Half the population are bullied ... most only recognise it when they read this
News of bullying in 2000
Please let me know of news, events, developments etc for inclusion
News of workplace bullying in the USA
News of bullying in Australia
News of child bullying and school bullying
2002 news | 2001 news | 2000 news | 1999 news | 1998 news | 1996/7 news
See BBC News Online and search for "bullying" or "bullied"
BBC News Online wins BAFTA best news website award for third year running
British Aerospace in Australian stress case
17 December 2000: an Australian man employed as a technician at British Aerospace Australia's Tidbinbilla deep space tracking station has won A$342,989 (£129,000) damages for a major depressive illness contracted whilst having to work for years under a night-shift supervisor who was often drunk, asleep, or incompetent. Despite being alerted to the situation, British Aerospace Australia took no action. See Canberra Sunday Times. In October 2000 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) produced a report highlighting levels of depression in the workplace.
13 December 2000: the UK's Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) today relaunched its anti-bullying pack for schools, Don't suffer in silence. However, nothing is said about adult bullying or the bullying of children by teachers or headteachers. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that if bullying is rife in the playground, it's also rife in the staffroom, with the good teachers disempowered and thus prevented from dealing with either child or adult bullying. Teachers are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and enquirers to Bully OnLine and have their own web page. See also BBC News Online.
9 December 2000: 66% of 9000 health and safety representatives cited stress as the number one hazard to health in the TUC's latest biennial survey on health and safety at work. 75% blamed high workloads, 53% identified staffing cuts with 39% laying the blame on long hours. Meanwhile, an ILO report earlier this year reported that 30% of workers have mental health problems whilst 5% suffer from major depression. Stress now accounts for 14% of sickness absence and 80 million lost working days each year at an annual cost of £5.3 billion.
Tribunals should have powers of sanction
8 December 2000: campaigners and organisations representing employees are calling for employment tribunals to be accorded powers to force employers to change unacceptable or failing work practices. A recent review of employment tribunal systems by the Lord Chancellor's Department omitted this punitive element which it is hoped will prevent employers from sweeping their abuses under the carpet.
Yet another Met Police payout
8 December 2000: Metropolitan Police Officer Gurpal Virdi has won record damages of £150,000 after he was cleared of charges of sending racist hate mail to himself and other ethnic minority officers.An employment tribunal in August 2000 found that Mr Virdi had been discriminated against by the investigating officers. This is the latest in a number of cases where the Metropolitan Police have been found to be at fault. Earlier this month former Metropolitan Police Domestic Violence Unit officer Catherine Moore was also awarded £150,000 compensation
Record NHS bullying levels
7 December 2000: a survey by the GMB union has revealed levels of bullying within the National Health Service of over 50%. Around 33% said their boss was the bully whilst others identified colleagues and patients. Many workers reported that bullying had caused injury to health including, depression, high blood pressure and sleeplessness.
Teacher wins record compensation
for stress injury
4 December 2000: former teacher Janice Howell has been awarded £254,362 compensation for a career destroyed by stress. Mrs Howell, a teacher of 24 years experience, was teaching at Maindee Junior School in Newport, South Wales. Her class of 28 pupils contained 11 special needs pupils including one extremely disturbed pupil who had been expelled from two previous schools. Despite Mrs Howell's request for classroom support, none was forthcoming, indeed a nursery nurse was removed. Newport County Borough Council (formerly Gwent County Council) admitted liability in January 2000. A special task force subsequently found severe management failings at the school and the Head and Deputy were removed. See NASUWT press release for more information.
The Met on trial again
3 December 2000: former Metropolitan Police Constable Eric Stunt has been awarded £100,000 damages after he was psychologically injured by an investigation of a complaint made against him. In a landmark decision, a High Court judge ruled that PC Stunt was eligible for an injury award as the injury was as a result of performing his duties. The Metropolitan Police have lodged an appeal. Police forces, ambulance and fire service employees could now sue for millions of pounds in damages as could any public sector employee who is suffering stress due to their job.
Another Met bullying case settled
2 December 2000: former Metropolitan Police Domestic Violence Unit officer Catherine Moore has been awarded £150,000 compensation after being bullied out of her job because she asked to change shifts in order to share child care with her police-officer husband. Croydon Employment Tribunal found that on return from maternity leave, Mrs Moore became a scapegoat for the section's ills, had her sickness record exaggerated, and became the subject of unduly punitive attitudes. Mrs Moore took medical retirement in 1998 on the grounds of stress. This is the latest in string of Metropolitan Police settlements for bullying and harassment.
Bullying case settled
1 December 2000: former UCB Films employee Brenda Percival has accepted a £10,000 settlement for constructive dismissal. A qualified microbiologist with 30 years experience in the food industry, Mrs Percival was bullied out of her job in the osmotics department which she joined three years ago. Her employer, who did not accept liability, had no anti-bullying policy.
The cost of bullying
21 November 2000: Seth Godin writes eloquently of the cost of bullies and bullying in an article in Fast Company magazine.
Tim Field receives second honorary doctorate
10 November 2000: Tim Field has received a second honorary doctorate for "considerable effort on initiatives to stamp out bullying in schools, further and higher education and the workplace". The honorary degree was awarded by the Southampton Institute and conferred by The Nottingham Trent University. The citation reads: "At a ceremony held on 10th November 2000 at the Southampton Institute, Timothy Field being a person distinguished in eminence and by attainments was duly admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration honoris causa".
Bullied postal worker commits suicide
8 November 2000: Simon Pitt, a manager at Aston Royal Mail sorting office, Birmingham, has been fired following the suicide of a black postal worker amid complaints by postal workers of bullying, harassment, assault, prejudice and racism. A further five Royal Mail employees have been suspended whilst an investigation is carried out. 26-year-old Jermaine Lee hanged himself after he was pushed over the edge.
In a separate case, a new chat forum for bullied postal workers has been set up.
To join this employee/ex-employee group visit
http://www.egroups.com/subscribe/Red_and_blues or visit www.workplacebullying.com
Bullied pupil loses case
8 November 2000: 19-year-old Leah Bradford-Smart from Crawley, West Sussex has lost her High Court action for damages resulting from her local education authority's alleged failure to protect her from bullying whilst she was a pupil at Ifield Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex, between 1990 and 1993. Despite Miss Bradford-Smart's evidence being substantially accepted by the judge, the LEA successfully argued that bullying which took place on the way to and from school was not their responsibility. Miss Bradford-Smart's solicitor Jack Rabinowicz was critical of the verdict. "To allow bullies to drag a pupil out of a school just seems to be a distinction which gives schools and bullies the green light to make things worse," he said.
West Sussex County Council said there was very little sign at the time that Ms Bradford-Smart was being bullied. However, dealing with bully requires a proactive approach, not a reactive one. Bullies intimidate their target into silence with threats of physical injury (sometimes including death) whilst the responsible adults fail to provide an environment which ensures safety for the target and the accountability for the bullies. See also below and other legal cases involving school bullying.
New discriminatory body set up
8 November 2000: Side by Side is a new organisation set up to support and prosecute cases of discrimination by employers. Backed by former police sergeants Sarah Locker and Belinda Sinclair, also Doreen Lawrence and the Lawrence family solicitor Imran Khan, Side by Side aims to help employees suffering discrimination where they have no support and would otherwise be too scared to come forward.
Stress costs rising
7 November 2000: speaking at the CIPD National Conference, Professor Cary Cooper, one of the country's leading experts on stress at work, has again warned employers of the rising cost of stress which he and others estimate to now be £5 billion a year and rising. Many employers are too focused on the bottom line and coerce employees into working excessive hours, said Cooper. Short-termism, the impact of new technology, more regulation by the EU and changing work patterns such as the need for both partners to work result in employees who are less healthy, less motivated, and more likely to leave.
