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Survey: 1 In 6 Adults Suffer Some Form Of Workplace Bullying

Statistics Clearly Show This Is Not A Problem Reserved For Just Schools

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bullying isn’t limited to colleges or even classroom. It happens everywhere. In fact, more adults are reporting being bullied at work.

Now, New York State is taking steps to help employees fight back, reports CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson.

Bullied worker Lee Love has a message for all employers.

“Bosses beware. People will take action,” Love said.

She’s not upset about her workload — or even her salary. Love is fed up with bullying in the workplace.

“I was a victim. I had a boss that literally slapped me on my butt,” Love said.

Experts say an adult bully could be a boss, a manager and even a colleague, but their behavior isn’t much different from a bully in the school yard.

“It could be a manager who feels the need to always put their hands on and re-do whatever it is your doing,” human resources consultant Paul Bazell said.

We hear about kids bullying each other all the time, but a new survey shows 1 in 6 adults are being bullied in the workplace.

“Verbal abuse, work sabotage, social and physical isolation,” said Mike Schlicht, co-coordinator for New York Healthy Workplace Advocates.

Schlicht said the bullying he endured at his job was so bad he dreaded going to work each day.

“The person does eventually get to the end of their capabilities to cope with the situation,” Schlicht said.

Maria Morrissey’s brother, Kevin, committed suicide last year after years of bullying at his job as an editor.

“He said ‘please tell everyone I’m sorry, but I simply can’t bear it anymore,’” Maria said. “Kevin put a bullet through his head because I think that he thought that he had no choice.”

Two other New Yorkers — Jodie Zebell and Marlene Braun — have taken their lives as a direct result of office bullying.

Experts say in this economy employees often fear retaliation, so they don’t speak up.

“We found that there was no resolution for workplace bullying,” Schlicht said.

Schlicht’s bullying advocacy group has even proposed legislation that would require employers to intervene in these situations.

“We actually had the bill passed in the Senate last year,” Schlicht said.

If passed in the House next, the law would also require employers to pay bullying victims for lost wages, medical expenses, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages.

“Had there been legislation in place Kevin would be alive today,” Maria Morrissey said.

If you feel you’re being targeted by a bully at work, experts say keep a log of your interactions and file a complaint with your human resources department.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • weg

    Does it constitute as bullying if you’re (too) frequently critcized, feel you can do nothing right and the one time you stand up for yourself, you get a cool demeanor ever since?

  • j

    i know what is is to be bully on the job for about two year it got to the point of tears at 53 that worker make me feel powerless well after what she did one day my coworker said that enough she was remove from from the unit one month fired

  • MV

    Yeah keep a log and contact human resources(YEAH RIGHT!) They can make sure you lose your job. I asked HR for help with my bullying boss and they made a case against me and I lost my job after ten years. I did nothing wrong except ask for help.

  • Jophan

    It is impossible to understand how it feels to be bullied unless you have been there. It is never a matter of just standing up to that person. A bully makes you feel totally worthless and removes all your confidence. You feel you have no recourse because you begin to doubt everything about yourself.

    I’m glad this issue is finally being brought to light, but don’t expect a law to change things.

    I have been in the work force for thirty-five years, and over that time I have had at least four bosses who were bullies. When I was younger, I didn’t know any better and thought that was just how things were, even though it was extremely painful and unfair. Also back then, the job market was better and it was easier to get another job.

    Now it is a different story. I started my current job in early 2010, after being a victim of outsourcing. I thought I was the luckiest person on earth to actually get another job in spite of the terrible climate in today’s market, and it was with the same company I had been with for several years. Through those first years I had become a subject matter expert and had developed a fine reputation. I expected my new boss to appreciate my past experience and be glad that I was on the team. Little did I know what lied ahead. He immediately became abusive, spiteful, and sarcastic. At first I thought it was just new job jitters, but soon I realized it was much more sinister. I confidentially asked his boss what was going on, and hoped that we could resolve things quietly. Well, that didn’t happen. It only got much worse. My work was being sabotaged, I was getting blamed for things I didn’t do, being scolded like a two-year-old, and other such nonsense.

    I ended up filing a complaint with HR, providing piles of email and other evidence. After researching the situation, they decided that my boss would be instructed to change his behavior. I was also told to report back to them if there was any retaliation, because they would not tolerate that. WELL, there was indeed retaliation. He put me on official notice, where I had to improve my performance or else. I told HR that I felt this was retaliation, and they just ignored me. All of a sudden I’m on probation and he gets away with anything he wants.

