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News of bullying from the USA
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Updated 31 August 2002
News about workplace bullying and related issues outside the USA
News of child bullying and school bullying
UK news from 2002 | News 2001 | News 2000 | News 1999 | News 1998 | News 1996/1997
See BBC News Online and use the search facility for "bullying"
News pages reorganised
1 September 2002: all news pages at Bully OnLine have been moved to news
New law aims to protect whistleblowers
23 May 2002: in the wake of Enron the California Senate Committee passes new legislation.
NoFEAR bill aims to protect workers
12 May 2002: the NoFEAR bill gives federal employees additional on-the-job protection against discrimination and retaliation in the workplace by requiring more accountability from agencies. More at http://www.house.gov/sensenbrenner/wc20011004.htm and http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0302/030602t1.htm and http://www.naacpfstf.org/NOFEAR_testimony_9May01.htm.
Capitol One under the spotlight
11 May 2002: those who have experienced bullying will recognise this situation at Capitol One in Richmond, Virginia. [Richmond Times-Dispatch | Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star]
US wakes up to cost of bullying
15 March 2002: Workplace bullying's high cost: $180M in lost time, productivity, Liz Urbanski Farrell writes in the Orlando Business Journal
USPS pays compensation for disability discrimination
4 May 2001: in Philadelphia, the United States Postal Service will pay $2,447,000 to settle a class action suit charging that it discriminated against "disabled" applicants. The case centered around data conversion operators at the Postal Service's York Remote Encoding Center operated by Dyncorp. When the Postal Service decided to bring those jobs in-house in 1996, it offered the Dyncorp employees an opportunity to apply for the positions. After giving the applicants medical examinations, the Postal Service rejected 234 of them on the ground that they were "medically unsuitable" even though they had all been performing exactly the same job for Dyncorp. The Postal Service will pay a total of $2,047,000 to as many as 234 rejected applicants and the applicants' legal fees of $400,000. The Postal Service has also agreed to provide training in Rehabilitation Act requirements to the top human resources official in its Allegheny Area and each district in that area and to obey legal requirements in future hiring.
Shares dive after bullying by email
6 April 2001: shares in the company Cerner Corporation headquartered in Kansas City nosedived after the Neal L Patterson, head of the company, sent this angry email to 400 managers which was then posted on a Yahoo financial message board:
"We are getting less than 40 hours of work from a large number of our EMPLOYEES. The parking lot is sparsely used at 8am; likewise at 5pm. As managers, you either do not know what your EMPLOYEES are doing or you do not CARE. You have created expectations on the work effort which allowed this to happen inside Cerner, creating a very unhealthy environment. In either case, you have a problem and you will fix it or I will replace you. NEVER in my career have I allowed a team which worked for me to think they had a 40-hour job. I have allowed YOU to create a culture which is permitting this. NO LONGER."
His tirade continued, adding that hell would freeze over before he increased employee benefits. He wanted to see the car park nearly full by 7.30am and half full at weekends. The missive concluded, "You have two weeks. Tick, tock."
Patterson, who is Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Cerner Corporation which claims to be the world's leading clinical healthcare information technology company, explained away his outburst by saying he'd been brought up on a farm. However, his harangue wiped off 22% of the share value of the company amid fears by investors that employee morale would plummet. In 2000, Cerner was listed in Fortune magazine's 100 best companies to work for in America.
$730K settlement in bullying case
11 February 2001: in Zimmerman et al v. Direct Federal Credit Union et al, the vindictive nature of bullies backfired when the plaintiff filed a retaliation claim. Although a previous court found insufficient evidence to sustain a discrimination claim, after her return to work her legal action resulted in an increase in bullying and victimisation. Her claim was upheld and she was awarded $730K compensatory and punitive damages.
