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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

On the Playground: How to Stop Workplace Bullying

By Dan Atkerson on December 23, 2015

Director yelling at the assistantKids out on the playground are not the only ones who have to deal with bullies every day. In fact, adults in the workforce often have to deal with even worse bullies than their children. A study in 2010 conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 35 percent of the American workforce (53.5 million employees) has reportedly been victims of abusive behavior at work. Another 15 percent say that they have witnessed workplace bullying. The Workplace Bullying Institute also discovered that about 75 percent of those doing the bullying were bosses.

Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, speculates that most of these bullying bosses were the same kids that pushed other kids around during recess. He suggests that since nobody stood up to them during childhood, they never learned that their behavior was incorrect and were therefore not required to change their abusive tendencies.

Types of Abusive Bosses

There are generally two types of bullying bosses. There are the blatant tantrum throwers; the bosses who are prone to outbursts, yelling, and intimidation. These supervisors are often easier to stop since they commonly violate employment law and are even occasionally guilty of some form of sexual harassment. Contacting an employment lawyer and filing a complaint usually stops the abuse pretty quickly.

Then there are the more covert bullies. These bosses are much harder to correct since they rarely give out evidence for legal action. These kinds of bosses systematically find ways to push employees to the brink, disguising their abusive behavior by saying things such as “just joking” or “you know you’re doing a good job.”

Common Bullying Tactics Adopted an Abusive Boss

  • Repeatedly making false accusations of errors
  • Verbal abuse, name-calling, yelling
  • Starting or perpetuating damaging rumors
  • Taking credit for employees’ work
  • Workplace retaliation for filing a complaint
  • Making impossible demands to humiliate or single out an employee
  • Excluding employees from meetings or events
  • Sabotaging an employee’s work
  • Making up rules that only the employee must follow
  • Non-verbal intimidation, staring, glaring

How to Stop Workplace Bullying

Start keeping any evidence of bullying you can, such as emails, written notes, voicemails, texts, etc. Talk to a representative in HR. If the bullying continues or your boss starts retaliating against you for making the complaint, contact an employment attorney.

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