Thursday, September 29, 2011

October 16-22 Proclaimed Freedom From Workplace Bullies in City of South Lake Tahoe, CA


South Lake Tahoe



WHEREAS, the City of South Lake Tahoe has an interest in promoting the social and economic well-being of its employees and citizens; and

WHEREAS, that well-being depends upon the existence of healthy and productive employees working in safe and abuse-free environments; and

WHEREAS, surveys and studies have documented the stress-related health consequences for individuals caused by exposure to abusive work environments; and

WHEREAS, abusive work environments can create costly consequences for employers, including reduced productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and employee health-related expenses; and

WHEREAS, protection from abusive work environments should apply to every worker, and not limited to legally protected class status based only on race, color, gender, national origin, age, or disability;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Mayor, Hal Cole, and Council of the City of South Lake Tahoe hereby proclaim October 16 – 22 “Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week”.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

California Healthy Workplace Advocates Agenda for September 24, 2011

Mission - The mission of the California Healthy Workplace Advocates is to raise public awareness and to compel our State to correct and prevent abusive work environments through legislation.

Overview of meeting: Introductions – Updates on progress - Activities - Sharing – Closing


Successful Citizen Lobby Day on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011

Attendees: Sarah, Michelle, Roberta, Kathy, Monica, Carrie, Janet, & Paula

Reports on experiences and follow ups to and from and to legislative assistants

Report on Labor Day Celebration at Land Park in Sacramento: Sarah and Roberta

Report on CELA Conference : Sarah and Roberta


Anyone who wishes to approach their Mayor to proclaim Oct. 16-22 Freedom from Workplace Bullying Week can provide the city a copy of the Proclamation being used in Texas, Oregon, and Connecticut

Plan to schedule another Citizen Lobby Day in January for follow-up on 2012 Healthy Workplace Resolution and Healthy Workplace Bill



California Healthy Workplace Resolution 2011 and 2012

Proclamation for City – 2010 Zogby Survey/Research Results Flier



NEXT MEETING: October 22, 2011 3pm – 6pm -

Stop Workplace Bullying Before it Starts

Jane Applegate President & CEO, The Applegate Group Inc.,
September 20,2011

Everyone has experienced a bad day at the office when people are yelling and screaming at each other in frustration. But, if one person is the target of constant verbal and emotional abuse, it can escalate into a troubling case of ‘workplace bullying.’

Many small business owners refuse to acknowledge workplace bullying, preferring to hope the antagonist will eventually stop picking on a targeted co-worker. But, if you do nothing, the situation usually worsens, creating serious health and emotional problems for the bullied worker—and financial stress for employers, according to experts in the field.

If business owners don’t deal with bullying at work, it could result in a violent act. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about two million violent crimes occur at American workplaces every year.

“There’s a real bottom line reason for business owners to take this problem seriously,” said David Yamada, professor of law and director of the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. “If you are working in close quarters and things are tense and combative, it’s likely to affect everyone’s morale.”

An expert on workplace issues, Yamada authored the ‘Healthy Workplace’ bill, which has been introduced by legislators in 21 states. Currently, 16 versions of the bill—which aims to protect bullied workers from abusers, extending legal protections currently not available to them—are under review in 11 states. Most people think federal employment and discrimination laws protect workers from bullying, but they don’t, according to Yamada.

Being bullied at work makes life miserable. Experts say bullied workers suffer from anxiety, hypertension, depression and other stress-related illnesses. A 2010 Zogby study revealed that about 35 percent of all adult Americans have been bullied and 15 percent of the population has witnessed workplace bullying. The survey was authored by Dr. Gary Namie, Ph.D., and his wife Ruth.

Considered experts on workplace bullying, they have written extensively on the topic and consult with companies dealing with bullying issues. Their newest book, The Bully-free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels and Snakes from Killing Your Organization, provides readers with an in-depth look at the problem and several strategies for dealing with workplace bullying.

“Bullying runs rampant in small businesses,” said Namie. “The owner wants to avoid conflict and doesn’t know what to do. They prefer to tell the abuser and the target, ‘you guys work this out.’”

Namie said he became interested in workplace bullying issues after his wife, Ruth, who is a psychologist, was bullied at work. “Our research shows 66 percent of women who are bullied at work lose their jobs,” said Gary Namie. “Forty-one percent quit, and 25 percent are fired.”

