Investigation Says “Mistreatment of Martin is Consistent With A Case Of Workplace Bullying”

Below is an excerpt from the much anticipated report that was released today. Or, you can download it here and read the whole 148 pages [link]:

3. The Mistreatment of Martin Is Consistent with a Case of Workplace Bullying

We find that the harassment of Martin bears many hallmarks of a classic case of bullying, where persons who are in a position of power harass the less powerful. It may seem odd to some that Martin, a professional football player with imposing physical stature, could be described as a victim of bullying or harassment, but even big, strong athletes are not immune from vulnerability to abusive behavior.

The relevant literature on bullying indicates that bullies typically choose victims who are different from them, who have low self-esteem or who lack the skills to deal with conflict.3 A typical victim is a person who is unlikely to push back when victimized. Studies show that bullying adversely affects the target’s physical and mental health—it has been shown to lead to depression, stress, anxiety, mood swings and suicide. Researchers also have found that bullying causes decreased job satisfaction and increased intentions to leave one’s job. And several studies explain that targets of bullying may not report the bullying out of fear that their employers will not support them or that reporting the harassment will leave them worse off.

The mistreatment of Martin fits, to some extent, the classic pattern for workplace bullying. Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey were in superior positions to Martin within the Dolphins organization; he was a rookie in 2012. They appear to have regarded Martin and the others they mistreated as different, weaker or unlikely to fight back, and deliberately subjected them to aggression over a significant period of time, including abusive language uttered in a manner calculated to lead to humiliation in front of others. In a number of ways, Martin fits the mold of a typical bullying victim: hesitant to challenge others, perhaps socially awkward (at least in his own eyes) and different from the others because of his upper-middle-class upbringing and intellectual interests. He responded to abuse by blaming and distrusting himself, falling into what appears to have been serious depression. He did not report the harassment because he feared that doing so would further ostracize him from the offensive line group.

According to our consulting psychologist, William H. Berman, Ph.D., an expert in matters relating to workplace dynamics, interaction and culture and interpersonal dysfunction within workplace relationships, this factual scenario is consistent with a case of an abusive workplace relationship. Nevertheless, based on the entire record that we reviewed, we are not prepared to reduce these events to a simple or paradigmatic case of bullying. It is more ambiguous and complicated, because, purportedly in an effort to deal with the bullying, Martin developed a curious but seemingly close friendship with Incognito, his alleged primary harasser. Yet, while there is no doubt that Martin at times enjoyed socializing with Incognito, his efforts to befriend Incognito also is consistent with the reaction of a person who is trapped in an abusive situation. As Dr. Berman explained, attempting to develop a close friendship with an abusive person is a common coping mechanism exhibited by victims of abusive relationships.

One thought on “Investigation Says “Mistreatment of Martin is Consistent With A Case Of Workplace Bullying”

  1. Not surprised on what the study found. I hope other organizations, not just sports organizations will look at their temperature. My study can offer some insight. (Perceptions of bullying in the Workplace: A Phenomenological Study by Dr. Shelley V. Murphy-

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