David Yamada of Minding the Workplace asked in a recent article titled “Should being a workplace bully be a criminal offense in the U.S.?” The scourge on the American workplace is the outmoded outdated and insidious “At Will” employment doctrine.
In my opinion it’s this cancerous employment model that fosters negative workplace symptoms such as bullying. David makes this observation, “First, workers already are reluctant to file claims against their employers when they have valid claims recognized by the law.
How many would be willing to press criminal charges by calling the police or some other government entity?” In my opinion this is indicative of the atmosphere of intimidation and sense of helplessness many employees feel because of employment At Will.
In the criminal justice system there is a charge of conspiracy. However, to my knowledge there is no equivalent civil employment penalty. HR’s routinely “conspire” with managers, owners, customers, co-workers, vendors and legal departments to violate the rights of career seekers and employees. I call it “workplace conspiracy”. It’s a point well taken about the unique problems that would be created in seeking to implement criminalizing of a workplace bully.
Since in my view bullying is just one of many manifestations of “workplace conspiracy” maybe exploring this concept would open the door for being able to go after the institutions themselves. Since almost every department and management level can be involved in the “workplace conspiracy”.
For example, Suzy J. is hired and six months later is sexually harassed by her manager. She complains to HR. The HR director is best friends with the harassing manager. These two “discuss” the situation with another department manager. Suzy J. gets transferred to the other department and is then exposed to known bullying behavior by a co-worker. She is also given a negative 360 feedback performance appraisal. Since the raters (one of which is the former manager) are anonymous she has no clue who rated her poorly.
The outcome of this scenario is predictable, especially since Suzy J. has little or no knowledge of her Basic Employee Rights. I don’t believe there can ever be any consistent remedy for a workplace bully and other forms of discrimination and harassment as long as the quagmire of “At Will” remains in place.
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More Information: OvercomeBullying.org
Lock The Workplace Bully Up?