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How to understand, control and stop bullying at work

Every day in American workplaces, a subtle epidemic of employee bullying takes place. Employees victimized by unconscionable bullying attacks experience lower self-esteem and lose the ability to complete their work effectively.

Victims of the workplace bully can develop lifelong emotional and physical trauma in the form of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some bullying is so severe that the targets cannot continue working in the public sector. Ousted employees descend into poverty; others can only work from home in a freelance capacity, thus losing important company health benefits and acquiring a steep tax burden.

Bullying damages company morale

A cycle of bullying becomes self-perpetuating. The targeted victim—along with co-workers who receive collateral damage by witnessing the bully's attacks–becomes deeply unsettled as workplace morale spirals downward. Bullies are like cancer: They spread and grow, hidden and deadly. Just one office bully can fatally disrupt a department, or even poison the entire company.

Owners may unknowingly foster workplace bullying

A prime environment where workplace bullies thrive occurs in an office where management is largely uninvolved in day-to-day operations. These corporate executives live in ivory towers, untouched by the petty dramas of their employees. They feel they are above lower-level managers who must deal with the fallout caused by a workplace bully. Business owners should note the “dead canary” when they see a high rate of employee churn. A revolving door of entering and exiting employees is a sure sign that something is seriously wrong. Anyone who values the health of their business cannot turn a blind eye to the erosion of productivity and innovation siphoned by a determined workplace bully. These destructive individuals—whether managers or workers—can decimate an entire business when they know consequences are not forthcoming.

Victim compensation for workplace bullying

Workers who become victims of the unrestrained office bully may want to seek help before they lose significant physical and emotional health from the genuine trauma of daily intimidation. Owners should realize that victims can file strong workers' compensation lawsuits against the company for discriminatory practices if the office bully is terrorizing a protected group. Some employees enjoy harassing older workers or those who belong to a minority ethnic group. Stringent laws protect workers victimized by their co-workers or managers. Any employee undergoing the pain caused by a workplace bully can and should seek outside help. A company's Human Resource personnel are seldom helpful. They know bullies operate in the dark. HR may avoid getting involved between the owners who pay HR salaries and low-level workers viewed as troublemakers.

Employees continually harassed by an office bully often do not realize United States workers' compensation law protects them from egregious treatment. A good workers' compensation professional can help a victim stop a bully. It is important to impart financial consequences to companies that allow office bullies to operate with impunity. Victims deserve compensation for the severe trauma they endure at work.