We have a fundamental right to dignity at work

The Dignity At Work Act is about granting our fundamental human right to dignity at work. Workplace abuse (or workplace bullying) often involves a person in power, such as a manager or supervisor, taking advantage of a less powerful employee. 

What workplace abuse is

Abuse of power is too often a symptom of implicit bias — a problem discrimination law stopped helping since the 1980s when courts moved from focusing on impact to intent. Intent is a high threshold that makes the law mostly ineffective at addressing bias and disrupting hierarchies at work that create haves and have-nots when those in power “other” people. More than 50 years after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, white men still occupy the vast majority of power positions in the U.S. workforce.

Abuse may take the form of:

  • Interpersonal abuse like public ridicule, disrespect, overwork, and overcontrol, including put-downs, screaming, excessive criticism, destructive gossip, false...

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Why you're a target of workplace abuse

Don't worry — I'm not about to blame you for being a target of workplace abuse. Just the opposite. It's insecurity that's the root of why abusers abuse. And when those in power operate on jealousy and insecurity, their biggest threats are the ones with targets on their backs.

Here are a few reasons why you're a target:

  • Strengths (think ethics and competence, technical or people skills, for example) threaten abusers.
  • It's all about the abuser's personality, mob mentality the abuser created, and organizational incentives to keep the abuse going.
  • Abusers might perceive a vulnerability in you. Maybe you're not political. But vulnerability is a strength, not weakness. Narcissists are terrified of vulnerability. And while a certain level of political game-playing may be necessary at work, focusing entirely on politics detracts from your greater purpose at work: to work together toward a common vision as a team.

The bottom line

Ego-centered people view work differently than you do...

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An advocate's story of being pushed out of a museum from workplace bullying

Derek worked in a museum as a Museum and Gallery Assistant. He considered his line manager a serial bully. "The bullying was covert. It took me five years to understand that I was being bullied at all," he explained. "Bullying tactics ranged from a blame culture to micromanaging. The controlling bully got some type of kick from seeing his staff suffer and struggle under their large workloads. He would often come in late, do little work, panic, and them spread that panic onto others. He was lazy and manipulative, hiding his incompetence by taking credit for other people's work yet putting their work down."
 
The bullying made Derek feel stressed out, tired, and that his work was never good enough. He developed constant headaches.
 
Then the bullying escalated.
 
"Once I confronted the line manager on his behavior and made a formal grievance a few years later, his bullying escalated. The bully acted like the victim and called me a bully," Derek said.
 
Even worse,...
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Study says teachers experience workplace bullying more than 3x as often as other workers

“Educators experience workplace bullying at a much higher rate — more that three times as high — than other workers,” say researchers in the newly published 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey, released by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Badass Teachers Association. This year, 830 AFT members, educators in two New York school districts “where educator unions have built strong collaborative labor-management practices on the quality of their work life,” and an additional 4,000 educators responded to their 30-question survey.

Most educators surveyed reported that their schools have workplace harassment policies prohibiting bullying, yet bullying still happens at a high frequency. Stress from workplace bullying is compounded by large workloads, feelings of having to be “always on,” a lack of resources, changing expectations, deficient building conditions, equipment and staff shortages, and...

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