Meanwhile elsewhere at the conference, consultant Robert Holden, founder of the Happiness Project, highlighted the UK's Neanderthal mentality of equating exhaustion with virtue whilst confusing busyness with business and relaxation with laziness. Holden's heretical message is summed up by his belief that "relationships are the competitive advantage".
Stop, go home
6 November 2000: the UK's Channel 4 is running a series of TV programs on stress at work which include a web site with resources.
Obituary for Neil Crawford
6 November 2000: Neil Crawford's obituary appears in The Times on Monday 6 November 2000. See also item below.
Schools Chief Inspector resigns suddenly
6 November 2000: OFSTED chief inspector Chris Woodhead has suddenly resigned. Credited by many as having single-handedly made teaching today's least attractive profession, Mr Woodhead's departure will be mourned by few. His own conduct has come in for criticism on a number of occasions, from an alleged affair with a schoolgirl to accepting a 34% pay rise whilst teachers only received 2%. On one occasion he sacked an incompetent inspector only to give the man a glowing reference the next week. Evidence is coming to light of suicides related to OFSTED inspections whilst anecdotal evidence from the UK National Workplace Bully Advice Line suggests that incompetent teachers and head teachers who leave the teaching profession appear to be able to walk straight into a cosy and well-paid OFSTED inspector's job - which has no accountability. Since its inception, OFSTED has cost UK taxpayers at least £4 billion - but tells parents nothing they don't know already.
Chris Woodhead will be replaced by his deputy, Mike Tomlinson who infamously once said of teachers "I don't give a monkey's toss for them, all I care about is the children". The king is dead...
Teachers stress helpline
27 October 2000: the first annual report of Teacherline, a telephone counselling service for stressed teachers, reveals that 1,000 teachers a month call the helpline. Of the 12,000 calls, 27% are about stress, anxiety and depression, 14% report conflict with managers, 9% are about workload, 9% have suffered loss of confidence, whilst 7% report "severe" problems comprising risk of suicide, major depression or substance dependency. Set up by the Teachers Benevolent Fund (TBF), the aim of the helpline is to save money by reducing sick leave and supply teacher cover.
The charity has previously found that teachers are four times more likely to suffer stress than other other professions. TBF says it is has taken aback by the size and severity of problems - however those working in this field are not surprised. Teachers and lecturers have consistently been the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line since its inception in January 1996. A teachers' page reveals all.
The cost of staff turnover
25 October 2000: research published by the CIPD this week reveals that the cost of staff turnover has increased by 10.5% over the last twelve months. The average cost now stands at £3546 per employee. Meanwhile the UK government continues to claim that unemployment in the UK is only just above 1 million. However, this figure is not the number of people without a job. The government's figure is the number of people who qualify for Job Seeker's Allowance. The true number of people in the UK between the ages of 18-65 without a job is thought to be between 4-6 million. There are 2.5 million people between 50-65 without a job.
New anti-discrimination law on the horizon
25 October 2000: new anti-discrimination legislation is on its way from Europe. Article 13, as the directive is known, will outlaw discrimination on the grounds of age, sexual orientation, disability and religion. Disability discrimination is already on the statute books in the UK. The UK government must enact the legislation by 2006.
24 October 2000: the average annual income of FTSE-100 Human Resources directors is £251,000, according to Directors Pay Report 2000, produced by Incomes Data Services (IDS). According to the National Management Salary Survey 2000, average earnings for HR managers are £37,638. These high salaries are in stark contrast to experience in over 4000 Advice Line cases whereby the HR department refuse to deal with bullying, and invariably end up dismissing the target and promoting the bully. To understand why this happens so often, click here.
Former pupils sue schools for
23 October 2000: 19-year-old Leah Bradford-Smart from Crawley, West Sussex has today started legal action in the High Court for damages resulting from her local education authority's failure to protect her from bullying whilst she was a pupil at Ifield Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex, between 1990 and 1993.
Meanwhile at Manchester County Court a former grammar school pupil has been awarded £1500 damages after a judge found that Sale Grammar School had breached their duty of care for failing to protect the pupil against 18 months of verbal abuse and bullying which culminated in a sexual assault on a school trip. Case law and settlements for school bullying are on the case law page.
During their research for a book on children who have attempted or committed suicide because of bullying at school which the school did little or nothing to deal with, co-authors Tim Field and Neil Marr have uncovered a catalogue of similar stories of prolonged bullying, school denial, and LEA intransigence. Schools and courts have yet to comprehend the predictable and prolonged nature of bullying. Surveys by ChildLine and Kidscape suggest at least half of all children endure bullying at school. The book is due for publication after Christmas. Watch Bully OnLine for details.
23 October 2000: an article on workplace bullying appears in Good Housekeeping magazine for November 2000. Another article on bullying at work appeared in Bella for 10 October 2000.
16 October 2000: it is with deep regret that I announce that Neil Crawford lost his battle against cancer on 13 October 2000. Co-author of Andrea Adams' seminal book Bullying at work: how to confront and overcome it, Neil worked tirelessly and often unseen on the research side of workplace bullying. His funeral, for which he expressed the wish that as many people working in this field should attend, was held at Golders Green Crematorium on Thursday 19 October. The West Chapel was full for the service.
ILO report highlights stress and
depression at work
11 October 2000: summarising surveys from five countries, the International Labour Organisation says in a report that changes in work practices cause stress which costs industry and taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Stress, burnout and depression now affect 1 in 10 workers, with depression second only to heart disease in disabling conditions. See BBC News Online for more.
Teacher exodus, nurse exodus ... now clergy exodus
11 October 2000: a survey by the Centre for Ministry Studies at the University of Wales has revealed that over half of the clergy have considered quitting the ministry because of job pressures. Whilst most clergy liked their jobs, they found the working conditions and demands intolerable. Bullying is also rife throughout religious organisations - see BALM, a web site which breaks the silence about the bullying and abuse of Christian ministers.
4 October 2000: a new survey by public sector union Unison reveals that 4 out of 5 nurses have considered quitting their profession due to poor pay, low morale, and feeling undervalued. Staff shortages and increased patient expectations also feature. A third of nurses have a second job to bring their income up to acceptable levels. Less than 1 in 3 nurses would recommend nursing as a profession.
Freedom to Nurse has a new web site at www.freedomtonurse.co.uk which provides advice on bullying and whistleblowing, news and views, plus a survival guide.
In July 2000 a report indicated that NHS problems were due to bad management rather than a lack of money. A survey published in the BMJ Volume 318 (23 January 1999) revealed that bullying is a serious problem in the NHS.
Human rights for all
2 October 2000: the Human Rights Act 1998 comes into force today. For information see my web page and BBC News Online.
Thou shalt not snoop
1 October 2000: the Data Protection Commission has announced that it will use the Data Protection Act 1998 where employers regularly snoop and monitor the content of emails. The Act, which came into force in March 2000, empowers the commission to issue an enforcement notice which requires that the monitoring cease. The commission handles about 4000 complaints a year, mostly from employees.
Bad bosses are the cause of stress
28 September 2000: new research from the TUC suggests that stress and long hours are caused by poor management. A new TUC reports, Work smarter - an end to burnout Britain reveals that six million workers believe their bosses do not know how to manage staff. TUC general secretary John Monks called for efforts to curb stress and the long hours culture.
Metropolitan police cases
15 September 2000: a string of high-profile cases and large out-of-court settlements indicates that the London Metropolitan Police have a major management problem.