People bullied at work feel trapped—similar to someone suffering from domestic violence. It’s often worse for a bullied worker who feels he or she has to take the abuse because they really need the job, especially during this lingering economic slump.

How do you know if you have a bully in your midst?

“Bullying is a hostile, repeated behavior meant to make people feel badly,” said Carolyn Fedigan, a Boston-area human resources consultant who helps clients deal with bullying problems.

“I’ve dealt with a CEO who would regularly say to his secretary, ‘What, are you stupid?’”

Fedigan said some bullies take a more subtle approach. “They leave people out of communication loops, they spread gossip or single people out for the silent treatment,” she said.

No matter how distasteful it is, business owners can’t turn their backs on the problem. “There is a real financial cost to companies that let this toxic behavior continue, “ said Fedigan. “Bullied people take sick leaves, go out on disability and lose productivity.”

She said many business owners tolerate a bully if the person is a great salesperson or clients love them. “Sometimes the boss is scared of the bully,” she said. “They worry about the cost of turnover, of recruiting and training a new person.”

Business owners have to put their foot down and say, ‘We don’t accept this kind of behavior.” She said it’s important to have a written policy prohibiting workplace bullying. It’s also important to encourage your employees to report any inappropriate or bad behavior. “You have to have the kind of environment where employees can tell the boss what’s happening to them.”

Companies often hire Fedigan to counsel bullies. She works one on one with them, delving into why they are acting inappropriately towards a colleague. “Often, they have no idea they are a bully,” she said. “They think it’s an okay way to behave.”

Consider drafting an anti-bullying policy for your business that defines the problem and then:

Provides a procedure to report incidents.
Includes a ‘no retaliation’ provision.
Encourages employees to report incidents.
Informs employees that violations may result in discipline.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Workplace Bullying Is No Bull

The playground isn’t the only place where you’ll run into bullies. Internet bullying has led to suicides. Office bullying is on the rise, and it’s a deal-killer no matter what business you’re in.

If you think people outgrow bullying behavior just because they get older, think again. Bullies come in all ages, shapes and sizes – and on all rungs of the corporate ladder.

Remarkably, bullying in the workplace is among the leading reasons for employees to seek other employment. Even more remarkably, most don’t list bullying as the reason they quit.

Instead, they suffer in silence and take their talents elsewhere.

And “suffer” they do. Scholars at The Project for Wellness and Work-Life at Arizona State University found “workplace bullying is linked to a host of physical, psychological, organizational, and social costs.” Their research indicated that stress is the most predominant health effect associated with bullying in the workplace: “Stress has significant negative effects that are correlated to poor mental health and poor physical health, resulting in an increase in the use of ‘sick days’ or time off from work.”

Can any company afford that?

In a CareerBuilder survey of over 5,600 full-time employees, 27 percent of workers said they have felt bullied in the workplace. Most of them didn’t confront the offender nor report the abusive behavior. What form did the bullying take? Workers gave these examples:

  • Comments were dismissed or not acknowledged: 43 percent.
  • Falsely accused of a mistake: 40 percent.
  • Needlessly harsh criticism: 38 percent.
  • Forced into doing work that wasn’t really part of the job: 38 percent.
  • Held to different standards and policies from those of other workers: 37 percent.
  • Made the focus of gossip: 27 percent.
  • Boss yelled at me in front of co-workers: 24 percent.
  • Belittling comments during meetings: 23 percent.
  • Others taking credit for work: 21 percent.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Management is responsible for keeping the workplace free of sexual, racial or other forms of harassment and inappropriate behavior. If an issue is reported, reasonable action should

follow. Unfortunately, sometimes the manager is the bully. If that manager has a manager, the victim needs to go to that level. They might be doing the company a huge favor by exposing the reason why so many good people in that department are heading for the hills.

The victims of bullying have to take responsibility – it’s not safe to assume anyone else is aware of the bullying if they don’t report the problem. Bullies are notoriously sneaky. They pick and choose their targets carefully. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless to do anything if you’re a victim.

