Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton
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Do you work with bullies?

As a California worker, you do not expect your workplace to be the perfect place that you look forward to going to each and every day. You do, however, expect your workplace to be a place where you can do the job(s) for which you are responsible without being harassed while you are doing them. As reasonable as that expectation is, you are one of the lucky ones if you do not have to deal with one or more workplace bullies on a daily basis.

Per the Workplace Bullying Institute, bullying at the workplace is “health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators.” This mistreatment has the following characteristics:

  • It threatens, humiliates or intimidates someone.
  • It interferes with, sabotages and may actually prevent someone’s work.
  • It is verbally abusive.
  • It is continuing and repeated.

Bullying tactics

A bully’s main mission is to control others. If you are one of his or her targets, (s)he will try to control the way in which you do your work by means of constantly criticizing whatever you do or do not do. Nothing you do is satisfactory. (S)he will nitpick you to death.

Another bullying tactic is that the perpetrator pretends to be your friend while figuratively stabbing you in the back every chance (s)he gets. Still another tactic, particularly if (s)he is your supervisor or someone to whom you report, is withholding information from you that you need to do your job competently and successfully.

A rose by any other name. . .

Calling workplace bullying such things as disrespect, incivility or negative conduct merely puts a pretty, politically correct face on a serious problem. True synonyms include the following:

  • Psychological harassment
  • Psychological violence
  • Workplace emotional abuse

Many experts say that co-worker bullying is equivalent to domestic violence. The perpetrator keeps his or her target(s) in a constant state of imbalance wondering when the next “attack” will take place and what its nature will be. The only difference is that here, the abuser is on the payroll.

If you are a victim of workplace bullying, report it to your supervisor, assuming (s)he is not the one victimizing you. If (s)he is, report it to his or her superior. Do not be afraid to go up the chain of command. Keep records of the people with whom you speak and when you spoke to them. If your inhouse attempts to stop the bullying fail, you may have a valid workplace harassment lawsuit against your employer. This is general educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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