Belinda Sinclair recently obtained an out-of-court settlement worth an estimated £200,000. Sarah Locker suffered years of racial harassment. Gordon Warren, who was alleged to have had a "mental health problem", has now received a full apology, and a certificate of exemplary service but 18 years on is still battling for compensation commensurate with the detriment he has suffered. Meanwhile in July 2000 Eileen Waters won a landmark judgement on the right to sue for negligence for bullying and harassment which results in psychiatric injury. See below for link to full judgement.
Figures recently released by the Home Office reveal that in the last year out of the 43 police forces, the London Metropolitan Police came top having paid out more than £516,000 in settlement of 29 tribunal cases. Second were Hampshire Police having paid out £176,000 to settle three cases.
Didcot Information and Advice Fair
15 September 2000: Tim Field has a table at the Didcot Information and Advice Fair, Didcot Civic Hall, on Saturday 7 October 2000 between 10am-4pm. The Advice Fair, organised by Didcot Citizens Advice Bureau, will be attended by 30 local voluntary and statutory groups providing information on issues covering disability, volunteering, support, counselling, health, benefits, etc. Admission free.
Ford moves on racism
15 September 2000: Surinder Sharma, former head of equality and diversity at Littlewoods Home Shopping Group and a regular speaker at conferences on the progress Littlewoods have made with their anti-bullying policy, has been recruited by Ford Motor Company. Employee relations at the car manufacturer have been through a turbulent time with frequent allegations of racism and the tribunal in 1999 of Sukhjit Parma who alleged years of harassment at Ford's Dagenham plant. Sharma is now Ford's European diversity director whilst former TUC equal rights policy officer Kamaljeet Jandu becomes Ford UK national diversity manager.
New bullying helpline
14 September 2000: the Huf Puf Bullying Helpline, tel 020 8785 6299, is a new telephone helpline for people experiencing bullying at work and in education. The service will be launched by Alistair Stewart from London Tonight, Carlton Television, on 19 September 2000.
New Internet workplace bullying discussion forum
7 September 2000: I've created a new Internet support, discussion and action forum which anyone with an interest in understanding and especially tackling bullying can join.
Safety in the spotlight
28 August 2000: The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recognised the role of human error in accidents and disasters. John Wilkinson of the Directorate of Hazardous Installations at HSE estimates that human error is the main cause in around 80% of accidents. The growing sophistication of equipment is one reason, whilst mental fatigue is another. He quotes the example of the train driver in the Clapham rail crash who had been working extended 12-hour shifts over a significant period of time. The drive for profits, often at the expense of working conditions - including safety and training - features prominently in bullying cases. Mental fatigue is a symptom of psychiatric injury in which concentration, learning and memory skills become impaired. Improving Maintenance - A Guide to Human Error is an HSE guide which briefs employers on the performance issues relating to maintenance staff.
Bullying cases also often feature denial of leave to which employees are legally entitled. Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at UMIST, is quoted in the CIPD's People Management (24 August 2000) as saying "You cannot overwork the body without consequence. If you choose to do so, you will inevitably burn out". Been there, done that. Fear of backlog and the mountain of work awaiting the employee on return from holiday were cited as reasons for not taking holiday by around 10% of those surveyed by web travel agent Travelocity. A further 25% said they were unable to relax on return from holiday. Work intruded on employees on leave with 33% checking their mobiles for messages from work and 20% contacting the office whilst on leave.
Meanwhile the GMB union have highlighted the problems facing left-handed workers. Most equipment, including the ubiquitous mouse, is designed for right-handed people despite the fact that left-handers account for between 13 and 30% of the population. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) and accidents were more likely if left-handed workers had to use equipment designed for right-handers, claims the union which launched their awareness programme with International Left-handers' Day.
Attempt to hide teacher recruitment crisis
25 August 2000: the education sector's latest attempt to hide the effects of the UK teacher recruitment crisis takes a bizarre twist next week when 23 teachers from Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne fly in to take up teaching posts in Croydon, Surrey. Imaginatively called Operation Kangaroo, four head teachers flew to Australia earlier this year to interview almost 100 candidates who, if accepted, have to sign on for a minimum of three terms. Although the project has been paid for by teacher recruitment agency Timeplan, the money presumably originates from LEAs having come out of of income tax and council tax. Interest in the scheme from six further London Boroughs has prompted Timeplan to consider flying in more teachers from Australia and extending the drive to New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada.
Any teacher from abroad considering this opportunity should ask why their prospective employer can't recruit teachers from the UK. Teachers and lecturers have consistently been the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and enquirers to Bully OnLine at Bully Online. See the teachers page to find out why.
The UK's Department for Education and Employment has created a climate in which teaching is seen as a profession to avoid. Excessive demands, constant nitpicking and faultfinding, the blaming of teachers for everything, the ogre of unaccountable OFSTED, absurd hours, ticksheet mentalities, bullying, divisive performance-related pay and a host of other impositions mean that more teachers are leaving the profession than are joining. Click here for one teacher's eloquent explanation of why he left. Several teachers have now committed suicide because of the pressures.
Right to be accompanied
17 August 2000: in September 2000 new provisions under the Employment Rights Act 1999 come into force whereby workers have a right to be accompanied at disciplinary or grievance meetings. However, the provisions are flawed as the person chosen can only be a fellow worker or trade union rep or official. In most bullying cases, fellow workers are too scared to speak out or support someone being bullied, and in the majority of cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and Bully Online, the trade union rep has already refused to support their member. The unions most often reported as failing to support their members are Unison and the NUT. The GMB and RCN also feature regularly. Neither is it clear what the worker's rights are in situations where there is no union, or where workers have been warned off union membership by the implied threat of reorganisation (ie redundancy) if they join a union.
Register of stalkers
15 August 2000: in a manner similar to the sexual offenders register, the UK government has suggested that a register of convicted stalkers might be appropriate for the most serious cases. In 1998 there were 5800 convictions for stalking in the UK. "Harassment can have a devastating effect on people's lives. It is something that must be tackled" comments Home Office minister Charles Clarke. Diana Lamplugh of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust welcomed the guide. "Victims [of stalking] will come forward much quicker." she says. "At the moment they are made to feel stupid and they wonder if it's their fault."
The call for a register of stalkers coincides with the launch of The Stalking Investigation Guide. Written by Detective Inspector Hamish Brown, the guide provides officers with guidance on how to deal with harassment offences and how to advise to victims of stalking.
I would like to see a register of serial bullies of the type identified by Bully OnLine. It is likely that in many cases, the same names will appear on two of the lists, and in some cases, may appear on all three lists.
College discrimination case settled
11 August 2000: the case of Little v. Oxford College of Further Education has been settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Ms Little, a lecturer in tourism in the Department of Tourism and Leisure at Oxford College of Further Education, suffered a back injury during a trip abroad with students in 1996 after which she alleges she was repeatedly harassed and discriminated against by her line manager, lecturer Ian Buller, which culminated in an employment tribunal for disability discrimination, sexual harassment and discrimination, unfair dismissal, breach of contract, breach of duty of care, and personal injury. The College was represented by vice-principal and acting head of human resources John Kelly. Ian Buller has since left Oxford College of Further Education.
Inhuman and degrading treatment
9 August 2000: National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) general secretary David Hart has warned that the introduction of the Human Rights Act could lead to significant claims by parents of children who are bullied and harassed at school. The HRA provides a legal route for anyone suffering "degrading treatment" to sue for compensation. With surveys suggesting that at least half of all schoolchildren have to endure bullying, the cost implication for cash-strapped authorities could be enormous. Head teacher unions are also realising that they might receive adverse publicity for not identifying and dealing with members who might be serial bullies. Full story at BBC News Online.
