20 February 2011

HOSPITAL WORKPLACE BULLYING- Dr Anne Sneddon Steps Down Over Bullying Where 9 Doctors resigned within 1 year

Head of Canberra Hospital Obstetrics & Gynaecology leaves behind Workplace Bullying environment for new job interstate

Stepping down: Dr Anne Sneddon is taking 12 months leave from ACT Health.

The Canberra Times has a stub on the Canberra Hospital obstetrics and gynaecology clinical chief Anne Sneddon walking away.

Sneddons departure comes after a difficult two years for the obstetrics and gynaecology unit, including the resignations of several other staff and investigations into bullying and harassment allegations.

Katy Gallagher was on the beast this morning saying Dr Sneddon was just taking a long break and there’s no problem. But can we believe anything she says now?

The Canberra Times has been told that Dr Sneddon quit the hospital recently to take up a position interstate.

The unit has been the subject of two external reviews after allegations of workplace bullying and harassment were made and several staff resigned.

The first review examined maternity services across the ACT and found Canberra Hospital staff had unsustainable workloads and some were victims of inappropriate behaviour.

The second inquiry specifically focussed on the bullying and harassment allegations but the findings are being kept confidential.

Health Minister Katy Gallagher says Dr Anne Sneddon is taking 12 months leave to pursue other career options.

She says it has been a turbulent 12 months at the unit.

"I really can't answer why Dr Sneddon has chosen now other than to say I think for everyone who has worked in the unit it has been a difficult 12 months," she said.

"We are on the road to making some major improvements, but Dr Sneddon has chosen to pursue some other opportunities elsewhere for a period of time."

Ms Gallagher says she hopes Dr Sneddon eventually returns to ACT Health.

"She is a very significant obstetrician and gynaecologist, nationally renowned. She does a lot of work in the third world, training and teaching midwives how to deliver babies," she said.

"She is an amazing doctor and I hope she comes back."

The ACT Opposition has renewed calls for the findings of the confidential review to be released.

Health spokesman Jeremy Hanson says there needs to be an open inquiry into the how the unit operates.

"This is nothing to do with a particular resignation. What I'm concerned about is the systemic issues, what actually occurred, why the complaints that were made were ignored, and has this been dealt with satisfactorily," he said.




The maternity unit at the Canberra Hospital could be on the verge of a staffing crisis, with nine doctors resigned in the past 12 months.

Six obstetricians have blamed a hostile working environment, with some complaining of bullying at management level, according to an industry representative.

Four junior doctors have also terminated their training at the hospital early over the past year, with more departures on the horizon.

The ACT representative for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Andrew Foote, said the doctors had approached him with concerns about the workplace culture and perceived bullying. He said some had complained of having difficulty getting days off work, while others had been humiliated by the way problems with patient management had been dealt with.

Dr Foote said at least one doctor had reported she had made a formal complaint to senior management and had been dissuaded from taking the matter further.

''The concern at a college level is that these are senior doctors at the highest level who have left the system,'' Dr Foote said.

''[One of the doctors] didn't leave town, which I think is particularly damning he just moved to the northside.''

Six doctors had also written to ACT Health Minister Katy Gallagher, offering to apply for two vacancies only if the workplace environment could be improved.

Dr Foote said there was now a shortage of obstetricians, with only half the number needed to properly treat the number of patients going through the system.

''I think they [the hospital] are adopting the approach of 'There's nothing wrong, mate'.''


The ACT Opposition says the government is acting cowardly by refusing to release a report into claims of bullying at Canberra Hospital.

Nine obstetricians have resigned from the hospital since the the start of last year, amid allegations of doctor shortages, harassment and bullying.

ACT Health says it has finished its inquiry, but is bound by the Public Interest Disclosure Act not to release the findings.

MALPRACTICE COVER UP? Problems at Canberra Hospital denied

The ACT government has defended an exodus of obstetricians from Canberra Hospital amid claims of a senior doctor shortage and workplace bullying.