Nineveh support group online
30 January 2001: Nineveh Group now has an online support forum. For details click here.
New support group launched
December 2000: Nineveh Group is a ministry of Crever Memorial United Methodist Church in Petersburg, Pennsylvania helping individuals coping with workplace bullying and/or mobbing. We are located in central Huntingdon County, about 25 miles south of State College and 25 miles northeast of Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Contact: G E Croyle, Lay Contactperson, Nineveh Group, Crever Memorial United Methodist Church, Petersburg, PA 16669-0034, USA. Email Nineveh-Group@Prodigy.net, Fax (+1) 814 669 4747.
16 September 2000: allegations of bullying by Fargo (North Dakota) Public Library Director Dave Davis have been settled with a golden handshake and payment of Mr Davis' expenses. See http://www.in-forum.com/pub/09132000/545.shtml
Study shows high levels of bullying
31 August 2000: an article in the Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA) titled Beware of Bullies At Work reports high levels of bullying in the USA with figures comparable to those found by the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line. The article reads: NAPERVILLE, Ill.--This Labor Day, be aware of the 27.88 million Americans who are targets of a bully in the workplace. A new survey says: 1 out of 2 bullies is a woman. As if sexual harassment hasn't plagued women in the workplace long enough, a new study by The Campaign Against Workplace Bullying (CAWB) shows that the majority of workplace bullying victims are women.
Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie, social psychologists, founders of The Campaign Against Workplace Bullying, and authors of The Bully at Work gathered survey results from a sample made up of over 1,300 people who reportedly experienced a bully at work. This is the largest sample taken to date on this issue. What their results reveal is a direct hostility towards women in the workplace. Even more frightening is that they are being bullied by other women.
It is estimated that 20% of the 139.4 million people in the US workforce have experienced bullies. According to the never before released study conducted by CAWB, 77% of those who are bullied are women--which is an estimated 21.4 million women! As if targeting women wasn't astonishing enough, female bullies who make up 50% of bullies, specifically target other females 84% of the time, whereas male bullies tend to target women in 69% of the cases where the bully is a man.
Also discovered from this sample was the surprising reactions to the bullying by co-workers. In bullying instances, the people least likely to support the victim are the co-workers. Fifty-seven percent of co-workers react negatively towards a victim of bullying and tend to side with the bully. Only 15% of co-workers offer support to a victim of bullying. As if being bullied wasn't hard enough o deal with, it is extremely traumatic to the victim to be shunned by co-workers. In the majority of cases, severe symptoms of stress, anxiety and paranoia have been reported. In 41% of the bullying incidents, the trauma is so severe that it warrants a clinical diagnosis of depression. © Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster, PA
EEOC settles same-sex harassment case
4 Aug 2000: the US EEOC has settled a same-sex harassment suit for half-a-million dollars against a major Colorado auto dealership. See the full EEOC report which says "The scope of this settlement should put all employers on notice that sexual harassment, including male-on-male harassment, comes at a high cost," said EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "As the Supreme Court recognized in the Oncale case in 1998, harassment is unlawful regardless of the gender of the victim or the harasser."
In August 1999, the EEOC settled a similar lawsuit for $1.9 million against Long Prairie Packing Company, a meat packing plant in Long Prairie, Minn. The settlement, the agency's largest ever for same-sex harassment and its first class settlement on the issue, followed a precedent-setting decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in March 1998 in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services. In that ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Commission's longstanding policy that same-sex harassment by men against men may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination in employment.
8 July 2000: in March this year the US government paid out $508 million (of US citizens' taxes) in settlement of a discrimination lawsuit filed by 1100 women 23 years ago. The amount is the largest award for job discrimination in the history of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Now black Secret Service agents are filing a claim for discrimination alleging they have been discriminated against in hiring, promotions, performance evaluations, transfers, assignments, testing and awards bonuses. They further claim victimisation for having complained about a racially hostile work environment.
