Human Resources News & Insights

Do your managers know new legal threat of workplace bullying?


Get ready for a new way for employees to get their companies in legal hot water: workplace bullying. 

The New York State Senate recently passed a bipartisan measure that would allow workers who’ve been bullied by a boss or co-worker to sue their employer for damages. The bill now goes to the State Assembly for final passage.

And New York’s not the only state considering such legislation. At least 11 others are doing so, including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

Verbal abuse, ostracism and secret supervision

So just what constitutes “bullying”? Here are a few examples:

  • verbal abuse, including deliberate insults, calling people “stupid” or “idiots”
  • slander, such as calling people “sluts,” or otherwise subjecting them to rude and disrespectful behavior
  • ostracism, such as saying to someone: “We’re not taking you to lunch”
  • subjecting someone to mean pranks
  • unwelcome physical contact, or glaring at them
  • persecution, such as deliberately withholding info from someone, depriving someone of needed resources or otherwise impeding their work, and/or
  • secret supervision, discipline without cause, or being given unreasonable workloads or demands.

Where’s this sort of behavior most commonly found? In high-pressure environments where “making the numbers” is the all-important goal, the psychologists say. It appears that over-focusing on short-term goals and emphasizing individual performance brings out the dark side of human nature.

Given today’s “lean and mean” approach to staffing — and companies’ ever-growing emphasis on maintaining revenue streams — it’s not hard to imagine some form of bullying being a possibility in a wide range of workplaces.

The fighters on the front line of the battle against bullies: your managers. Could be a good time to provide some extra training for supervisors so they can spot the early signals — and maybe save the company from an expensive lawsuit down the road.

For an overview of the issue of workplace bullying, go here.

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  1. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    Recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about bullying in the academy…

    Workplace bullying has reached epidemic proportions in society, as indicated by the appearance of websites like this one:

  2. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    See below for excerpts from a review of

    “Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immunity and Behavior”
    by Galinsky, Lammers and Stapel, in press, Psychological Science.

    See further below for an excerpt from the article itself.

    Excerpts from the review:

    “…these results do indeed suggest that power tends to corrupt and to promote a hypocritical tendency to hold other people to a higher standard than oneself.”

    “…people with power…break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel…that they are entitled to take what they want. This sense of entitlement is crucial to understanding why people misbehave in high office. In its absence, abuses will be less likely.”


    Excerpts from the article:

    “The powerful impose more normative restraints on others, but believe they themselves can act with less restraint. The less powerful, in contrast, are less inclined to impose norms on others, but more rigidly follow these themselves. This means that people with power not only take what they want because they can do so unpunished, but also because they intuitively feel they are entitled to do so. Conversely, people who lack power not only fail to get what they need because they are disallowed to take it, but also because they intuitively feel they are not entitled to it.”


  3. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    See below for some informative excerpts from “Workplace Bullying: What we know, who is to blame, and what can we do?”, by Rayner, Hoel and Cooper.

    “Workplace bullying constitutes unwanted, offensive, humiliating, undermining behavior towards an individual or groups of employees. Such persistently malicious attacks on personal or professional performance are typically unpredictable, irrational and often unfair. This abuse of power or position can cause such chronic stress and anxiety that people gradually lose belief in themselves, suffering physical ill health and mental distress as a result.”

    “Workplace bullying affects working conditions, health and safety, domestic life and the right of all to equal opportunity and treatment. Workplace bullying is a separate issue from sexual or racial harassment. It is a gradually wearing-down process which makes individuals feel demeaned and inadequate, that they can never get anything right and that they are hopeless not only within their work environment but also in their domestic life. In many instances, bullying can be very difficult to detect. It often takes place where there are no witnesses. It can be subtle and devious and often it is difficult for those on the receiving end to confront their perpetrator.”

    “Looking at the consequences of bullying it became obvious that this problem could be considered an insidious and worrying personal safety issue. Research began to reveal that the stress created could lead to incidents, accidents and acts of carelessness or even self-damage.”

    “Whatever its nature, aggression is damaging to individuals and to the general fabric of society.”

    “Increased pressure on staff and managers to meet targets, especially unofficial targets, creates an environment which intimidation and victimization are almost unavoidable. While a tough, competitive environment does not create bullies it can certainly aggravate their behavior. It can also create job insecurity, [chaotic] organizational change and uncertainty, poor working relationships generally and excessive workloads. Unfortunately, harassment and bullying can be seen as strong management, the effective way of getting the job done. Such action by senior management can be seen as a green light to others to behave in similar fashion. This can seriously backfire on employers. Staff working in an atmosphere of fear and resentment do not perform well, with the resultant reduction in productivity. Morale levels fall while absenteeism through sickness increases and staff resign.”

