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Coast Employment Law
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What You Need to Know About Workplace Bullying

What You Need to Know About Workplace BullyingBullying or harassment is not confined to school playgrounds. According to research, bullying of employees continues unchecked in many workplaces, although it doesn’t get as much attention as harassment.

According to one study that was conducted in Canada, as many as 40% of Canadian employees admitted that they had been bullied at work recently. Such bullying incidents placed them at a much higher risk of developing cardiac disease, post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The study found that as many as 37.5% of Canadians had been victims of workplace bullying over a six-month period. The study also analyzed the characteristics of bullies in the workplace. Bullies seem to have psychopathic tendencies and were also very aggressive.

According to psychologists, employers need to do a better job of detecting bullying in the workplace, and must step in to prevent such behavior. In a typical case of bullying, the employee who is being bullied may be targeted by the bully. Bullying can include being snappy, critical, and reprimanding towards the victim, and even frequently insulting the victim. The person who is doing the bullying may give the victim an excessive workload, and withhold rewards. There may be back biting and gossip about the victim at the office water cooler.

The result of bullying is that the victim may simply dread going to work. He may fear for his safety, and begin to suffer from feelings of depression. Many times, employees fear filing a complaint with the Human Resources Department, because they do not want to seem weak. This is especially true in the case of new employees who want to hold onto their job in an uncertain economy.

Employers need to establish workplace policies about workplace bullying, and supervisors must be trained to recognize when some employees are verbally insulting, denigrating, or attacking others. Bullying is not the same as harassment, even though many of the behaviors exhibited by the bully may seem like harassment.

Some categories of employees seem to be at a much higher risk of bullying. For instance, statistics indicate that women seem to be much more likely to bully other female employees.  It may be difficult for an employee to file a lawsuit specifically claiming that he was bullied, but if the bullying involved a person of a minority ethnic group, or a disabled person, or a senior, or any other group, then there would be valid grounds for an employment lawsuit.

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