$155 Million Workplace Defamation Award Overturned

Too many victims of bullying and harassment have seen their reputations torn to shreds as they struggle to heal and find new employment.  In 2010 Dr. Katherine Murphy lost sexual harassment and retaliation claims against the Aventura City charter school she helped found and Aventura City Manager Eric Soroka.  Later an Appeals Court upheld the verdict stating she was unable to prove a hostile work environment and, based on the testimony of co-workers, Soroka did not “single out females as targets for the profanity”:

Murphy testified that she asked Soroka to stop bullying her and that she complained to a former supervisor, Soroka’s assistant, and a city commissioner that Soroka had used “vulgar, inappropriate language,” and engaged in “bullying, yelling, [and] screaming.” Murphy failed to report Soroka’s conduct, formally or informally, to her employer, and Murphy acknowledged that she did not complain to Soroka’s assistant or the city commissioner that Soroka’s conduct was sexually hostile or sexually harassing. The district court correctly entered summary judgment against Murphy’s complaint of retaliation.

Fast forward two years to November 2012.  Murphy wins a whopping $155 million for defamation, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distressThe Miami Herald reports that: Continue reading

How did you react when you saw someone bullied at work?

What type of bystander are you?

coexchange.com

Those of us who have been caught in the sites of a bully boss know that the people with the most power to help you are the ones who witness the abuse being heaped on you.   Will they risk their own job to stand up for you?  Or, will they look for ways to make things worse.  In their research article, “When is a bystander not a bystander? A typology of the roles of bystanders in workplace bullying”, Megan Paull, Maryam Omari, and Peter Standen describe the roles and outcomes (positive & negative) that bystanders play. Continue reading

Beware the Angry Office Mob

Everyone Agrees With Me

Recently a woman, I’ll call her Sue, contacted me to share her  story of being physically harassed by an office thug.  The public humiliation included a stinging verbal assault of lies that culminated in: “…and it’s not just me.  I emailed everyone in the office and they all agree with me!”  The power of that sentence was not lost on Sue.  She knew that anything she now said about the incident to any of her co-workers would be perceived as coming from that far from equal framing: “defensive.”  Continue reading