Longtime Advocate Gail lost her son Jae on June 7 as a result of workplace bullying at a hospital on Cape Cod that included physical threats, assault, and false accusations. Though the abuse happened a few years ago, it followed Jae. Jae recently spoke with Gail about the abuse and how it affected his life. He worked in fear of being attacked again. “Jason was an incredible nurse. Any and all who had him as a nurse spoke with such respect and love about him. Despite the time that goes by, the emotional damage remains and continues to wreak havoc,” said Gail.
We need everyone’s voices to make sure what happened to Jae happens to NO ONE ELSE. Bullied workers are twice as likely to take their lives as non-bullied workers.
Workplace anti-bullying legislation is the furthest it’s gone in the Massachusetts Legislature, and the two-year legislative session ends July 31. We start over again in January if the bill does not pass, so now is the time to act. The bill, Senate Bill 1013, is now in Senate Ways & Means and needs to get to a floor vote ASAP.
Here’s how you can help
Call Senate Ways & Means Chair Karen Spilka ASAP — even if you’ve called her before — at 617-722-1640. Ask whoever answers the phone to urge Senator Spilka to move Senate Bill 1013 regarding workplace bullying to a floor vote.
And spread the word. For Jae.
On our growing Facebook page, more than 1,000 people supported the idea of workplace bullying becoming illegal. Roughly 27 percent of workers — more than one million in Massachusetts — will experience workplace bullying during their work lives.
Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of 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.
Workplace bullying is often subtle. It is:
- Driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s)
- Initiated by bullies who choose targets, timing, place, and methods
- Escalated to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily through coercion.
- Undermining of legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself
- Domestic violence at work where the abuser is on the payroll.
A 2014 national survey by Zogby International and the Workplace Bullying Institute found that:
- 27% of workers have experienced workplace bullying
- 72% of employers who received complaints about workplace bullying either ignored the problem or made it worse
- 56% of workplace bullies are supervisors
Bullies can be managers, supervisors, co-workers, or clients. The bully’s target is usually a capable, dedicated person. 80% of targets are women.
Common bullying behaviors
- False accusations of mistakes and errors
- Yelling, shouting, and screaming
- Exclusion and “the silent treatment”
- Withholding resources and information necessary to the job
- Behind-the-back sabotage and defamation
- Use of put-downs, insults, and excessively harsh criticism
- Unreasonably heavy work demands
- Spreading rumors and gossip
- Making offensive jokes or comments, verbally or in writing
- Discounting achievements and stealing credit for ideas or work
- Disciplining or threatening job loss without reason
- Taking away work or responsibility without cause
- Blocking requests for training, leave or promotion
- Pestering, spying, stalking, or tampering with personal belongings and equipment
What bullying is not
- Enforcing workplace policies and procedures
- Evaluating or measuring performance
- Providing constructive feedback
- Denying training or leave requests with good reason
- Discussing disciplinary action in private
- Dismissing, suspending, demoting, or reprimanding with just cause
Why bullies bully
- Sideline someone they feel is a threat (the target)
- Further their own agenda at the expense of others
- Deny responsibility for their own behavior
- Mask their lack of confidence and low self-esteem
Types of harm from which targets suffer
- Stress disorders of all types, including anxiety
- Shock, anger, frustration, and helplessness
- Clinical depression or suicidal thoughts
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Loss of sleep
- Loss of focus, confidence, morale, and productivity
- Eating too much or too little
- Stomach pain
- Impaired immune systems
- Symptoms consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Destructive impact on family and personal relationships