Author: Ashlyn Haldeman
Published: Mar 25 2014
Many people can remember being picked on as children to the point where they wanted to skip school or run away from home. When adults are bullied at work, the situation can be just as problematic and the stress can spill over to their marriage or other personal relationships. Workplace bullies can cause serious harm, but it's important for victims to remember that they do have recourse. No one has to accept workplace bullying as a normal part of life.
When people think of bullying, they often envision large narcissistic individuals pushing smaller people around simply because they can. From spilling a victim's lunch on their lap to knocking into them as they pass, these physical assaults can be disheartening. However, bullying doesn't have to take on a physical form. When it comes to workplace bullying, the damage is often emotional.
Even though a person could be physically injured by workplace bullying, adult bullies in these situations usually realize they could get hit with assault charges. Because of this, psychological bullying is usually the preferred tactic. Even simple verbal abuse, when it's continuous, has been shown to cause stress, low self-esteem and absenteeism at work. Verbal abuse can lead to emotional disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, depression and sometimes post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Fortunately, a bullying victim doesn't have to accept the abusive situation. They have some legal recourse. The most obvious is in criminal law. If a bully, whether it's an employer or coworker, causes physical injury, making a police report can go a long way. It may even result in the bully's termination. A victim can also file a lawsuit in relation to the bullying if it causes harm, including psychological distress. A survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 27 percent of U.S. workers have endured harassment at work. There are currently no laws against psychological bullying and few laws against cruelty toward workers if it is not discriminatory. However, depending on the severity of the circumstances, it is important to consult with a lawyer. According to one personal injury lawyer in Springfield MO, statistics show that injured people who hire an attorney receive a settlement three times larger than those who don't. Another way to fight workplace bullying is to support and take action for the healthy workplace bill, which has not yet been passed into law.
While a workplace bully can be named in a lawsuit, the employer may be liable as well. If the employer knew or should have known about the bullying, it is their responsibility to try and curb it. If they fail to do this and harm occurs because of it, they may be in the same boat as the bully. In these situations it's vital that a victim find a good attorney. It can be very difficult to prove psychological injury in court, but an attorney with experience in this field can provide assistance in confronting responsible parties.
Though it may seem scary, the first step to stopping workplace bullying is confronting the bully. This doesn't mean pushing them down the stairs or some other form of physical confrontation. It can be as simple as a victim telling the bully that their actions are hindering progress at work and need to cease. At this point, any further instances of bullying should be noted, including documentation of any witnesses to the event.
If the bullying continues, it's imperative to take the issue to a manager or human resources department. Avoid doing this in the midst of an emotional breakdown directly following a bullying event. Instead, calm down and set up a time to meet with upper management. Make sure to bring the notes of bullying instances and any witness information to the meeting. At this point, if the bullying doesn't stop, you may have to quit the job, or in some instances, speaking with an attorney becomes the best option.
It's upsetting that there are children out there who feel the need to bully others in an effort to cover up their own inadequacies. It's even more depressing, however, that some people never grow out of this maladaptive behavior. It's important to realize that a bully will never be remembered as anything more than that, but even so, the injuries, both physical and emotional, won't simply go away. Understanding the dangers of bullying and how to respond to it can help a person heal and alleviate stress that the bullying problem may have on all of their relationships.
Ashlyn Haldeman is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, and became interested in this topic due to her own personal experience with workplace bullying. Additional research for this article was found at personal injury lawyer in Springfield MO's website.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mdgovpics/6937833596
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