28 February 2009

COSTS OF BULLYING - When bullying hits the workplace

Bullying in the workplace can cost organizations up to $20,000
annually per employee in lost productivity, experts say.

Employers are beginning to realize the cost of workplace bullying, as some experts estimate it can cost organizations up to $20,000 annually per worker targeted by physical or psychological harassment.

If left unchecked, harassment at work can result in;

  • loss of general morale,
  • erosion of an organization's efficiencies,
  • absenteeism, turnover,
  • damage to the company's public reputation.

Bullying in a work environment is extremely common, with about one in five people falling victim, according to a U.S. study.

Research also indicates workplace bullying is four times as common as instances of racial or sexual harassment combined.

Despite its prevalence, workplace bullying is poorly understood, according to Vancouver's Integrity Group, which coaches companies on how to deal with the problem.

Contrary to common perception, targets of workplace bullying are not always passive, weak, oddballs or loners. In fact, often the target is a capable and dedicated rising star.

"The bully considers their capability a threat, and determines to cut them down," according to the Canada Safety Council.

Studies show that 72 per cent of workplace bullies are bosses, while the remainder are mostly colleagues, and smaller portion are employees acting out against employers. Bullies are just as likely to be women as men.

  • Workplace bullies, like those in the schoolyard, are most likely insecure people with poor social skills and little empathy.
  • They turn those shortcomings outward, taking satisfaction in cutting down people around them.
  • Regardless of the tactics, bullies are driven by a need to control others.

The Canada Safety Council recommends identifying bullying in the staff code of conduct manual.

"Establish proper systems for investigating, recording and dealing with conflict," the council states. "Investigate complaints quickly, while maintaining discretion and confidentiality and protecting the rights of all individuals involved. It is important to understand fully any incidence of bullying and take the problem seriously at all levels."

It also notes, organizations that manage the problem outperform those which don't by 30 to 40 per cent.


26 February 2009

LEGAL - What are your options if you are being bullied and harassed?

You are being bullied at work- what are your options?

By Corinne Day

There is an implied duty on your employer to treat you, as their employee, with respect. However, if an employer commits a breach of this duty, you will be able to treat your contract of employment as breached and you will be able to resign.

As you long as you resign within a reasonable time, you may be able to claim for damages, on the grounds that you have been 'wrongfully dismissed' and / or 'unfairly dismissed' at an employment tribunal. In such circumstances your resignation would be known as a 'constructive dismissal'.

However, you must be able to show that your employer's conduct (or a person working for the employer) was serious enough to merit you resigning. You must be able to show that you had no other choice but to resign.

Your resignation need not be based on one serious incident, and you may also be able to rely on the cumulative effect of any bullying / harassment / criticism you have faced from your employer.

You will be able to claim damages in an Employment tribunal as a result of your constructive dismissal. If you are successful you may be entitled to receive both a basic and a compensatory award of damages.

Corinne Day is a trainee solicitor who specialises in information technology law and intellectual property law. She can be contacted via e-mail on corinne.day@lawdit.co.uk

NEWS - Hospital Worker Beats The Bullies To Win Claim, UK

A HOSPITAL employee has been told she can expect a six figure pay-out after winning her case for damages after being bullied at work.

Nanette Bowen, from Llanelli, suffered a nervous breakdown and was unable to return to work after being harassed over a three year period, according to her solicitors.

Hywel Dda NHS Trust has now been told to dig deep for damages by her union, who helped Mrs Bowen bring the case to Swansea County Court.

The 55-year-old information manager had worked at Prince Philip Hospital for more than 28 years, working her way up the ranks, from porter to information manager, reporting directly to the chief executive.

In 2000, Eric Lewis became her boss, following a merger of Llanelli and Dinefwr trusts to become Carmarthenshire NHS Trust (now part of Hywel Dda NHS Trust).

According to statements issued by her union, Unison, and her solicitors, Thompsons, Mrs Bowen's life became hell over the next three years.

They claimed Mr Lewis was aggressive towards her, made sexual innuendos and banned her from attending meetings vital to her job.

She was signed off sick with stress and suffered panic attacks. At one point she was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack.

Mrs Bowen, who had been the main breadwinner in the family, said: "The NHS was my life. I had always felt great loyalty to the trust and worked to the best of my ability in everything I did. I feel bitterly let down by the trust, which did not do its best to support me when I needed it most.

"My life has been ruined by what I went through during those three years.

"At this stage, I cannot contemplate returning to any form of work and I am still receiving counselling to help me control my panic attacks. Without the support of my family and colleagues, I would not be here now."

Dave Galligan, Unison's head of health in Wales, said: "It is disgraceful that this bullying and harassment continued for so long and led to a severe breakdown. Despite her complaints, nothing was done to improve her situation. As a result Mrs Bowen has suffered terribly and the NHS has lost a skilled and dedicated worker.

"I am pleased that UNISON has helped Mrs Bowen win her fight for justice. "The compensation will go some way towards making up for the horrendous situation she was put in. "Despite her complaints, nothing was done to improve her situation. "As a result Mrs Bowen has suffered terribly and the NHS has lost a skilled and dedicated worker. "This case is a warning to employers that they need to listen to their employees' concerns and act sooner rather than later, or face the consequences." Amanda Jones, from Thompson's Solicitors, added: "Work related stress cases, particularly those involving bullying and harassment are very difficult to prove.

"This case is a warning to employers that they need to listen to their employees' concerns and act sooner rather than later, or face the consequences."

A ruling on the level of compensation is expected over the next few weeks.

Mr Galligan added: "It's going to be a substantial, probably a six figure settlement. It is deserved, because not only was this a particularly bad case, it was badly handled over a period of time."

A spokeswoman for the trust said: "Hywel Dda NHS Trust does not condone bullying of any kind and policies and procedures are in place to deal with any allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

"Since this case, the former Carmarthenshire NHS Trust, now part of Hywel Dda NHS Trust, reviewed systems relating to workplace health and is now identifying any additional training requirements to ensure that the issues raised in this type of case are managed appropriately for the future."

Mr Lewis declined to comment.


