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. Continue reading
New Hampshire’s 2013 version of the Healthy Workplace Bill HB 591 has been tabled for this year and a rewrite is in the works. Fingers crossed that legislators have recognized the need to remove “malice” from the text because it creates a virtually impossible hurdle for targets of abuse to overcome in order to actually use this law to protect themselves. We’ve written about this before and below is the SEIU article about New Hampshire. We applaud SEA for getting this legislation started and hope they use this opportunity to bring in new voices as several other states have begun to do in order to craft a target centric approach that’s also fair to businesses (instead of the other way around). Continue reading
Last week Pima County, Arizona implemented policy D.23.1 Preventing, Identifying and Addressing Workplace Bullying for their County employees. [D23-1 ] New rule: witnesses along with anyone who was made aware of behavior that may satisfy the definition of workplace bullying must now report the incident/s.
Many of us who have suffered the damage of working for an abusive boss have dreamed of the day that our co-workers would step in to help. However, this policy is missing the necessary contextual discussion that helps employees understand the important distinction between conflict and bullying. Only two of the 27 examples of bullying included in the policy reference the fact that bullying must be repeated and none recognize that bullying takes place over time. These actions need to be part of a pattern of abuse. Continue reading
The purpose of my documentary research into the topic of workplace bullying has been to ask several questions – chief among them is:
Can workplace bullying be defined? If so, how and who decides? How do we avoid – and recognize – false accusations?
Below are some popular ways of defining workplace bullying that may be doing more harm than good. This article recognizes the work of those who have gone before and is respectfully intended to break down silos and build bridges that encourage broader more inclusive discussion as we move closer to a legislative solution.
1. NO HARM, NO FOUL: Continue reading
Smart advocates seek multiple solutions to a problem. Advocates for U.S. workplace bullying legislation often point out that the U.S. is far behind other countries in addressing abusive work environments. But, these countries have a variety of approaches and don’t adhere to endorsing only one approach with one template. Canada’s Bill 168 broadens OHSA (our OSHA) legislation to include bullying. Here in the U.S, Maryland is currently debating Workplace Violence – a golden opportunity to include bullying. Why isn’t SEIU, cited in the article below, stepping up to include bullying (worker on worker violence) in Maryland’s proposed legislation? SEIU has been both the best and worst advocate against bullying. While they should be applauded for being the first to include bullying in contracts with employers, it’s important to understand the problems they face as leading the charge. SEIU successfully defended and reinstated employee who had been removed for alleged abuse to co-workers. Will union leaders develop a broader more inventive approach to fighting employers who bully their employees? Here’s an article on the push for Maryland’s workplace violence legislation: Continue reading