Gov’t Agency Addresses Bullying To Create “Violence-Free Workplace”

Can the Federal Government protect their employees from bullying? At least one agency can –here’s the workplace bullying policy posted on the NIH website. Warm thoughts to all who have been furloughed during the shutdown: 

“Anti-Bullying Statement”

The Department of Health and Human Services is committed to providing a safe and positive work environment for all employees.  Recently, press coverage and technology use has shed light on the issue of bullying, bringing real time images of inappropriate behavior to our homes and workplace.  Bullying occurs when people use their power, via verbal, physical or other means to control or harm others. Often, the victims have a hard time defending themselves.  It usually involves repeated negative behavior. Continue reading

WARNING: How We Discuss Bullying Can Make Things Worse

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 Today Dr. 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.

Research shows that how we discuss bullying can hurt targets/victims

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Can You Sue Your Bully Boss? Maybe…


Here’s an article by Jon Rehm of the Nebraska law firm, “Rehm, Bennet & Moore” who starts by saying  “if you are being bullied at work, you should document the bullying, try to constructively confront the bully and speak with HR if the bullying continues. If bullying is persistent, you should also consider looking for other employment.” Rehm poses possible solutions on how to deal with workplace bullying from a legal perspective.  Lots of interesting information…especially #2 Continue reading

We Know Bullying When We See It – or do we?

One of the problems with subtler claims of workplace bullying is the difficulty in determining who did what to whom, why and what to do about it.  Here’s an article out of Australia that highlights just how complicated perception can be:

An underperforming Canberra public servant was “bullied” by having her work problems addressed in private meetings with her superior, a Commonwealth tribunal has found.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal says that the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) was “insensitive” to the worker’s issues and “humiliated” her by holding one-on-one meetings to talk about her poor performance. Continue reading

Getting Along With Co-Workers 1950s Style

Years ago when I made my first documentary on the topic of workplace bullying & harassment I found the old training film for secretarial schools posted below.  In it a young-ish woman is about to take her first clerical position.   No one bothered to mention to her that she’d probably be called “girl” “sweetie” “honey” or that her bosses would make rude insinuations she’d have to ignore in order to keep her job.  That enlightenment was still decades away.  Here’s a link to a great resource with  thorough information on sexual harassment laws today.  I send a big warm hug to all of the women who worked so hard over the decades to fight for our rights. Continue reading

Must Read Book About Workplace Bullying Legislation

Legislators, journalists, advocates and targets will find this book by Patricia G. Barnes a much needed resource with tons of information about workplace bullying and a special focus on current and possible legislation.  Barnes offers honest critique of the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill and brings a fresh perspective and much needed voice to this effort.  You can, like me,  send a “gift” copy to your state legislator to use as a reference that outlines a variety of approaches to prevent bullying. Barnes is an appellate and trial court judge, a licensed attorney and an author of legal books, magazine articles and newspaper op-ed columns. She became interested in workplace abuse and bullying issues Continue reading