Sunday, August 30, 2009

Was Harvard professor bullied or bullying?

We learned from this single incident that certain behaviors are not acceptable and should be checked. Nationally renowned social-anthropologist, Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested on his front porch for misbehavior toward a police officer. Prof. Gates is of African-American ethnicity. The arresting officer was many years the professor’s junior, a police instructor of profiling techniques, and Caucasian."

The question remains: Should Professor Gates sue for racial discrimination?

"Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, an organization that has sued the New York Police Department many times on behalf of individuals and groups, told [the ethicist] that lawsuits can be ‘an important tool for reform when coupled with advocacy and public education efforts and when the circumstances are conducive to change.’”

Barack Obama called this incident a “teachable moment." Can we Americans learn from this incident about the racism that continues to haunt this country? Or do we just take sides?

Black, Latino, and Native American mothers and fathers teach their sons about what to do when they will be arrested for crimes not committed. The problem is just this common.

Workplace Bullying in mobile home parks is rampant

An all too common problem in California's Mobile Home Park communities, residents of this mobile home park in the San Fernando Valley are dealing with rotting infrastructure and management that not only doesn’t care, but also fires back with retaliation for complaints, another scenario seldom tagged as workplace bullying, but most certainly is. Many of these complaints are not only valid, they are within parameters of present Mobile Residency law, guarding the welfare of the mobile home residents and the communities being served by the park’s very existence.

How sad that this story includes an 8-day trial where the tenets prevailed because, among other things, the judge pointed out that they put up with years of “inexcusably rude, petty and bullying behavior."

Unlike other tenants of residential property, mobile home owners cannot simply pack up their belongings and ship off to the next abode. They have to bear the huge expense of shipping their abode with them as well. Mobile Home Park Owners know this and take severe advantage of the mobile home owners they pack tightly together their parks.

Often these parks have service systems (sewers, roads, hookups, etc.) that are aging while the property values continue to rise. Park owners are known to suddenly sell out, leaving tenants to fend for themselves with new owners who are usually anonymous LLC corporations that arrive with rent increases, bulldozers with a mandate to move-or-be-smashed, or a new team of workplace bullies they refer to as managers.,0,2043044.story

Saturday, August 29, 2009

“At-will” labor law needs to be reconsidered in light of Workplace Bullying

Employment law in the U.S. has traditionally been governed by the common law rule of "at-will employment," meaning that an employment relationship could be terminated by either party at any time for any reason or without a reason. This is still true today in most states. However, starting in 1941, a series of laws prohibited certain discriminatory firings. That is, in most states, absent an express contractual provision to the contrary, an employer can still fire an employee for no or any reason, as long as it isn't an illegal reason (which includes a violation of public policy). and
“While most people in the USA do not seem to care about practices in other countries, several law review articles have noted that the USA is alone among the industrialized nations of the world in providing no protection against wrongful termination of employment.”
Take heed. High level CEO’s and public managers (school superintendents, fire chiefs, city managers, top hospital administrators, etc.) have tightly-written contracts that either abolish “at-will” common law for their particular employment, and pay high stock dividends or “buy-outs” when the employer wants to release that person prior to the contracts duration language.
Also lament, the United States is the only industrialized country that has no mandatory sick leave (even with Swine flu upon us), no mandatory vacation law, and the longest work week and shortest average vacation times taken of the industrialized world. Yet, we claim to be “the best country in the world to live in.” Love it or change it. California Healthy Workplace Advocates vote for change.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Workplace Bullying Chronic in Macedonia...

Business Week offers article about Macedonian work abuse
The problems permeating Macedonia’s issues with workplace bullying and inadequate laws to protect targets read the same as every state in our Union. To exacerbate our problems, most of the United States adheres to fire “at-will" policies, and status-blind workplace bullying is still legal.

Unions only represent 12% of our workforce in the USA and that number is shrinking. Sometimes, unions actually contribute to the bullying. Almost always, unions look the other way because they have no contract language to act upon. Unions are caught in the middle. Fortunately, the sharper unions lend us their support for the Healthy Workplace Bill.