    This man makes grown men cry! He makes me feel so bad that I can’t really do my job. There you go – his claims that I’m not doing a good job are now true. It is like being hit by a sledge hammer every day. I wake up and dread going to work. I have little panic attacks all day long, complete with hyperventilating and heart palpitations. Other people on my team have had similar experiences but are too afraid to speak up, so they just put up with it.

    DON’T TRUST YOUR HR DEPARTMENT!!!!!!!!!! They only care about protecting the company. They are not really there to take care of you. Not only that, you really have to prove your case. Don’t be surprised if your boss, or co-worker, or whoever it is, wins. These types of people are experts at covering their tracks and making the other person look guilty. A law will just help them find the loophole that will get them off the hook.

    Are there any support groups for this problem?

  • candy

    I’m an assistant director and have seen my staff an myself being bully by the director for 4 years, We no longer want to be part of her lack of disrespecting staff, parents, and myself. She does not take any responsibly in her work, lack of doing any work at all. Her work is by signing her name when it’s needed by her.Myself and the bookkeeper makes her look good by covering up for her because she never seem to know anything in the program. Whether its me or the bookkeeper we tend to give her the answers to her questions, and she always says that she did the work. What are the first steps that I can do to stop this thies women to even work around children. Last but not least the board president is aware of this sitution for 4 years. I want and will put a stop on this woman that mad at the hole world. Also she only does this to the female employees, not to the male employees. Please Help!!!!

  • Mel

    Bullying in the workplace is incredibly destructive and can cause severe injury. We need this law passed in New York State and every other state. I am a target of workplace bullying, i worked 16 years for a non for profit community center in upstate new york. The last ten years i had a boss that was a severe bully. I endured ten years of sufffering, with being called names, being humiliated in front of members, coworkers, business associates and more. I was constantly set up for failure, i was verbally abused. I was forced to work 50-70 hours a week with no compensation and e on call 24-7 365 days a year. i was called at my home and harrassed and called on my cell phone and harrassed routinely. I was stalked at work and at home. These examples only scratch the surface. I became ill in early 2011 and was forced to take sick leave, i was so beaten down that i could no longer do my job, and had lost all confidence in my work ability. i was a facility manager for 29 years, and i could no longer do my job, i crashed and suffered severe post traumatic stress disorder. When my psychologist asked for reasonable accomodations so i could try and return i was terminated immediately. I am still out of work and it may be another year before i am well enough to return to some type of occupation. This is injury and a direct result of being targeted by a bully. Why we put up with it for so long is another whole chapter, but we need laws to stop this in the workplace. work should not hurt and every person in this world has a right to earn a living and provide for their families and themselves without being treated in this manner.It needs to stop and soon. It is tragic that people took their lives as a result, i can understand how it happened, it becomes unbearale and if the conditions are right for the individual it can seem hopeless. Unfortunately i think what happens to people that committ suicide is that they are so severely abused that emotionally they would like to kill the bully, but then that leads to lifetime in prison, they see no way out and they take there own life instead. Until laws are passed this will continue to happen because for severe cases or any case there is little recourse. That is i think the psychology behind it. When one suffers enough abuse they reach a breaking point and it is very sad. My heart goes out to the families of those that have lost loved ones to this tragic epidemic, and shame on organizations and boards that allow it to continue, they need to be held responsible also. They know about it and they choose to ignore it. I know this first hand. i contacted the board where i worked several times and they totally ignored me and told me there was nothng they were going to do, that i had to leearn to deal with it. meanwhile they paid the bully $180,000 a year salary plus peerks, while i worked 50-70 hours a week with no compensation for overtime. Employers beware we are coming after you and we will win and it will be be costly to you. Open your eyes and wake up, we are done taking your crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The word is out, take heed.

    • Dee

      I just have no words right now, ( I also am from upstate NY)
      I am in the middle of being a victim as we speak. It has been a very long battle, and no one will understand until you have gone through it. I can say that I know first hand how these people feel “the ones that have passed on” It is the worst feeling, the embarrassment, the feeling of worthlessness, the constant feeling that no one cares. The feeling of worthlessness not only from the employer, but your friends who still work there and choose to ignore you . The friends on the outside that used to speak to you but now don’t because they believed the bully. The bully made herself look like the victim. These people choose to stay and be mentally abused by Doctors. Yes I said it “Doctors. The state and local officials don’t really care. They think your mental. ” Just get another Job” and then the bullies gets to continue. People only care when it’s to late.
      The more people you complain to the more mental you look..but I’m going to go to the end. They have already made me look mental so I say lets finish this bully….I”M going to Bring the Bullies out . Lets see if the Bullies will lie under oath.
      I am getting stronger everyday..
      I will try to remain strong for my sister who sat by my side through this. You see my sister had a tragic death, My sister who didn’t want to bother me because of how stressed I was.My sister who told me all her problems came to me for everything., The story goes way deeper. The bully made me unavailable to her
      YOU BULLY took my sister from me… and that is why everyday I will get stronger and I will sit at the head of the bully board with my bully stick.
      My feeling is the law is not passed yet … because there is not enough people who are telling their stories.
      This system we have is more damaging.because the bully gets to run the show. (esp in the workers comp system)They get to see your records, they get to accuse you of more lies. They get to cause more damage.