Take charge by following these guidelines:

  • Recognize bullying when it occurs. Mild teasing or isolated comments, even if they’re inappropriate, don’t necessarily constitute harassment under the law. Stand up for your rights by all means, but remember that harassment is more than just behavior that’s unwelcome. Technically, it’s behavior that discriminates against gender, race, national origin, or some other legally protected characteristic.
  • Study your policy. Most organizations have written policies that don’t just prohibit harassment but spell out the steps to take if an employee feels uncomfortable. Check out the procedures for reporting unwelcome incidents to be sure you don’t miss any options.
  • Speak up to the harasser. Your first step should be to tell the person that his or her behavior, comments or requests aren’t welcome. In some cases the matter may end there. But don’t hesitate to inform management if you can’t comfortably confront the other person on your own.
  • Document the behavior. Most important of all: Take notes describing each incident to keep details fresh in your memory. This will add credibility to your claim. And keep a record of your conversations with management concerning the problem.
  • Inform management. Follow the procedure for reporting harassment to the proper person. Your own manager is usually the person to start the process with, but if your manager is the one harassing you, you’ll have to go up the ladder to reach the right authority. Document your efforts to report the behavior – dates, times, what was said, and so forth.

Mackay’s Moral: If you’re being bullied, take the bull by the horns before there’s a stampede.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Workplace Bully: Bringing a Company Down

As surprising as it sounds, bullying has become a major problem in the workplace. Bullying can take the form of threats, sexual and racial harassment, intimidations, and even physical violence. Bullying is not only harmful to the targeted employee. It also brings down a company's overall morale and profitability. Employers should be aware of the problem and then make it clear that bullying has no place in their business.

For the most part, bullying is a form of psychological violence. However, if left
unchecked, workplace bullying can ultimately result in extreme physical violence. In Canada, in 1999, a man went on a shooting spree at his workplace, killing four employees before taking his own life. Investigators later learned he was a victim of workplace harassment. The incident raised awareness about the effects of psychological violence such as bullying.

Profiling the Bully
Typically, workplace bullies are insecure people with few social skills and little empathy. Their insecurity compels them to try and control others by attacking and belittling them. Bullies tend to target the capable, hard-working employees who they perceive as threats. The more capable the employee, the more determined the bully is to cut them down. Bullies also like to target employees who are cooperative, non-confrontational and well liked.

The bullied employees endure unjustified criticism. They're often humiliated in front of co-workers. Eventually, they may find themselves ignored and isolated.

When the Bully is a Boss. While a bully can be a man or woman, studies show that most bullies are bosses (80 percent). The others are co-workers. On rare occasions, workers bully their superiors. If a boss is a bully, he or she may:

* Set the target up for failure by setting unrealistic goals or deadlines.
* Deny the necessary information and resources the victimized employee needs to perform his or her job.
* Either overload the victim with work or take all the work away
* Force the victim to do demeaning tasks

The Cost of Bullying
Ultimately, a workplace bully is a financial burden to a company. A bully's target tends to become unproductive because he or she spends a great deal of time defending themselves or seeking support from peers. They become highly stressed and unmotivated. Often, they lose time at work due to stress-related illnesses.

But the bully's negative influence extends beyond the target. A bully can poison an entire workplace environment by causing low morale, fear, and anger. This, in turn, leads to high absenteeism and turnover. Efficiency suffers, and the employer foots the bill. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to physical violence and lawsuits.

Bully Prevention
Every company's employee handbook should make it perfectly clear that workplace bullying is unacceptable behavior and will lead to termination. In addition, employers should establish processes for investigating, recording, and dealing with the issue. Complaints should be investigated quickly.

Employers will benefit by having a happier, more productive, and profitable place of business.

-- Dan Harvey

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dr. Oz, You Docs: How to deal with workday stess, and why you should

Desk rage. Back-stabbing bosses. Sarcastic and inconsiderate co-workers. This is 9-to-5 reality for way too many people. You may have heard about a new, headline-making survey that says 43 percent of Americans have been targets of workplace incivility. It's easy to guess why: The shaky economy is ratcheting up workday stress for 70 percent of us.

Here are three great reasons you shouldn't put up with it:

1. It infects your home life. Rudeness has a ripple effect. You bring the bad vibes home, and things get tense there. The next day, your partner drags the ill will off to his or her workplace, triggering another outbreak of incivility.

2. It's a health threat. It's pretty easy to get sucked into a cycle of snarkiness, but it sure isn't good for you. Negativity and chronic stress boost your blood pressure and the threat of heart disease and lung problems. Being positive and polite does just the opposite.

3. It's bad for business. Managers and CEOs, listen up. Ignoring a nasty work environment (or contributing to it) costs you money. Workers who've been targets may not tell you so, but half of them waste work time dodging or worrying about the next "attack." One in five says they don't work as hard and one in 10 finds ways to spend less time on the job. Work stress costs the economy $300 billion a year, and plenty of it is "people stress."