    “People who are continually bullied or harassed lose their self-confidence. Their self-esteem is lowered and their health damaged. Workplace bullying can lead to sleeplessness, migraine, back pain, panic attacks and stress-related illnesses such as depression and anxiety.”

  4. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    As you deliberate on workplace bullying, please consider this series of excerpts from Field’s* book, which I find most disturbing:

    “…in the controlled environment of the workplace, the pain is inflicted mainly at the psychological level… Bullying, especially on a regular basis and for the perpetrator’s pleasure, can be regarded as

    a form of psychological rape

    because of its intrusiveness and violational nature… The parallels with rape are strong, but in bullying, the victim is also expected to find, identify, arrest, charge, prosecute and convict the offender largely by their own efforts and whilst recovering from the experience unaided, using a legal system that is unsympathetic, uninformed and often itself hostile…. Frequently, everyone knows what’s going on, but no-one seems to be able to do anything about it.” – p. 4-6

    *Bully in Sight: How to predict, resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying: overcoming the silence and denial by which abuse thrives, ISBN 0 9529121 0 4, 1996.

  5. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    As a target of schoolyard bullying in my youth, I learned the only way to deal with bullies was to challenge them.  Only after demonstrating a willingness to defend myself could a meaningful relationship begin.  Sadly, the references I have included here suggest that little has changed in going from the schoolyard to the workplace, except in the latter the stakes are higher and there is broad collateral damage.  In the case of workplace bullying, prevention makes for better working relationships, greater productivity, happier employees who consequently require less healthcare for stress-related ailments. Prompt identification and correction of bullying prevents the damages associated with unchecked and potentially escalating patterns of abuse, and therby reduce institutional losses and liabilities.

    In order to realize the full potential of our society, especially the call to innovation and social justice which requires employees to be at their best, we must proactively maintain and enhance a workplace culture and environment that preclude workplace bullying in no uncertain terms.

  6. Of course as HR Managers, we want to protect our employees, and the government has many legal boundaries to lead businesses, their HR, and managers to make sure that people are treated like people, and the powerful don’t take advantage of those without that power. But a legal restriction against glaring at somoene, really? Overkill.

  7. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    Those boundaries you mention are meaningless, and if only it were just “glaring”.

    “Nothing in my upbringing prepared me for the experience of working for a pyschopath.”
    –Bully in Sight: How to predict, resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying: overcoming the silence and denial by which abuse thrives, ISBN 0 9529121 0 4, 1996.

    Your response it typical of an HR manager, whose primary responsibility is to avoid exposure of the company, organization or institution to liability for wrongful conduct toward employees. Denial of the problem is not the same thing as avoiding it and the consequences of so many heads in the sand for so long are starting to reach the level of legal action for such willfull negligence.

    But if that doesn’t resonate with you, then perhaps this will…

    “Bullying can lead to higher company costs including increased employee illness, use of sick days, and medical costs, ultimately affecting productivity…In a recent study, bullied employees likened their experiences to a battle, water torture, a nightmare or a noxious substance. Understanding the seriousness of workplace bullying and what it feels like to get bullied could help managers put the brakes on the behavior, shown to afflict 25 to 30 percent of employees sometime during their careers.”

    — Study: Office Bullies Create Workplace “Warzone”

  8. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    “What is often reported is the sense of satisfaction or pleasure that the bully appears to derive from behaving in this manner. One theory suggests that an upbringing which is lacking in or devoid of approval leads in adulthood to a sense or delusion of unworthiness. The need to earn money necessitates gainful employment, and possibly development of career, which in turn incurs the need to be seen as competent. An inborn instinct to lead combined with underdeveloped and immature leadership skills gives rise to bullying, which the perpetrator sees as a sign of strength, hence superiority, and hence worthiness. Consequently, in a climate of societal approval and reward, the bully becomes convinced and remains convinced that this style of behavoir is both acceptable and necessary.”

    *Bully in Sight: How to predict, resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying: overcoming the silence and denial by which abuse thrives, ISBN 0 9529121 0 4, 1996.

  9. I agree NJ, one’s glare may be another’s stare (maybe even a sign of some potential disability). I certainly agree that work place “bullying” has no place in the work environment. As an Administrator ( and acting as the HR person)of a nursing facility, I have encountered some co-worker to co-worker bullying. If it becomes known, it needs to be addressed immediately. I have a belief that as a leader, you lead from the “front” and not the back (like many “leaders” would prefer to do). If I’m not held to a higher standard given my responsibility/position, then something’s wrong. That is why I make a concerted effort to treat my employees with fairness and respect. I expect them to hold me equally accountable for what I do within my company given my position. When I’ve been in previous positions of leadership, I have acted the same way and have encountered very similar results. I don’t want to be feared. I do want to be respected. I believe you have to give respect in order to receive respect back. You don’t earn it. “Earning” it is simply an illusion. I wish everyone a good day.

