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.
We talk about consequences for workplace bullying targets and their organizations. But what happens in an organization when a bully provokes so much anxiety in targets that targets have crippling fear of approaching the bully?
In their Employee Rights and Employee Policy Journal article, Loraleigh Keashly and Joel H. Neuman point to the airline and health care industries to show how fear-based cultures created by toxic bosses can promote not just the deaths of efficiency, effective decision-making, communication, risk-taking, creativity, and innovation, but also people:
Airline industry. “In two separate incidents, in which aircraft personnel felt intimidated by their pilots and fearful of questioning his decisions, aircraft crewmembers failed to correct pilot errors that resulted in two separate air crashes, killing all on board,” they explained.
Health care industry. Nurses are often also reluctant to challenge poor decisions made by their superiors: abusive doctors. These mistakes can cost lives. “In a survey of 1,200 nurses, physicians, and hospital workers by VCA, Inc., a nationwide network of community-owned hospitals and healthcare systems, 92 percent said they had witnessed disruptive physician behavior [bullying], and 30 percent of nurses knew at least one nurse who resigned because of such behavior,” they said.
- 85 percent of nurses have been verbally abused by a fellow nurse.
- 1 in 3 nurses quit because of bullying.
- It’s bullying, not the wage, that is the major cause of the global nursing shortage (the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2022, there will be a shortfall of 1.05 million nurses).
- Many hospital units don’t give nurses time to eat, take a walk, or even go to the bathroom.
– Claudia Sanborn, author of The Yellow Sick Road
Where she believes bullying comes from
Sanborn attributes workplace bullying to bullies’:
- Need for power
- Poor self-esteem
- Poor leadership training
- Learned behavior in their own family
- Lack of rules or consequences
- Lack of funding. “Funds are cut back in medicine, so nurses have more patients. They then take their stresses out on other nurses to survive. Nurses resort to politics so they don’t have to care for the more demanding patients,” explains Sanborn.
- Fear of becoming the next target or losing their jobs
Why she wrote the book
How we change the culture
- Speak up. Sanborn spoke at a nurse rally in DC in May about her book. She’s networked with other leaders. She’s had book signings. She spreads the word on Facebook. She’s trying to get on talk shows like Dr. Phil. “I am semi-retired now and can’t be blackballed. I can’t be fired or laid off,” explains Sanborn of her ability to speak up.
- Get involved. “Be involved in legislation and get laws passed to make workplace bullying illegal.”
- Get support. “Join unions and have them fight for you.”