If we were to create a workplace bullying target persona, she would be a 42-year old, college-educated, full-time, non-supervisory, non-union worker in healthcare, education, or the government.
Targets of workplace abuse are most often motivated to help others — the do-gooders who enter healing and helping professions. When they don't also focus on politics, they become vulnerable to abuse. This mindset generally falls along gender and industry lines.
Targets and witnesses often say that those targeted abuse are often kind and cooperative. Though they also considered targets not likely to defend themselves and vulnerable (a strength often seen as a weakness in our patriarchal culture), it’s important to note targets are cooperators, not competitors. And collaborative work environments are proven to be not just healthier for employees but also for organizations’ bottom lines.
Nursing and teaching: rampant with bullying
By guest blogger Jennifer Brown
I knew my first job out of college wouldn’t be for life but I didn’t realize just how quickly I’d want to get out of there. The job itself was fine, but while I quickly mastered my role and started to rise through the ranks, I came up against an obstacle I never expected: workplace bullying. The experience completely changed my career path and my life.
According to Forbes, 75% of workers are affected by workplace bullying. While some workplace abuse is blatant, such as public verbal harassment or outspoken criticism, most office bullies prefer to hide behind the veil of plausible deniability. Exclusion, gossip, and professional sabotage, while hard for an outsider to recognize, wear down an employee’s self-esteem until they feel undermined, incompetent, and unwelcome in their place of work.
When faced with a workplace bully, we tend to focus blame on the individual. However,...
Amy was bullied through interrogation and intimidation at a school outside Boston. She felt disrespected, attacked, blindsided, scared, uncomfortable, sick to her stomach, and threatened. Here's her story in her words:
It started in February 2018. I was in the main office asking my principal a question, as he was handing out February vacation assignments to our custodians. One particular custodian was staring at me, and the principal had to get his attention by hitting him with the piece of paper and waving it at him while calling his name. I thought it was bizarre but didn't think anything of it.
A couple minutes later, I left the main office. The custodian asked me if I would be in my office after school. It seemed odd because we have never really said more than a "hi" passing through the hallway.
He came to my office at 2:45pm while I was with a 4th grade student and said "I'll come back." At 3pm, he came in and asked me if I had plans over vacation and wanted...
I was employed by the Commonwealth as a BERS (Benefit, Enrollment, and Referral Social Worker) A/B from March-July 2015. My position was to process applications. I loved this job, and it was the best paying position I'd ever had.
At the beginning of June 2015, I was called in my manager's office and asked, along with two other members of my team (both men), to help "shadow" new hires (provide them with help). I and one of the men expressed some doubt as to whether we were qualified, but our manager assured us that Quality Control had monitored our work.
I began helping new hires shortly afterward. They sat with me, and I coached them through the applications process. The first day I began doing this, the woman sitting next to me walked out and never came back. She angrily said to me "I think I should have been asked to do the shadowing." I had considered this woman a friend of mine. Another woman who sat diagonally across from me (I could stand up in my cubicle and...
I work at a state mental health hospital. My position is in administration. I work making sure the hospital is in compliance with state and federal rules and regulations.
The bullying began early on. I was called names and threatened with being fired to the point I was told I was suspended and told to leave. I wasn’t suspended, and with the union's help, I returned to work. Initially it started with public ridiculing and suggestions that this job was not a good fit. I was offered a severance bonus and a good reference if I quit, all of which was bogus. I was told I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone and, if I did, it would get back to the boss — and it did. I would be discussing work, and the boss would follow up asking me why I was talking to so-so on this date and time.
(This job was what I had been working toward for a long time; the pay and the hours were good, and I was still in school with young kids. It was not a good time to switch jobs. I was hoping to put...
I’ve always worked in office environments. Since 2009, I have been employed by a high-profile business. In 2014, I moved into a new area of the business. This was a really exciting time for me as I had landed in a great department, the department everyone wants to work in — so much so that it is almost glamourised. I was determined to learn the job quickly, I wanted to be an effective employee as soon as possible. I read and watched and learned. I was recognised very early on as having the potential to be an asset to the team.
I had an excellent record for producing written documentation to a high standard — a standard so high that management would often compliment my writing style in team meetings. As a result, I often had my colleagues ask me to proof their reports or ask for advice on how to structure their writing. I prided myself on being a mentor and a coach to others and loved to help others whenever I could. I have always enjoyed helping others.
I was a registered nurse at the a hospital in Worcester from 2014-2016. During that time, I was injured by a patient on the job. I had previously been involved in speaking out for patient safety and staff safety through our union, the Mass Nurses Association. We were highlighted in a news story by Fox 25 Boston's Mike Beaudet on the unreasonable amount of violence occurring at the hospital and the leadership's unwillingness to address the issue. After this, the bullying by the director of nursing, assistant director of nursing, and the worker's compensation manager who was handling my claim became worse.
I was denied pay for about 4-5 weeks, with no reason given other than my documentation was insufficient (it was not). I retained an attorney who assisted me in navigating through the claims process, had two surgeries to correct the injury to my left knee, and am now left partially disabled. I was accused of 'faking my injury' so that I could 'take time off for school' (I had started...
I spend my days researching for anything to help me fight "city hall." Today I came across this article: "Workplace bullying remains in the shadows." While my story falls under many different terms, bullying it high on the list.
Per the EEOC, you HAVE to prove your harassment is due to race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, or protected whistleblower status. How would someone know WHY they are being harassed/bullied? Yet to get any help under The Civil Right Act, a victim HAS to prove it was for a one of the reasons listed.
Huge corporations almost always have an ethics policy, and part of that policy is keeping employees in a safe work environment. If it is a public company, you have investors to be accountable to, too. Everyone from the CEO to the janitor has to adhere to that policy. In my case, we have to sign and acknowledge it. Yet, who is holding the company accountable for the ethical treatment of the employees by the company?...
I had worked in state government for about 18 years after having graduated from Boston College with a BS and an MBA from Bentley College.
I had been given a supervisory role within an IT group. Three months later, my director got transferred to another group, and another employee got promoted to be the director of my group.
I thought it was just a personality conflict at first. He started subtly criticizing everything I would do. He made me doubt my ability to do my job. He would ask me to do research, and then when I approached for clarification, he would say he didn’t tell me to do that. He would dictate how I supervised my team of 11 people and insisted on approving every request for vacation. Although I wrote out the performance appraisals for my team, he would not allow me to give the grades I thought were deserved. I was not allowed to put that anyone “exceeded expectations,” only “meets expectations,” even though I disagreed that some deserved...
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