If you're stuck in the kind of office that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like kissing cousins, try these steps to help you rise above the ugliness and bring back respect:

Stage a one-person "good manners revolution." Good manners are a time-tested instruction manual for maintaining dignity and sanity. So respect others. Look for the best in people. Speak kindly. Bite your tongue when you're about to gossip or make a witty-yet-cruel remark about a co-worker. Really listen to colleagues. Do these things, and you'll also forge new connections and give your longevity a boost.

Outsmart the office jerk. Every water cooler has one: the complainer who always sees the dark side. Thanks to "mirror neurons" in our brains that mimic others, this can be contagious. Protect yourself by cutting him or her some slack (maybe there's a difficult situation at home). Consider changing your break time to avoid the verbal toxin. And think upbeat thoughts after a run-in.

Don't excuse it in yourself. Maybe you'd never send a nasty email, yell at a co-worker, take credit for others' work or snub a colleague in the cafeteria. But do you text during meetings? Take the last cup of coffee and not start a fresh pot? Walk away from a copier jam you caused? Snap at tech support because you're sooooo frustrated? Polish up your act.

Find an ally. If there's rampant incivility at work, talk with your boss or have a chat with human resources (especially if you're a target). Bring along this column. Business psychology experts emphasize that real change comes only from the top.

Find meaning in what you do. Work's not easy these days, but renewing your commitment to your job can help you shrug off the ill effects of incivility (and can make you nicer, too). Even if you have to dig, there's satisfaction somewhere in any job. Does it have a positive effect on others? Does it use at least some of your talents, or stretch them in new ways? Is it, even indirectly, helping you reach your purpose in life? And, yes, "purpose" includes earning enough money to raise a family. Or support a passion. Or do good elsewhere. Or retrain for a new job!

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show" and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight." For more information go to
Related topics: dr.oz, you docs

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Workplace Bullies are bad for businesses bottom line...,0,840477.column

When push comes to shove, workplace bullies are costing the company money. And that's a good focus when dealing with them.

As a species, it seems we're doomed to interact with jerks.

It happens in high school, and we think, "Once I get to college, things will be different."

Then it happens in college, and we think, "Once I get a job, people there will be more mature."

Not so much. Jerks abound, and, as fate would have it, the workplace is as much a breeding ground for bullies as the playground.

While much has been done in recent years to address bullies in the schoolyard, the issue of bullying at work remains largely under the radar. In fact, because of a work culture that often rewards aggressiveness, bullies have a nasty tendency of succeeding at work.

"This is one of the great undiscussables in the American workplace because it seems if you haven't experienced it, you're likely to believe it doesn't happen," said Gary Namie, a social psychologist and co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute. "What we're seeing is a lot of abusive conduct, but it's accepted as routine in the American workplace."

Last year, Namie commissioned the polling group Zogby International to survey U.S. workers. The research found that 35 percent of the country's workforce has experienced bullying on the job, and another 15 percent has seen it happen.

The remaining 50 percent of respondents had neither seen nor experienced bullying, a statistic that Namie said makes it hard for some to relate to the problem. He calls it a "silent epidemic."

"So often in the workplace the feeling is, 'Hey, you're an adult, handle it yourself,'" Namie said. "They sometimes even blame the victim. But you know what? We said that for domestic violence for a long, long time until they criminalized it. So people need to stop the silly rationalizations."

To be clear, "workplace bullying" doesn't apply to acts of violence.

"What separates bullying from workplace violence or harassment is the fact that the bullying is something that's done on a continuous basis," said Timothy Dimoff, founder of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, an Ohio-based company that specializes in high-risk workplace and human resource issues. "It's constant and repetitive; someone who's using different means of harassment, whether it's complaining about the person, spreading rumors, blaming them, encouraging others not to talk to the person. It's more psychological and emotional abuse."

Think about your workplace, and there's a good chance you've seen this or dealt with it. In the most severe cases, a manager tries to sabotage an employee by taking credit for work or writing a negative performance review. More routinely, a co-worker or manager picks away at an employee, making cracks about them in front of other people, demeaning them even in subtle ways.

This behavior may seem routine in a world of snarkiness, but when it happens day in and day out, and when the targeted person feels unable to fix the situation, it can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. Consider how difficult it might be, particularly in this job market, for a victim to protest the way a manager is treating them.