25 February 2009

NEWS - Injustice and Irony as 'bully' is bullied and employer backs Lies - Everything about this case is WRONG - Victim of vexatious lies wins £33,600

harassment cartoons, harassment cartoon, harassment picture, harassment pictures, harassment image, harassment images, harassment illustration, harassment illustrations


  • Failure of Natural Justice
  • Personal 'observant' attacks on victim, not performance related
  • Company pursues anonymous complaint
  • Company told complaint is fake - not written by said person
  • Company proceeds to intervieww staff, breech of process,
  • Investigation used orchestrated questioning to 'establish character' not bullying incidents
  • No bully evidence found
  • Company proceeds to punish innocent victim even when complaint exposed as fake
  • Victim stressed goes on leave
  • Miraculous opportunity to restructure and make victim redundant-terminated

This story is very disturbing, as it exposes the failed 'Natural Justice' experienced by the victim, and the irony that the 'alledged bully' was infact actually the victim of bullying himself.

In this case an innocent man was the target of a campaign by 'someone' and insider who was likely sick and tired of the 'domestics' at the office, a jealous peer who wanted the job and succeed in the restructure? or a jealous suitor for the victims partner.

Either way the HR team have a lot to answer for in failing to snuff out the FAKE letter by an ANONYMOUS complainant, and realising the damage it could do to the victim.

Read on ......

‘Staff interviews did not support allegations of harassment’

Manager axed after FALSE ‘bullying’ ALLEGATIONS wins £33,600

A manager of a children's fostering service who was axed through redundancy shortly after receiving a final warning for alleged bullying and harassment has been awarded £33,695 compensation.

A Glasgow employment tribunal held the bullying and harassment allegations were not supported in an investigation and the original complaint had come in the form of an anonymous letter, which the supposed author denied sending.

David Scullion, 46, from Elderslie in Renfrewshire, had been a social worker with Fosterplus (Fostercare) Ltd, a fostering agency, and subsequently became one of two regional managers based in Paisley. His partner Roberta Shields also worked for the agency, usually working from the Paisley office.

An anonymous handwritten letter was received in July 2007, purporting to be from a foster carer, alleging that Mr Scullion used "vile, abusive and bullying language" towards her.

The complaint added: "David Scullion is a large man and most people are scared of him including many carers and his staff." The letter also claimed Mr Scullion argued with Ms Shields in the office, making others uncomfortable and embarrassed.

Management conducted an investigation. General feedback was that Mr Scullion had an intimidating manner and could be moody. Interviewees were asked if they were scared of him.

No-one said they were but some said they could understand how other people could be.

Most staff who were interviewed also said they found it difficult to have Mr Scullion and Ms Shields in the same office as they had had a number of arguments.

When the foster carer purported to have sent the letter was contacted, she denied she had done so.

Mr Scullion said he was unaware there was a problem and that if he had upset anyone he would apologise. He was issued with a final written warning, which was to remain on his file for two years.

His appeal against the warning was unsuccessful. He became unwell and was unable to return to work. During his absence, a restructuring programme was implemented. The post of regional manager was to be made redundant and new posts of operations director and quality assurance manager created.

Mr Scullion was advised his role was redundant and he was invited to apply for the post of operations director.

He was subsequently advised he had not been shortlisted for the operations director's post. The other regional manager was appointed based on attendance, qualifications, technical expertise, disciplinary record and productivity. Mr Scullion scored less than his colleague on attendance and disciplinary record.

The tribunal did not consider it was fair to use attendance in these circumstances as Mr Scullion had never been off prior to his long-term sickness after the disciplinary hearing.

In addition, the use of his disciplinary record was unfair. The tribunal considered the final written warning imposed on him was unreasonable. Staff interviews did not support the serious allegations of bullying and harassment.

In the tribunal's written decision, employment judge Susan Walker said: "At worst they indicated that the claimant had a loud and intimidating manner and that staff found it difficult to deal with the fact that the claimant and his partner both worked in the same office."

No reasonable employer would have concluded he had been guilty of bullying and harassment, she concluded.

The tribunal ordered Fosterplus (Fostercare) Ltd of Ampthill, Bedfordshire, to pay Mr Scullion £33,695

24 February 2009


Bullying teachers to be taught a lesson
 WORKCOVER has slapped improvement notices on a high school torn apart by bullying teachers and infighting among staff.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal psychologically damaged teachers have claimed tens of thousands of dollars in workers compensation over the past two years due to bullying.

Two notices ordered the Department of Education and Training to stop workplace bullying and improve teacher safety and welfare at Queanbeyan High School. Teachers said they had "grave concerns" for their safety at the school which has also been afflicted by serious student violence.

Teacher bullying is rife, with more than 90% stating in an online survey they had been targeted by their colleagues - ignored, frozen out or excluded from decision making.
Among teachers' claims is that they have been intimidated, threatened with retribution for speaking out against bullying and treated rudely and dismissively.

Documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph allege incidents of "yelling and screaming", broken relationships, lack of communication and inconsistency in applying discipline to students.

A Department of Education spokesman said the WorkCover notices were being taken seriously. Occupational health and safety officials had been sent to Queanbeyan High and measures to address the problems were being put in place.

The effects of bullying are felt years afterwards. 

Childcare worker Krystyna Aggett, 22, said yesterday she still suffered psychological fallout from bullying by a teacher in primary school.

Ms Aggett, of Croydon in Sydney's Inner West, said she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a child but was singled out for harsh treatment in school.

"My mother made various complaints to the Education Department and they were left unanswered. It is 12 years on and I am still affected by self-esteem and self-respect issues brought on the people who were supposed to help me," she said.

Ms Aggett said she was called names, sent to a kindergarten class, pulled by her ears, forced to face the wall and denied a place in the school choir.

The Daily Telegraph
has launched an anti-bullying campaign including a national competition to find the best video to accompany Kate Miller-Heidke's new song Caught in the Crowd.

Entries close on March 13. The prize is $2000 worth of Sony equipment and a gig by Ms Miller-Heidke at their school. Caught in the crowd: Join our anti-bullying campaign

Bully teachers taught a lesson
Still carries scars ... Krystyna Aggett.

