Workplace Bullying

Imagine working in an abusive work environment.  What would you do; would you accept the abuse; would you report the mistreatment; would you suffer in silence?

Workplace bullying is a reason that office workers around the world are stifled, as many companies lack sufficient protective policies.

In the United States (U.S.), as of April 2014, workplace bullying is legal in most jurisdictions, unless the bullying violates the protections offered under Title VII of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act which is protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Many companies have anti-harassment policies; although, many of these same companies don’t have policies that specifically address workplace bullying.

In recent years, there is heightened focus and increased discussions about school bullies.  These conversations typically detail the incident(s), but fall short in a description about the impact to a bullying target’s physical and psychological well-being. 
Furthermore, seldom do these discussions focus on the bullying that occurs beyond schools and in offices around the world.

Bullying is something that is usually associated with schoolyard antics; although, very similar behavior exists in the workplace also.  Moreover, adults can find themselves ashamed, intimidated, or even fearful after an experience with a workplace bully, which can cause a receiver of an attack to react in a similar manner as a school bullying target.

The options to deal with workplace bullying can be limited and troublesome for a target, the accused, and the individual(s) who must investigate.  These concerns can lead a target to not report the bullying to someone who can address the issue or a victim will continue to be bullied out of fear of worse treatment or the loss of a job if the bullying is revealed.

It’s a company’s responsibility to create documented policies that protect its resources (e.g., employees, contractors, or other classifications); however, individuals must also address any bullying incidents as quickly as possible to protect themselves and others from needless abuse.

Responsible companies will vigorously enforce policies that protect all resources from any type of discriminatory, harassing, questionable, or unwanted behavior.

The challenge is that sometimes good or excellent job performance isn’t enough to prevent incidents of workplace abuse, as workplace bullying can be unrelated to actual job performance.  These abuses can be related to things such as appearance, intelligence, speaking ability, or other factors.

Bullying is a serious issue and should be dealt with in an expeditious manner similar to the way other unethical acts are addressed.  Therefore, companies should act swiftly and decisively to stop, eliminate, and prevent any workplace bullying.

Individuals must be aware of their rights and shouldn’t let any discriminatory and/or harassing behavior go unchallenged, as nobody should have to deal with or tolerate harassment.

There is a fine line between bullying behavior, bad management, or bad manners.  Therefore, it is very important for the perceived target to address any concern(s) as quickly as possible.  This way any issue(s) created by the bully can be corrected without unnecessary delay.

Individuals should ask their human resources department for a copy of the company’s anti-harassment policy to determine if
workplace bullying is included in the protections listed.  If not, ask your employer’s human resources department to update its policy to not only protect you, but to also protect other resources and the company.

If you or someone you know is bullied, it’s your responsibility to get involved in the matter.  Involvement doesn’t mean that you have to personally get involved; involvement can also mean that you ensure that someone with the power to stop the bullying is aware of the issue — even if it means reporting the knowledge anonymously.

If everyone isn’t vigilant in the prevention of any type of bullying, we all lose and the next bullying victim could be you.  Therefore, let’s collectively work to take the power away from the bullies and return the power to the bullying target(s).

Let’s protect all environments – regardless of location – from unnecessary and preventable abuse, harassment, and rights infringement.

The time is now for everyone (e.g., individuals, corporations, and governments) to take decisive action to change the societal rules, policies, and laws to protect workplace bullying targets.  Immediate change will ensure that all workers aren’t unnecessarily abused while trying to raise a family, build a career, or pursue personal happiness.

Every day individuals reluctantly choose to remain in abusive environments due to systematic failures that allow bullies to dominate, abuse, demean, mistreat, and cause individuals to leave jobs because there aren’t any available, documented, or enforced protection remedies.

It’s everyone’s collective responsibility to prevent bullying and protect all bullying targets — regardless of location.

This summary is from “Bullies…They’re In Your Office, Too: Could you be one?” details workplace bullying issues, along with thoughtful solutions.