The hospital has lost nine obstetricians over the past 13 months and has been rocked by allegations senior staff pushed for a late-term abortion for a baby later born healthy, the ABC reports.

The Royal College of Obstetricians says doctors have reported a culture of poor management and bullying as well as lack of senior medical staff at the hospital.

They'd since "voted with their feet", the college's Andrew Foote said.

The hospital and ACT Health have also been accused of trying to hide medical blunders. The most explosive claims centres around the case of an expecting mother in 2008. Just five weeks into her pregnancy, Fiona Vanderhook was told by a trainee doctor that she had lost her baby and should terminate using a drug called misoprostol.

Ms Vanderhook took misoprostol but it failed and later tests showed the baby was still alive, the ABC reported. Scans then revealed the foetus had developed fluid on the brain — most likely caused by Ms Vanderhook taking the termination drug.

Later six separate specialists told Ms Vanderhook her baby appeared to be developing normally and had every chance of being born healthy. But senior staff at Canberra Hospital continued to push for the baby to be terminated, even as late as 31 weeks into the pregnancy.


13 February 2011

7 Deadly Sins of BAD MANAGERS - What Managers & Supervisors Must Avoid in the Workplace

Every supervisor has his or her flaws, some more egregious than others. Here we look at a few of the most pervasive mistakes that bosses make, plus how to avoid them.
No boss is perfect, but some are less perfect than others. While it is impossible to satisfy every employee's needs throughout their career, certain types of managerial behavior are almost guaranteed to rub workers the wrong way. Whether it's seizing undeserved credit, imposing unrealistic workloads or simply failing to listen to employees' concerns, a pattern of bad management can lead to significant declines in performance and may even cost a supervisor his or her career. This makes it vital to promptly correct such mistakes or, better yet, avoid them in the first place.
"Few things incite a frothing, wild-eyed rage like asking people to talk about bad bosses. People aren't just annoyed by poor leadership — they sputter and snarl as they describe their superiors, lusting for the chance to hit that bad boss with a perfect, withering insult," CNN.com explains. "It's a little scary, then, to realize that we're all likely to occupy a leadership role, from motherhood to mogulhood, at some point in our lives. When we blow it, our imperfections will be magnified by our authority."
A surprising number of managers display archetypal forms of bad behavior. According to a Florida State University survey last month, many employees believe their superiors embody one of the seven deadly sins:
  • Wrath — 26 percent said their boss has trouble managing anger;
  • Greed — 27 percent said their boss pursues undeserved rewards;
  • Sloth — 41 percent said their boss lazily pushes work onto others;
  • Pride — 31 percent said their boss craves undeserved admiration;
  • Lust — 33 percent said their boss needs to have his or her ego stroked every day;
  • Envy — 19 percent said their boss is jealous of others' successes; and
  • Gluttony — 23 percent said their boss hoards resources that could be useful to others at work.
"Employees with leaders who committed these 'sins' contributed less effort (40 percent less), felt overloaded as a result of forced responsibility for their supervisor's work (33 percent more), were less likely to make creative suggestions (66 percent less) and received fewer resources to effectively do their job (60 percent less) than those without this negative type of leadership," Christian Ponder, a research associate at Florida State's College of Business who worked on the survey, said.
While the most common faults seem to be obvious, it can be surprisingly difficult to recognize bad managerial qualities in oneself. Cultivating a sense of discernment to better spot negative employee reactions is an important skill that can distinguish a good boss from a mediocre one.
"The most crucial test of a boss is self-awareness. The best bosses are in tune with how the little things they say and do impact people, and they are adept at adjusting to bolster both performance and dignity," Bob Sutton, a professor in Stanford University's department of management science and engineering, notes at AMEX OPEN Forum. "Several studies, including one by the College Board, suggest that the more incompetent a boss is, the more out of touch he or she is likely to be."
There are several signals in the workplace that can point to bad tendencies in a manager. BNET lists some of the common signs of a managerial problem, including:
  • Your team is underperforming. Bad management trickles down and eventually affects the rest of the organization, causing your workers' performance to deteriorate.
  • Your own boss is putting on the pressure. When a senior manager notices a subordinate manager is having trouble, he or she might start paying a lot more attention to that person. If your supervisor turns on the heat, it may be a sign that something is wrong with your management style.
  • Your allies start to drift away. When your work friends or supporters start distancing themselves from you, it's a strong signal that things are not going well for you at the company and others know it.
  • Your employees are miserable. A group of consistently unhappy employees usually means a bad manager is in their lives. Pay attention to how your workers are doing to get a clear gauge of your own performance.
While there's no single measure that can turn someone into a good boss, recognizing negative behaviors and working to mend them can be a crucial step in rebuilding employees' confidence in your abilities and providing a better work environment for your colleagues.
"Who you are shows up most clearly in the relationships you form with others, especially those for whom you're responsible," Harvard Business Review explains. "It's easy to get those crucial relationships wrong. Effective managers possess the self-awareness and self-management required to get them right."
This means that spotting when you're engaged in one of the "deadly sins" of bad management and paying close attention to your workers' needs, your own boss's expectations and the way others treat you within the company are necessary stages in becoming a better manager.

