The most effective action you can take to make workplace bullying illegal

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Phonebanking is a political strategy to collect data and encourage political action. It’s one of the most effective strategies we can take. So we’re taking on 43,000 phone calls to end workplace bullying in Massachusetts. Here’s why it’s important to help make calls:

  1. You’ll put a human behind the cause. You’re not a robocaller. You’re a live person who cares about a cause, and you’ll make a human connection, even if you leave a message. Your live voice tells the person receiving the call “this cause is important to me, so I hope you’ll take action.”
  2. You’ll reach out to those most likely to have been bullied at work. We’re calling liberal voters who are most likely to identify as workplace bullying targets, women ages 30-54, and who’ve taken political action by voting.
  3. People are suffering now. Imagine if you leave a message for someone who doesn’t know what workplace bullying is and feels isolated. Your phone call will take her out of isolation and give her a sense of relief. She’ll be able to start the healing process because you’ll connect her with action she can take and a network of people she can connect with.
  4. If people say they’ll call. they will. If someone gives you their word they’ll call, there’s a high chance they’ll actually call.
  5. You’ll help make it easier to make workplace anti-bullying legislation in your state. If the bill passes in Massachusetts, it will be easier to pass it in other states. So helping pass it here by making phone calls will speed up the process for everyone.

Help take action today. Take this brief tutorial and email to get data to make phone calls to help end workplace bullying.

Share this message with others so we can get this bill passed. The suffering needs to end.


Another suicide from workplace bullying

We’ve reported before on suicides from workplace bullying. We’ve learned of another one:

Graham Gentles was driven to suicide after a walk of shame in California


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Graham Gentles was a 22-year-old in Pasadena who committed suicide on July 18, 2014 after Target store management allegedly accused him of stealing, handcuffed him, and paraded him through the store in front of both customers and coworkers. Gentles jumped to his death from the top of a hotel just three days later.

During the abusive humiliation and shame tactic, it is alleged that “police forcefully grabbed him, emptied his pockets, and pulled his hat off,” explains ABC7. Meanwhile, a shocked and confused Gentles had no idea why police were arresting him. Police took Gentles into custody, released him the same day, and never charged him. Gentles told his mother he never stole anything.

Allegedly, an argument between Gentles and a coworker at a bar outside of work hours may have prompted the incident. The coworker made the allegations of theft after the argument.

Other Target employees suspected of stealing report a similar “walk of shame.”


If you live in Massachusetts, call your Massachusetts state legislators and ask them to support Senate Bill 1013 to make workplace bullying and mobbing illegal.

If you live outside of Massachusetts, visit for information on how to make workplace bullying illegal in your state.

New study finds working conditions are more grim than experts expected


Through their in-depth American Working Conditions Survey (AWCS) of 3,066 U.S. workers, Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, Los Angeles found that “the American workplace is very physically and emotionally taxing,” CBS reports.

Before you say “I could’ve told you that,” let’s see how bad it really is:

  • 1 in 5: the number who say they face “a hostile or threatening environment at work, which can include sexual harassment and bullying.”
  • 1 in 2: the number who say they face “unpleasant and potentially hazardous” conditions.
  • 3 in 4: the number who say they “spend at least a fourth of their time on the job in ‘intense or repetitive physical’ labor.”
  • 4 in 5: the number who say they’re required to be present at work rather than telecommute.
  • 2 in 5: the number who say “their jobs offer good prospects for advancement. And the older they get, the less optimistic they become.”
  • 1 in 2: the number who say they “work on their own time to meet the demands of their job.”
  • 1 in 3: the number who say they have “no control over their schedules.”

The lesser the education, the tougher the work conditions, meaning those with college degrees can more often take breaks when they want to and lift heavy loads much less often.

College educated workers aren’t off the hook, though. A high percentage of workers, especially women, find it difficult to take time off to deal with personal matters. So while roughly half of workers adjust their personal schedules for employers, employers less often return the same favor.

Toxic working conditions might be keeping Americans out of work. “The percentage of Americans who are working or looking for work — 62.9 percent in July — has not returned to prerecession levels and is well below its 2000 peak of 67.3 percent,” says CBS.

Luckily there’s some good news. “Workers enjoy considerable autonomy: more than 80 percent say they get to solve problems and try out their own ideas. Moreover, 58 percent say their bosses are supportive, and 56 percent say they have good friends at work,” says CBS.

The point is that working conditions matter. Employers: take note.

Help make workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts

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This fall, we’re strategically calling people most likely to be bullied in the most liberal towns in Massachusetts where we don’t already have co-sponsors. Our goal is to put the bill on legislators’ radars, put urgency behind the bill, and gain more support.

