Booktalking "When You Work For a Bully" by Susan Futterman
Ever heard of a constructive discharge? That's when an employer makes an employee's work experience so miserable that any reasonable person would leave under the circumstances. If a worker can legally prove that s/he was forced to resign for this reason, s/he can obtain monetary unemployment benefits. Documentation is the main proof that holds up in a court of law. Emails, letters and audio recordings of bullying behavior can help plaintiffs win their cases. Better yet, if the staff member can prove that s/he was discriminated against for a class that is protected by law (race, gender, disability status, etc.), a discrimination lawsuit is much more likely to be successful, either in or out of court.
Berating an employee in front of other staff members, continually criticizing the person for minutiae, openly yelling and screaming, sending nasty emails, relegating the employee to menial tasks, mocking the target either directly or indirectly by gossipling with staff and/or customers, and making the person's life unnecessarily difficult in a myriad of ways are all the stuff of workplace bullying.
Victims of bullying tend to possess the following characteristics: they are competent at their work, often having received accolades from their former supervisors and positive performance reviews they have collegial relationships with their co-workers; they are older or more expensive than counterparts; they show initiative and independent thought; and they do not participate in office politics.
Good news: there are strategies that one can use to fight back. Ask the bully to clearly define expectations. If they are presented verbally to you, send an email recapping the conversation to confirm that you understand and to create a paper trail. Simply walk away if the person starts screaming at you. Seek out personal counseling services in order to deal with the emotional shrapnel created by such a toxic environment. You can also ask the union for assistance, if you have one. If you cannot resolve the situation on your own or with a lawyer and obtain better treatment, seek alternate employment opportunities for your own health and well-being. No one deserves to receive maltreatment at work.
When You Work For a Bully: Assessing Your Options and Taking Action by Susan Futterman, 2004
I was somewhat surprised by the prevalence of bullying in the workplace. The author reported about a 20% prevalence in general in the workplace, 28% in the medical field, and 33% in the legal field.