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Workplace Bullying Replacing Sexual Harassment as Major Complaints

workplace bullyingAn article recently posted in the Insurance Journal has a headline, "Workplace Bullying Emerging as Major Employment Liability Battleground".

In the article, a woman who used to work for a bully boss speaks of the mental and emotional toll that working in that environment had on her. While she no longer works there, she now hears many of the same stories in her current role, working for a human resources company. The article goes on to report that many states are considering legislation that would let people sue for bullying, much like they are able to sue for sexual harassment now.

In a surprising statistic, over fifty percent (50%) of employers in a 2011 management survey said that they knew of incidences of bullying in their companies. Human resources professionals – the conduct police at companies – reported that a quarter (25%) of them had been personally bullied at work. If the Conduct Police gets bullied, what does that tell you about the state of bullying in the workplace?

The article goes on to speak of granting more rights to workers – much like the protected classes based on race, gender and national origin. On the flip side, business groups oppose any such expansion as they fear an "opening of the floodgates" for frivolous lawsuits.

So what is the answer? Part of the problem is that short of kicking someone's you-know-what to get them to leave you alone – which could end up with assault charges, civil lawsuits and more – many people simply don't have another job they can just jump to. They feel trapped and powerless, which as we know from my book, "Bullies Suck", leads to anxiety, depression and more. Without a way to sue to stand up to the bullies, what is someone to do?

Tough call. I hate litigation in any form, especially when I want to handle my business myself (it's good for your self image and self confidence), but I also recognize that in some instances, getting legal representation is the only way you can take back your power. I also see the business side of things, as there is more than adequate proof that "floodgates of frivolous lawsuits" do open when new regulations or perceived injustices are uncovered, especially when there is money involved.

Like bullying, greedy money-grabbers – which in of itself is a form of bullying – are a fact of life. What is a worker or business owner to do?

Work together. Instill as much of a "we" attitude as possible at work. Follow the advice of a successful business author who published a book title, "The No A@#hole Rule" for the workplace. And, of course (shameless plug), get yourselves stronger mentally, emotionally and physically with information and tools like those in the book, "Bullies Suck".

Bullying in the workplace – and everywhere else, for that matter – is not going away. Focus on being strong enough to deal with it when it happens.

Stay strong,


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