Workplace bullying is a widespread problem that is gaining momentum. In fact, studies show that nearly half of all U.S. workers are affected by workplace bullying and up to one-fifth of the typical workforce is subjected to bullying at any one time.
Below are three true bullying stories. These stories illustrate the devastating effect of bullying and show how various bully victims have addressed workplace harassment. For more information on workplace bullying, review these resources:
Bonnie Russell: Triumphing Over a Workplace Bully
"After my supervisor at a privately owned legal advertising firm put his hands on me in anger and shoved me out of his office, I called the police. In front of the entire sales crew, I began the conversation with, "I'd like to report an assault," and then supplied the details. The staff reacted quickly.
"Although the CEO was one building over, he arrived in two minutes. After talking to the bully, who admitted his actions, he asked me outside to talk. "What are you doing to my company?" he said angrily to me. "This is not about your company," I said, matching his tone. Recognizing that I had the element of time and surprise on my side, it was my turn to be surprised when the CEO cut to the chase by asking me what it would take to cancel the call to the cops. I told him to fire the bully and he did immediately."
Angela Anderson: Fired by a Bully
“I worked for the Law School Admission Counsel, the company which administers the LSAT. My boss never liked me and why she hired me is still unclear. She bullied me extensively, yelling me in front of my coworkers, threatening my job privately in her office, and discouraging alliances with coworkers. She treated people similarly in other departments, yelling at them in meetings. I tried to appease her until she threatened my job, at which point I constructed a letter to human resources. I gave her the courtesy of notifying her that I was going to HR, and she fired me before I had the chance to submit a complaint. Because of this, I have no legal recourse against her or the company and cannot claim retaliation.”
Natalie K. Camper, Ph.D., Founder & President, The Bully-Proof Company: Bullying Inspired a New Business
"The harassment occurred when I was 18 years old and very proud of my new job. There were several instances when I was approached by two different men. One was my boss who tried to corner me and touch me as I slid out from under his hands and went back to my seat. This happened several times and I said and did nothing. I did not know what to say or do. I stayed with the job all summer and just dealt with it as friends told me to do.
"Then there was the man whose business was a floor below. One day he came up to me at my desk and said, 'I just discovered a lump on my wife’s breast. How about I examine yours?' Once again I said or did nothing. What was there to do? This was before anti-discrimination guidelines were published. When asked what sexual harassment was called before we had a name for it, Gloria Steinem said, 'You called it Life.' There were no laws to protect victims from workplace bullying.
"When I was bullied at 18 I just lived with it and kept my head down. To my good fortune, a wonderful man, rungs above me in terms of age and experience, would magically appear and intervene on my behalf. He had some sort of instinct for when the big boss was cornering me and would distract him.
"After 20 years as a consultant/trainer on sexual harassment and discrimination, I founded The Bully-Proof Company due to the terrible statistics and the stark reality that adult bullying victims have to deal with at work. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. employees say they have been bullied or have witnessed a bullying incident at work; that adds up to 73 million people."
What happens when a supervisor is ridiculed and harassed by a subordinate employee? This detailed account outlines the frustration, stress and despair experienced by one supervisor as a result of her interactions with a difficult employee.