3 June 2000: Allstate Insurance Co is being sued by former employee Linda Brown, who worked for 12 years at Allstate's Lexington claims office. Horrified by the work-related suicide of her colleague Sarah Howard last August, Ms Brown is determined to expose what she claims is a working hell at Allstate which includes excessive workloads, rewards for lying, and an astonishing level of staff turnover.
Ms Howard's suicide note, written on an Allstate memo pad inscribed "Committed to Quality", stated chillingly "You can only push them [employees] so far without something happening. I'm only surprised that someone hasn't done something sooner. Don't even think I am the only one you have pushed this far. You kill people in many ways." For more on this story click here.
More on harassment
26 May 2000: this week's HR Watch has two articles titled Sexual harassment perpetrated by female employees and Employers ignore employee harassment complaints at their own peril./p>
More on bullying
15 May 2000: this week's HR Watch has an article titled Workplace bullies cause significant problem.
US army sexual harassment claims upheld
11 May 2000: army investigators have substantiated allegations by the USA's highest-ranking female officer Lieutenant-General Claudia Kennedy of sexual harassment by Major-General Larry Smith. See BBC News Online.
Harvard Business Review focuses on narcissists
8 May 2000: Harvard Business Review Jan-Feb 2000 (pages 69-77) contains an article by Michael Maccoby entitled Narcissistic leaders : the incredible pros, the inevitable cons. The article explores the strengths and weaknesses of the narcissistic leaders and suggests that "because of their independence and aggressiveness, they are constantly looking out for enemies, sometimes degenerating into paranoia when they are under extreme stress."
The article continues: "Narcissistic leaders typically keep others at arm's length ... given their difficulty with knowing or acknowledging their own feelings, they are uncomfortable with other people expressing theirs - especially their negative feelings ... Narcissists are almost unimaginable thin-skinned ... They cannot tolerate dissent. In fact, they can be abrasive with employees who doubt them or subordinates who are tough enough to fight back. Steve Jobs (CEO and Founder of Apple), for example, publicly humiliates subordinates. Thus, although narcissistic leaders often say they want teamwork, what that means in practise is that they want a group of yes-men. As the more independent-minded players leave or are pushed out, succession becomes a particular problem ... There is a kind of emotional intelligence associated with narcissists, but it's more street smart then empathy. They know who they can use. They can be brutally exploitative."
Sound familiar? See the serial bully profile.
MSN Careers article on bullying
1 May 2000: Barbra Lewis writes about bullying in her article WITNESS TO WORKPLACE BULLYING: When a co-worker is the target of a boss's abusive behavior.
1 May 2000: after a long campaign during which time 70 teachers and staff resigned, Sallye "Jailhouse Sallye" Gauthier, principal of Arlington Heights Elementary School of the Los Angeles Unified School District, has at last been forced to resign. The Los Angeles Times reported that Ms Gauthier "led 11 parents into a classroom and berated a teacher in front of them", "restrained a special education student by putting her foot on the child's head", "slammed into seven cars, killing a man, then drove away", and was "convicted of misdemeanor manslaughter" but until last week managed to keep her job as a principal with the LAUSD. Click here for more.
Employers must post job-related injury and illness
23 March 2000: see Monster HR Watch.
US stress case
9 March 2000: a Washington DC employer who failed to reassign a stressed-out employee to a vacant, less stressful position found themselves on the wrong end of a $500,000 award. See Monster HR Watch.
USA gets own resources page
21 February 2000: I've created separate web pages for country-specific resources on bullying, including the USA and Canada.
Progress in discrimination law
February 2000: Several items relating to discrimination appear at http://hr.monster.com/hrwatch/2000/02/14/ including Government Reports a 300+ Percent Increase in Discrimination Lawsuits, Case Sent to Trial Based on Age Comment, and Courts Reward Employers Attempting to Prevent Harassment and Discrimination.