07 February 2011

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace - A Canadian Perspective

Sexual harassment: A thing of the past. No longer a problem. Why worry about it? Took the course, heard the message, bought the T-shirt. In the States, multi-million dollar sexual harassment lawsuits hardly get notice anymore. A couple years ago, in five short paragraphs, in the less-than-prominent "Careers" section of the Vancouver Sun, here was a headline: "Dial Corp. Settles Sex Harassment Suit."

The article was so obscure and tiny, you'd think the soap-making corporation had merely received a slap on the wrist. In fact, the article noted that Dial paid $10 million dollars over allegations of sexual harassment.

Here in Canada, as most of us know, huge sexual harassment payouts don't happen. But on a per capita basis, Canada must have as many sexual harassment issues as the States, which means the issue of sexual harassment harms employee morale and retention, and an organization's bottom line. In Canada, as in the United States, sexual harassment is bad for business.

Is it difficult to imagine sexual harassment cases still taking place in Canadian workplaces in 2009? I continue to marvel at the fact that all kinds of sexual harassment cases continue to roll out on a daily basis. And I’m forced to admit that, since most people don't report sexual and other forms of harassment, it's much more prevalent than we imagine.

But is sexual harassment just about sex? In 1989, then-Chief Justice Brian Dixon of the Supreme Court of Canada, in a unanimous decision, said “sexual harassment in the workplace may be broadly defined asunwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences for the victims of the harassment. It is…an abuse of power… [that] attacks the dignity and self-respect of the victim both as an employee and as a human being." (emphasis added)

(Here is a training video for managers and supervisors to use in the workplace called: How do you define harassment, bullying and other inappropriate types of behaviour.)

Today, the italicized part of that decision serves to define sexual harassment in Canada. To prove sexual harassment, a person needs to show he or she endured unwelcome sexual attention and that it had detrimental or negative consequences. While the consequences can be the classic, “You show me some sexual attention and I'll let you keep your job,” they don't have to go that far.

Managers and supervisors can learn more about sexual harassment, and how to prevent it in the workplace, by downloading:

.mp3 audio file “Chapter Three – Harassment Headaches” of Stephen Hammond’s book Managing Human Rights at work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters

Paperback of Managing Human Rights at work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters

.pdf of Managing Human Rights at work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters

A person who endures provocative pictures on the wall, or sexual jokes told in the lunchroom is often a person being subjected to sexual harassment. This is often referred to as a tainted, poisoned or hostile work environment. Hence, sexual harassment isn’t just about sex

Since the courts have ruled that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, treating women negatively while treating men positively can constitute sexual harassment. In other words, if snide or rude comments are made to women but not to men, and they negatively impact the women's workplace comfort level, this is sexual harassment. The reverse is also true if men are the predominant targets.

