Employment attorneys warn that abusive bosses are encouraging legislation. Frequently the alleged perpetrators in discrimination cases are abusive bosses. Eleven states are considering making workplace bullying illegal. These legislative measures focus on bosses taunting and yelling at subordinates, opening the door for cases that do not involve protected classes. Bullying occurs at all levels including subordinates bullying their bosses.
Why do people bully? The purpose of bullying is to gain control and power. A manager may be looking for a scapegoat or feel the need to keep a threatening subordinate in line. According to Harvey A. Hornstein, author of Brutal Bosses and Their Prey, managers bullied subordinates for the sheer pleasure of the power; a type of low-grade sadism. Often the bully moves from one victim to the next.
What is bullying? Bullying is a series of small incidents that occur over a long period of time; consisting of deliberate, hurtful repeated mistreatment. Each incident seems insignificant on its own. The Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute identifies four types of bullies:
Bullies, especially those who bully the boss are loophole experts. They rarely suffer negative consequences.
How does bullying affect the workplace? Higher sick rate and employee turnover, as well as low morale, and increased levels of stress exist in this environment. Severely bullied employees may experience cardiovascular disease, clinical depression, impaired immune systems and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Legislation has been submitted that would declare workplace bullying an occupational health hazard. Occupational schadenfreude is evident when coworkers observe a coworker being bullied. Onlookers begin to believe the victim deserved it. This exacerbates the bullying, usually in the form of isolation. Many employees in an abusive environment use play it safe strategies, hide mistakes and withdraw. Feelings of disenfranchisement may lead to white collar crimes, sabotage, passive aggression, even suicide or murder!
Control Starts At The Top