Individual liability for harassment
December 1999: In general, a manager cannot be held legally responsible for harassment and discrimination under most US legislation. However, discrimination laws, including many state discrimination laws, do permit alleged discrimination or harassment lawsuits against individual managers or supervisors. See http://hr.monster.com/hrwatch/1999/12/27/
US Federal employees harassment survey
December 1999: FedNews Online is a free daily news service for federal civilian and military employees. A recent subscribers' survey on workplace harassment produced the following response:
63% of respondents said they had been the target of harassment
57% said they'd witnessed harassment
56% said their agency doesn't deal promptly and efficiently with complaints of harassment
For complete results of the survey see the December issue of the EEO Update. To subscribe to the EEO Update, call Anna Ray at 256-539-1850.
North America conference on bullying
December 1999: as part of their Campaign Against Workplace Bullying, the Drs Namie are organising North America's first Conference on Workplace Bullying in Oakland, California, on 27-28 January 2000.
SHRM article on bullying
October 1999: Rudy Yandrick writes in the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) HR Magazine about workplace bullying: Lurking in the shadows: workplace bullying can cause high turnover, low productivity and decreased morale. See http://www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/articles/1099yandrick.htm
Employers should not overrule doctors
October 1999: in Miller v. AT&T, an employee who was dismissed because he took time off due to influenza resulted in a court deciding that under FMLA the employer was liable. See http://hr.monster.com/hrwatch/1999/10/11/
Non-discrimination policy must be proactive
October 1999: in EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores the court ruled that the presence of a non-discrimination policy was not sufficient to protect the employer against claims for damages. The policy needed to be supplemented with education and training. See http://hr.monster.com/hrwatch/1999/10/11/
Georgia schools take tough line on bullying
September 1999: following the death of Josh Belluardo (see below), Georgia has introduced new legislation requiring schools to have an anti-bullying policy which includes the stipulation that bullying pupils will be permanently expelled after their third offence. It was not clear if the causes of bullying would be tackled or whether the pupil would just be transferred elsewhere.
Article on toxic workplaces
August 1999: Workforce editor-at-large Gillian Flynn outlines the perils of the toxic manager in her article Stop Toxic Managers Before They Stop You!
New book on bullying and mobbing
July 1999: Civil Society publishing announce the publication of Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace by Davenport, Schwartz, and Elliott (Civil Society Publishing, July 1999, ISBN 0-9671803-0-9). Cost $14.95 ($21.95 in Canada); can be ordered directly from BookMasters Inc, PO Box 388, Ashland, OH 44805, USA, Tel (800) 247-6553, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or through your local bookstore. More info at http://mobbing-usa.com/
Bullying gets front page coverage in US
June 1999: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) HR News vol 18 no 6: in a front page article headed Workplace violence experts see lessons from Littleton, managing editor of HR News Bob Thompson highlights the need to look beyond the shootings at Columbine High School to identify the causes of the need to be violent ... and finds bullying. This well-written article brings together views of Richard V Denenberg co-director of Workplace Solutions, a NY based consortium of conflict management professionals, Loraleigh Keashly, associate professor of urban and labor studies at Wayne State University, Detroit, and British author Tim Field. To see the online article, click here.
Life sentence in Belluardo bully
May 1999: community opinion in Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia was split after 15-year-old Jonathon Miller was found guilty of the murder of Josh Belluardo. The court heard how Miller, who had been bullying 13-year-old Josh Belluardo for some time, delivered a punch on the back of the head as the two were getting off the bus. The blow ruptured an artery and Josh Belluardo died within 60 seconds. Subsequent investigation revealed Miller had a history of violent behavior including 34 reported incidences. The failure of the school and education authority to address violent behavior has also come under scrutiny. See http://ncfelonymurder.org/copy/R_MSH10-28-02.html
American Psychological Association article on bullying
7 July 1998: Peter Freiberg writes in the APA Monitor Bullying in the workplace is a violence warning sign: Preventing on-the-job violence is difficult because it often involves changing the very culture of workplaces.
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