  10. The definition of “glaring” is somewhat subjective, too. Some people are just paranoid and always think that someone is glaring at them whether it’s true or not.

  11. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    By the way, extended eye contact, i.e. “glaring”, is a sign of aggression.

    Inmates in prison know this; if they glare at another inmate, or worse, a guard, the response will be swift. Either the situation will escalate to violence or the other person will break eye contact in submission.

    This is a very primal thing to do and it connects with people at the most basic levels of threat assessment.

    There is no place for such aggressive behavior in the workplace.

    ““Whatever its nature, aggression is damaging to individuals and to the general fabric of society.”

    –Workplace Bullying: What we know, who is to blame, and what can we do?”, by Rayner, Hoel and Cooper

  12. I agree that there is no place for bullying in the workplace, but some items on that list are very subjective. Someone who feels that he/she is being bullied will interperet eye contact as glaring if they are being reprimanded. Secret supervision, discipline without cause, or being given unreasonable workloads or demands are all very subjective. In a lean environment, everyone’s workloads increase. Where are the boundaries for discipline? When some people are disciplined for doing something they feel is ok, is that going to turn into a lawsuit? What defines supervision vs. secret supervision? In any event, you should be working regardless of whether you are being supervised or not.

  13. I want to thank you all for your comments, these come at a most appropriate time. I am an HR Director at a small hospital and I have been on the receiving end of a bully for two years now. This person is in higher office then myself; she has been allowed to continue to manipulate, lie, degrade and accuse me of things I have never done or said. She was new to our area, and was never in this type of a position before so I thought she would settle in once the kinks were worked out, so I continued to ride the waves and rocky road. Instead the bullying has only increased to the point of now we need a mediator. I am completely worn down from all of the derogatory remarks, and am suffering from medical complications brought on by stress. I feel awful that the company had to call in a mediator. Do any of you have any suggestions for an emotionally drained HR person?

  14. Jennifer says:

    Lydia, sorry you have been targeted by a bully, but let me ask you why you’re still at your job after two years of being treated poorly by a supervisor? I know the economy is tough, but do you have your resume out there? We spend many hours a day at our jobs, more so than with our families. there are jerks out there and there are good people, why don’t you start looking for a position where someone respects you and appreciates your contribution? If your supervisors do not see the “jerkiness” of this other lady, they don’t sound like people that really care about their employees. Stop being a victim, saying you’re job is creating you to be stressed and emotionally drained.

    We’re not children on a schoolyard that don’t have a choice about who we have to see every day. We’re adults that have choices, empower yourself and find a place that fits with you. Life’s too short.

  15. Now the government wants to tell me how I can look at someone? How will I decide what information I can or can’t withhold from an individual? Whatever happened to freedom of speach?

  16. I think all of this attention on the “glaring” aspect is a bit overreactive. All laws are up for interpretation based on the circumstances in which they are alleged to have been violated. Laws like this are created with the stipulation that a “reasonable person” would say the behavior constitutes bullying.

    Personally, I am quite clear on the difference between a glare and a stare, as I believe most people are. If you are being glared at, you know. Besides, glaring would most likely be accompanied by other “bullying” behaviors, especially to make a case in court.

    In my opinion, a law of this nature is long overdue, despite the unwarranted and frivolous cases that will inevitably be filed. You don’t have to be a protected group to experience a hostile work environment.

  17. I guess Jeff K has never worked for a bully before otherwise he would understand that “glaring” is a threat. Besides, you can’t yell “Fire” instead of a theatre either……..

  18. MThompson says:

    response to Jennifer “let me ask you why you’re still at your job after two years of being treated poorly by a supervisor? ” You’re suggesting the response should come from the bullied employee, not from management???

  19. Judy Buckley says:

    Good information – I’ve noticed, as to childhood bullying, that the parents who say that kids will be kids or that they will work it out, etc. are not the parents whose kids are on the receiving end of bullying, but the parents of those doing the bullying and who would rather not face facts. Same sort of thing applies to the workplace, and adult behavior, except it’s bosses instead of parents avoiding dealing with the issue. Yes, I’m sure there will be some frivolous filings, but I am glad to see this law go into effect and thankful I’ve not worked anywhere where this behavior is common and tolerated.

  20. Jennifer says:

    MThompson – Sorry, but I don’t really understand your question, maybe you can clarify? Yes, I’m asking the bullied employee why she is still at a job that she isn’t being treated well at? Just trying to understand why she’s still there and not looking for a better fit for her.