7 August 2000: an article on bullying by Karen Lowry Miller under the title They call it mobbing appears in Newsweek dated 14 August 2000.
Unfairly dismissed head wins compensation
7 August 2000: Former deputy head teacher Geoff Hetherington has been awarded £15,000 compensation after wining his unfair dismissal case against Darlington Borough Council. An employment tribunal previously heard how Mr Hetherington's life became hell after the appointment of new headmistress Gill Wray at Redmarshall and Bishopton Primary School near Darlington. Mrs Wray took an instant personal dislike to Mr Hetherington, who had an excellent work record stretching back 25 years, and bullied him incessantly, set him up to fail, made false allegations, and specious accusations. Her behaviour led to Mr Hetherington suffering a stress breakdown because of the prolonged negative stress caused by such dysfunctional and vindictive behaviour.
Mr and Mrs Hetherington are calling on the government to make bullying illegal. Their web site has attracted thousands of visitors, but Mr Hetherington's career has been terminated and his health is in ruins because of the wilful and deliberate actions of his immediate manager and the negligence of the employer in allowing it happen and taking no action when they were alerted to what was happening. It is the council tax payers of Darlington who have to pay for Darlington Borough Council's negligence.
Teachers and lecturers are the largest number of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and comprise around 20% of 4,000 cases. The majority of teacher callers are secondary school teachers being bullied by a head teacher with the profile of a serial bully. The Local Education Authority, despite having knowledge of the aggressive dysfunctional behaviour, continues to support the head teacher they have appointed. The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy; the more bullies bully, the weaker and more inadequate they are revealing themselves to be.
2 August 2000: the texts of the UK Dignity at Work Bill and Swedish law on Victimization at Work are now available online.
DTI web page of useful links
30 July 2000: The Employment Relations section of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has recently added a section of useful links to their web site at http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/links.htm.
Former police officer wins
right to sue
27 July 2000: in a landmark judgement, five UK law lords have unanimously granted former Metropolitan Police constable Eileen Waters the right to sue her former employers for negligence. Ms Waters says that after reporting a fellow officer for sexual harassment and rape she was subjected to four years of bullying and victimisation which resulted in psychiatric injury and a lost career. A previous attempt to sue the Metropolitan Police commissioner for negligence for failing to prevent victimisation was dismissed. The judgement opens the way for all employees who suffer bullying, harassment and victimisation to sue for negligence if the employer then takes no action against the perpetrators.
NHS managers to blame for poor service
21 July 2000: management experts from Richard Branson's Virgin group report that many NHS problems are not due to funding shortages but the result of bad management. In some hospitals, management couldn't even organise a cleaning rota. Investigators also found stifling bureaucracy, poor communication, and lack of leadership, and were critical of a system which has two administrators for every clinical member of staff.
Union busting deemed unacceptable
20 July 2000: following Eversheds' roadshow featuring an American union-busting expert, the UK government has advised employers and personnel professionals against being taken in by confrontational approaches which inevitable sour employee relations.
60% of lecturers bullied
18 July 2000: a survey by researcher Christina Savva and published by lecturer's union NATFHE reveals that nearly two thirds of lecturers in universities and further education colleges have experienced bullying. Budget cuts and financial pressures have led to an endemic culture of bullying in some institutions, say the union.
HSE publish two new stress studies
30 June 2000: two new studies published by HSE this month establish a clear link between stress and factors such as overwork, lack of support by managers, conflicting priorities, lack of control over work patterns etc. The Scale of Occupational Stress and Work related factors and ill health highlighted negative health outcomes including reliance on tobacco and alcohol, back pain, poor physical fitness, and mental health problems, aka psychiatric injury.
Meanwhile the government are recognising the need for a healthy work-life balance with a discussion document Changing Patterns in a Changing World and a campaigning organisation, the National Work-Life Forum.
New Zealand stress case settled
23 June 2000: in the New Zealand case of Gilbert v. The Department of Corrections, former probation officer Christopher Gilbert has been awarded around NZ$1 million damages for injury to health caused by work overload which he reported but which his employer did nothing to reduce. Gilbert claimed that by failing to provide him with a safe workplace and by requiring him to endure excessive workloads without adequate or effective management, his employer committed a breach of contract. The judge agreed and awarded Mr Gilbert 14 years' salary at about $40,000 a year, $75,000 in damages for humiliation and distress, $50,000 in punitive damages, $50,000 for loss of employability, plus medical expenses and legal costs.
Disability discrimination appeal successful
23 June 2000: in Kapadia v. London Borough of Lambeth, former senior accountant Pravin Kapadia has won his appeal to proceed with a claim under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). His employer claimed that Kapadia did not qualify for disabled status. Solicitor Simon Foster of mental health charity MIND commented that "...if an employee has a long-lasting condition, the fact that he appears to be functioning normally doesn't mean he hasn't got a disability".
Government launches health and safety policy
23 June 2000: in the wake of repercussions from Ladbroke Grove and Paddington rail disasters, the government has taken steps to make individuals more accountable. Each year sees the loss of 25 million working days due to work-related accidents and ill-health at a cost of up to £18 billion. Minister for Health and Safety Lord Whitty has called for violence at work to be brought under the umbrella of health and safety. Changes proposed include tougher penalties, increased responsibility, better training, and the removal of immunity from prosecution that government employers currently enjoy.
Whistleblower wins case
23 June 2000: in Fernandes v. Netcom, former finance officer Antonio Fernandes successfully used the Public Interest Disclosure Act when he was unfairly dismissed for faxing details of irregular expense claims by his manager to the telecoms company's parent office in the USA.
Public sector workers demoralised
22 June 2000:a survey by public sector union UNISON has revealed that 66% of local government employees feel undervalued and were considering leaving their job whilst 40% were frustrated that they were denied the resources to carry out their job effectively. High levels of stress and concerns about violence resulted in low morale, with half the respondents having seen or experienced abusive behaviour and a quarter having seen or experienced physical violence.
Cases of bullying from the charity and not-for-profit sector have been the fastest growing group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and emailers to Bully OnLine over the last two years and now account for about 6-8% of around 4000 cases. With staff turnover levels of over 50% reported (in a couple of cases, staff turnover has exceeded 100% a year), donations, grants and government handouts are squandered on recruitment, administration and defence of legal action rather than the money being spent on what the charity claims it is doing. The alleged bully is often a serial attention-seeker.
Labour government discriminating again
16 June 2000: the UK Labour government is once again set to defy the more enlightened states of Europe by objecting to proposed new laws to harmonise discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, belief, age, disability and sexual orientation. The legislation, which will bring discrimination into line with existing sex discrimination laws, would also result in the onus being placed on the employer to prove their innocence rather than at present where the employee has to prove the employer's guilt. The House of Lords has welcomed the proposed development. The Conservative party, though, has objected. Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude, apparently unaware of the damage discrimination does to British industry, has demanded that the government veto the proposals.
Newspaper runs anti-bullying
14 June 2000: over the next eight weeks the Newcastle Chronicle is running an anti-bullying campaign in northeast England. If you've visited Bully OnLine as a result of reading about it in the Chronicle drop me a line to let me know what you think of it. If you have an experience of bullying at work that you'd like featured in the Chronicle contact reporter Peter Jeffrey on tel 0191 201 6342 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sacked deputy head teacher wins
14 June 2000: false allegations which resulted in the unfair sacking of former deputy head teacher have cost Berkshire taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. Cherryll Pepper found herself suspended from work in July 1996 when the school's new head teacher Lyn Hurst wrongly accused her of gross misconduct. The consequent stress of high workloads and malicious allegations led to a near breakdown and the loss of her career. An employment tribunal in 1998 concluded it was "a blatant case of unfair dismissal against an applicant who was blameless". Mrs Pepper, who was supported by the NAHT, now wants an independent watchdog to be formed to investigate claims of malpractice against local education authorities and governing bodies.