WORKCOVER INVESTIGATION into workplace Bullying and Harassment at Brimbank City Council - offices raided

WORKCOVER has confirmed it is working with Brimbank City Council to resolve a number of internal bullying and harassment complaints.

Last August 2008, the council was rocked by the launch of an Ombudsman’s investigation following “concerns over council’s practices and governance”.

The Ombudsman’s office raided the council offices, seizing computers and documents relating to that investigation. The outcome is yet to be determined.

A source told Star there were up to six current workplace bullying and harassment cases within the council and that further cases had been filed and settled for undisclosed sums over the past 18 months.

A WorkCover spokesman confirmed that the organisation had received complaints of this nature from Brimbank City Council employees.

Star submitted written questions to council in relation to this issue via email, as per council’s media policy.

The council responded that it was unable to answer the majority of the questions by deadline.

The council also refused to answer a question in relation to costs to the council and ratepayers for agency staff in the 2007/2008 financial year.

The same questions were sent to Maribyrnong City Council, which provided a comprehensive response.

Maribyrnong corporate services general manager Helen Morrissey advised that among council’s workforce of 800, it had dealt with 34 work-related injury claims in the past 18 months and eight cases involving allegations of bullying and harassment.


23 February 2009


Below are a number of studies conducted in Australia, the USA and online, focusing on different aspects of BAD MANAGERS.

There are some eye openers.

But where does that leave businesses who have pyschopaths on their books, and duds contributing to failed productiviy and ineffectivess and major health and saftey impacts on their valued staff, and customers?


What about the Managers....what do they need to immediately do to make the change?

'Dealing With Bad, Ineffective Managers and Bosses'
~ Can't stand your job because of your bad boss? Bad and ineffective managers exist in every organization. The worst managers fail to trust employees, don't respect employees, and intimidate employees. Find out how to understand and deal with bad managers and bosses here.

Another interesting Link to follow.

Study - Bad bosses get promoted, Not punished

How do people get ahead in the workplace?

One way seems to be by making their subordinates miserable, according to the Bond University [Queensland, Australia] study.


The Bond University study's aim was to determine the level and nature of bad leadership in business by seeking to define ‘what makes a bad boss’.

Professors Ben Shaw and Anthony Erickson of Bond University’s School of Business first broached the topic of bad leadership in 2006 when they undertook a study that revealed that one way people get ahead in the business world is by making their subordinates miserable.

Almost two-thirds of the 240 participants in their initial survey indicated that the local workplace tyrant was either never censored, or was promoted for domineering ways.

Their initial research made headlines around the world, in 2007 they conducted a broader, a more quantitative follow-up survey to determine the extent of bad leadership in organisations, and the common characteristics of a ‘bad boss’.


Method - Over 1,000 people, online questionnaire about their current boss.

Dr Erickson says that while there has been plenty of research into what makes a good leader,
the ‘dark side’ of leadership remains relatively unexplored.

"If this was medicine, it would be like studying health without looking at disease;" he explained.

"We need to be able to recognise the characteristics of bad leaders – what are the causes of their
adverse behaviour and how do we fix it?"

"The results of this survey will contribute to the development of new theory on bad leadership
and a greater understanding of leadership overall," Dr Erickson said.


"The fact that 64.2 per cent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable - remarkably disturbing," wrote the study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe.

Despite their success in the office, spiteful supervisors can cause serious malaise for their subordinates, the study suggested, citing nightmares, insomnia, depression and exhaustion as symptoms of serving a brutal boss.

The authors advocated immediate intervention by industry chiefs to stop fledgling office authoritarians from rising up the ranks.

"As with any sort of cancer, the best alternative to prevention is early detection," they wrote.

They faulted senior managers for not recognizing the signs of workplace strife wrought by bad bosses. "The leaders above them who did nothing, who rewarded and promoted bad leaders ... represent an additional problem."

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, a research and teaching organisation with nearly 17,000 members, from Sunday to Wednesday in Philadelphia.


SURVEY - Bad Bosses Lead Many to Quit Jobs


A CareerBuilder.com online survey (see below press release) reveals that many people quit their job because of an intolerable boss.

The poll showed that 43% of respondents walked away from a job due to a difficult boss.

Workers between the ages of 35 and 44 are the most likely to quit their job for that reason.

Some of the awful things respondents say they've seen supervisors do include;
  • hiding in places in order to spy on employees,
  • tap dancing on an employee's desk,
  • and even using a taser gun on a subordinate

Men seem to be a little more tolerant of bad bosses, with 39% in the poll saying that was the reason they left a job as opposed to 48% of women.



Company Releases Survey on Most Bizarre Boss Behaviors

CHICAGO, January 27, 2009 - They lie, they cry, they yell a lot. They’re bad bosses and 43 percent of workers reported they have quit a job to get away from them, according to a survey of more than 8,000 workers by CareerBuilder.com, the nation’s largest online job site. Workers who are dealing with problem supervisors will be happy to hear that help is on the way. CareerBuilder.com just launched a new online Anonymous Tip Giver tool that enables you to provide "constructive" criticism or fun advice for bosses or co-workers without revealing your identity.

CareerBuilder.com’s survey found women (48 %) are more likely to quit because of a bad boss than men (39 %). Age also plays a role in who stays and who goes. Approximately 48 % of workers ages 35-44 left their jobs because of a bad boss, while 40 % of younger workers, ages 18 to 24, and 41 % of older workers, ages 45 to 54, said they quit.

Some survey respondents shared real life examples of bad boss behavior that borders on the bizarre, including:
  • Hid in weird places in order to spy on employees
  • Took a bite of someone’s doughnut while they were away from their desk
  • Held a meeting while locked inside the bathroom
  • Brought a gun to work and cleaned it in an area behind employees
  • Tap danced on employee’s desk
  • Showed everyone a kidney stone he had passed
  • Broke down and cried during a meeting, "Why don’t you like me?"
  • Kept his lunch in a freezer intended for human organ storage
  • Used a taser gun on a subordinate
  • Declared "Talk like a pirate day"
  • Rode a child’s scooter through the office

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.com among 8,038 U.S. employees (employed full-time; not self-employed; non government) ages 18 and over between November 12 and December 1, 2008 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset U.S. employees, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 8,038, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.09 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

By logging onto www.anonymoustipgiver.com, users can select from one of four outlandish characters and choose a unique voice to deliver a tip for the recipient. You can write up your own advice or select from a list of pre-made tips such as "One out of 10 people think your barking dog ring tone is funny, that one person is you." You can even record your message over the phone. Without revealing your identity, in an instant the fully animated tip is delivered right to the recipient’s e-mail box. Voilá! Bad boss problem solved. Annoying co-worker situation addressed.