    I had a lawyer I worked for that would go home, get drunk and then call random employes and chew them new ones. Instead of dealing with those calls at home (which I received a few), or threatening lawsuits (which key words: stress and emotionally-drained freak me out as an HR Manager when I hear them), or being miserable every day at my job, I left and got a new job. Just wondering why someone would stay in that situation…BTW, I do get the economy is bad and it’s not easy to find something, but that shouldn’t stop her from sending out her resume or calling a couple head hunters. The goal of my comment was to help Lydia find happiness, not to tear her down and honestly, the “bully” is never going to stop, just find new ways of being an ass, so why give them the power??

  21. NJ (the first one) says:

    To speak to Jennifer’s point, of coursethe response should come from management. Workplace bullying is something that should be stopped by management, period. BUT, the fact of the matter is that the bullying is not being stopped. While the bullied employee should continue to make all efforts to get management to attend to the issue and curb the negative actions and words of the bully, a workplace with management that will not stop those behaviors is not the workplace deserving of your dedication and efforts 8+ hours a day.

    However, on a slightly softer note, Lydia, I would honestly suggesst seeing your doctor about anti-anxiety options for you. It took me a full year to find a viable job while I was at a workplace that was more emotionally draining than most aspects of my personal and past work experiences had ever been. I completely understand it isn’t as easy as simply deciding to leave or dealing with it.

  22. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    The advice to seek employment elsewhere is practical for the target of bullying, but it doesn’t really address the problem, so it remains for others.

    As for how to survive emotionally, here’s what I did:

    Adopt the attitude that you are already dead. This means the bully can no longer harm you. It also means you are free to call it the way you see it without fear or anxiety, and you have no concerns for the outcome. I got this idea from this scene from Band of Brothers.

    However, I’m not suggesting quite the same idea of “already dead”. I’m not suggesting that anyone be zombie-like, as Spiers suggests, but rather untouchable by fear the bully uses to manipulate you. Only then will you be free to begin the process of correcting the bully. But that’s another post.

    The other thing I did was determine to get regular mild exercise by doing something I enjoy, like riding my bike and walking my dogs, making time to have fun with friends and having a purpose outside work.

  23. Jenifer, I have stayed at my job because we are a small rural area with a population of 7200. Our hospital is the largest employer; there are no other businesses that have HR professionals. My husband & I have a small ranch so we are heavily vested in our community. I truly was hopeful that the bully would back off once she had her department running well, instead she has only intensified the bullying. I took a stand with the CEO last Thursday and the result was a mediator. I have been with this company for a long time; the bully only two years so I wanted to give my boss a chance to stop it. Six months ago I did go to my doctor; he did give me something for when she is on the rampage, she continued her barage of insults. I ended up with shingles. I want to make sure that I have followed every route to keep my job, if the mediation fails and my CEO doesn’t stand up to the bully then yes, it is better I get in the soup line then to continue to be bullied.

  24. Mean Mom says:

    Bullying in the workforce can’t be good for productivity (at the very least) so good management should do their best to create some middle ground. It’s true that bullies will remain bullies until someone bigger comes along (or you stand up to them). I think it’s better for you to try to handle it yourself (professionally of course) and then move up the chain.
    But I agree (and from personal experience) that to endure a miserable job that causes you stress is not good for you or your family. Exploring your options is better for you. You’ve got the skills, so what are you waiting for?
    There are 2 problems creating this symptom. Pretending that conflicts don’t happen, that there are no losers, that someone else will always come to our rescue has made us incapable of dealing with ‘life situations’ as tough as this. That has made a ripe environment for those bullies and has left the bullied with no skill/experience to know what’s effective in dealing with it.

  25. I find workplace bullies to be the ones that think they are indispensible. For instance: A company has a 1 position that is no one else can do but this particular person. This person holds back knowledge and takes COMPLETE ownership of job. Since the company is making money, they tend to look the other way when untoward behavior happens. They feel if they discipline them the person might leave and the job won’t get done. In the meantime, the bully interprets management’s blind eye as the greenlight for doing whatever they want to whomever they want and that is the perfect formula for a lawsuit.

    Companies should never put themselves in a position of making any EE think they can’t be replaced but many are guilty. This could help file the fangs of a bully down a bit.