New support group in Berkshire and Surrey
14 June 2000: Berkshire and Surrey workplace bullying support group was founded in February 2000 as a self-help and support group for people who have experienced stress through bullying at work. Meetings are currently every other month. The group focus is on individuals moving forward and meetings are in a positive vein. Contact Jo Butcher, tel 01753 861706.
Bullies costing industry £2 billion a year
12 June 2000: a report Bullying and harassment in the workplace by the London Chamber of Commerce says that bullies cost UK industry around £2 billion each year. Around 19 million days are lost because of abuse which also results in accidents and mistakes, increased sick leave, lost productivity and higher recruitment costs. A copy of the report is available from London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 33 Queen Street, London EC4R 1AP, tel 020 7203 1871, fax 020 7203 1863, email email@example.com
Blind Barclays worker bullied
10 June 2000: ex-Barclays Bank employee Paul Brookes is taking his former employer to court for discrimination. Mr Brookes, who has been blind since birth, reports a catalogue of abuse including offensive remarks and having correcting fluid poured over his hair. After he reported this incident the bullying got worse and he was subjected to a series of criticisms and allegations that lacked substantive and quantifiable evidence.
Workplace bullying on Australian TV
8 June 2000: the sterling work of SAEBOW founder Catherine Crout-Habel is paying dividends. She and others were interviewed for "Insight", scheduled for screening on SBS TV, 8.30 pm, Thursday, 15th June 2000. See Catherine's web site Bullies Down Under.
Policewoman's £1m compensation for
6 June 2000: former Metropolitan Police officer Sarah Locker has accepted an out-of-court settlement £215,000 plus a pension which in time could total around £1 million. Unfortunately, not even these sums of money, which are often small in comparison to the damage inflicted (which many people can't or won't understand), bring about a radical change in attitudes. All too often the bully is protected, and frequently promoted. The higher up the bully in the hierarchy, the more protection and promotion the bully receives.
The Daily Mail, who in the past have covered many bullying cases, devotes numerous column inches to ranting about "crazy and offensive compensation culture", but omits to say anything about the racist and sexist bigots who are the cause of the settlement. Much easier to target the victim than identify the perpetrators. But then The Daily Mail has had its own share of harassment.
The Mail quotes Tory MP Gerald Howarth as saying "This just shows how frightfully soft this country is becoming. People must try to grow up a bit. Why throw money at people just because their feelings have been hurt". If quoted correctly Mr Howarth should try to learn a bit about the subject before embarrassing himself and his party with his offensive and ill-considered remarks.
The Daily Mail also overlooks the fact that many out-of-court settlements are made not to "spare the victim the stress of a court case" and to "enable taxpayers to avoid funding costly trials", but to avoid the can of worms behind the case from being opened in public.
There have been several similar settlements in recent years. In 1999 Thames Valley Police PC Kay Kellaway accepted £150,000 whilst in 1998 fellow Thames Valley Police detective Dee Mazurkiewicz reached an undisclosed settlement after a tribunal panel found unanimously in her favour. In 1996 North Yorkshire Police detective Libby Ashurst accepted £165,000 for sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Out of time sexual harassment case heard
6 June 2000: an employment tribunal in Ashford, Kent, is hearing a case of serious sexual harassment and sex discrimination five years after the event. The time limit for a application to tribunal is 12 weeks and limits, determined in the early 1970's when most tribunals were for manual employees unfairly dismissed, are normally strictly enforced. Former mortgage adviser Monica Sheridan described a year-long campaign of sexual harassment, exposure and indecency committed by financial director Robert Allen in her presence which resulted in severe psychiatric injury. Miss Sheridan is claiming harassment, discrimination and personal injury against her former employer estate agents Ward and Partners in Chatham, Kent.
Classrooms at war lifts lid on education in Britain
6 June 2000: BBC1's series Classrooms at war came to a close last night with two cases of bullying. In one case a young boy was bullied for four years and despite repeated requests from the parents the school did nothing. In schools in which bullying continues unabated it is common to find that the head does not have control of discipline.
In the other case, Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council, the programme avoided the bullying aspects for legal reasons and concentrated on the effects of bullying, ie stress. Geoff Hetherington's case is typical of the 800 or so teachers who have contacted the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and Bully OnLine. A long successful career is suddenly brought to an end when a new head teacher arrives; jealous of the teacher's popularity and envious of their recognised ability, the head sets about destroying the individual by constant trivial nit-picking, fault-finding, overburdening, exclusion, undermining, and setting up to fail. Forced to work 16 hours a day to meet the head's specious "demands for performance improvement" eventually a mistake occurs which is immediately seized upon to impose a competency procedure. A little more setting up and the teacher can be sacked. However, investigation usually reveals that the head was loathed in their previous job and his or her performance was poor. This type of person often has a high turnover in secretaries and other staff. Bullying is a serial offence.
In Mr Hetherington's case, a tribunal unanimously found Mr Hetherington's dismissal unfair. Ms Sue Whitcombe, parent governor and spokesperson for head teacher Mrs Gill Wray (who had been unsuccessful in 12 previous Headteacher applications before she became Headteacher of Bishopton/Redmarshall School) has been trying publicly to defend Mrs Wray claiming "biased and adverse publicity over Mr Hetherington's dismissal" and wishing to "redress the press imbalance". Oh diddums. Mrs Whitcombe was granted access to a confidential list of parents' names and addresses to mailshot parents in support of Mrs Wray whilst legal proceedings were in progress. As a result of her letter-writing campaign, Ms Whitcombe received a visit from the police and was advised about issues of harassment.
Mr Hetherington, whose career has been wrecked and health destroyed by the actions of Mrs Wray is now considering pursuing a personal injury case. Recently a teacher in Shropshire accepted a £300,000 settlement for having his career wrecked and health destroyed by a female head teacher who set out to destroy him when he objected to her incompetent management style.
Bully in sight sells 4000th copy
26 May 2000: sales of Bully in sight now exceed 4000 copies. Thanks to everyone who has invested in a copy. Readers report that the book validates their experience when most are trying to deny it, and that it re-empowers them and gives them control back which the bully had previously taken away. Click here for more readers' feedback.
Teacher jailed for sexual assaults
26 May 2000: teacher Alan Wilson was today sentenced to 18 months in prison for committing a series of homosexual acts against pupils after plying them with alcohol. Formerly employed as principal history teacher at James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh, Wilson abused his position of power and exploited pupils' vulnerability for sexual gratification which including hugging, kissing and fondling his victims after getting them drunk. In keeping with most sexual abusers when caught, Wilson denied everything and claimed that the boys invented their stories. Wilson was described by the prosecution as calculating, cool and calm, someone able to wear a mask in court. Click here for advice on how to recognise an abuser.
Andrea Adams Trust Workplace Bullying Helpline Appeal
14 May 2000: The Andrea Adams Trust is appealing for donations to set up and run a fully-resourced National Workplace Bullying Helpline. Click here for details.
Teacher wins £300,000 for bullying
11 May 2000: a 45-year-old Shropshire teacher has accepted £300,000 in what is thought to be the largest out-of-court settlement for "stress" so far. The teacher, who specialised in working with emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children, experienced a stress breakdown following a year-long series of confrontations with the headmistress whose divide and rule culture and methods he questioned. The behaviour of the headmistress, which Shropshire County Council admits as "management difficulties", resulted in the destruction of a popular and successful employee previously tipped as a headmaster but who is now described as a "recluse".
