ET tonight. The film follows the lives of families featured in the movie "Bully."

By Lee Hirsch
Director, "Bully"

As a documentary filmmaker, I’m privileged to tell the stories of others safely from behind the camera, but when I started to work on the movie “Bully,” more than three years ago, I had to revisit my own experience of being bullied in school. I also had to face how that impacted my adult life.

Bullying for me was violent and, at times, terrifying. Black and blue turned to yellow for months on end. In the early days of making the film, it was about validating the experience for myself and for others who have experienced the humiliation and sadness of being a victim. Now, the key question is how do we tap into the momentum the film has generated to create lasting, positive change?


Post by: 
Filed under: Bullying • Opinion • The Bully Effect
March 12th, 2013

The Bully Effect: Your stories

Programming note: Tune in to CNN tonight at 8 p.m. ET to watch "The Bully Effect."

The new AC360° documentary, "The Bully Effect," follows the lives of families who were featured in the eye-opening film "Bully," and also the filmmaker Lee Hirsch. CNN producers dedicated a year to tracing their journeys of self-discovery, and the transformative experiences they had as a result of the movie.

They have become empowered through telling their stories of struggle and perseverance. In their own unique ways, they're on the front lines of the movement to stop bullying. As you can see in"The Bully Effect," they were victims who are now inspirations and advocates for others suffering in silence.

There has been a remarkable outpouring of support and responses to the documentary. Viewers have taken to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+,, and iReport to share their own stories, advice, and words of encouragement. It's a testament to the changes happening around the country in large and small communities, led by adults and kids who believe, like Anderson Cooper does, that enough is enough.


Filed under: Bullying • The Bully Effect
March 3rd, 2013

Empowering young people to speak up about bullying

Editor's note: Stuart Snyder is the President and COO of Cartoon Network. Tune in tonight at 8 p.m ET and on March 9 at 8 p.m. ET to watch AC360°'s "The Bully Effect," created in partnership with Cartoon Network.

Just last week, I had the privilege of standing with Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) and the staff and students of Philadelphia’s Harding Middle School to support them in speaking up against bullying. We raised Cartoon Network’s new STOP BULLYING: SPEAK UP flag to support a school that is working tirelessly to create a vibrant, safe, respectful educational community where all students are accepted and valued.

Accepted and valued; something all our nation’s children deserve to feel, but many don’t.


Post by: 
Filed under: Bullying • The Bully Effect
March 3rd, 2013
06:25 PM ET

Congress, help fight bullying

Editor's note: Robert Casey, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Watch a special edition of AC360°'s "The Bully Effect" tonight on CNN at 8 p.m. ET, and on March 9 at 8 p.m. ET.

CNN and the Cartoon Network's presentation of the AC360° special feature, "The Bully Effect," spotlight a serious issue affecting children across our nation. The film underscores the damaging consequences of bullying and the need to prevent and respond to it.

Lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure that our schools are safe, which is why I have made addressing this problem a priority in the United States Senate. I firmly believe that all children have a right to an education free from fear of being bullied. The denial of this basic right is a betrayal of children who simply want to learn.


Post by: 
Filed under: Bullying • Opinion • The Bully Effect
March 1st, 2013

Filmmaker's personal battle with bullying

Programming note: "The Bully Effect" is a new AC360 documentary that follows the lives of three families since they were featured in "Bully." It airs Sunday, March 3 and Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. ET.

For AC360's "The Bully Effect," Lee Hirsch, the director of the film "Bully," returns, for the first time in 27 years, to the middle school where he was victimized as a child.

Hirsch's movie is an eye-opening look at the psychological damage caused by bullying. He's used "Bully" to launch a movement to make schools safer and teach kids and parents how to combat the problem. Every student in his former middle school went to see the film as part of his initiative for 1 million children to watch it.


Filed under: Bullying • The Bully Effect
February 28th, 2013

Tonight on AC360: The Bully Effect

In anticipation of tonight's documentary, "The Bully Effect," we've heard from many of you on Facebook and Twitter and There's a clear common thread from people representing different age groups, ethnicities, locations, and background: we must take action to prevent children from suffering at the hands of bullies.

As Anderson Cooper wrote in an op-ed today, empathy and understanding are the weapons we need to give kids to combat destructive behavior. Bystanders need to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Every child deserves to go to school and grow up in a safe environment, free from threats and harassment.


Filed under: Bullying • The Bully Effect
Our unhealthy love of reality TV bullying
February 28th, 2013
03:41 PM ET

Our unhealthy love of reality TV bullying

Editor's note: Don't miss the premiere of "The Bully Effect" on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET tonight. The documentary airs again on March 3 and March 9 at 8 p.m. ET.

A red-faced Gordon Ramsay gets nose-to-nose with an older man and shouts, "Wake up!" He calls another chef's food "rotten." He reduces a middle-aged woman to hysterical tears. And all that's just in the opening credits of "Kitchen Nightmares."

For the next hour of the British culinary icon's popular reality TV series, there is little in the way of praise or pats on the back for the chefs he's coaching. Instead, he swears. He throws food. He calls people "stupid" and "disgusting pigs." His entire performance is based on sharp criticism and what some may argue is bullying-type behavior. Viewers eat it up.

Nightmarish behavior is the stuff reality TV shows are made of. Ramsay is certainly not alone. Tami Roman on VH1's "Basketball Wives" calls her friends "bitches" and physically attacks one of them in front of a fancy Miami restaurant. A study of the U.K.'s version of "The Apprentice" found it depicted 85 aggressive acts an hour. "American Idol" showed 57 aggressive acts an hour.