  26. There is another kind of bullying that can be worse than your boss yelling at you in front of people. Bullies aren’t always those in a powerful “position” in the workplace. I have seen bullies who are clerks, rally the other clerks around them, much like the “cheerleader” clique in high school, or form alliances like on the Reality TV show, Survivor. The main bully is very social, becomes a best friend, inviting select others to lunch, parties, weekend get to gethers, long talks on the phone after work….and the managers just don’t see what is going on because the main bully is attractive, smart, sweet, so helpful… all the time working behind the scenes to create their group of followers, and then get the group turned on one employee, and it is something you have to observe over time to see what is going on, and you aren’t sure becuase no one complains. Then the bullying begins –as a group, by gossiping, slander, even sabotage of their target’s work, being obvious with giving Christmas gifts to everyone in the department except the target, daily dirty looks, jokes and giggling at the target, stuff like that. Of course the target doesn’t complain, even if asked about the situation, but quietly finds another job and the company is left with a bunch of immature hacks who weld their own kind of power in their own little kingdoms, behind the scenes—causing the loss of productivity, affecting the bottomline and the boss doesn’t believe it. So it isn’t just the boss who can be a bully, but it is the boss who turns a blind eye to the psychological torture of a good employee, and it is the boss who loses someone who was really doing a good job. It was really hard to pin down this little bully group, but when the gift giving thing happened, I called the head bully in when the target was left out of the gift giving, and I asked her if she realized that she potentially could hurt a coworker’s feelings by giving the gifts in the office, instead of either including that one person in their department they left out or at least doing it quietly outside the office, I got big round innocent eyes and a flimsy excuse of “who I just didn’t realize that”. Finally her lousy work habits caught up with her, and she was fired, but not before the target had quit. Of course she tried to keep her claws into the little group she had formed by constantly calling them, partying, and bad mouthing the company. What is sad is that the head bully was actually someone with leadership potential, but she used her “powers” for evil, not for good. This was a frustrating thing to watch, because the head bully was so talented at manipulation, her ring of followers were so oblivious, they were pretty slick and insidious (except for one lady who left the group — she said she felt uncomfortable about bad mouthing the target and that the head bully gave her an ultimatum about not joining in, so then she became the group’s next target, and made a complaint and after some coaching –stood up to them), usually the target is someone who would not complain, didn’t want to make waves or make it worse, and wouldn’t stand up to the bullies. Even after I left that company, I would hear from employees about the bullying group continuing their antics , managers and owners of the company being manipulated by that group, and their losing yet more new, good employees, with just the “clique” remaining. What is really sad, is that the clique worked less and less, gossiped more and more… I am wondering if the company will actually be “the Survivor”.

  27. Judy Buckley says:

    Wow, Becki: What an awful experience. Evidently this bullying group thinks they’re still in high school, or maybe middle or elementary school. Glad you were able to get out.

  28. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”– Kurt Vonnegut

  29. BECKI: Well said! You know, I never thought about it that way but now that you say it….AMEN!! Thats likely the worst form of bullying because it’s harder for management to catch. The work place can be like a scene out of the movie “Mean Girls”.

    When I worked at the corporate offices of a pretty big retailer, I encountered “the mean girl”. The first day I met her she launched into who to stay away from, who drop kicked who and who thought they were cute because……real high school stuff. I decided right then and there that I would stay away because I had a goal of getting back into HR. She had followers, and tried to get a few people turn on me, she told them that I thought I was better than everyone because I wouldn’t go out to their leisurely lunches to trash other ees or even gossip in the break room. She told a co-worker that I believed I was pretty good friends with that I was after her job, and the co-worker believed it and started harrassing me via e-mail. Her she was on vacation and I had to step in to take care of her boss while she was out. In that week, one of her minions saw me outside talking to the VP of HR (we had an informal interview in the Gazebo outside). When weeks later the co worker found out I was actually getting promoted to Human Resources she tried to apologize but the damage was done because she turned out no different then the “mean crowd”. Anyways, the “mean girl” relocated elsewhere in the building due to restructuring. It was amazing to see how many of her followers were relieved she was not there anymore. It was easier for them to make excuses not to go to lunch or meet up in the cafeteria. Some people don’t like the risk of being an outsider so they will do anything not to be. I have always hated drama and at the risk of being an outsider, will avoid it.

    All this to say, at the time, I didn’t consider it bullying but it totally was.

  30. Jennifer says:

    Lydia – I truly understand the difficulties you are experiencing and am so sorry you are going through this. My sister was cruelly bullied in elementary and high school and it had some serious consequences.

    We also had a receptionist at our office that was truly a bully. She would be sickenly sweet to “management” and really cruel to the administrative staff. Every single admin person came to me at some point to complain. I requested from management for months to fire her and they refused. Here is why: she was syrupy sweet to them, so they thought it was no big deal and the “complainers” were “emotional women”, what she was doing was not technically illegal, she was black, over 40 and had an autistic daughter. My employer was more afraid of the lawsuit she could file, as she was in several protected classes, than of a harassment suit from other employees (the employer did not see what she was doing as harassment). We were finally able to push her out because she told another employee to “f off” and we had witnesses. Lydia, I don’t know your entire situation but your employer may feel the same and if so, it’s not a good place for you. I’m sure it’s hard living in a rural area, not a lot of jobs. I wish you the best – good luck to you!