The National Union of Teachers (NUT), who supported the teacher in bringing his case, said his problems began in January 1995 when a new head was appointed. It stated: "Previously the school had run on team lines but the new head would not listen to suggestions from experienced staff. She failed to demonstrate consistency in disciplinary policies, ignored the concerns of staff and rejected criticism from experienced teachers." See NUT press release.
Teachers are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and often report new heads as a serial bully. Serial bullies are drawn to positions of power with opportunities for power and control over vulnerable clients and over vulnerable staff committed to their vulnerable clients. The injury to health caused by a serial bully is described on health and PTSD pages.
GMB bullying and harassment claims
10 May 2000: GMB union's Scottish regional secretary Robert Parker has been accused of sexual harassment over a period of four years by his personal assistant Margaret McAvoy. The Scottish Daily Record for Wednesday 10 May 2000 reports that Ms McAvoy alleges Mr Parker became aggressive and threatening after she rejected his advances. Mr Parker has also recently come under the spotlight for the large lunch bills of several hundred pounds when rank and file GMB employees only receive £35 expenses allowance per day.
Meanwhile GMB general secretary John Edmonds has been successful in getting his former secretary Elaine Wright to withdraw her claim of harassment and victimisation by threatening to countersue and recover all her severance payment. Ms Wright was also forced to pay the GMB £2000 expenses. Over the last year the GMB has been rocked by a series of claims of bullying by its officers on junior staff.
Unanimous verdict in Hetherington
3 May 2000: in the case of of Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council, deputy head Mr Hetherington has won a unanimous verdict that he was unfairly dismissed. However, the tribunal failed to demand substantive and quantifiable evidence from respondent head teacher Mrs Gill Wray for her allegations of underperformance. The LEA and head teacher's union NAHT backed Mrs Wray but also failed to substantiate any of Mrs Wray's specious claims.
Mrs Gill Hetherington, who has become a tireless campaigner on bullying having experienced first-hand the damage such behaviour does to families, is organising a petition to make both workplace bullying and child bullying illegal. She firmly believes that today's laws do not sufficiently protect targets of serial bullies. Also bullying procedures which schools have in place do not always prevent a child from being bullied. Full details of this petition can be seen on Gill's web-site at www.bullydissolver.com. Here you will also be able to print a petition form and send to Gill on completion. Gill intends to present thousands of signatures to 10 Downing Street. Hopefully, she says, the government will realise the severity of this national problem both in the workplace and in our schools. Please e-mail Gill if you are interested in joining her when she presents this petition, probably in Autumn 2000.
BBC TV documentary
3 May 2000: Classrooms at War is a TV series about issues surrounding education told through personal stories. The series starts on Monday 15th May on BBC1 at 21.30 and runs for three weeks (15, 22 and 29 May). The final programme features bullying of teachers (who are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line).
28 April 2000: inquests into the deaths of three primary school teachers over the last two years have implicated stress and Ofsted inspections: Janet Watson (33) of Northwich (Cheshire), Jenny Knibb (47) of Exeter, and James Patton (29) of Birmingham. The government is now planning to introduce performance-related pay having been warned that this will further demoralise the teaching profession which is now seen as one of the least attractive professions to enter. Teaching is a team effort and singling out individuals is likely to divide, demotivate and alienate teachers. Unfortunately, the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) is not a learning organisation.
Teacher union calls for law against bullying
28 April 2000: NASUWT members meeting for their annual conference in North Wales this week have called for the introduction of a Dignity at Work law to counter bullying by managers. Executive member Ian Draper described bullying as a "cancer in the management structure" and added "...we all have the right to be treated as respected professionals". One teacher, a survivor of bullying, described the climate of fear (on which bullies depend) in her school which prevented fellow teachers from speaking or offering support: "my colleagues are too frightened and too demoralised to stick their heads above the parapet". See BBC News Online and search for "bullying".
Corporate homicide bill
25 April 2000: the prospect of calling directors and managers to account for the death of employees moves a step closer with the introduction of the Corporate Homicide Bill. Under the bill, which is sponsored by Andrew Dismore (Labour), it would be possible to bring a charge of corporate manslaughter. Relatives of those who died in the Paddington and Southall train crashes and other disasters have been campaigning for a change in the current legislation which is at present woefully inadequate.
Teacher union calls for inquiry
24 April 2000: delegates to the National Union of Teachers (NUT) annual conference in Harrogate are calling on the government to launch an inquiry into "teacher ill-health and premature retirement", in other words, bullying and stress. There will also be calls for a special union conference focusing on stress and workplace bullying. See BBC News Online for more information on teacher union conferences.
Vicar's Victorian views
23 April 2000: Stephen Hartley, director of music at St James Church, Wetherby, Yorkshire, has been forced to resign his position after a new vicar chose to take exception to his long-term relationship with his partner on the grounds that they were living together but not married.
The Rev Paul Evans, apparently unaware of the Christian doctrine of tolerance and forgiveness, set about seeking his dismissal not long after taking up his new post. The parochial church council - in which Mr Evans had a vote but Mr Hartley did not - voted 13-9 in favour of dismissal. The decision was backed by the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds who insisted that "the original decision over Mr Hartley's departure was made amicably". Mr Hartley is a popular and respected figure in the community and has been associated with St James and teaching of music for 33 years. His enforced resignation has left the parish deeply divided.
Bullies are attracted to jobs that have opportunities for power and control over vulnerable people. Ministers and those working for the church are often targeted for bullying; for advice and support see http://www.balmnet.co.uk
Soldiers to sue MoD for PTSD
22 April 2000: almost 300 UK service personnel are to sue the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for which they allege the MoD were negligent in providing adequate support. The MoD, aware of the millions of pounds in compensation it may have to pay out, is vigorously defending the action claiming that they acted "in line with contemporary best practice in our treatment of service personnel with suspected post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)".
Contemporary best practice in World War One amounted to executing 306 allied soldiers for exhibiting the symptoms of shell shock, the previous name for PTSD. Instead of providing medical aid, they were shot as "a lesson to the others". The soldiers have still not been pardoned and this issue remains a stain on the reputation of the British Army. For more details click here.
Order Bully in sight and Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder online
21 April 2000: Bully OnLine joins the ecommerce world and is now located on a secure server. A digital security certificate means you can now order your copies of the books Bully in sight and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder online using a secure order form.
First Spanish web site on bullying
19 April 2000: I'm delighted to report the first web site in Spain devoted to bullying, El Acoso Institucional
Employees can RIP
18 April 2000: the government is proposing tough new legislation to restrict employers snooping on employees by tapping telephone conversations and intercepting emails. the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill will require that employers obtain the permission of both sender and receiver before recording communications. The Data Protection Act (1998) already requires employers to obtain employees' permission to monitor communication and to provide an explanation for the need to monitor.
New survey of school bullying
17 April 2000: to coincide with the annual conference in Belfast, teacher's union ATL publish a survey showing 36% of school children have been bullied in the past year, 26% have been threatened with violence and 13% have been physically attacked. See ATL press release.
Teacher commits suicide after OFSTED
7 April 2000: Pamela Relf, a teacher of 36 years experience, took her life after an Ofsted inspector criticised her teaching at Middlefield Primary School in Eynesbury, Cambridgeshire. The school's most senior teacher left a note echoing the sentiments of many teachers today, saying "I am now finding the stress of my job too much. The pace of work and the long days are more than I can do."
