Workplace Bullying: Part 1

What is a workplace bully?

A workplace bully repeatedly and intentionally engages in behavior that is designed to undermine, threaten or harass you. The bully’s conduct distracts you from your job and prevents you from reaching your full potential.

More often than not, you will feel bullied before you are actually aware of specific behaviors directed against you. You may dread coming to work or interacting with a certain person. You may feel anxious or ill at ease.

Bullying not only affects the bully’s target, but often the bully’s coworkers and other subordinates. These other employees fear that they, too, will become a target. They feel guilty about being unable or unwilling to protect the target.

Without doubt, bullying undermines productivity, morale and creativity in a workplace. It is often the cause of excessive and unnecessary turnover, as well as reputational harm for the employer.

The ways that an employee can be bullied are endless. I will break down the behavior into two categories: bullying by managers, and bullying by coworkers and subordinates. The main reason for making this distinction is that managers generally have more power to derail your career than coworkers or subordinates.

More to come …

Bullying by managers

Bullying by coworkers or subordinates

Who can be a bully

Who can be the target of bullying

Bullying to gain the advantage

Is bullying an effective way to get ahead in an organization?

What to do if you are targeted by a bully

What you should never do

Can you sue?


Copyright © 2013 Johanna Harris

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The blog contains numerous illustrative brief vignettes. The circumstances described in these vignettes, including the names of characters and business firms, are fictitious.

About the Author: Johanna Harris has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book, USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace (i Book, Kindle, Amazon Paperback), is intended to help you learn enough about labor law and personnel practices so that you don’t get derailed from the career track you should be on.




2 responses to “Workplace Bullying: Part 1”

  1. Withholding Name says :

    This is the only place I feel I can say what happened to me last night. I hope you see this Johanna.

    I was working at a banquet and with coming into contact with food particles to even icing from a cake on my fingers I have to wash my hands. I will leave more info on being sanitary in a food/serving environment out.

    I was verbally attacked by a kitchen worker who told me “Lady, you wash your hands an awful lot, you don’t even work!” Well, I let him have it. I won’t say more, just I really was so taken aback as I’ve been on my feet for almost four hours straight WORKING and WALKING back and forth from my tables etc and really I could not hold back my emotions and words for his UNTRUE words on me working. I will say this to help me feel better and out him: HE had no clue gloves can be contaminated- as he told me to wear gloves so I don’t have to wash my hands! And he’s in the food industry!!!!!??? He basically accused me of being a fragile person on getting my hands dirty! Hello, it’s for cleanliness for the next thing I have to touch THAT SHOULDNT BE CONTAMINATED etc!
    I also want to say I did not appreciate the co-workers not having my back on his verbal attack. Most too judged me when they don’t even know what happened to me! One even shunned me for my outburst on being wrongly attacked. So I will say all this here, my venting place.
    I looked online for suing him for emotional distress due to how I was after and still am. That’s how I got here to vent! After reading your article, I see it isn’t worth it and to conclude he is in the wrong period and I’ll have to have that help my emotional state that I am in right now. I am such a hard worker and to be verbally accused and attacked that I’m a lazy worker just was such an AWFUL experience and for that he should be fired. Thank you for reading.
    In summary, if you don’t do a person’s job, how dare you attack them on it when you have no clue what that person endures doing their job ie having to wash your hands!

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  1. Workplace Q & A: Part 7 | Use Protection - January 10, 2014

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