See the Business Week article here:

Help reach the goal of 8000 for a petition against workplace bullying

In case you have not yet signed the Causes2Care petition to legislate against workplace bullying, here’s the site. Please participate. California Healthy Workplace Advocates thank you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Workplace Bullying worsens with recession for 5 million Americans

Bullying at work worsens with recession for 5 million Americans

Many times targeted workers are asked, “Why don’t you just stand up to the bully?” or “Why don’t you just get another job?”

Targets answer:
“Because I fear retaliation! They will believe the bully, not me. She has the power. And there’s a recession going on. Jobs aren’t easy to come by. My blood pressure is so high, thanks to that bullying #*%+ that I couldn’t even pass the physical for a new job, should I find one. Nor would I qualify for private health insurance because my high blood pressure would be a dreaded pre-existing condition. Have you seen the price of buying my health insurance under COBRA? It would take over half of my unemployment, which I don’t get unless I am fired. And that bully knows it. This recession is why she’s taking so many runs at me. I know she enjoys the bullying. You should see the grin on her face whenever she gets a good one on me. It happens every other day.”

Genuine fears for real problems. This recession really is increasing the incidence of workplace bullying. Read this blog which contains the results from a recent poll taken by The Workplace Bullying Institute: Better yet, weigh in with your own experience:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Workplace Bullying in Academics

Academic authors just can’t bring selves to use the “B” word – “Incivility,” they call it. Very, very nice. Their other publications say, ‘bad behavior’ and ‘rudeness.’ Adjectives in their citations are “insidious” and “counterproductive” to describe bullying workplace behaviors. Any word, except ‘bullying.’ Of what might they be afraid? Perhaps sounding like children who are quite honest?"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Workplace bullying law meets whistleblower protection law

Workplace bullying law meets whistleblower protection law in Britain – The “mother country” of Canada and the US (for that matter), has enjoyed national whistleblower protection law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998: ( and workplace bullying law, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997: ( ) for over a decade.

Notice the words under the part pertaining to Scotland, “Every individual has a right to be free from harassment.” Take heed that one need not be a member of a “protected class” due to his race, color, ethnicity, sex, national origin, religion/sect, disability, or age ( In other words, the Brits to do not confuse harassment and discrimination as the Americans do. What a concept!

Now, take a look at this short article from the UK about a whistleblower who wins the right to sue over alleged workplace bullying:
After eating your little North American heart out, pull yourself together and visit this remarkably wonderful site for what California Healthy Workplace Advocates call “small-time whistleblowers” and just try to figure out what the heck is the connection between blowing the whistle and making false claims might be. No, it has nothing to do with “crying wolf.” It has to do with the False Claims Act against a government, called “qui tam statutes, that allow whistleblowers to actually step into the shoes of the government and seek damages on behalf of the government.”

In other words, in the US, a small-time whistleblower can make like the government itself and vicariously sue an entity for making false charges for government moneys. But it better be about multi-millions of government dollars or you will NEVER find attorney representation.

Healthy Workplace Advocates tell this to legislators and even governors. We call our whistleblower protections “infantile” because they provide so little protection for the typical whistleblower. Those whistleblowers we read of or hear about in the media are big-timers – the very reason the media picked up their stories in the first place. The rest of us just pucker up and blow away.

Workplace Bullying - Equal Opportunity Bullies

Dr. Gary Namie appeared on YouTube; California Healthy Workplace Advocates missed it. In case you missed this news clip on YouTube, like we did until Google Alerts flagged it this month, check it out. KDRV TV in November of 2007 comes another news feature about the Zogby- WBI study.
The clip highlights a professional woman and two female colleagues whose higher-level job duties were stripped and replaced with make-work projects of a trivial nature. Removing responsibilities from a target is a common bullying tactic and especially egregious abuse to those who are educated for professional or paraprofessional duties.
You will hear how these women from New York State prevailed legally, most likely because they sued for gender-based discrimination, which is indeed illegal.Had their bully been another woman, they wouldn’t have had a legal leg to stand on.