We need your help. We have instructions, people to call, and scripts in an easy-to-use Google Doc. If you can help make calls at your leisure:
Email your interest to, and we’ll share the Google Doc with you »

We’re also making calls together. We’ve scheduled various phonebanking sessions across the state to walk through the process and make calls together. It’s empowering to call people — and simple, too. (If you don’t see a session in your area, plan one. It’s easy — we’ll walk you through it, and you get to meet other people who’ve been bullied at work.)
Join our Facebook page and sign up »

If you have other ideas about how to build awareness of workplace bullying and the bill, let us know. We’d love to have you join the team to make workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts by next summer.

Recent study supports workplace bully and target personas


A study published in 2017 shows differences in personalities of workplace bullies and workplace targets based on five factors: neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Here were the findings:

Factor Bully (Compared to Control) Target (Compared to Control)
Neuroticism High
Extroversion Low
Agreeableness Low
Conscientiousness Low
Openness No effect No effect


Researchers explain their findings in these ways:


Those who score high on neuroticism are more likely to be moody and to experience such emotions as anxiety, anger, frustration, jealousy, guilt, depression, and loneliness. Researchers’ theories include:

  • These emotions bother colleagues (perhaps vulnerability is a threat).
  • Targets become more anxiety-prone over time due to bullying.
  • Bullies tend to morally justify their bullying due to victims’ traits.


Scholars say that “assertiveness and power display as central aspects of extroversion.” Also, introverts and ambiverts receive less social support than extroverts.


“The largest differences between our experimental conditions were found for the Agreeableness dimension,” say researchers in this study. “Low scores on Agreeableness involve preoccupation with one’s own goals and interests and a lack of sympathy for others suffering (Costa and McCrae, 1997). People scoring low on Agreeableness are typically less motivated than those with high scores to maintain positive interpersonal relationships, which also may explain why people low on Agreeableness are more inclined to act aggressively toward others (Gleason et al., 2004).”


“Findings are in line with research showing that individuals with antisocial personality score relatively low on Conscientiousness (Miller and Lynam, 2001),” explain the researchers.

What these findings mean

Researchers propose that:

  • If workplace bullying targets are generally neurotic and introverted, perhaps colleagues are inclined to avoid targets (Buss, 1991). (It’s important to note that the target qualities weren’t determined in this study as causes or effects, and not all targets exhibit these qualities.)
  • If bullies are generally less agreeable and conscientious, bullies may induce fear in coworkers and force them to act certain ways (Georgakopoulos et al., 2011). “Still, they will overall, and in line with the results from the present study, typically not be regarded as good cooperators and reciprocators or as someone who will work industriously and dependably (Buss, 1991),” say researchers. “This can be assumed to lower the trust in the organization. The findings indicating that observers more or less accurately will tend to see bullies as being low on conscientiousness may influence how others, e.g., managers, will handle a given case of bullying and the involved employees, not trusting the bully to behave responsibly in the future, again lower the trust in the involved parties.”

What’s important here is that it’s the power plays and self-importance from bullies that causes the problems for both victims and organizations.

Recent cases show courts determine that someone’s words can contribute to suicide


In the high-profile texting case, Michelle Carter was found guilty of manslaughter in the suicide of Conrad Roy III. This case wasn’t only unusual in how it happened. It was unusual in that it found that “a person’s words can directly cause someone else’s suicide,” said Kathleen Bonczyk, Esq..

“It’s an excellent sign the courts are beginning to see things in a different way. There must be accountability civilly and criminally if a defendant’s actions are physical in discharging a gun or driving a car into an innocent person or verbal as in bullying,” said Bonczyk. “Actions and words can and do hurt others. If one behaves in a reckless immoral and illegal matter, one should be held accountable in a criminal court.”

The Michelle Carter case wasn’t the first case in the last year where a defendant was charged with involuntary manslaughter for their words. Bonczyk outlines the significance of the charging of a Dairy Queen manager for felony involuntary manslaughter following bullying leading to the December 21, 2016 suicide of Kenneth Suttner of Missouri »

How workplace bullying can sting harder if your mother is a narcissist

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Workplace bullying is painful no matter how to slice it. But for those with narcissistic mothers, workplace bullying can both trigger open childhood wounds and affirm feelings of unworthiness.

In her book Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, author Karyl McBride, Ph.D., says that some high-achieving daughters aka “Mary Marvels” focus on achievement as a way to prove to the world (and to their mothers) that they’re worthy. Struggling with feelings of inadequacy and growing up having to be doers to feel accepted and approved by their mothers, these daughters often didn’t receive validation in early years and don’t learn to validate themselves. “She [a high-achieving daughter] often succumbs to the lure of doing more and trying harder in ways that bring validation from others. This is an unconscious seduction because Mary Marvels are almost highly skilled and competent…. The praise appears to fill the emptiness, but relying on external praise can create anxiety,” explains McBride.

It’s important to note that it’s the narcissism from both the mother and then later a boss or co-worker that cause the problems. While addressing feelings from childhood surrounding maternal narcissism with a trained therapist may help you unravel unhealthy thought patterns, the bullying is not your fault nor a result of personality flaws. Many people with healthy upbringings also experience health harm from workplace bullying. These insights are simply tools for taking back your power.