Yes, it does! Unfortunately, workplace bullying is a reality in our society and an issue that has been studied by Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie. The couple started the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998.
The campaign led to the creation of a U.S. bullying telephone crisis line that helped over 5,000 people, bringing media attention to the initiative. In 2002, the initiative became the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). Today, “WBI remains sole North American nonprofit organization dedicated to the eradication of Workplace Bullying through education and research” according to the institute’s website.
What is workplace bullying?
The definition of the term, according to the institute is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: Verbal abuse; Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done.”
According to the Washington State Department of Labor, “workplace bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which is intended to intimidate and creates a risk to the health and safety of the employee(s).”
Bullying is considered different from workplace harassment which is officially described as “one type of illegal discrimination and is defined as offensive and unwelcome conduct, serious enough to adversely affect the terms and conditions of a person’s employment, which occurs because of the person’s protected class, and can be imputed to the employer.”
WBI website presents studies that show staggering statistics about the occurrence of workplace bullying:
- 35% of all adult Americans reported either being bullied now or at sometime in their careers (an est. 53.5 million Americans)
- 62% of bullies are men; 58% of targets are women
- Women bullies target women in 80% of cases
- Bullying is 4X more prevalent than illegal harassment (2007)
- The majority (68%) of bullying is same-gender harassment
- Only 1.7% of cases was the bullying complaint resolved following an investigation targets considered fair; providing safety for the target and justified punishment for the bully. Employers are still “do-nothings.”
Workplace Bullying Laws
Workplace bullying is NOT yet an illegal practice in the United States, unless it is considered harassment as previously described. However, both the Workplace Bullying Institute and the Department of Labor encourage employees to take action to stop the bullying. These include:
- Keeping a diary with details of the bullying
- Keeping copies of incriminating emails and paper communications
- Report the behavior