Teachers are the largest number of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line; they report intolerable workloads, bullying by heads, coercion, threat, and Ofsted as the main causes of stress. In many cases, bullying Ofsted inspectors have reduced teachers to tears. Often, and particularly in this type of case, the Ofsted inspector is a failed teacher or non-teacher who finds the unaccountability and prescribed rigidity of Ofsted-speak appealing, as well as a salary which is often in excess of teachers who do the work. Those who can, do. Those who can't, inspect.
The teachers' helpline Teacherline is taking around 1000 calls a month from stressed teachers ... see below. For more on Ofsted-induced stress and suicide click here. For an explanation of the sequence of events whereby stress leads to suicide click here.
Ailing BA looks for new pilot
30 March 2000: BA chief executive Bob Ayling has resigned after four years of controversial leadership which included the expensive and unpopular repainting of aeroplane tail fins, declining morale, some near strikes, and a strike by cabin crew during which BA was accused of having an arrogant and bullying management style.
Dangerous Company: Love Hurts is a BBC2 programme scheduled in early April which shows candid questioning of an unpopular Mr Ayling by employees. Mr Ayling repeatedly professes commitment to people issues but has difficulty understanding why staff feel the way they do. A female manager asks why she will be held accountable if she fails to cut costs whilst those at the top of the organisation appear to be unaccountable; in response, Mr Ayling appears to have difficulty why an employee could hold that view. BA is currently looking for a new chief executive whilst management and unions begin to repair the damage to industrial relations over the last four years.
You can threaten any employee into doing anything in the short term if you threaten them with loss of job, but bullying will always produce a negative result over the long term. Prosperity is illusory and such companies are a bad long-term investment. Three major FTSE-100 companies, several of whose employees have called the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line over the last four years, have recently seen falling profits, tumbling share prices, and redundancies.
Human Rights Act implications for bullying
30 March 2000: as promised by the labour government at the last general election, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is being incorporated into UK law and will come into force in October 2000. The Human Rights Act has important implications for bullying because the Act empowers courts to award "just and appropriate" remedy, including damages, where a person is found to have had their rights violated by a "public authority" including the government, councils, authorities, the police, prison and courts. The act also enshrines rights to liberty, fair trial, freedom of thought, expression, conscience, and religion. The Act also prohibits discrimination.
Deputy head teacher asks
police to intervene
28 March 2000: in the case of of Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council, Mr Hetherington, who is awaiting a tribunal outcome, has asked police to intervene in the matter of a letter circulated to parents by parent governor Mrs Susan Whitcombe which contained, in Mr Hetherington's view, unfounded allegations which amounted to harassment. One recipient of the letter expressed concern that Mrs Whitcombe had apparently gained access to addresses held on school records which he believed were confidential. Assistant director of education David Staples' view that the issue was "an individual matter for Mrs Whitcombe" appeared to show a worrying lack of concern about a potential misuse of confidential records at the school where respondent (employment tribunal defendant) Mrs Gill Wray is head teacher.
Teacher support group in UK West Midlands
24 March 2000: If there is anyone in the Birmingham/West Midlands area who has experienced workplace bullying (particularly in the education sector) who is interested in forming a self help/support/campaigning group around this issue will they contact Cath Christian at Cath@mckerracher69.freeserve.co.uk
Army soldier ... be the best
23 March 2000: a former soldier who suffered serious injury after being thrown through a window in 1989 has won £745,000 in damages. Officers and NCOs who witnessed the attack took no action and the "bullying" corporal responsible was not disciplined. A spokesperson said the MoD accepted liability for the injury but denied that it was bullying, claiming that "it was only a joke"; however, the spokesperson was unaware that this response is how bullies reveal themselves. The Army professes a "no tolerance" stance on bullying, but seems not to know what bullying is.
Teachers' stress helpline
23 March 2000: around 1000 teachers a month are calling Teacherline, a helpline for teachers suffering stress. Most commonly reported problems are OFSTED inspections, excessive workloads, long working hours, and pupil misbehaviour. Problems with fellow teachers, department heads and head teachers also feature strongly. Many teachers say the feel undervalued and overwhelmed. Teachers and lecturers are still the largest group of enquirers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and Bully OnLine.
An ICM poll in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday 29 February 2000 revealed that 53% of teachers and lecturers expect to leave the profession within 10 years due to excessive workloads, bureaucracy, and stress.
US requires employers to post job-related
21 March 2000: US employers must now publish job-related injury and illness statistics ... see HR Monster Watch.
Law Society vice-president
Kamlesh Bahl resigns
21 March 2000: following a critical report by Lord Griffith finding her guilty of bullying, Law Society vice-president Kamlesh Bahl has resigned her post.
11 March 2000: an investigation by the MSF union and an inquiry by Lord Griffiths has upheld complaints of bullying against Ms Kamlesh Bahl, deputy president of the Law Society. Lord Griffith's team, which included two Employment Appeal Tribunal members, concluded regretfully that Ms Bahl had bullied, treated staff without consideration, demanded immediate responses, put her needs first, and resorted to demeaning, humiliating behaviour and been offensively aggressive. She "...usurped the secretary general's role as head of staff and introduced an atmosphere of fear and confusion". The MSF union demanded that as with other employees she be charged with gross professional misconduct and dismissed. See previous threads below.
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.
Advice Line redirection ends
8 March 2000: In May 1999 the telephone number of the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line changed. Callers dialling the previous number (01235 834548) heard a redirection message. That redirection service will cease in March 2000. Please ensure that any references to the Advice Line in books, articles, web pages etc are updated to the new number: 01235 212286.
Dyslexic bullied employee awarded
26 February 2000: machine operator Lee Harling was awarded a record £28,000 by an employment tribunal in Leeds this week for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. The tribunal heard how fellow employees at CL Plastics in Birkenshaw verbally and physically abused Mr Harling when they discovered he was dyslexic. Mr Harling described the damage to his family and psychiatric injury resulting from 18 months of abuse which the employer knew about but chose to ignore. On several occasions Mr Harling was assaulted and wrapped in plastic, almost suffocating him. The case was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post for Saturday 26 February 2000.
Another stress / bullying
22 February 2000: a former Post Office manager has been awarded £175,000 for stress caused by work overload. The man, from Scunthorpe, who wishes to remain anonymous, began to suffer reactive depression following a business review in 1992 after which workloads and responsibility increased dramatically.
Ruth Lea, head of policy at the Institute of Directors reiterated her belief that "the compensation culture does seem to have taken hold in this country" but like many employers is careful to avoid identifying the usual cause of stress: bad management. Stress is not the employee's inability to cope with excessive workloads and incompetent management, but a consequence of the employer's failure to provide a safe system of work as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). See other stress payouts below.
Record stress / bullying payout
21 February 2000: former fire-fighter John Richards from Neath, Glamorgan, South Wales, accepted record six-figure damages believed to be in excess of £150K for psychiatric injury caused by bullying and victimisation by fellow fire-fighters at West Glamorgan Fire Service. The focus of the victimisation appeared to be one senior officer who was described by the occupational health doctor as "a fascist bastard" and by a counsellor as "a pig" (Daily Mail, 22 Feb 2000, p23). Most cases of bullying reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line revolve have a serial bully at their heart ... click here for the profile.
Record tribunal claims
16 February 2000: there were 104,000 applications to employment tribunal in 1999.
UMIST research on bullying
14 February 2000: research by Professor Cary Cooper and Helge Hoel at UMIST suggests that almost half Britain's employees have witnessed bullying at work. The survey, supported by the TUC and CBI, says bullying at work contributes to the loss of 18 million working days each year.
