The most common response when asking administrators to stop the epidemic of workplace bullying in California state government workplaces is:
California State Legislators: This is an easy win. There is tremendous constituency for anti-workplace bullying legislation within state offices.
Workplace bullying in the California state government workplace.
The scope does not include private industry, only California state government employees.
Groundbreaking research in the US by the Workplace Bullying Institute revealed some disturbing facts about the prevalence of workplace bullying and its effects. One of the major findings of the 2007 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey - the largest scientific survey of bullying in the US - was that "Bullying is 4 (four) times more prevalent than illegal, discriminatory harassment," which includes such things as discrimination due to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or age.
A recent study estimates that 1 in 5 US workers has experienced destructive bullying in the past year. Bullying, general harassment, is more prevalent than sexual harassment and racial discrimination. (National Institutes of Health).
In a survey done by the UNC Business School at Chapel Hill, Christine Pearson found that 52 percent of all targets spent company time worrying about their tormentor rather than working; 28% actually missed work in order to avoid the person. More that one in five targets decreased the quality of their work. Almost twelve percent gave up and changed jobs.
It is smart policy that saves government tax dollars through prevention of worker psychological violence, low performance, missed work, and lawsuits against state government.
One serial bully in the workplace had the potential to reduce the performance of their victims by half, and that of other employees by up to 33% (Australian Institute of Criminology Report 2001)
A recent impact and cost assessment calculated that workplace bullying costs Australian employers between $6 - $36 billion dollars every year when hidden and lost opportunity costs are considered. (Australian Human rights commission: www.humanrights.gov.au)
According to a comment on the Workplace Prof Blog, "Recent research suggests 18.9 million working days are lost each year as a direct result of bullying at work, costing to the UK economy of 6 billion pounds", further "90% of those absent from work due to bullying tell employers their absence was the result of some other kind of illness."
Workplace bullying is not based on the targeted person's race, gender or other protected status.
Consequently, statutory law making discrimination or harassment based on a person's race, gender or other protected status does not protect the person from workplace bullying. Common law tort theories also do not provide such protection.
Worse Than Sexual Harassment
Bullied employees report more job stress, less job commitment, and higher levels of anger and anxiety than sexually harassed employees. Bullies can wreak more havoc on a company than can sexual harassment. http://www.livescience.com/2361-workplace-bullying-epidemic-worse-sexual-harassment.html
Why is this legislation urgent?
Bullies perceive talented people as threats and seek to destroy them. It is the intensity of this destruction affecting tens of thousands of employees throughout California state government that makes this legislation critical.
1. Create a safe environment for California state employees
2. Education: Create awareness of office bullying
It is mistreatment severe enough to compromise a targeted worker's health, jeopardize her or his job and career, and strain relationships with friends and family. It is a laser-focused, systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction. It has nothing to do with work itself. It is driven by the bully's personal agenda and actually prevents work from getting done. Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:
Dr. Mark Hayes in an article in Webdiary (Feb 2007), "the literature suggests that workplace bullies tend to be threatened by their targets in various ways and to deal with the threat, bullies seek to control, contain, or even remove the threat, all the while getting off on the torment they are causing. The threat can actually be the target's productivity, skills, talent, popularity with peers and even superiors, which, completely inadvertently, shows up the bully's inadequacies. Like whistleblowers, the bully's target may well have a strong conscience that all but drives them to speak and act truthfully because they cannot act in any other way. The target must be put in their place." "A Target is an individual who by accident has the desirable qualities of competence, networking and emotional intelligence. This individual is selected as an object towards which the Workplace Bully can direct an unrelenting stream of harm - mainly subtle and some obvious - in order to reduce the Target's performance and self esteem while increasing the Workplace Bully's own view of her/his own self importance. For the Workplace Bully, the Target is perceived as a threat."
A common characteristic of many bullies is that when called to account, they immediately and aggressively deny everything, then counterattack with distorted or fabricated criticisms and allegations; if this is insufficient, quickly feign victimhood, often by bursting into tears (the purpose is to avoid answering the question and thus evade accountability by manipulating others through the use of guilt)
Eighty per cent of targets are women. Fifty-eight per cent of bullies are women. - http://alis.alberta.ca/ep/eps/tips/tips.html?EK=11608
Corporate/institutional bullying occurs when bullying is entrenched in an organization and becomes accepted as part of the workplace culture.
There are a number of situations that, although they may feel unpleasant, are not examples of bullying.
Our goal is to provide compassionate policy for victims, but to also have compassion for bullies who do not have insight into their behavior.
Alex Glaros is a California state employee. This effort was initiated outside of union scope, extending protection to government managers who are not normally covered by union contracts but who are also victimized by other managers. Both California state employees and managers deserve to have a safe working environment free from psychological violence.
After having numerous coworkers confide in me about being victimized by the same bully, stating that repeated requests to the bully's supervisor were met with hostility, I researched the issue and found that in other workplaces also, administrative remedies almost never occur, or take many years to resolve only after overwhelming numbers of witnesses and victims finally come together to force the issue. During that time span of five to ten years or more, many lives and careers are ruined.
It is the statewide culture of ignoring multiple and independent complaints against the same serial bully that is the motivation for this effort. A complaint against bullying is often the single greatest act of courage an employee makes in their life, and the fact that 62% are ignored or receive hostile responses makes the need for legislation undeniable
If a bully's supervisor is inexperienced, perhaps one can see why one complaint might not work, but why after a pattern of several independent complaints, doesn't the organization get it? There seems to be lack of tracking, empathy, and a lack of understanding of the magnitude of the problem, the fear employees experience, and crushing attacks that they endure. Another problem is the lack of insight administrators have regarding intimidated coworkers who are reluctant to support the victim due to career considerations. Finally, administrators fail to recognize that the bully's fabricated counterclaims and skillful maneuvers are standard tricks employed by all bullies to obfuscate and throw investigations off track.
I am deeply concerned when female coworkers tell me that when they leave work, they go home and cry every night as a result of relentless psychological violence directed at them by their supervisor.
Clearly, there is a need for simple policy to protect these state employees.
Please join this effort in passing legislation and saving thousands of current and future employees from daily workplace bullying.
This is the only legislative protection that victims of psychological violence have in California state government.
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Legislative Campaign to Stop Bullying in the California State Government Workplace
500 Main Street
Winters, CA 95694