      The funny part about this… not really funny but these other employees don’t really know that they are being bullied behind their backs.
      So Anyways Soooon I will tell my story….. I will not give up..

  • FedUp

    I am an attorney. I lost lost my job in January 2011. I was sitting at my desk doing my work and the managing partner of the law firm at which I was counsel (yes a lawyer did this) barged into my office with another attorney as a witness and abruptly told me to stop what I was doing and get out. He was terse and inexplicably angry. After catching my breath, I asked why. He then turned bright red, his eyes starting darting uncontrollably and he screamed “It is not in my best interest to tell you!” When I appealed to the apparent sanity of the other attorney, the managing partner admonished him to say nothing and then dragged him out of my office. I said nothing more, in part because of shock,but mostly because I feared for my safety. I was not interested in finding out what else he was capable of saying or doing. I felt as though I had been hit with cinder blocks because there was no warning whatsoever that my job was going to terminate and in this way.

    Now, I had nothing to do with this attorney. I did no work for him. My transgression was my existence within the confines of his domain – his little law firm. My contribution to the problem was my existence and nothing more. My work was exceptional and I know that I have an impeccable reputation.

    However, I should have seen this coming, months before. On my first or second day at this job, managing partner screamed at me, no he actually had a tantrum that could have put a three-year old to shame. What had I done? Well he had printed announcement cards to give notice that I had joined the firm. He asked that I create a list of people who I would like to receive the announcement. He did not ask me to give my list to him at any particular time, so on the first or second day of this job, understandably, I did not have it with me. Instead of quietly and professionally asking me to bring it in, he screamed and berated me in front of the entire office. My heart starting pounding. I said nothing or very little and went into my office, closed the door and cried. I should have gone home never to return, but the poor job market for lawyers and my obligation to pay my son’s college tuition compelled me to “hang in there”, ignore it, and give it a chance. After all, who acts this way? This must have been an aberration. Well his outbursts and antipathy towards me never dissipated; instead they became more frequent and got worse. If I was speaking to another lawyer about a case or just taking a break and chatting about the news, he would scream at me, berate me and shout something like, “some of us are trying to work, be quiet”. At one point, he threatened me and told me that “he wasn’t going to stand for it anymore”. This particular episode resulted in heart-pounding fear and a bout of crying. I never responded to him and as the weeks progressed did my best to avoid him – I even worked with my door closed, which may have been another source of irritation to him because he couldn’t watch me.

    I soon realized that I was afraid of him and the working environment was becoming intolerable. But because of the poor job market for attorneys and my college tuition obligation, I couldn’t just quit. So, I decided to look for another job. But, managing partner ended it for me before I could find one.

    Now business relationships are not like personal relationships. You don’t have the luxury of getting to know people before you seal the deal. Business relationships are the other way around, and, often, an employer, or an employee, or both can find that the job or the people are not a good fit. I knew that this job wasn’t working out, but there is a right way and wrong way to deal with such situations and this was as wrong as it could be.

    After the shock wore off of being spoken to and treated that way, I felt wounded and damaged – as though I had been physically assaulted. I do not practice criminal law,but thought, this must be how a crime victim must feel. I looked into suing him and the firm for discrimination, but I soon discovered that employment discrimination laws are not the remedy for bullying; one can comply with anti-discrimination laws and still display hatred for a particular individual. In the following months, I and my family have suffered, and not just from the loss of income.I have been prone to mood swings, fear, depression and anxiety. I have spent thousands of dollars for therapy only a portion of which my insurance carrier will reimburse.

