IT Employment optimize

Strides to conquer workplace bullying

Bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job, yet those suffering have no legal recourse. Here are some strides that are being taken.

What happens to those high school bullies who make lives miserable for so many other students just trying to get an education? Sometimes they're actually the ones with the problem and outgrow their miserable ways. But sometimes they just grow up and continue their bullying in other venues, such as the workplace.

An alarming statistic from the Workplace Bullying Institute: Bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job. And currently there is no legal recourse to deal with it, as there is with sexual harassment or racial discrimination.

There is a loose-knit bipartisan coalition called Protect-US-Workers that is dedicated to ending abusive work environments though national legislation. They have created a petition through Care2 that they hope will be a pipeline to tell their stories directly to President Obama and the Department of Labor and to serve as a plea for the simple respect and human dignity that all workers deserve.

Think you may be a target of workplace bullying? The Workplace Bullying Institute offers these signs to look for.

For more on workplace bullying, see the TechRepublic articles:


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

cd003284 1 Like

I've seen lots of workplace bullying and the only solutions I've seen to work were violent. Mind you, I'm not recommending violence; just recounting situations where, when all else had failed, it stopped a problem, though by breaking other laws. In one case, a notoriously racist manager was being protected by management, even though the HR manager was black. The racist had gone so far as to demand that no black people come to his office, on any matter, because he said they smelled bad. One night he was sack-jobbed near his home and beaten up. That ended any overt racism and sent a message that everyone understood. Another situation involved a large, powerful, psychotically aggressive man who was threatening violence against a co-worker who had been forced by circumstances to explain to their manager that the bully simply wasn't doing the work necessary to keep projects flowing through the system. The bully threatened to hospitalize his victim. The "solution" was to steal the bully's brand new $65,000 BMW and roll it into the depths of a nearby bay, and to deliver an anonymous warning that if there was any more trouble with him, he would join his car. The business world tends toward totalisms, or at least, totalistic cultures and behavior, making difficult the management or resolution of problems such as bullying, especially when culture or politics work for the bully. It's unfortunate, but sometimes the only solution is to go outside any systems and put a stop to it. Sometimes, if you don't just take control of the situation, the situation escalates to where the victim suffers far worse than what it would've taken to stop the whole thing. Spouse abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, school abuses - they all have histories which include so many, many situations where if someone didn't just take control and do something, someone else would've died waiting for justice. Again, I'm not arguing for vigilantism, but observing that virtually anyone can be driven to it by the failure of systemic responses that ask for patience, paid in suffering, while they dither endlessly in service of themselves.

v r
v r 1 Like

..but (my observation) it seems to be the people who didn't belong to any of the "popular" groups or those who were bullied themselves, who, now finding themselves in a position of power (however limited that power may be), bully others. My observation is that they seem to feel justified in the exercise of that petty power and seem to get some satisfaction (perhaps relief) by damaging others' chances of success or recognition. I have seen several people (not intellectual or emotional stars) who seem to take great joy in hurting others by stealing credit for their work while simultaneously maligning them to people higher up in the corporate hierarchy. One way to battle this type of bully is to make your work as publically known as possible and to stay as far away from the fray (do not malign in kind) as possible. Keep your integrity. Make positive statements that attribute credit for others' work to the people who actually did it. If the bully has tried to malign those folks, the people who heard the bully's comments (taking credit for their work) will at least be skeptical of the next statements the bully makes. Many more examples exist, of course. This is just one.

lpointmpoint 2 Like

Should we be surprised that an outfit called the Workplace Bullying Institute has decided that this is an important issue and conveniently have a homegrown statistic to back themselves up? You might also be shocked to learn that, according to a study funded by the teachers' union, teachers are grossly underpaid.

jonrosen 1 Like

Gave a +1 for the beginning of your comment. No, not surprised at all, and actually laughed that there WAS such an 'institute'.... Probably just a loose collection of overly 'Politically Correct' idiots looking to make the rest of us act the same way... As for the 'no'... Many teachers are underpaid, while they may have a decent annual salary, especially when you think of all the time off they get... Most teachers tend to work closer to 60 hours a week between classroom work, class-prep, grading and more. That's also not to mention the level of stress they are under in that they are severely hamstrung in doing their jobs the majority (My view) of the time. They can't teach many things because it is now 'not PC' (more of that idiocy), they cannot 'correct' a student for being a bully or acting out (those bullies would straighten-up some with a ruler brought across the knuckles), their jobs are subject to the whim of the kids half the time ('But, he TOUCHED me!.' .... need I say more?) While generally, yes, teachers salaries, at least in good districts, are a far cry better than any low-end retail job, the people, the kids and other issues they deal with put as much pressure on them as any doctor or lawyer, if not more, and easily just as thankless a job, if not more so. On top of that, they are trying (one would hope), to improve our kids and our society... At least as much as a backwards educational system will allow them.

John_LI_IT_Guy 1 Like

I would like to think that the bullies in high school (who weren't the brightest bulbs in the fixture) wound up in some miserable job that they hated. :-)

Regulus 6 Like

If a worker (or even student) is being bullied by his/her managers or co-workers, It stands to reason that that worker is not going to be producing at full potential. Essentially, this means that the manager's / teacher's / business's bottom line is being sabotaged. You don't 'like' someone and you force them to quit? It will take up to 2 years to employ a replacement and get them back to full productivity. Boy, did your pathetic ego ever @#%$@#$ you!