"Anonymous Tip Giver is part of CareerBuilder.com’s new national marketing campaign, which is officially launching at the Super Bowl," said Richard Castellini, Chief Marketing Officer at CareerBuilder.com. "The campaign is a lot of fun and is chock-full of tips to help workers ‘start building’ better work experiences."




Total number of responses: 8730

Have you ever quit or changed positions because of your boss?

Once - 38%
Twice - 24%
Never - 16%
Three times - 8%
More than 3 times - 14%


Total number of responses: 11804

What Makes a Manager a Bad Boss?

36% - The manager provides little direction. (4326)
23% - The manager micromanages and nit-picks your work. (2777)
16% - The manager belittles and puts down staff. (1979)
10% - The manager offers little or no recognition for success and hard work. (1278)
8% - The manager is indecisive and seemingly changes direction at whim. (1004)
3% - Other. (440)

Study - 2 of 5 Bosses Don't Keep Word

A Florida State University study shows nearly 2 out of every 5 bosses are dishonest and more than a quarter bad mouth their employees to co-workers.

And those all-too-common poor managers create plenty of problems for companies as well, leading to poor morale, less production and higher turnover.

Coping with abusive supervision: The neutralizing effects of ingratiation and positive affect on negative employee outcomes


We conducted a study to test the interactive effects of abusive supervision, ingratiation, and positive affect (PA) on strain (i.e., job tension and emotional exhaustion) and turnover intentions. We hypothesized that employees' use of ingratiation, when coupled with high levels of PA, would neutralize the adverse effects of abusive supervision on each outcome. Conversely, ingratiation tactics were hypothesized to have a detrimental influence on work outcomes in conditions of increased abusive supervision when employees' PA was low. Partial support was found for each hypothesis, with results indicating that low PA individuals who refrained from ingratiation experienced more strain and turnover intentions than other individuals. Implications of these results as well as strengths, limitations, and avenues for future research are discussed.

Keywords: Abusive supervision; Coping; Positive affect; Ingratiation

"They say that employees don't leave their job or company, they leave their boss,'' said Wayne Hochwarter, an associate professor of management in the College of Business at Florida State University, who joined with two doctoral students at the school to survey more than 700 people working in a variety of jobs about how their bosses treat them.

"No abuse should be taken lightly, especially in situations where it becomes a criminal act,'' said Hochwarter.

Employees stuck in an abusive relationship experienced more exhaustion, job tension, nervousness, depressed moods and mistrust, the researchers found. They found that a good working environment is often more important than pay, and that it's no coincidence that poor morale leads to lower production.

"They (employees) were less likely to take on additional tasks, such as working longer or on weekends, and were generally less satisfied with their job,'' the study found. "Also, employees were more likely to leave if involved in an abusive relationship than if dissatisfied with pay.''

Over 700 people were surveyed about the way they're treated at work.

Here's what they found;

39% said their supervisor failed to keep promises.
37% said their supervisor failed to give credit when due.
31% said their supervisor gave them the "silent treatment" in the past year.
27% said their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers.
24% said their supervisor invaded their privacy.
23% said their supervisor blamed others to cover up mistakes or to minimize embarrassment.

Workers in bad situations should remain optimistic, Hochwarter said. "It is important to stay positive, even when you get irritated or discouraged, because few subordinate-supervisor relationships last forever,'' he said. "You want the next boss to know what you can do for the company.''

And workers should know where to turn if they feel threatened, harassed or discriminated against, whether it is the company's grievance committee or finding formal representation outside the employer.

"Others know who the bullies are at work,'' Hochwarter said. "They likely have a history of mistreating others.''

Hochwarter also recommended some methods to minimize the harm caused by an abusive supervisor.

"The first is to stay visible at work,'' he said. "Hiding can be detrimental to your career, especially when it keeps others in the company from noticing your talent and contributions.''

The study was conducted by mail. Workers surveyed included men and women of various ages and races in the service industry and manufacturing, from companies large and small. The results of the study were released in the Fall 2007 issue of The Leadership Quarterly, a journal read by consultants, managers and executives.


20 February 2009

Expert: Teens in the Workplace - Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?

Expert: Teens in the Workplace

By E.J.Graff

E.J. Graff is Associate Director and Senior Researcher of the Gender & Justice Project at Brandeis University's Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism,
refer to the article 'Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?'.

This article originally appeared in Good Housekeeping magazine.

At first, 16-year-old Maureen Smith* loved her new job at UltraStar Cinemas' Poway 10 theater. It was fun to see movies for free, and she liked goofing around with the other kids who worked there, including her best friend, Lindsay. Maureen's parents had been pleased when she'd told them she wanted an after-school job so she could earn her own spending money. At the time, Maureen was a high school junior who not only earned academic awards, but played lacrosse and ran cross-country. Yet her mother, Katherine, felt her daughter could handle the new responsibility: "She was very disciplined," Katherine recalls.

A few weeks after Maureen started working at the San Diego-area theater, Dan Wooten, 32, was brought in to become general manager—and everything changed. "Dan had an air about him that was really intimidating," Maureen says now. His language was foul—"I heard words out of him that I'd never heard from anyone in my entire life"—and his favorite topic was sex. He would describe his own sex life in disturbingly graphic detail. He would point out customers and ask the girls who worked at the theater whether they'd want to have sex with those men. And he showed off the pornographic magazines that he had stashed in the box office.

