Workplace Bullying: Part 2

Bullying by managers

Managers can engage in bullying in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most important types of conduct.

● Giving conflicting, arbitrary or unclear instructions on how to do your job

Bob is Mary’s manager. Bob tells Mary that he wants her to deliver all her status reports orally. When Mary complies with Bob’s instructions, he disciplines her for failing to submit written status reports.

● Making undermining, insulting, abusive or false comments about your work to you and to others

Steve is Nathaniel’s manager. Steve himself reports to William. When the Department fails to meet its monthly sales quota, Steve tells William that Nathaniel didn’t make a single sales call, when in fact Nathaniel made more calls than all his coworkers combined.

● Sharing personal information about your work, salary or mistakes with others who have no business need to know

David is Melanie’s manager. David lets his entire group know what Melanie’s salary is. He tells the group that Melanie is overpaid.

● Making cruel, abusive or sarcastic remarks, and failing to engage in basic workplace courtesy

Mark announces at a staff meeting that Julia’s husband moved out because he couldn’t stand Julia any longer.

● Arbitrarily changing work hours, work location and work schedule with no business reason.

Barbara works from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. so she can pick up her children from school. Barbara’s supervisor Marie abruptly changes her hours with no prior notice and for no work-related reason.

● Withholding pay, raises, promotions and performance reviews

Marco cannot get a raise unless he has a performance evaluation on file with the Human Resources Department. His manager Greg repeatedly tells Marco that he is too busy to do one for him and, as a consequence, Marco gets no raise for the coming year.

● Assigning work that cannot possibly be completed in the time allotted

Molly’s supervisor assigns her two projects, both of which are due in five days. In the best circumstances, each one would require at least four days to complete.

● Assigning little or no work

Dennis is Marina’s manager. Dennis repeatedly tells Marina that he hasn’t had time to figure out what Marina should be doing. So Marina sits around doing nothing.

● Giving unfair, inaccurate or thoughtless performance reviews

Chris supervises Alan. Chris produces a performance review that refers only to Alan’s weakness and makes no mention of Alan’s many accomplishments during the past year.

● Taking credit for a subordinate’s work

Theodore produces regular quarterly reports for his manager Denise. On the header of every report, Denise erases Theodore’s name and inserts her own name as the author.

● Criticizing a subordinate for mistakes beyond his control

David blames Ruby when a client doesn’t show up for an important meeting, even though Ruby sent the client a confirmation note and the client responded he was indeed attending.

● Downplaying or mocking a subordinate’s legitimates concerns

No matter what the issue Lillian raises, her manager Scott tells her that she is overreacting, she is a drama queen, or she is too sensitive.

● Retaliating against a subordinate for making legitimate complaints

Xavier points out certain legitimate concerns to the Compliance Department, after which his manager Andy starts a reign of terror against him.

 More to come …

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.



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