"Many people nowadays feel really locked in," Namie said. "Like there's no escape route, and that just makes the situation worse."

The fact is, some folks will find themselves in situations where the only way out is to quit. That's obviously a worst-case scenario, but if a bully is making your life so miserable it's affecting you physically and mentally, you've got to cut ties and take care of yourself.

Before that, however, there are steps you can take to try to put the bully in his or her place.

"They need to take it to their human resources person or their immediate supervisor," Dimoff said. "If they don't get any results, then they need to go to somebody higher. In the meantime, they need to document when these things happen, where they happen and what was said and done. If they don't write it down, it's hard to remember details, and things get distorted. When management sees an employee come in with this in writing, they react much more quickly and thoroughly to it."

Namie suggests that the target look for ways to quantify the harm a bully is causing a company. How many people has the person driven away? How much work time is eaten up contending with problems relating to the bully?

"You want to be able to tell the executives that the bully is too expensive to keep; actually present the business argument that the bully is too expensive," Namie said. "What can discredit the person who is the target is emotionality. The emotionality is scary to management. So you make a dispassionate argument."

Of course, management is, or should be, responsible for creating an environment that repels bullies.

"The company needs to have policies and procedures against bullying and workplace violence, and they need to let those procedures be very well known to their management and employees," Dimoff said. "Companies need to work on creating a more positive culture. In positive cultures, we don't see the bullying. People work together and don't resort to negative tools."

Namie's Workplace Bullying Institute is pushing a Healthy Workplace Bill, which is being considered in 11 states, that would crack down on office bullies and clearly define what it means to have an "abusive work environment." You can learn more about the bill at

A final point: If you think a bullying co-worker is trying to make you a target, be proactive.

Bullies, at the end of the day, are cowards. They feed off people who put up with their abuse. So the moment someone begins to pick at you, stand up to them. Let them know you won't tolerate improper treatment.

The alternative is to let it go, and that's almost guaranteed to not end well.

Talk to Rex: Ask workplace questions—anonymously or by name—and share stories with Rex Huppke at, like him on Facebook at and find more at

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sept. 15th Lobby Day for Healthy Workplace Advocates

California Healthy Workplace Advocates plan to visit the Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 15th to promote the Healthy Workplace Resolution. Help us support this important Resolution by contacting YOUR legislators at and requesting their support:

California Healthy Workplace Advocates
Healthy Workplace Resolution, 2011

Resolution requesting the State of California recognize the detrimental impact of workplace bullying on creating a safe and productive workplace for all employers and employees

Whereas, The phenomenon of workplace bullying is recognized by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as a sub-lethal, non-physical form of workplace violence; and

Whereas, It can be defined as repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more employees manifested as either verbal abuse, work interference or sabotage, or conduct that is perceived by the targeted person as threatening, intimidating or humiliating; and

Whereas, The results of the 2010 scientific U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey written by the Workplace Bullying Institute, and conducted by Zogby International, demonstrated that at least 35% of all adult Americans have directly experienced bullying, afflicting 54 million Americans; and

Whereas, It is reasonable to expect that 5,602,429 million Californian workers are similarly adversely affected; and

Whereas, Over 20 years of research in the fields of occupational health, epidemiology, traumatic stress, psychology and organizational behavior document the nature and negative impact of workplace bullying; and

Whereas, Employees suffer bullying-induced health problems, including stress-related diseases such as cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neuro-structural, musculoskeletal, and accelerated aging from DNA chromosomal damage in addition to psychological injuries including debilitating anxiety, clinical depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and in the worst case scenarios, suicide; and

Whereas, Adverse consequences for employers include undesirable turnover, lost productivity from excessive absenteeism, disability stress claims, and shattered morale of the workers who are directly or vicariously exposed to bullying; and

Whereas, Forty-four percent of U.S. employers treat complaints of workplace bullying with indifference and no corrective action. It is reasonable to expect the same holds true in California employers; and

Whereas, Without a law, neither private nor public sector employers are compelled to hold offenders as accountable as they are when incidents of illegal harassment are reported; and
Whereas, Bullying at work is considered abusive conduct; it is the sole form of abuse still accepted by society; and

Be it resolved that the State of California encourages all citizens, employees, and employers to learn how to prevent and correct such destructive workplace behavior during Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week, October 16th to October 22nd.

Respectfully Submitted,
California Healthy Workplace Advocates