Dan wasn't the only problem. The assistant manager, Adam Gustafson, physically harassed Maureen and the other girls. He'd grab them abruptly, bending their arms into painful positions, then put them in armlocks—restraint holds he was learning at the police academy and practicing, he said. Or he'd come up from behind, tilt their stools back suddenly so they'd be terrified they'd hit the floor, then catch them against his hips.

But for Maureen, the worst part was that Dan kept scheduling her to work at night—in the box office, often alone with him. There, he'd make sexually provocative remarks, telling her that he liked the way her hips moved when she walked, for example. He'd also touch her, rubbing her flat stomach admiringly or taking her wrist and commenting on how "little" it was. When she cut her hair, he got extremely upset, and said that women were sexier with long hair and that cutting it was a "sin."

Although Maureen found it embarrassing and degrading to have Dan treat her this way, she tried to ignore it, hoping that would make him stop. She also felt confused. From time to time, other managers came through the theater, and she and Lindsay would try to tell them what was happening. But the managers merely shrugged. Maureen became afraid of not being taken seriously. "I just thought that was how the real world was," she says.

The Dangerous Boss

Many parents worry about the threat of sexual predators on the Internet and try to monitor their kids' online activity. That threat is real, and yet teens are far more likely to encounter a predator on the job. While no one can say exactly how widespread the problem is, a 2005 study from the University of Southern Maine reported that 46 percent of teenage girls who'd worked had been sexually harassed; three percent had been victims of sexual assault or attempted assault or rape. And lawyers for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) say they've been seeing more and more of these harassment cases over the past several years—all over the country. Because of the spike, the commission recently launched its first educational initiative aimed at teens and their employers (for information, see Youth at Work).

Although the Maine study was small, the numbers are not surprising: Other research has shown that the younger the worker and the lower she is in the hierarchy, the more likely she is to be harassed. And the numbers are in line with a 1994 survey, still considered definitive, of adult women working in federal agencies. That study found that 44 percent of women in the agencies had faced some form of unwanted sexual attention on the job.

Most often, teens work at low-wage restaurant, retail, or service jobs, where they're likely to be supervised by transient managers who are themselves low-skilled, inadequately trained, and poorly paid. Their bosses too often ignore sexually tinged behavior, dismissing it as harmless flirtation and not recognizing that predators are unlikely to back off. Indeed, psychologists say that the men are often seeing how much they can get away with, pushing further each time.

Managers are also ignoring the law. In most states, if sexual harassment includes unwanted touching, it could be a criminal offense. And under federal law, it's a civil offense for which the employer can be sued. Most states and some municipalities have additional laws on the books that safeguard employees.

If bosses won't protect underage workers, then parents must. That means alerting your child to the risks when she starts hunting for her first job (see "How to Prepare and Protect Your Child,") and staying watchful once she begins.

This goes for sons as well as daughters. Although girls are more vulnerable, boys can be victims, too, as evidenced last September when Representative Mark Foley of Florida was caught sending suggestive e-mails and sexually explicit instant messages to male congressional pages.

Afraid to Talk Back

In the Foley case, it was a young page who blew the whistle. But it's rare for teens to come forward. A part-time job is usually their first foray into the adult world, and they're eager to appear grown-up, responsible, able to handle whatever happens.

What's more, predators often target the polite, obedient, well-behaved "good girls," explains Christine Nicholson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Albuquerque, NM, who specializes in adolescent girls and sexual trauma. "These are the ones who say, 'Please, can I do anything for you?'" Men know they can manipulate these girls—and that, like
Maureen, they're likely to respond with silence.

Not that the system makes it easy for young victims to speak up. Federal sexual harassment law allows all employees to file a complaint, but it doesn't make any special allowances for teenagers. A lawsuit is likely to be stronger if a victim has complained—If not to the harasser, then to her supervisor or to Human Resources or another designated person. But most teenagers won't do that. "They're used to doing what Mom and Dad say, what their teachers say, what their coaches say," explains Jennifer Drobac, an Indiana University law professor and former employment attorney. "Yet the legal system expects these girls to confront their first workplace authority figure and say, 'That's completely inappropriate conduct on your part.'"

Deborah, who worked as a cashier at a Burlington Coat Factory in Springfield, IL, found it very hard to stand up for herself. A manager had repeatedly asked her personal questions that made her uncomfortable. And one time, when she was alone with him in a locked room as he counted out her cash drawer, he insisted that she sit on his lap. "I just did it," says Deb, who was 17 at the time. "I sat on his leg—really lightly—for a second and then ran to the other side of the room. I thought that was my only option."

Yet a month later, when a higherup manager told her that the man was being fired for sexual harassment and asked Deb whether she had anything to tell them, she was reluctant to talk about the incident. "I didn't want to be the one to ruin the man's life," she explains. That may sound strange, but Deb was young, naive, and so ashamed of the encounter that, like many unprepared girls, "I sort of felt responsible for what had happened," she says.

A girl may also worry about losing her job. Natoshia worked at a Burger King in Peerless Park, MO, as part of a school-based workstudy program. A senior in high school, she not only got paid for her hours, she earned credits toward graduation. Every day after morning classes, Natoshia and her friend Bethany* headed to work.

Almost immediately, their shift manager started to annoy them. Some of it was verbal—for example, asking the girls to head out to the Dumpster with him for sex. Or if one of them was kneeling down to wipe the floor, he'd say things like, "As long as you're down there, you can do me a favor."

But the manager also got physical, swiping their breasts and bottoms with his hand as he walked by, pinning Bethany against a wall and groping her breasts, bumping and grinding against Natoshia's bottom as she bent over to get barbecue sauce for a customer. Still, she and Bethany felt they had to try to get along with him. "Our graduation depended on this job," says Natoshia. "We couldn't quit. We couldn't get fired."

Getting Someone to Listen

And yet, Natoshia wasn't afraid to confront her boss. Over and over, she told him to cut it out. "You need to stop saying this stuff to me because I find it really disgusting," she said. Within a week, she and Bethany reported him to a higher-up manager. The girls didn't know it at the time, but other young workers had also complained about the manager's behavior. Yet, incredibly, the manager "didn't seem to believe us," says Natoshia. After that, she and Bethany found an internal complaint hotline. The man who answered the phone, says Natoshia, "told us that maybe we were taunting [the manager] with our body language and by the way we were wearing our uniforms."

