There has been a lot of press about childhood bullying over the past few years. We have been urging our children to be aware of it in the classroom, playground, and in between. There has been instances where childhood bullying has turned violent and sometimes deadly.
Unfortunately, bullying is not an issue that is isolated to our children. It is an also an adult issue that has a face in every aspect of our lives, but I have chosen to focus on workplace bullying. It is an issue that does not get much press attention or awareness until it is completely too late when it turns into workplace violence.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, the definition of workplace bullying is as follows: "Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:
- Verbal abuse
- Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
- Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done."
Sadly, workplace bullying is not just limited to boss-subordinate. It is also takes place between two co-workers. The main issues with workplace bullying is the perpetrator wants control over the other person emotional, psychologically, and sometimes physically. The person slowly creates a toxic environment where the other person feels uncomfortable in the workplace, feels helpless, and sometimes feels like they are trapped in their job. It is also effects the person outside of the job. Mondays are even more painful because the person dreads dealing with the person. The health of the person becomes worse causing extremely high blood pressure and making the person extremely physically ill. The person does not enjoy activities like he or she did before because of the stress taking an emotional toll on his or her mind. You try to change jobs within the company and your request for transfer are mysteriously denied.
The worst part is that most of the workplace place bullying is legal. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, "most workplace harassment and mistreatment (80%) is completely legal. Remarkably, a hostile work environment is actionable (illegal) only in very few situations." Congress has not enacted a bill or law that prohibits this behavior that cause extreme psychological distress. It is even more disturbing that 40% of the victims of bullying do not report any instances to HR.
If you are a victim of workplace bullying, it is important that you document all instances and episodes where it takes place. It is also important to contact a trusted member of the HR department to report the behavior taking place along with any documentation that you have. If that does not reduce or resolve the issue, it is important to contact an Employment Law attorney who is familiar with cases involving hostile work environment situation in order to know your rights. When things are extremely difficult, it is important to enlist the trust of a Licensed Social Worker or Counselor to help guide through the emotional situation in order to help you through the pain. It is important to remember that you are not alone and not powerless.
In the gallery below, I listed the following movies that have touched on the issue of workplace violence and bullying. It is definitely not a new issue in the workplace.