    I am getting back on feet, but the scars of his bullying will remain with me, hopefully not forever, but unfortunately for a while longer. It is not unlawful to dislike a co-worker, boss or colleague. But, it should be unlawful to allow such antipathy and hatred to manifest in the workplace to the point where the psychological well-being of the employee is jeopardized and productivity is compromised. An office is a place where one goes voluntarily and tries to work with others for a common goal. It should not be a torture chamber, no one should be allowed to hold a worker hostage to financial obligations, and no employee should be afraid to go to an office every day and put in an honest day’s work. The effects of bullying are as destructive as any harassment rooted in animus towards religion, sex, national origin, race, etc. – the classes protected by anti-discrimiantion laws. Moreover, this conduct, which is calculated to instill fear and intimidation,compromises confidence and ultimately adversely affects productivity. Bullying in schools has become intolerable and cyber-bullying is a crime. So why should it be tolerated in the workplace? The federal government and the vast majority of States still offer no cause of action that specifically addresses bullying in the workplace, even though the damage caused by workplace bullying is debilitating and more common that one would think. The only available solution is to cobble together a lawsuit based upon laws that remedy other types of transgressions; understandably, these lawsuits often fail, leaving the victims where they started -with no redress. Congress and the legislatures of the States need to wake up and start paying attention. When the recipients of bullying feel as though they are crime victims, it’s time for laws to be written and the bullies to become afraid. Victims of workplace bullying shouldn’t be the ones spending thousands on therapy to treat the wounds left by such cruel and uncalled -for- conduct. Much has been written attributing bullying to low self-esteem and a variety of insecurities. To the extent these writings are factually correct, bullies are the ones that need treatment and they should be forced to get it and to pay for the damage that they cause when they don’t!

    • Love NYC

      Any chance this was asbestos litigation? Seems bullying and demoralizing are rampant in the legal setting. Words can’t describe what goes on behind closed office doors.

  • Tee-Jay

    Any anti-bullying law will be stuck down because it violates the bullies’ civil rights.

  • wavedeva

    @ Bill Fradys. I am so sorry that you went through that. Please do not let your former co-workers win. Their goal was to inflict mental damage on you. They are the problem, not you. We need more people in the world like you. This woman is not a true friend if she would condone this type of behavior. Stay strong.

    I also was bullied by a former co-worker. Lucky for me, I had a good reputation in my industry. In fact when I left, word got out how good my reputation was ( I was the only one in my firm who worked in a certain specialty). As more people found out from outsiders my good reputation, the woman who sought to destroy it wanted me to co-host a barbeque with her. She wanted to show everyone we were friends. I declined the invitation.

  • Billy Fradys

    I was the victim of bullying at the office years ago, in the spring and summer of 2001 and have never been the same since that time. I was provoked and antagonized. I was slandered and defamed. My co-workers turned their backs on me and would not even look at me let alone say hello to me. They sabotaged my work. My files on my computer were destroyed or my files were made to look like hieroglyphics. I also could not save on my computer. I was literally given hundreds of bogus copies to make everyday. My work that I had written with my pencil was erased and they replaced them with their own numbers or they would use white-out and write over my work/numbers. I would get harassing phone calls either at home or at my desk at work. They would call me and I would hear laughter in the background after they cracked their petty little jokes. All at my expense. I went to human resources and they would not help me. Apparently, they had also been persuaded by my boss and co-workers. I was called every dirty name in the book, “Here comes the dirty pervert.” “Don’t talk to him. He’s a disgusting pervert. He writes dirty emails.” All this because I had become friendly with a female. We eventually hit it off but her male friend that found her the position did not want me speaking to her because I think he wanted me to ask for his permission and approval to speak to her. As if I had to go through him to speak to her which I was not about to do. So he found out that my boss had a bad reputation and that my boss did not take a liking to me. So the both of them devised schemes to help set me up and to provoke and antagonize me to get me to quit. They accused me of being jealous of the girl and her male friends which was not true. I was not jealous of anyone. I think the ones that were were passing judgment and accusing me of being jealous were showing a reflection of themselves. They were projecting unto me their own personalities. I had to hire a private investigator and the first question he asked me was whether I was calling from an outside line and if not, that I should call from an outside line. Eventually, I had no choice but to walk away after 3 months of being provoked and antagonized, slandered and defamed, but I had to wait to receive my tuition reimbursement before I walked away. $5,000 may not seem like a lot of money to most people, but when you are still in your twenties, $5,000 is a lot of money and I had waited all year to receive my tuition reimbursement and wasn’t about to let a bunch of bullies and cowards get the best of me by calling me dirty names and accusing me of being a jealous person. I suffered enormous mental damage after being shunned and persecuted by my own co-workers.

    • Alan

      You must have worked for JP Morgan, JP Morgan Chase or related company.

    • X


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