The girls felt desperate. Although one shift manager was sympathetic, no one did anything about the situation. Wherever they turned, they were being blamed—not the creep who was tormenting them.

Natoshia began to fall apart. Once she'd been proud of her long blond hair. But as soon as the manager admired it, she cut it as short as she could and dyed it a gloomy brown. She got a nose ring, a belly ring, a tongue ring. Looking back, Natoshia sees that she was silently "screaming out for help, too afraid to ask out loud."

Finally, Bethany told her older sister, who got the girls an appointment with a lawyer. The appointment was scheduled for the morning, and Natoshia, ever the dutiful girl, did not want to miss school without a parent's note. So she finally told her mom what had been going on. "It felt really, really good that someone listened to us and believed us," says Natoshia.

The lawyer took the case, and the EEOC, after investigating and concluding that the law had been violated, filed a lawsuit, with seven girls as plaintiffs. In December 2004, Midamerica Hotels Corporation and Northwest Development Company, which operated that Burger King (along with 37 others), settled for $400,000 in damages.

But the girls didn't feel vindicated. Although the company had to agree to EEOC oversight for two years, there was no admission of wrongdoing. The manager had been allowed to resign earlier, and one of the assistant managers, while initially reprimanded, was later promoted to manager. (Then, as part of the settlement, he was required to go for sexual harassment-awareness training.)

The legal process itself was brutal

Today, Natoshia is still struggling and has dropped her plans to go to nursing school. Since high school, she has held a series of jobs. She says that, although she was once friendly and outgoing, she now has no boyfriend and few girlfriends. "Once something like this happens, it changes your whole perspective on everything," she says.

During the mediation talks, the manager would stare the girls down; when the groups went into separate rooms (as part of the talks), he would pace the hall just outside the girls' room, smirking at them.

Today, Natoshia is still struggling and has dropped her plans to go to nursing school. Since high school, she has held a series of jobs, and by her own admission, she currently has no boyfriend and only a few girlfriends. "Once something like this happens, it changes your whole perspective on everything," she says.

The Best Way to Stop It

Maureen Smith's problems at the movie theater got worse before they got better. After Maureen began dating Travis, an 18-year-old student whom she'd met through her church group and who had also worked at the theater, Dan Wooten became even more lewd. Then one night, Maureen came home late and thought that she spotted Dan's car on her street. As the garage door closed, her cell phone rang. It was Dan. He asked where she'd been, what she'd been doing, and why she was getting home so late. He'd become a stalker.

But it took a serious injury before Maureen and Lindsay finally broke down and told their parents what they'd been going through. Lindsay needed emergency medical treatment because Adam, the assistant manager, dislocated her shoulder when he pulled her into one of his arm holds—in horseplay, he later claimed. The parents reported the men to the local police, but when no charges were filed, Maureen, Lindsay, and two other girls brought a civil lawsuit against Ultra-Star Cinemas' management.

Following an eight-week trial, in April 2005, a jury found unanimously in the girls' favor and awarded $850,000 for emotional distress and another $1.5 million each in punitive Damages—a total of $6.85 million. That July, the judge threw out the damage award as excessive and ordered a new trial on the monetary issue only. The case is currently on appeal in the California courts. But the finding of harassment is not under question.

Today, Maureen is about to graduate from college. Thinking about what she and Lindsay went through can still bring her to tears. But the girls decided to tell their story, they say, to prevent the same thing from happening to other girls.

As a result of her ordeal, Maureen has decided to become a lawyer specializing in sexual harassment cases. "The best way to stop it," she says, "is to make companies realize that they need to take action against it. And the best way to do that is through the legal process."

She knows that the work won't be easy, but she remembers clearly what kept her going during the stressful litigation and its aftermath. "Every time I wanted to stop," she says, "I thought about the fact that Dan might go back—and that there might be other Dans out there doing the same thing right now."

*Name changed to protect privacy

DOCUMENTARY - Teen Workers and Sexual Harassment - Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?

Teen Workers and Sexual Harassment US Documentry on PBS network.

japanese ronald mcdonald

An espisode of the Emmy Award-winning newsmagazine “NOW" about Teen Workers and Sexual Harassment airs on US PBS tonight Friday 20th February 2009.

The filming in Colorado town of Durango, investigates teen sexual harassment on the workplace, highlighting a recent legal case involving the Durango McDonald’s.

Durango attorney Lynne Sholler argued and settled the case – where several teens were inappropriately talked to, touched, groped, solicited for sexual favors, and even had their breasts bitten by their direct manager – in 2008.

“In our nirvana-like community of Durango, we tell ourselves ‘that doesn’t happen here,’” Sholler said. “But, it does happen here – and everywhere.”

The girls, aged 16 and 17 at the time, repeatedly told managers about the conduct, it continued for months. After two girls were bitten, the manager was given a warning, but then he bit a third victim. He was eventually fired after other reports of sexual harassment, as well as reports of on-the-job drug use and sales.

Maria Hinjosa, who compiled the documentary, noted that these kinds of incidents go mostly unreported, making Friday’s program that much more essential. “We hear stories about protecting our kids from sexual predators on the Internet and teach our daughters and sons to be wary of strangers,” she wrote. “There are programs in high schools that deal with bullies, and programs that deal with sexual harassment in school. Yet, there’s never been a national conversation about sexual harassment of teen girls on the job.”

The documentary tracks the Durango girls’ four-year journey for justice through the court system and their eventual victory in court. The program will also profile incidents of sexual harassment in San Diego and Puyallup, Wash.

“These cases drive the point home that employers cannot ignore workplace harassment, especially when the workforce consists largely of teens,” Sholler said. “Not only does sexual harassment have a devastating effect on the victims, it also negatively impacts morale and productivity, harms the businesses reputation, impedes the hiring and retaining of employees.”


In this program excerpt, Ali Tomlin, one of the young women who spoke to Hinojosa, tells her emotional story of sexual harassment at the hands of a manager at a Jamba Juice franchise. Ali, who was 17 when she worked there, recounts the inappropriate behavior that she says led her to file a lawsuit against the company. The case was settled, and Ali received $85,000. Jamba Juice fired the manager in question.


