Episode Information

Workplace Bullying
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Aired:
03/17/2008
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In this episode:

The state may soon pass a bill that would cut down on workplace bullying

 

Episode Audio

52:17 minutes (25.1 MB)
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Senator Edith Prague: Photo by Catie TalarskiSenator Edith Prague: Photo by Marie Kuhn
According to a new Zogby International survey, workplace bullying is a big problem. 37% of workers, about 54 million Americans say they have been bullied on the job. The survey also showed that 72% of the bullies were bosses, and that 62 percent of employers ignored the problem. Most often, victims quit their jobs, leaving the workplace bully to set his or her sights on a new victim.

We’ve all probably experienced a cranky boss or disagreeable co-worker, but things like repeated criticism and blame, yelling, screaming, exclusion and social isolation, all fall in the category of bullying, and can make going to work a stressful, sometimes emotionally or physically debilitating experience for the victim. U.S. employers and researchers are starting to take notice of the workplace bully.

Joining us today in the studio is Connecticut State Senator Edith Prague. She is the Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee and is one of the co-sponsors of a bill that recently died in committee that would have dealt with workplace bullies.

Dr. Tara L’Heureux: Photo Catie TalarskiDr. Tara L’Heureux: Photo by Marie Kuhn
Also joining us Dr. Tara L’Heureux . She is is a professor in the University of New Haven’s Masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program, and teaches a course titled “worker well being” at UNH.

And Dr. Gary Namie, he is co-founder of the Workplace Bullying institute, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to workplace bullying, and advocating for legislation to end workplace bullying. He is also author of the book The Bully at Work: What you can do to stop the hurt and reclaim your dignity on the job.

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You can contact us via email at wherewelive@wnpr.org.

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Workplace Bullying

I work for the State of Connecticut In a department with 30 or more women. I am bullied repeatly by the other woman, I have been told I smell bad. When I approached both supervisors about this problem, I asked them point blank "do I smell" they said no. I assured these supervisors that I bath, wash my clothes, brush my teeth, come my hair and do all necessary to insure proper hygiene. They agreed that I am one of tne neatest and cleanist employee in my department. Yet the bullying persists from my co-workers. It makes it hard for me to go to work. I feel dirty all the time. And it has taken a toll on me mentally. I don't know what to do at this point. My next step will be Affirmative Action, The state's employee Union, and then an attorney. I am trying not to make this any worse but I need some relief from not being picked on and bullied all the time. The supervisor I have are very passive and do not like to confront problems, let alone a group of employees.

This link was forwarded to

This link was forwarded to me by a former co-worker who was a target and was fired by our bully boss. So far I'm only ten minutes into the program and I think you must be writing about my toxic workplace. Most of the employees in my dept that were there when I started have left or been fired; complaints to Human Resources and to upper management have fallen on deaf ears. we all feel as though we have a bullseye on our back and are waiting to see who will be the next one to go, while in the meantime we are suffering from this control freak. The sad part is that I like my job, I like my co-workers, I like the company I work for, and I feel as though I am a good contributor - but I've been looking for another job for a long time now and hope something comes through for me soon.

Six Years of Abuse

I was sent this page to listen to the segment. My story has a long history to it. I started with a State of CT agency in 2001 and loved my job. I became very ill during my employment and it was discovered that I had aquired Hep B during my employment; I inquired about why I was never vaccinated against this before I started working; but basically I was told that I had fallen through the cracks in the system. I filed a workers comp claim at that point because I didn't know if I was going to get better or not. My body had not decided at that point. It turned out that it was only an accute case and I tried to put my life back to normal and returned to work. When I returned to work I returned to an extreamly hostile work environment. My medical information had been disclosed to my co-workers who didn't want to come near me. I was screamed at daily, they moved my office and assigned me more work. I was told I couldn't use the bathroom and the abuse continued. I contacted my Union, who helped me transfer to another State Agency. During this time I couldn't sleep, eat, and had severe anxiety. My husband didn't understand what I was going through. I transferred and the abuse continued, but I still didn't realize what was happening. I was accused of being places I wasn't, my ideas were given to others to research, I was denied training classes unless it was communication classes, screamed at, kicked, given undesirable work, limited my access to computer to do my job. I had personal information disclosed about my health, told rumors about me, spoken down to, constant denial of other positions that I was qualifed for, belittled me and my abilities, discriminated against me during my pregnancy and then finally retaliated against after returning to work, and then finally mobbed. No one I went to could help or would help. I was just recently forced to quit to save my withering health. I have four children and a husband and I now have no way to help contribute to my household and have fear of losing my home and my family; all who do not understand what I am going through. Late Januarry of this year was the first time I had ever heard of work place bullying. Only then did I begin to put all the pieces together about what was happening to me and why I always felt so awful all of the time. I started to grow angry because of the abuse and felt like I was the problem. So for anyone who I have ever hurt with my words or actions; I am truly sorry, may you find it in your hearts to forgive me. I can only hope that others can be helped from my story and that maybe we can together have the courage to stand up and help get this bill passed.

Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates

CT HWA promotes the adoption of legislation to stop workplace bullying and make CT workplaces safe and healthy. This is good for workers and for our businesses. If you have experienced workplace bullying, or you know of someone who has, or you are interested in the legislation, visit us at http://groups.google.com/group/connecticut-bullybusters/. We welcome comments from the business community too, because our position is that any law needs to be fair to targets and employers. We define bullying as malicious, health-harming activity in the workplace.

I lost of friend of 33 years because of workplace bullying. She committed suicide after being brutalized by her supervisor. She tried to seek legal help but was told no law covered her case, and that was true. No law protects you from a workplace bully.

email to wherewelive@wnpr.org

In listening to your show this morning, I was moved to call, unfortunately the program ran out of time. I am a Registered Nurse who recently quit a job working for the State of Connecticut due to sexual harrassment and retaliation. This situation was the worst and scariest I have experienced as a professional. I felt alone and very untrusting, at times it seemed everyone was in on the situation due to their odd behavior. People I worked closely with, withheld information that would help me learn and do my job, and made verbal threats to me . It appeared that many of these people had their own emotional issues that they played out in the work place. I was the whistle blower who spoke out against a supervisor who had been inappropriate for years and it appeared everyone was afraid to speak up due to past retaliation. This situation has changed me, I have not sued but I have considered it however the anxiety I feel reliving the situation makes me wonder if it would be worth it. This situation has caused me to become hypervigilant and nervous. I have not felt right and took time off this winter to regroup. I ended up quitting the job due to the lack of support and incredible odd behaviors I was subjected to on a daily basis.

Sincerely

Emily

Happened to me before I knew it

I had worked for almost eleven years for a small company. Having been purchased by a larger firm, we were struggling to meet the numbers.

A new HR manager was brought in. She made a number of demands on me, and I told her that since I didn't report to her, I needed to hear from my supervisor before I would comply.

Within 72 hours, I was told that my job had been made redundant, and was given 30 minutes to pack my things and leave.

The next day, I was shocked to find out that a similar fate had met another manager in the company. We've both been looking for work for over four months.

The numbers didn't get any better, and the corporation is closing the company. A company that had employed over 75 people for a dozen years being liquidated.

A recent message from management basically said that "it's just business."

Maybe, but I can't help but wonder which came first, the poor performance or the bullying.

Workplace Bullying Law

Consider signing this petition for a Healthy Workplace Bill. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-a-healthy-workplace-bill-in-con...

There is a bill before the legislature now, HB 6188 An Act Concerning State Employees and Violence and Bullying and the Workplace. This bill is good, but it only sets up a process to report and study workplace bullying. We need a law to prevent it.