Last November 19th we had a guest blogger on the subject of bullying: Ellen Pinkos Cobb, Esq., a Senior Regulatory & Legal Analyst for the The Isosceles Group. Previous to that, on February 6, 2013 we recommended her new book “Bullying, Violence, Harassment, Discrimination and Stress” (2012), and said that “even after a cursory review it seems like an extremely valuable resource. The author has reviewed all of the topics listed in the title, and after defining her terms in a careful legal way, has compared the workplace laws of dozens of countries.” The book is, in fact, a valuable resource. We also recommended a 2011 interview with Ellen at International HR Forum.
We are pleased to note that Ellen has updated “Bullying, Violence, Harassment, Discrimination and Stress” for 2014, and was kind enough to send us a copy. Her latest edition covers new developments in countries all over the world: the new Australian workplace bullying law; new EU developments on stress and psychosocial risks at work; Canada’s release of a national voluntary standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace; Ontario’s 1.46 million bullying award and Victoria’s over half a million bullying award; British Columbia’s new workplace bullying and harassment policies; South Africa’s Protection from Harassment Act; Denmark’s amendment of the working environment act to treat mental and physical working environment as equivalent; and India’s enactment of a sexual harassment law.
The book is chock-a-block full of resources that are otherwise hard to find and compile. A hearty recommendation.
The NFL/Martin Bullying Investigation Report
Ellen’s last guest post on November 19th began: “With alleged harassment on the Miami Dolphins football team, there is increased discussion of workplace bullying. It’s about time. The United States lags behind many countries in this area.”
Now that the NFL report about bullying/harassment within the Dolphins’ workplace has been released, Ellen says about the damage inflicted by bullying in the workplace:
“Like many others, I just read the NFL-commissioned bullying investigation report which found that harassment of Jonathan Martin resembled ‘a classic case of bullying, where persons who are in a position of power harass the less powerful.’ I don’t understand. A person is treated repeatedly, harshly, unacceptably, in violation of a policy, just abused, in his workplace. But it is ok apparently. There is no law against workplace bullying in the United States.
We are behind. Other countries have laws against repeated, severe, and pervasive mistreatment at work, including Finland, Sweden, France, Serbia, and Canada. Starting January 1 of this year, a worker in Australia who believes he/she has been bullied at work may apply to a Commission and have an investigation conducted. If the Commission determines that workplace bullying has occurred, an order to stop the bullying may be issued to the employer. So far, no flood gates have opened.
Workplace bullying is like sexual harassment. Of course it cannot be measured. But with a law, it can be determined and lessened. Public perception can change.
For those who argue it was only Martin’s problem: maybe not. A study has found that bullying, an internal occurrence undertaken by manager and/or co-workers, leads to more workers leaving their job than violence, which is typically inflicted by sources external to a company.”
Bullying As Affecting Productivity
Ellen also said that “Other costs to a company beyond loss of skill and experience when a worker leaves due to being bullied: increased staff turnover and loss of morale, absenteeism, potential workers’ compensation claims, increases in health care and disability, early retirement and counseling program costs. Litigation. Harm to a company’s reputation. Disruptive all around.”
Finally, Ellen noted that “This is the part where I mention I have been a target of bullying. I haven’t. I have not been bullied in the workplace or at school. But I have seen it and its disruptive effects on others in the workplace, and I don’t understand why there is not a law against it, not here, not in 2014.”