Maria Hinojosa

By Maria Hinojosa

I always talk about the stories I'm working on with people I meet along the way: cab drivers, waitresses, hotel maids, TSA agents, family and girlfriends. Their response typically ranges from casually interested to intensely curious. But the response to my latest NOW report—about sexual harassment of teenage girls in the workplace—has been like no other.

"Nearly every woman I've spoken to instantly replies 'that happened to me' or 'that happened to a friend of mine.' "

While sexual harassment is something many American women experience in the workplace, it goes mostly unreported. We hear stories about protecting our kids from sexual predators on the Internet and teach our daughters and sons to be wary of strangers. There are programs in high schools that deal with bullies, and programs that deal with sexual harassment in school. Yet, there's never been a national conversation about sexual harassment of teen girls on the job.

The five girls I spoke with were 16 at the time they were sexually harassed at work. It was their very first job. Remember your first job? A first job is all about independence, freedom, and moving away from childhood. It's a rite of passage that helps our kids learn the value of work and money.

But for these young workers, it turned into something else, something very upsetting. These teenage girls had no idea about acceptable and unacceptable workplace behavior, much less their legal protections. How could they? Who would have told them? Employers don't want to spend money training transient part-time workers. And workplace rules aren't really taught in high school.

Meeting these brave young women—who chose to tell their stories on national television for the first time—was a moment I will not soon forget. Their trauma was real, and reflected as much in their faces as in their words. When these girls shed tears about what it was like to be groped and followed and threatened by their first boss, to have their shirts ripped or be forced to look at pornography, I felt more than sympathy. In fact, it brought up an emotion I didn't expect: pride. Through their actions, these young women were patriots.

"Even though these young women were thoroughly embarrassed and afraid, they found the strength and courage to take their abusers to court."

These young American teens understood that one of their basic rights is to try to right a wrong through our system of laws. Starting from a position of powerlessness, these young women eventually came to own their own power and exercise it. It's a lesson I will share with my own 13- year-old son and my ten-year-old daughter, because I never want this to happen to them.

I will watch this show together with my children, and encourage you to do the same with your children and grandchildren.

I am proud of this show, and as much so, proud of these women. With this important investigation, NOW on PBS launches the first ever beat of its kind on a network magazine show, covering women, girls and families involved in issues that affect and should concern us all. And it's about time. We call the series "Life Now."

NOW on PBS contacted Jamba Juice for an interview for our program on teen sexual harassment. They declined our request, but sent the following response.

19 February 2009

One 'Bad Apple' Really Can Kill the Company

One "bad apple" in a team of workers really can "spoil the entire barrel," new business research shows.

Whether it's an office bully, team slacker or a chronic pessimist, a single employee can seriously damage an entire company, according to William Felps and Terence Mitchell of the University of Washington Business School.

The researchers define a bad apple as a toxic teammate who shows one or all of three features: dodging their work, dumping some of their responsibilities on others; persistently expressing pessimism, irritability and general unhappiness; and bullying co-workers.

The bullies have specialties: making fun of someone, saying something hurtful, making inappropriate ethnic or religious remark, cursing at someone, playing mean pranks, acting rudely and publicly embarrassing someone.

Over the past 20 years or so, scientists have conducted numerous studies of the effects of negative behaviors at work, including discrimination, sexual harassment, violence and dishonest reporting. However, bad-apple behavior has been somewhat overlooked, Felps said.

"Almost all of us have either had the personal experience of working with someone who displayed bad apple behaviors or had a friend, coworker, or spouse who has shared such stories with us," Felps and Mitchell wrote in a report of their research detailed in the current issue of Research in Organizational Behavior.

"When this process starts to unfold at work, it consumes inordinate amounts of time, psychological resources and emotional energy," they added.

Team work?

Felps and Mitchell analyzed about two dozen published studies that focused on interactions among co-workers. Particularly, they examined research on smaller groups of five to 15 employees in manufacturing, fast food and university settings. Small teams require more member-to-member interactions and workers are more likely to respond to a teammate's negative behavior.

In one study of 51 manufacturing teams, they found that teams with one bad apple were more likely to have conflict, poor communication and cooperation breakdowns. The outcome was inadequate performance.

They found three typical responses to the trouble-making employee. In the first line of action, another worker asks the bad apple to change. If this is ineffective, as generally occurs when the team members have no seniority, the other employees will alienate the bad apple. Then, co-workers become frustrated, distracted and defensive.

Defensive responses, such as anger, social withdrawal and fear, can worsen the situation by cultivating lack of trust in team members and an overall negative atmosphere.

You're fired!

Co-workers typically don't have the means to prevail over a thorn in the office. So what can the higher-ups do to keep problem workers in check?

"Managers at companies, particularly those in which employees often work in teams, should take special care when hiring new employees," Felps said.

"This would include checking references and administering personality tests so that those who are really low on agreeableness, emotional stability or conscientiousness are screened out," he said

If a bad apple does slip through the selection cracks, he said, managers should place the individual in a less interactive position, or alternatively, fire the employee.



Mother of "bully" uses humiliation as punishment tool ... hmm

From California: A mother made her 12-year-old daughter carry a sign reading: "I Engaged in Bullying Behavior. I Got Suspended From School ... Don't Be Like Me. Stop Bullying" for four days outside several local schools.

The girl agrees that she messed up. She and some friends confronted a student who they say called them a racist name.

The assistant principal says the girl regularly works with disabled kids and is rarely a problem. "I would not put the label 'bully' on this kid."


17 February 2009

NEWS - Legal eagles sued for 'bullying'

A Northern Territory Lawyer has won the right to have her harassment case heard in New South Wales because of the possibility of "a reasonable apprehension" of bias in the Territory.

Sarah Lunn alleges bullying by Alastair Shields, her former supervisor at the Justice Department and now acting executive director of policy in the Chief Minister's Department.

