By Jennifer Hancock - Humanist Learning Systems and the The Bully Vaccine Project.
Workplace bullying can happen to anyone and the effects are devastating.
What does workplace bullying look like? Check out this report from the CBC in Canada about a woman who successfully filed a workplace bullying lawsuit against Walmart and won.
This woman, Meredith, explains how, when she was asked to do something illegal and refused, her manager started harassing her. Weirdly so. He singled her out for ridicule among the staff. She was able to document it fully and yet, the company sided with the manager and she lost her job. But, her evidence did convince the jury and she won the lawsuit and was awarded $1.4 million in compensation – which was reduced to $400,000 – still a lot of money.
The court found that the abuse was flagrant and resulted in real documented physical illness in the victim. Every business owner and HR manager out there needs to consider the outcome of the case very carefully. Meredith seems like a very bright, rational and calm person. Sane even. And yet, the guy who was going booglety to her in front of the staff kept his job. She had enough evidence of abuse to convince a court to side with her, and yet her company – sided with her abuser.
It is well known that most companies don’t conduct fair investigations. When report of abuse is made, the tendency is to circle the wagons and eliminate the whistleblower.
What I want to appeal to you is this – if you are in HR, don’t succumb to that temptation. Don’t succumb to the pressure to sweep this problem away. I realize that sticking up for what is right against a workplace bully is costly – economically and socially and it can cost you your job. I get that. But your company needs you to fight this. Keeping the abusive employee and letting an honest employee go is not a net win for the company. It’s a loss.
Society needs you to fight this. As long as we keep tolerating bullying, it will continue to happen. And it’s costly! Not just from a liability standpoint. But also because there is no way Meredith was the only victim of this abusive boss. Bullies NEVER had a single victim.
Now – if you are currently being victimized, please understand how important it is to document what’s happening fully. It will give you the best chance of getting things resolved within the organization, and if that fails, it will give you the documentation you need to file a lawsuit if it becomes necessary. You are fighting a good fight. It may seem like you are alone, but on behalf of all of the other silent victims – I thank you.
About the Author
Jennifer Hancock is the founder of Humanist Learning Systems, a provider of online continuing education for personal and professional development as well as behaviorally based harassment compliance training (AB 1825/2053 compliant). Her Bully Vaccine Project blog is a place to learn about why bullies bully and what can be done about them. Jennifer is an approved provider for HRCI, SHRM and the State Bar of California. For more information, visit: https://humanistlearning.com.