    NJ – thanks for being a little more articulate about my point!

  31. Mean Mom says:

    Those stories are awful.
    Here’s a story for you. We had a new person come in (at one of my former jobs) as a buyer. His work experience wasn’t the greatest, but mgmt wanted him. Needless to say after 2 years of employment, we still ran out of raw materials (which held up production) or received the wrong parts (which was always someone else’s fault). Some parts were never ordered and he’d say nobody told him about it, etc. Vendors would come in after making an appointment w/him & he would be out to lunch. No follow-up or follow-through. Things like that happened frequently and nobody had confidence in him. It became the norm to do the work yourself before passing it off to him. What’s the point?
    On many occasions, various EEs affected by this negligence would complain to the Mgmt. Every one was shooed out the office after being scolded that they were picking on him because he was ‘different’. Tell me how EEs from various depts who didn’t socialize together all had complaints that were legitimately job related can be called bullies. Where did they get that idea anyway? Mgmt never handled it, even after EEs started collecting documentation to prove the case. It got to the point that the EEs found each other to have private vent sessions. Talk about a morale breaker. You know the buyer got glares, but not because of bullying.
    I’d watch out for that scenario in the future.

  32. I want to thank all of you for your support; I find it very sad that an HR person is being targeted and not being supported by the CEO. The CNO is a person that derives great pleasure in demeaning another individual and I am sure that anyone of you has dealt with that type of personality. She has verbally slandered many people here at our facility; I have complained but nothing was done. I then asked for help from the CEO; he didn’t want to say anything at the time knowing that she was already accusing me of many things–each of which I documented and she was proven wrong. Since that occasion she has stopped in my office just to tell me that all the Med/Surg people hate me; (I know this isn’t true because they stop into my office just to laugh or say hi, most of them I have watch grow up and changed a few diapers of theirs. She has threatened the employee, saying don’t make me get HR involved, she has stopped in to say hateful remarks and then when she leaves she states Now, we don’t have to let the CEO know! What! Huge read flag! My mediation begins tomorrow, wish me luck.

  33. It is interesting to see these stories. Everyone always complains about this or that on their job but they don’t have these kinds of horror stories.

    Lydia: I hope everything works out for you and highly in your favor. I hope head will roll! There is no reason for people to act that way when they are adults. I hate when people feel so invincible they just do what they want to do and that they can manipulate others into following along or try to play mind games that make you think everyone is on board. Those people are INSECURE and they do mean things to deflect from their own imperfections.

    Mean Mamma: Are you sure you don’t work here 🙂 Got plenty of those kinds due to the amount of time they have been with the company. Loyalty goes a long way here however, we hired a Continuous Improvement Manager because we are growing and our customer demands are a lot different than they used to be. A lot of those people will get left by the wayside if they don’t get on board with it and now Senior Management is really serious about this effort. These folks DO NOT like change and putting 1 sheet of extra paper on their desks causes a crisis. It’s going to be interesting to see.

  34. I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on this thread because of the personal nature of the stories people exchange but I thought I would do it anyhow. I worked for two years in a restaurant in a affluent Chicago suburb as a delivery driver. I worked a four hour shift, seven nights a week delivering meals to customers in the general area from a nice but casual family pub and grill. My boss was five years younger than me and he was a real bully. He continually screamed at me and everyone else for no apparent reason other than his own frustration. Two women, one a server and one a bartender called the restaurant’s corporate office (its a local area chain) to complain about abusive treatment and sexual harassment. One young Russian woman who he liked and often harassed cursed him right at the front register one night and walked out on the job in response to his needless abusive behavior. I believe he was somewhat mentally disturbed.

    He really hated me. He was a proud conservative who hated Obama and hence he picked on me all the time about it. He also picked on me about having an MA and working part time delivering food. He verbally harassed me constantly about everything and it was hard to endure. I am quite overweight and he mocked me and seriously told me that if I wanted to keep my job, I would have to walk around the building five to ten times a night (or however many time allowed) in order to lose weight. He and the Mexican help in the kitchen called me El Gordo as a nickname. I wasn’t too amused.

    He made constant anti-semitic remarks toward me and regarding the people who lived in the suburb the restaurant was located in which was heavily Jewish. I worked very hard, used my own car, never missed a delivery, always showed up to work, treated the customers well, worked extra hours if need be and never complained. The other employees didn’t like him either. He alienated everyone. The entire issue became moot when the restaurant closed down in March of this year.