My advice is to think of sexual harassment as more than the textbook case of a lecherous male boss. Non-sexual negative comments towards one particular gender, or a man harassing a man, or a woman harassing a woman all qualify. That said, it should come as no surprise that most sexual harassment still involves a man sexually harassing a woman. And you’d be surprised where sexual harassment can occur….such as even outside of work.

If an employee does something outside of work that has a negative impact back in the workplace, the employer may well find himself or herself dealing with a sexual harassment problem. Otherwise, imagine the loopholes, especially given today’s technology. Ed would just have to wait until after work to send lewd e-mails, faxes, and voice mail messages to his co-worker Tricia’s home. Or leave sexually explicit messages under her car’s windshield wipers.

Back at work, of course, Ed acts like a perfect gentleman. But if Tricia is disturbed by his actions, and we apply the definition of sexual harassment, what have we got? An employee receiving sexual attention she doesn't want, with negative consequences: a tainted work environment. Tricia is on edge all the workday wondering what Ed will pull next.

(Here is a link to a training video you can purchase and download called: Reducing discrimination of women at work.)

I investigated just such a case for a client. One night after their shift in the company parking lot, an employee asked a female colleague if she'd like a ride home. Having no reason to suspect anything except courtesy from a fellow worker, she accepted the ride. As soon as she noticed he was going in the wrong direction, she asked to be taken home or at least dropped off. He told her he just needed to pick up something from his apartment, then he'd take her home. As soon as he parked the car in his underground garage, she leapt out and escaped. She made her way back to the workplace, completely distraught.

Since she never made it to his apartment, we'll never know what his final motives were. The company hired me to investigate; in the meantime, the male employee was placed on an unpaid leave of absence. His union, protecting his interests, argued that since all of this had happened outside the workplace, it wasn’t a workplace harassment case.

The union stressed that the woman should have referred it to the police. But I knew the law said otherwise. I suggested termination of employment for the young man, because even if he’d been placed on a different shift from the woman who filed the complaint, I knew she’d never feel comfortable with the notion that she might cross paths with him again on work premises.

The company severed his employment, but stipulated that if he underwent counseling and was able to show he was no longer a threat to women in the firm, he could have his job back. He declined to pursue this option, his union's grievance was dropped, and his termination of employment was upheld.

Most sexual harassment cases off workplace property are not as severe, and do not end up with a person being fired. In my experience, most involve booze, parties or an infatuation. As comedian Phyllis Diller has said, "What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day." Perhaps we should encourage employees to take that to heart. When companies hire me to train employees about sexual harassment issues, they often ask me to dwell a little on booze and company outings, thanks to unfortunate incidents in their past.

Not that employees shouldn’t socialize after hours. When problems do occur, most off-premises conflicts do not involve sexual harassment. Personality conflicts or other problems that don't fit the definition of sexual harassment do not have to be settled with a harassment policy or procedure. You might have a problem on your hands, but it won't be sexual harassment

Infatuations are particularly tricky to identify and deal with. As often as not, the person needs counseling of some kind. The role of a supervisor is simply to let the spurned employee know he needs to keep his feelings in check, while ensuring that the object of his desires feels completely comfortable bringing any problem to your attention. You can minimize the chances of off-premises issues becoming a bigger problem by letting employees know even their actions off the worksite can become a workplace concern.

Here are some training resources that Managers and Supervisors can use in the workplace relating to Sexual harassment:

Video: Dealing effectively with sexual harassment in an industrial or male-dominated environment

Video: Sexual harassment and the court’s ever-expanding interpretations

Video: Reducing discrimination of women at work

.mp3 audio file “Chapter Three – Harassment Headaches” of Stephen Hammond’s book Managing Human Rights at work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters

Paperback of Managing Human Rights at work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters

.pdf of Managing Human Rights at work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters

01 February 2011

TURKEY - Workplace Bullying Lawsuits Expected To Skyrocket

The passing of a law offering expanded protection against workplace harassment is expected to create an increase in the already growing number of bullying-related lawsuits in Turkey.

For the first time, employers are obligated to protect all workers from psychological abuse under the revised Article 417 of the Debts Law that Parliament passed last week.