But, should we succeed with a federal Healthy Workplace Bill, “Look out, you equal-opportunity bullies!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Workplace Bullying Rife in the Helping Professions

California is not the only place where workplace bullying is rife in the helping professions. Tampa Bay news writer really “gets it” – Here’s a story about a registered nurse who went through what Healthy Workplace Advocates hear from targets over and over and over again.

Written with compassion and understanding, this St. Petersburg Times staff writer relays this nurse’s story in such a way that even the hardest opponent of the Healthy Workplace Bill could not deny workplace bullying’s very existence and our present law’s inability to address it.

We should ask the story’s opponent if he would want his nurse to be subjected to similar cruelty while tending to his illness. We should ask any opponent if she can any longer deny the ‘elephant in the labor living room’ of the American workforce. Then, Healthy Workplace Advocates should contact this Times staff writer and thank her.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at or (813) 226-3383.) She will tell this now-damaged nurse in Rebecca’s story that she is not alone and that Healthy Workplace Advocates not only believe her: We care about her plight.

Please join us in our legislative lobbying mission to pass legislation to correct and prevent workplace bullying in California. Our next meeting is on Saturday, Sept. 26th, 2009 at Denny's Restaurant in downtown Sacramento. Go to for more information.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Aug. meeting of California Healthy Workplace Advocates

"Workplace Bullying: Repeated, health-harming mistreatment manifested as either verbal abuse; conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating; or sabotage that interferes with work or some combination of the three."
As reported yesterday at the August meeting in Sacramento for California Healthy Workplace Advocates, Funding problems end British workplace bullying organization ended The Andrea Adams Trust in the UK.
On July 31, 2009 the first UK organization to combat Workplace Bullying — The Andrea Adams Trust exited from the public stage for lack of funding after 15 years of service. The Trust’s namesake, Adams, coined the phrase workplace bullying for the world. She (with Neil Crawford) wrote the first book on the topic in. Cancer claimed the pioneer. From The Workplace Bullying Institute which provides this support, education, and legislative campaign for Canada and the United States, CHWA is told, “We at US-based WBI salute and thank the British pioneers for their contributions, including the six years of Ban Bullying Days and crisis line support for targeted individuals. Lyn Witheridge, founder and chief executive of the trust said: ‘It is time for the Andrea Adams Trust to pass on the baton, and I urge other organizations who share our passion in the fight against workplace bullying to continue with our work. Recognition of the effects of bullying in the workplace is essential if it is to be legitimately challenged, which can only be achieved through persistent effort to raise awareness of this insidious practice. The Trust will be missed. The Adams-Leymann duo has now truly passed on."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Workplace Bullying without a target...where do they go?

"I must write a response to a blog author who expressed the belief that if targets would speak up, workplace bullies would go away or change their behavior. That logic struck me like, "If no one is in the forest to hear the tree fall, would it make noise?" If targets stand up for themselves, do we have any real evidence bullies will go away or stop their behavior? This is not rudeness we are talking about. I say, go research the phenomenon of workplace bullying, then write about it.

Sadly, targets often get blamed for the behavior of their perpetrator. Bullies are self-contained. They do not need to be set off by anyone else's behavior, and seldom will they voluntarily stop their behavior simply because a target calls them on it. That is why it is so very important that companies put policies and procedures in place to correct and prevent workplace bullying, much like the law now requires they do in regard to sexual harrassment.

Although we don't yet have any laws in the United States to protect us from this life altering phenomenon, we are not going away. We will keep up our citizen lobbying until we achieve legal protection. I am sure there are some employers who are savvy enough to see that changes are coming. Many realize that productivity in the workplace is directly linked to maintaining a healthy environment, both mentally and physically.

So to those who want to believe that all it takes to stop this problem is to stand up for yourself, I respond by saying that I am standing up for myself by leaving the toxic environment that supports the bully and joining others in the campaign to pass legislation to compel employers to confront the bullies, call them on their behavior, and demand that they change or be held liable if they do not!"

Thank you to the member of the California Healthy Workplace Advocates who contributed this entry. We are part of a HUGE network of states, workers, and professionals who are working toward legislation to correct and prevent workplace bullying. Please join us.