    My point is that there was really nothing I could do. I was employed at will and no one would or could help me or anyone else there.

  35. STEVE: I am sorry you had to go through that. Reading your story is more like it happened in an era before all these employee rights. Perhaps your boss was jealous of you knowing that your working there is only temporary. He sounds like an Archie Bunker/George Jefferson. People that bully others for no reason are very miserable. They thrive on constant drama and don’t know what to do with themselves if there isn’t a fracas going on around them. It sounds like you had no choice but to put up with him at the time and in this economy, I completely understand. Since the restaurant closed, you former boss is probably unemployed and will remain so because it sounds like he just has the most ROTTEN personality and folks like him, can’t change their stripes, they are who they are! I hope bigger and better things have come your way after all you have put up with, you totally deserve it.

  36. Thank you, Stacy. I appreciate your kind sympathy and supportive encouragement.

  37. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    Here’s another way bullies in authority hide their tracks when they retaliate in response to complaints about their misconduct. They use the performance review process, over time, by adding new responsibilities to the job, adding significantly to the employee’s burden, even with things they should not be expected to do based on their expertise, then hyper-scrutinizing performance, subsequently finding fault in order to justify a lower performance rating, because the employee couldn’t meet the unrealistic expectations for the excessive demands imposed on them, almost always without proper justification.

    In other words, PRETEXT is established in reprisal. On the surface it may appear to be within the bully’s authority, but then the covert hit comes when the consequences of the PRETEXT are executed.

    This is where HR administrators are complicit, for its their responsibility to ensure changes in job responsibilities are appropriate and not PRETEXT. When you ask why changes are being made, appropriate changes have valid reasons, while PRETEXT is never found to be well-justified when examined. In other words, the changes, the PRETEXT, is capricious.

  38. Bullying "Target" but not a "Victim" says:

    Another way bullies in authority make life hell is by increasing the reporting requirements for accountable time. They insist they have managerial decisions that require the employee to report nearly every task performed throughout the day. When asked how such information is material or what managerial decisions are involved, the answer is never specific, demonstrating the new requirement is capricious. There is no cost/benefit analysis that would show the information is worth more than it costs to provide, yet it effectively doubles the number of tasks the employee must perform, i.e. the task and the reporting of the task. When asked how much time is to be allocated to reporting, the response is usually something like “just take 5 minutes at the end of the day to document what you did”, which trivializes how much time, energy and work is involved in compiling this information, not to mention how it interrupts the work process.

  39. BULLYING TARGET: you are absolutely correct. Bullies that love to micro manage should be questioned by Sr. Management as to how they have enough time to get their own work done! Micromanaging is extremely disruptive to the employee and usually means the Manager is trying to refocus the attention off of their lack of knowledge about their job. Any Manager that purposely sets up one of their staff members for failure should remember that 50% of that failure is their own fault. There are workplace bullies that thrive on this, however through time and changes of management, they do get their comeuppance.

  40. Managers can be the worst type of idiots in a job. Most usually, ESPECIALLY in this pre-dominated arrogant white society they do have a tendency to ostracism ethnicity especially those of a different color!!!! This is why 2050 is so important.

    Sadly, I’ve seen these same type of ignorant and backward actions most emulated from the baby-boomer generation, which is so happily passed down the tubes to some parts of Generation Z who are willing to follow in its foot-steps.

    As someone who is a female in a pre-predominately male society workplace I have experienced different forms of harassment not including:

    A direct Insult from a white male staff employee making fun of my voice and asking why can’t I speak “louder”
    Intimidation, On-Going Harassment from a Jamaican Male. Had the nerve to ask me for a “facebook” page aka stalker’s page.
    Put-Downs and Insults from a ESPN Manager. Ironically tried to hook up with the harassing jamaican until he was BUSTED for pornography.
    Dealing with so called “high-class” citizens who are pretty perverted or just jerks.

    The harassment got so bad that the Jamaican male was showing up at my place of education besides my job on a continuous basis(I told my employer multiple times about this and they were slow to react. Meanwhile damage was being done to me PLUS they never got rid of the other guy who was also harassing me and continued to allow him to come in.) He was extremely noisy, irrational, and constantly jumping at things. Although my employer tried to play it off he had schizophrenia eventually the truth came out that the guy was looking at borderline rape pornography. Yet a week or two later, STILL allowed to come back. Ontop of it I also end up dealing with irrational customers who, also have forms of racism and a circulation manager that thinks it’s okay to use put-downs and insults behind others backs while smiling/pretending in my face (I’ve overheard her multiple times even make crude and borderline racial comments of “She thinks she’s special” because I work in a different department, with a different job than her all together, comments that she would never make with the other full-white staff). I have also watch clicks form and information that was once available now slithered down(I use to receive emails from now only receiving official announcements once every while). I even had another co-worker CONVENIENCE the same boss, who hired me in the first place for a potential raise, convenience him that they didn’t “NEED” that raise.

