I am hearing from all fronts of the increased incidents of workers being bullied by either their co-workers/supervisors in their places of employment. Currently advocates are pushing for a bill entitled, the Massachusettes Healthly Workplace law,that would make bullying a criminal act and will enable employees to seek damages against the employee and/or against their employer. Unfortunately, employees who suffer or endure workplace bullying have no legal recourse unless the behaviors are proven to be discriminatory in nature by a third party.
Please note that there were be provisions in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
Workplace bullying is defined as:
" targeted, health-endangering mistreatment of a worker by a supervisor or co-worker." (www.MaHealthlyWorkplace.com).
Examples of bullying behaviors include loud and abusive language, false accusations, isolation, purposely withholding of information, negative and offensive emails, sabotage, and unequitable heavy work demands and expectations.
What are the psychological and physical costs associated with bullying in the workplace? Workers suffer from:
1) Anxiety attacks
2) Clinical depression
3) Post-Traumatic Disorders
4) High Blood Pressure
5) Heart Disease
7) Other physical conditions
I endured workplace bullying from a former supervisor at an adult foster care program two years ago. She accused me of not following her directions and not doing my work after telling me a month earlier that I was performing satisfactory on the job. She forced me to repeat back her directions to her where her face turned bright red and her neck muscles tensed up. She demanded answers from me on why I was not following her directions. In fact, when she met with my counterpart two hours earlier to discuss the same issues we were both having, she gave her positive feedback and guidance on how to do a better job while I received the above treatment. My colleague told me this information when we met after my meeting with the supervisor.
What was her motive? It seemed to be that she wanted to make my counterpart, who was twenty years younger than me with no experience working with the aged, a full-time employee who was working part-time at the time. I can never forget during the month of July 2009 how she quickly made up three insubordination reports in a matter of weeks against me. I informed human resources and her supervisor about her mistreatment towards me at work. Unfortunately, they ignored my pleas and,instead, played along with her devious tactics to get me terminated. Though, I suffered from minor clinical depression and intensed anxiety during this time, my world changed for the better after I was fired. A few days later in August, I received a surprised telephone call that a boy needed to be adopted out of state. The higher power provided me with a different perspective on what was important to me in my life and a change in my career.
Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse for me to sue her in court for bullying me since Massachusetts has not passed a law yet. My case was found to not be age discrimination by a third party due to their narrowed and biased viewpoints of considering all the facts objectively.
I decided to move on by telling my story and promoting the above bill. I also work with individuals who have suffered from workplace bullying by providing them coping skills and educating them on the psychological nature of bullies.
I have forgiven the bully supervisor by understanding that her actions toward me no longer have control over my life. I believe in the universal paradigm that "What comes around, goes around." It is not me who has to make amends with the higher power and with your soul. I am ay peace by refocusing my energies on doing things in my life that bring my joy and purpose in my life. If I happen to see her again in a public setting, I will ignore her.