Previously, the law focused specifically on protecting both female and male workers from sexual abuse in the workplace.

Lawsuits related to workplace bullying, also known as “mobbing,” have already increased in Turkey due to the growing level of societal awareness on the topic. With the new law, however, the number of legal cases is expected to skyrocket.

Workplace bullying is most frequently seen in the finance, education, health and communications sectors, as well as in the military, according to Çağlar Çabuk, the founder of the Workplace Bullying Training and Support Center. She said the entire private sector has been waiting for such a law to be instituted, though further measures are still necessary.

The biggest problem in bullying-related lawsuits is proving that systematic harassment took place, Çabuk said. “There are witnesses, but nobody wants to take the stand.”

She suggested the system implemented in Germany as a solution to this issue. “In Germany, a witness [to workplace harassment] cannot be fired from work for a year,” she said. “Don’t you have the urge to help someone who is being beaten up in the street? It is the same thing. Someone is suffering before you, but you do nothing.”

If companies want to fight against workplace bullying, they should set up ethics boards, Çabuk said.

“Even small- and medium-size enterprises, which have less than 250 workers, should set up ethics boards,” she said. “In a company, we can defend our rights by sticking to an ethics law. That will be our guide. We should include mobbing in ethics, too.”

Çabuk additionally called for the disciplines of law, psychology, psychiatry, criminology, human-resources management and business science to be applied to solving the problem of workplace bullying.

Women affected more

Sixty percent of the 135 people who have sought the support of Çabuk’s Workplace Bullying Training and Support Center over the past year are women. According to psychiatrist Derya Deniz, women are more open to support and have an easier time expressing their feelings. “Men hide it; they don’t want others to say, ‘He couldn’t cope,’” she said.

The most frequent problems involved in mobbing cases examined by the center were lambasting, belittling and gossiping about the victim, as well as a general disapproval of the individual’s work. Some victims receiving support from the center decided to take their cases to court, while others were satisfied with receiving psychological support or having their stories listened to. In addition, some cases that initially seemed to be incidents of workplace bullying were ultimately determined not to be so, while some people who explained how they had been treated eventually even turned out to be the bullies themselves.

The aim of filing lawsuits is to discourage perpetrators, according to lawyer Metin İriz, who has given legal support in bullying cases to some 20 people. Before workplace bullying was defined under the law, such cases were generally filed as lawsuits for damage, libel suits and harassment cases.

One of his İriz’s clients is a vocational high school teacher in Istanbul identified only as F.İ. who has filed a lawsuit alleging cruelty by the headmaster and deputy headmasters of the school. The Bakırköy High Criminal Court accepted the indictment two weeks ago, something that could set an example for future cases. The first trial is scheduled for March.

F.İ. claims that because she is a widow, neither the headmaster nor the deputies wanted her at the school. She said they spread gossip about her with the help of other teachers and did everything they could to keep her away from the school. During the process, F.İ. had two heart attacks. When she came to İriz for legal help, the center immediately obtained a report from the psychiatry department at Istanbul University’s School of Medicine indicating that she was suffering from “major depression” and “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Following this, İriz consulted with a criminal jurist. If F.İ. wins her case, he said, the accused could be punished with eight to 15 years in prison on charges of cruelty toward a member of the public.

More protection to come

Under the new law passed by Parliament, psychological abuse in the workplace is described as including verbal insults, belittling, leaving a person alone on purpose, excluding an employee from company activities and assigning a worker either too little or too much work. The real purpose of any of these systematic acts of bullying and intimidation is to wear a worker down until he or she quits the job. Such behavior, however, is different than job-related tension, stress or momentary outbursts.

In addition, a draft law on “The Board for Equality and Fighting against Discrimination” that gives a detailed description of harassment is pending at the Prime Ministry. If passed, it is expected to serve as a good reference to support jurists in bullying cases.

Workplace bullying is also currently being discussed in a sub-commission of the Parliamentary Commission on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The commission, which has consulted expert views, is expected to release a report in late February.