    I have also experience this same employer cutting back on part-time hours with the excuse of “It’s not in the budget” yet have a full-shift with full-time staff. A week later the same employer posts up a “Staff Development Day”, then another week later enforces a pointless break rule.

    In the meanwhile I am going to college and having to deal with severe pain in my mouth from a tooth I couldn’t get fix due to the low amount of pay on the job(disgustingly low, non-living wages can’t even afford food low). Ontop of it, I am constantly faced with subtle forms of racism from customers and potentially manager abuse from a manager from a different department. This woman in particular cannot stop using negative connotation in addressing me to other staff and uses “word of mouth” secretly in her so-called way of trying to destroy someone’s reputation and or self-esteem and creating an idiotic click over at the desk across from us.

    As an African American female it is hard enough achieving the levels of success that I do but when I have jealous co-workers, particularly female co-workers who act pro-female one moment than cut-throat the next it sends out some very and sad confusing signals. Unfortunately I have some venomous jealous women, particularly women 20x my own age behaving and acting like school-yard bullies to the only black tech female on the job. I have also experienced this at another employer with, yet again, an all-white management baby-boomer generation.

    I am the only minority who works here. Can you imagine the experience I’ve gone through and how other college students like myself, especially white are treated with more ease/respect? Yet these same companies and managers question and wonder why they get sued or loose staff. This employer in particular allows weirdo’s to come in and harass their female staff members, particularly part-time people while full-time people are treated differently with MORE respect.

    If it’s not a combination of ageism, subtle-racism and reverse sexism, I don’t know what it is!!! My work is especially for clients but we always end up getting irrational customers off the “street” who can’t handle business or believe that I, a developer and a high-achiever, is suppose to be treated like trash. My boss is almost never around and my employer leaves to us many illiterate folk ontop of gossipy/borderline bullying manager from another department. In the meanwhile I am dealing with several medical issues from a boyfriend who could have possibly died now loaded with debt and several aunts going in and out of hospitals. In the end I’m left with very little money (I am struggling once again, due to low pay and also due to the fact I was signed up with a credit card at age 18 from a Bank that is known to target “low-income” individuals and refused to remove a $35 dollar fee in order to pay, killing my 700 credit score to a disgusting 560, making it IMPOSSIBLE to be able to apply for any credit cards). I literally only have $5 left in my bank account after paying these rats who, I found out, the cards can LEGALLY charge people for money still for closed account(Which needs to be brought up by consumers and challenged!!!)

    If anyone has any thoughts or comments leave them below. I am a 26 year old college student who is struggling and needs help. I’ve almost been homeless a couple of times and I have been unable to drive because NO ONE cared enough about my future. My immediate family, who are vets, have also suffered racial discrimination and a job loss forced upon them from the government, cutting our once income down to nothing. Everyday is a struggle to balance bills and I can feel my parents aging quicker due to the harassment and stress they’ve been put under.

    I’m in my 20’s and already my face is starting to sag and change because of this hell. But at least I helped someone who was homeless get into college and another women who lost her job no thanks to her HR Department who not only not investigated a serious abuse claim but also with-held her paycheck (which is illegal). I have women who make fun of me I have men that are jerks I don’t understand why our society thinks this type of behavior towards minorities is A-OKAY but will freak out if the same happened to his/her son or daughter!!!

    It’s difficult to even afford driving lessons to get my license. I wish I had transportation so I wasn’t left expose to the local nuts on the city buses…

  41. I also wish I had a better-paying job so I can marry my fiancee. I’ve been dating him for 5 years and he had medical issues (I had to push for him to get to the hospital).We’re in a separate state right now as I took this job I’m at for income. I wonder how anyone can imagine a female on a part-time job couldn’t even afford to buy a plane-ticket to see him during his time off need!!! Very painful!!!!

    If I had known my first employer was a micro-managing discriminating jerk-off (Wouldn’t even hire me for an upper position despite my skills and talents for 8 years. 8 precious years they’ve wasted of me, keeping me down at the bottom because it was “convenient” for them!).

    I do not owe this world a thing. All it has done was try to destroy me and hurt me. I owe it nothing and will never owe it nothing. Even the laws and so called “companies” have policies in-tact that allow them to bully and harass those who they believe are the weakest!!

    On the job-bullying is an accountability as well. No one comes to work to be harassed or get harassed, even from so-called management staff that goes out its way to inflict emotional damage on a quiet, studious employee like myself.

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