When we think of harassment in the workplace, we mostly think of sexual harassment. However, there is another form of harassment that is just as insidious and traumatic: the bullying of co-workers. One study found that one in three workers have felt bullied on the job.
Bullying occurs when an individual or group isolates you, then picks on you and tries to break you down. Bullying is usually not just one occurrence of misbehavior, but a pattern of cruelty that is repeated over and over, inflicting pain and feelings of helplessness. Anyone can be a bully, whether it be a colleague, superior, or even a customer who takes a complaint or criticism too far.
These are just some of the forms bullying can take:
- Coworkers who make constant fun of you with snide remarks or pet names
- Exclusion, shunning, or the silent treatment
- Online bullying, sabotaging your work, and account hacking
- Superiors berating you unfairly or too harshly
- Coworkers taking credit for work you did
- Sexual harassment of any kind
Why Bullies Bully
Experts agree that bullying is usually a sign of the bully’s own feelings of inadequacy. They hurt you to feel better about themselves. Bullying is repulsive, but it also does damage to the organization’s mission. Companies that harbor bullies will have a workforce that is fearful, that does not want to come to work in the morning, and will look for a safer place to work. If a victim is already depressed or suffering from high anxiety, bullying can trigger acts of self-destruction or violence against others.
What Can Be Done?
Just as with schoolyard bullying, the best advice is often to stand your ground, and call the bully out on his or her misbehavior. You may also report it to your Human Resources department, depending on the organization’s culture. Of course, it is easier to stand up to a colleague’s bullying tactics than to a superior’s. Statistics show that the worst bullies are those who have power over their coworkers.
It is a good idea for all organizations to make clear in policies, procedures, and in the employees’ handbook that bullying behavior will be treated seriously, and that complaints will be heard respectfully. It is not just the right thing for companies to do, but companies that tolerate sick behavior pay a steep price in productivity, sick leave, and inability to retain skilled workers.
Delaware County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Assist Workers Suffering from Discriminatory Treatment
Bullying is just one way workers can be discriminated against. If you feel that your mistreatment rises to the level of turning to the law for protection, talk to the Delaware County employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. For a free consultation, call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online. Centrally located in Philadelphia, we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.