Can a Code of Conduct protect employees from bullying behavior? A few months back we published a blog post about just that. The ruling in Mark A. Kuzma (Plaintiff) v. MBNA Institutional PA Services, LLC (Defendant) upheld MBNA’s right to terminate an employee for repeated breeches of professional conduct. The fact that the NFL has chosen recognizable and trusted representatives to outline what types of behavior will or won’t be tolerated shows that they understand the core of the problem they face. Hopefully, other employers will follow their example.
The level of hazing, bullying, harassment, and discrimination that makes up the latest NFL scandal splashed across today’s national headlines requires a culture of consent. And, it will take more than singling out the racist tweets of a single player to resolve. Here’s a sampling of media reports about the NFL and it’s inability to address abusive behavior in recent years. Note: the NFL recently amended their sexual harassment policies because of concerns that scouts were asking young college hopefuls about their preference for men or women. “Do you like girls?” Feel free to add to the list of articles below that outline how long this problem has been bubbling over into the media:
The Workplace Bullying Institute website warns attorneys who defend targets of workplace bullying:
• bullied clients present challenges because of their strong negative affect – they feel wronged, treated unjustly by both indifferent employers, inadequate laws and betrayed by their union, coworkers, HR, and senior management
• because of the stress-related health consequences…, they may actually be incapable of rendering good decisions and weighing options rationally
• if traumatized, clients will present themselves angrily and be unrealistically demanding.
According to recently released survey — being unattractive and disagreeable makes someone more vulnerable to bullying at work. Can you spell h-i-g-h s-c-h-o-o-l? Better yet, can you spell m-o-b-b-i-n-g? Here’s the article from Michigan State’s website:Continue reading
Two must read mainstream articles were published this week. USA TODAY quoted an expert, Dorothy Espelage, who argues that because it’s “being used for everything from rolling eyes to ‘not wanting to be your friend’ to sexual assault, the word ‘bullying’ has really obscured our ability to focus on what’s happening… To call what’s happening with 18-to-22-year-olds ‘bullying,’ when in fact some of it is criminal behavior … it’s a disaster.” In Psychology TodayDr. Janice Harper brings the “bully label” argument to adult behavior in the workplace.”I don’t know what scares me more,” she writes, “the memoriesof venomous torment I’ve personally endured in school and in the workplace, or the troubling tide of anti-bullying rhetoric that I fear will do far more to embolden than control those mean-spirited people who consider their behavior acceptable as long as they convince themselves that it’s “deserved.” But I have discovered that to even discuss these concerns often leads to accusations, hostility and silencing responses nearly as aggressive as bullying itself…” Harper makes a strong argument and she’s not the only one pointing to the “demonizing” rhetoric used by “society” as part of the problem.Continue reading
If you think the C-Suite isn’t aware of the havoc abusive bosses heap on their employees, think again. According to the startling results of the 2013 Zogby Survey conducted for the Workplace Bullying Institute just *15% of upper management still clings to the outmoded idea that bullying only happens in schools and playgrounds — and perhaps for those lucky few that’s true. In fact, nearly *70% recognize it is a serious problem. Unfortunately, despite this welcome increase in corporate insight, those of us who have been on the receiving end of abusive behavior can certainly argue that this new corporate awareness is less often reflected in how our complaints are addressed. Clearly it’s time to include enlightened employers in the discussions about prevention of abusive work environments. Here’s how Zogby broke down the survey responses:Continue reading
Recently a member of our Facebook group wrote to say her boss told her he’d be going out of town next week so don’t bother coming in. And, oh yeah, she wouldn’t be paid either. Legal in your state? Ask an attorney. But, here’s what the DOL says: “an employer may change an employee’s work hours without giving prior notice or obtaining the employee’s consent (unless otherwise subject to a prior agreement between the employer and employee or the employee’s representative).” Where are those union contracts when we need them? Few of us really know our rights – here’s an important article by an employment lawyer, Donna Ballman, that EVERY employee needs to read:Continue reading
If you haven’t seen Bully yet, and you’re in the minority if you haven’t, now you can purchase a copy on DVD. Join the movement to stop bullying here – THE BULLY PROJECT. Here’s last years NYTimes review by A.O. Scott:Continue reading
