Workplace bullying commonplace, but not legislated

Published: Oct. 16, 2012 at 11:35 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2012 at 1:13 AM CDT
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Amarillo, TX - Bullying in public schools and social media has found its way to the national spotlight over the last few years, but bullying in the workplace is a growing trend which often leaves victims with no legal recourse.

According to data from the Workplace Bullying Institute (see associated link), 35% of American workers have either seen or personally experienced bullying in their workplace.

Other forms of abuse like harassment and discrimination are specifically addressed in both state and federal laws, and most workplaces have their own policies in that vein.  However, unlike harassment and discrimination, the legal definition of "bullying" is ambiguous at best, which makes blanket legislation difficult, as Steve Dawson of Express Employment Professionals says,

"Is it just an overbearing boss that just really wants to get things done and a no-so-thick-skinned employee takes it the wrong way?  Or it could be an actual bullying-type deal where they're just constantly on that employee about something more and more all the time."

Additionally, financial stressors can put added strain on interpersonal relationships, as Tim Dannels of Sanford Rose Associates says,

"As companies have gone into the downturn, there's a lot of companies that are operating leaner, people wearing multiple hats, doing multiple jobs, asked to do more, and that stress causes a lot of their bosses or superiors to be more demanding."

Some say the impact of bullying reaches beyond the personal level, impacting the overall workplace, and ultimately, its productivity, as Dawson adds that turnover is among the biggest threats to business.

An online push to address and enforce workplace bullying through legislation (see associated link) monitors trends and allows those concerned to get involved.