She also alleges that Sue Oliver, a former Justice Department employee and now a magistrate, and Richard Coates, former Justice Department chief executive and now Director of Public Prosecutions, failed to address her complaints and that her contract with the Justice Department was ended unfairly.

In June 2006, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission dismissed the department's claim that Ms Lunn's short-term contract had merely expired and, therefore, the commission had no power to decide the case.

Commissioner Dominica Whelan found the lawyer had been dismissed, opening the way for the harassment case to be taken to the Supreme Court.

Ms Lunn argued in the NSW Supreme Court that the Territory's legal profession was small and the case should not be held in the NT Supreme Court because of the "clear possibility - even probability - that there would be a reasonable apprehension of bias or embarrassment if the proceedings were heard in that court".

NSW Supreme Court judge John Hislop determined that findings critical of the court administration would almost certainly have to be made if Ms Lunn were to succeed in her harassment case - and that it was arguable that the judges of the Territory Supreme Court would have to decline to hear the case or should disqualify themselves.

A directions hearing will be held later this month.

Ms Lunn started as an articled clerk at the Justice Department after graduating from the Charles Darwin University Law School in 1998.

It is alleged that towards the end of a three-year contract, her relationship with Mr Shields deteriorated and each made allegations about the other's behaviour.

source : NT News 17/2/09

OPINION - Workplace Bullying: Overblown or Overlooked?

Everyone knows a bully.

It’s the schoolyard tyrant who swoops in on a target, pushing him around while spewing threats and belittling him in front of others. But childhood isn’t where it stops - it’s also on display in the workplace.”Workplace bullying” is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of a person through verbal abuse, behavior that’s threatening, humiliating or intimidating, and/or sabotage that prevents work from getting done, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash.

Recent research and a U.S. court case have spurred interest in the issue.

About 54 million people, or 37 percent of American workers, have been bullied at work, according to a September 2007 survey conducted by Zogby International on behalf of WBI. Bosses account for 72 percent of bullies, and women are targeted more frequently, according to the survey: 57 percent of those bullied are women. When the bully is a woman, 71 percent of the targets are women.

Canadian research released earlier this year by M. Sandy Hershcovis, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and Julian Barling, of Ontario’s Queens University, found that workplace bullying is more detrimental than sexual harassment.

In April, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former medical technician who sued a surgeon for emotional distress and assault. Garry Mathiason, chair of the corporate compliance practice group at labor and employment law firm Littler Mendelson, says in a BusinessWeek story that the ruling drew national attention as a result of the courts acknowledging workplace bullying both as a phenomenon and as legal terminology.

Is workplace bullying an overlooked - or overblown - problem, and is there a viable solution?

Gauging the Problem

Tory Johnson, founder and CEO of Women for Hire in New York, says "workplace bullying isn’t overblown at all. Bullying is often very subtle and hugely damaging.” Bullies run the gamut, she says, from those who scream and make scenes, to the less-obvious types who cast dismissive glances and smirks during meetings, prompting the target to hunker down and never speak up.

Quiet bullies can be more damaging than their loud counterparts, “even if they’re going largely unnoticed by the higher ups,” she says.

Stress hinders the health of 45 percent of bullied targets, according to the Zogby survey. The WBI says employers also pay a price, for example, in turnover costs, stress-related payments for workers’ compensation and disability, and the exodus of talent.

Dr. Cheryl Dellasega, a professor at Penn State University, says workplace bullying is a real problem, and the differences in male and female bullies are clear. “I’ve heard hundreds of stories by victims, bullies, and bystanders (those who watch and may participate) across a wide variety of workplace situations, from hospitals to day care centers to schools and corporations,” she says. “Some situations are handled well, others end up in litigation.”

But some say bullying can be blown out of proportion.

“I acknowledge that some behavior would fit the description of bullying. However, in most adult workplaces what people call bullying often turns out to be discourtesy and contentious behavior, and sometimes it is not even those things, but just behavior the complainer didn’t like,” says Tina Lewis Rowe, a professional development speaker and trainer in Denver.

What’s an Employer to Do?

The WBI says bullies are a reflection of how America operates. “Our society is highly aggressive and competitive. Bullies embody these two popular tactics. Hostility is more normative than the exception. So, bullying/abuse/psychological violence at work is positively embraced more often than despised,” according to the Institute.

Finding a solution, then, might mean bucking the norm - but it’s not impossible, experts say.

Dr. Gary Namie, co-founder and director of the WBI, says bullying is endemic to the workplace; it’s not simply caused by a few bad seeds. So employers should write impersonal policies holding all employees to the same standard, he explains. Because bullies often spend years forging close alliances with higher-ups, Namie says, this absolves higher-ups from having to punish their “buddies” - it simply becomes a matter of enforcing policy.

Others agree employers shoulder much of the responsibility when it comes to quashing bullies.

“Unfortunately, employees are usually not in a position to stop bullying. Generally speaking, if bullying continues in the workplace, it is because it is tolerated at the highest levels of the organization,” notes executive career coach Cheryl Palmer, based in Silver Spring, Md. “If employers realize the toll that bullying takes on the organization, not just specific individuals, they should make it absolutely clear that bullying will not be tolerated.”

What’s an Employee to Do?

If employees feel they’ve been targeted, Namie advises against going to HR, which will ultimately side with management. He instead offers a three-step plan:

  1. Give the problem a name. This helps you stake a legitimate claim and avoid blaming yourself.
  2. Take time off. Examine your mental and physical health. Investigate your legal options. Gather information about the effects of workplace bullying on an employer, including turnover rates, lost productivity and absenteeism. Start looking for a new job.
  3. Expose the bully. Offer the information you gathered in step two, making the case to your employer that the bully is too expensive to keep on staff, and avoid getting emotional. Give your employer one chance. If they side with the bully due to personal friendship, for example, then leave, and tell everyone you’re leaving because you’ve been bullied out.

Women for Hire’s Johnson agrees that employees should take action. “The only solution is for people to feel empowered to speak up - to not be fearful of being labeled the rat,” she says. “Many times employers don’t know this exists, or there’s no track of it, so it’s easy to look the other way. Co-workers might know, but often they’re too intimidated to stick their neck out for someone else."