A recent NLRB decision may help protect that venting you’ve been doing about your job on Facebook – so long as it falls under very specific criteria. But, it also shows how an employer can try to flip that “zero tolerance” “bullying & harassment policy” against employees. Slate summed it up this way: “The case—Hispanics United of Buffalo—started one Saturday morning in 2010. That was when domestic violence advocate Mariana Cole-Rivera took to Facebook to complain that one of her co-workers was unfairly accusing fellow employees of laziness. Several other staffers at Hispanics United of Buffalo chimed in to say they worked plenty hard already. Soon after Cole-Rivera and her co-workers returned to work, HUB fired five of them, arguing that their off-the-clock comments had violated the nonprofit’s anti-harassment policy.”The NLRB decision ruled against HUB’s use of the bullying policy for the terminations:Continue reading
Amy, played by Laura Dern, is the main character in the Golden Globe winning HBO series, Enlightened. The program’s brilliant co-creator, Mike White, often steals the show as loveable, and presumably invisible, Tyler. When the marketing team for the series contacted us with artwork and a request to help promote their show on this blog I couldn’t resist imagining what would happen if “Amy”, whose newly enlightened state leaves her with an inner need to defend the victimized, decided to advocate against workplace bullying. The way Dern & White have written her character, she would no doubt end up as both victim and perpetrator. I once had a friend who was an Ad Exec who suddenly saw the light and the crass error of his career when he spent a weekend at an EST “experience.” His marketing talent helped him quickly rise within the packaged enlightenment program. That is, until he was ousted for attacking too many disciples as not getting “it.” He was brutal in his desire to show the newbies that they could never reach his level of awareness. Amy would no doubt find bullies everywhere in her corporate walls and neglect to see that she has become one herself. Here’s an example of a storyline from season one:Continue reading
Shortly after the shooting began in Newtown, Connecticut many Facebook advocates suspected bullying as a root cause. But, it was clear that the media had learned an ethical lesson from erroneously making that link too quickly after Columbine. In fact, Education Week has found that for some time the Newtown School District did everything right to prevent bullying. Later, in response to false reports that Adam Lanza’s mother was a teacher at the elementary school, advocates were intuitively convinced that Lanza was exacting revenge for his mother against an egregious bully boss. By now we all know that Nancy Lanza had no relationship with the school.
Dr. Peter Ash, a forensic psychiatrist told CNN: ”Killers tend to blame others, not themselves, for their problems. Mass killers tend to target people whom they imagine would torment them, or whom they blame for their distress.” Bullying has long been considered a risk factor for workplace shootings but it is not necessarily causal. Joe Scarborough, a conservative advocate of gun rights, spoke for many republicans who were deeply conflicted by the school massacre: ”It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas… For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life and I choose change.” But, not everyone is willing to put rhetoric aside. Yesterday the Workplace Bullying Institute highlighted the massacred teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School as martyrs and denounced the “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and the incendiary profit-driven Michelle Rhee. None are school teachers. They pontificate from a fly-over altitude…” The WBI article ends with a call to supporters: “To honor these martyrs, the next time the teacher haters rev up in 2013 with proposed legislation, join us in calling them exactly what they are. Continue reading
Q.How do you manage the prototypical “difficult boss?”
A. Successfully managing a difficult boss is a challenge but often feasible. First, you should try to understand the reasons for your boss’ difficult behavior. Assuming your boss generally behaves in a fairly reasonable manner, and that his/her difficult behavior seems to be a result of stress overload rather than his/her character, chances are good that the behavior can be modified. If your boss’ behavior seems to reflect a chronically hostile, abusive style of interacting regardless of the amount of stress in the worksite, the chances are less positive that the behavior can change. In fact, you may want to consider seeking counsel from a trusted mentor or human resources professional to evaluate your options.Continue reading
A growing number of states are following Vermont‘s lead and deleting the original language of the Workplace Bullying Institute’s legislation (the Healthy Workplace Bill) and instead asking for a state-based team to draft their own bill. While it’s true that HWB advocates have invested a great deal of time and passion in their singular bill, Maryland’s proposed Senate Bill 999 would bring together a dream team that includes; the Secretary of Budget and Management, different union leaders, state employees, supervisors and a practicing attorney. Passing a legislative response for abusive work environments irregardless of protected class status is something all of us have struggled hard for and this solution holds real promise for Maryland’s state workers. The bill, which shows Senator Muse as the SOLE sponsor, passed unanimously in the Senate’s third reading on April 3, 2012 so it is now in appropriations. Below is the section that describes the work study group:Continue reading