Funded by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF), the research reveals:
Those who reported being bullied within the last six months consistently reported the poorest health, the lowest work motivation, the highest absenteeism figures as well as the lowest productivity compared to those who were not bullied. Those who witnessed bullying at work were also more likely to report poor health and low morale than those who worked in bullying-free environments.
For further survey details see the press release the TUC website. For details on costs see the costs page. The UMIST survey echoes Lyn Quine's survey of 1100 employees in one NHS Community Trust which found that out of 1000 employees, 38% reported being bullied in the previous year, whilst 42% witnessed bullying. The survey was published in the BMJ on 22 January 1999.
Yet another head
teacher in court
29 January 2000: in a case reminiscent of Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council, teacher Martin Cottis sexual discrimination and constructive dismissal against new female head teacher Karen Hart at Highcroft Junior school, Frampton Cotterell, Bristol. "I honestly feel she had some sort of jealousy problem with my good relationship with year six girls", Mr Cottis said. Jealousy and envy feature in all bullying cases and appear to be the driving force of the inadequate, immature bully.
School specialises in helping targets of
21 January 2000: A school has been opened in Cambridge which specialises in helping children who have been severely psychiatrically injured because of bullying. See child bullying news page for details.
Deutsche Bank marks big sex case payout
18 January 2000: former Deutsche Bank employee Kay Swinburne won her industrial tribunal having resigned her job last year following a catalogue of harassment and discrimination. Compensation will be decided in March but is likely to be between £400K and £1 million.
Stalking on the
14 January 2000: A study of 50 stalkers by the Royal Free Hospital and University College Medical School, London, found that women are much more likely to be stalked and attacked by a former sexual partner than by a stranger. Stalking has become Britain's fastest growing crime with over 4,000 prosecutions under the UK Protection From Harassment Act each year. The UK's first national anti-stalking police unit was authorised by Home Secretary Jack Straw in January 2000.
Vatican bullies nun
12 January 2000: Dr Lavinia Byrne, a doctor of theology and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day, accuses the Vatican of ongoing intimidation. Dr Byrne has resigned her position in a religious order after what she describes as an Inquisition by those in the Catholic hierarchy who are opposed to women priests. The Catholic Church is no stranger to sex discrimination, albeit in the guise of a Doctrine of Faith, having wilfully excluded women from its hierarchy for 2000 years.
Dr Byrne sparked controversy with the publication in 1994 in the USA of her book Women at the Altar in which she argued in favour of women priests. In an action not out of place for medieval times, a bishop in Minnesota, backed by Rome, demanded the book's withdrawal. See Dr Byrne's web site Cybernun.
Record bullying payout
11 January 2000: former senior housing benefits officer Roderick McLeod accepted £200,000 in an out-of-court settlement for psychiatric injury culminating in a stress breakdown caused, he alleged, by bullying, harassment and abuse of his line manager Susan Claydon at Test Valley Borough Council in Andover, Hampshire, England.
Public sector employees account for around two thirds of all cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line. Social services employees, and in particular those involved in housing, form about 12% of the total Advice Line calls.
Record stress payout
10 January 2000: former council warden Randy Ingram accepted a record £203,432 out-of-court settlement for stress caused by physical and verbal violence at the gypsy site where he was warden. Mr Ingram alleges his employer failed to take action to protect him.
During 1999, legal claims for work-related stress increased by 70% to 783 cases. This is the second time in three years that Hereford and Worcester County Council have paid out over £200,000 in settlement of claims arising out of bullying, harassment and stress. In March 1997, Tania Clayton accepted £200,000 plus £100,000 legal fees in an out-of-court settlement following five years of bullying, harassment at the hands of Hereford and Worcester Fire Brigade.
Law Society bullying saga
9 January 2000: in response to previous allegations of bullying, Ms Kamlesh Bahl, deputy president of the Law Society, has retaliated with allegations of bullying by Robert Sayer, President of the Law Society. Ms Bahl's solicitor is accusing Mr Sayer of "insulting and inappropriate behaviour" although this could not be substantiated. The Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine has appointed Lord Griffiths to head an inquiry into the complaints. The Law Society oversees the legal system in the UK and is funded by taxpayers.
research is misleading
7 January 2000: academic researchers at Hull University are repeating common misperceptions by describing targets of bullying are "dependent, introverted, anxious, submissive, and unstable". Ian Coyle, co-author of the research, which is based on questioning 30 people, is quoted in the Times (7 January) as saying "bullying could be more the result of the organisational culture of the company such as a highly competitive culture". His research was presented to the annual conference of the British Psychological Society's in Brighton, England, yesterday.
Over 90% of the near-4000 cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line since 1996 involve a serial bully who is easily able to deceive all but his or her current target by judicious use of compulsive lying, Jekyll & Hyde nature, mimicry and charm. For the full profile of the serial bully, click here. By contrast, the vast majority of targets of bullying are honest, responsible people with high integrity and high stability who are competent and popular. Bullies are often driven by jealousy and envy.
A survey by the Economic and Social Research Council reported in December 1999 concluded that "school bullies who are not picked on themselves make the happiest, healthiest pupils", although "happiest" was not defined. Finnish research, however, published in the BMJ in August, found conversely that bullies appeared to suffer from depression and were more likely to have suicidal thoughts than their targets. Contributory factors were low self-esteem and unhappy home lives. Research from Finland reported in the New York Times in 1999 stated that "victims may be the same as bullies". Whilst bullies sometimes operate in a hierarchy, with subordinate bullies acting as victims, the researchers hadn't picked up on the fact that the school bully normally prefers to select a target with the opposite profile.
Academic research on bullying appears not to be based on personal experience, case work, or investigation but reliant instead on notoriously unreliable self-reporting, tick-sheet surveys, out-of-context interviews and repetition of fellow academics' research. The surveys do not clearly define bullying, nor do they identify the different types of bullying, both of which are essential for providing reliable answers. It is also likely that the persons questioned were assessed post bullying and what was measured were the effects of having been bullied rather than the cause of being targeted for bullying. To see the different types of adult bullying, click here. To see behaviour profiles of child bullies and their targets, click here.
Bully OnLine affiliates
5 January 2000: for some time I have been running a bookshop at Bully OnLine offering selected books on bullying, harassment and stress. To give me more time to concentrate on writing my second book (how to recognise and deal with the sociopathic serial bully who is at the centre of at least 95% of 4000 cases) I have decided to affiliate with British online bookseller BOL for books other than my own publications. This gives you access to an additional 1.5 million titles from one of Britain's biggest booksellers.
union issues bullying guidance
4 January 2000: the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) union today produced a guidance document on bullying for its members. Interestingly, the document contains information on bullying between children and bullying between staff. The guidelines are online at http://www.bullying.co.uk/
Since 1996, teachers and lecturers have been the largest group of enquirers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and Bully OnLine. In the majority of cases, the head teacher is a serial bully with a record of destroying staff; in such cases, bullying is endemic within the school. Some teacher cases (Darlington Borough Council, Pembrokeshire County Council, Harrogate Grammar School) are featured on these news pages.
Workplace Bullying Web Site
These pages are believed to be the world's most comprehensive web site devoted to workplace bullying. Feedback welcome:
Tim Field, Success Unlimited, PO Box 67, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 9YS, UK
Fax +44 (0)7000-785776
Tel +44 (0)700-ACHIEVE (2244383)
The Field Foundation | Bully OnLine
Workplace bullying | School bullying | Family bullying
Bullying news | Bullying case histories
Bullying resources | Press and media centre
Stress, PTSD and psychiatric injury
Action to tackle bullying | Related issues
Success and achievement
Books on bullying and related issues
Public seminars open to all | In-house training