NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Bullies are not just found on the schoolyard. A new survey shows 70-percent of adults say they’ve been bullied in the workplace.
Lee Love, a Dallas-based author, can relate to the statistic. She said she worked for an abusive boss for years and also saw her co-workers bullied.
“It was a heavy-set man and we were in a staff meeting,” Love recalled. “He was squirming about and I don’t know if he was trying to get up and go somewhere, but the boss looked at him and said, ‘Stop moving around. You move like a walrus.’”
Lee Love used events from her life to write a novel called “Twitch, Twitch”. The main character is Letitia, a Jamaican woman who experiences fear and intimidation at her job. She’s bullied by a female boss who even accuses her of stealing out of her purse.
“There are individuals who get in their car and every single day they go to work,” said Love. “But sometimes when they get to work, they don’t want to get out of their vehicle because they know what kind of day they are going to have.”
Human resources consultant Paul Bazell works with several companies in North Texas. “Nobody should have to tolerate feeling badly about the place they work,” he said.
According to Bazell, workplace bullying usually happens in the form of verbal abuse. “It could be a manager who feels the need to always put their hands on and re-do whatever it is you’re doing.”
Most people would rather leave a job rather than report bullying. Generally the biggest concern is fear of retaliation, but in this job market, workers may not have the option to leave, and experts say a rough economy gives bullies the upper hand.
“They are using society’s economic situation to really identify someone and target them,” Bazell said.
So what can employees do if they are being bullied? Most experts agree the incidents should be documented with records of dates, times and details of what happened. The employee should then contact the company employee assistance program or explain the problem to human resources.
Lee Love says she solved her problem by “killing her boss with kindness,” or in other words, being so accommodating it was hard for her boss to find fault with anything. But that technique may not work in every situation. Love hopes her book sends a message to managers who are mistreating employees and gives some comfort to workers in a tough situation.