Top 10 Signs Your Boss Is Bullying You
What to Do If Your Boss Is Bullying You
An employer may admit that it has one rogue supervisor, but most companies will not admit that bullying in the workplace is a widespread problem. This is why Zogby's poll (published in 2007) has not received the attention it deserves—because it proves that U.S. workplaces are deeply infected with the disease of bullying supervisors. Surprisingly, businesses fear the treatment more than the disease.
Zogby's survey found that workplace bullies caused actual damage to the health of one-third of North Americans at work today. In other words, more than 54,000,000 employees have been severely bullied at work. To make the issue more personal, think of two friends: one of you has been abused so badly at work that you (or they) have needed medical care. So, why does this continue? It continues because it's legal.
Most Common Workplace Complaints
- My boss makes fun of me in front of colleagues.
- My manager is bullying me to quit.
- My boss humiliates me in front of colleagues.
- My manager is lying about my performance.
- My boss is targeting me.
- My manager is telling me to work faster.
- My boss is sabotaging me.
If you are a victim of workplace bullying tactics, you may want to find out what you can do about it and how to prove your boss is bullying you.
Take the Quiz: Top 10 Signs Your Boss Is a Bully
If you are in either of these groups, take a look at this list of indicators. Keep a tally of how many of these situations you've experienced:
- Your boss consistently blames you for the problems at work, while boasting to others that his or her own skills are responsible for the good outcomes.
- You've found that your boss scheduled key meetings knowing full well you had a conflict at that time.
- Your boss sabotages your success by claiming to be "too busy" to sign off on your work or give you needed feedback, making your work incomplete or late.
- You are kept out of meetings your supervisor schedules, your workstation is moved further away from your supervisor, or you are conspicuously left out of work lunches.
- You learn that your supervisor or someone in his or her peer group is gossiping about your work or even your life.
- When upset or stressed, your manager will bring up a mistake you made long ago (even years ago) as a way of shifting focus from the current problem to something that was your fault.
- At night and on the weekends, you feel completely exhausted and have no energy for pursuits you used to enjoy.
- A coworker is allowed by your boss to put you down, insult your work, and humiliate you with coworkers present, or, your boss does these things to you directly.
- You feel like every day your manager only gives you criticisms, but your performance reviews are always positive and you know that you are a good worker.
- You long for each weekend, but you are full of anxiety and even become sick with dread the evening before the work week starts.
Ranking Your Results
So, what should you do if this quiz indicates that you have been the victim of workplace bullying? First, although the quiz asks what you've experienced in your whole career, the need to take action depends upon how many of these indications you are currently experiencing:
- 1 to 3 of the indicators: Your boss needs counseling.
- 4 to 6 of the indicators: You need to prepare yourself for a confrontation. Learn your legal rights (far more powerful than you probably realize).
- 7 to 9 of the indicators: You are in the thick of a drawn-out conflict with your boss. You must learn all of your legal rights now to fight back against this hostile work environment. Also, consider seeing your doctor for time off from work to decompress.
- All 10 of the indicators: You've already quit or been terminated, but you still have rights. Be sure not to let the EEOC's 180-day deadline pass for filing a complaint, and make sure to immediately file for both unemployment benefits and the new subsidized COBRA health benefits continuation program. Also, stop and smile because you are free of that awful place!
Video: What Is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace Bullying Is More Common Than Assumed
The U.S. Supreme Court has specifically said that courts will not get into the business of enforcing a "civility code" in the nation's workplaces. With the law turning a blind eye toward civility and respect at work, bosses are free to push their employees to produce more and more by employing threats, humiliation, and fear-mongering. It may be immoral, but none of it is illegal.
Some companies take a long-term approach and recognize that rampant abuse of employees at their company will only increase the number of employee resignations, decrease the number of employee applications, and grow the use of sick time and workers' compensation claims.
Readers' Poll: How Many Have You Experienced?
How Many of the 10 Signals of Being Bullied at Work Have You Experienced?
How to Prove Your Boss Is Bullying You
If you are reading this, you probably suspect that you are being taken advantage of at work. More likely, you know in your heart that you are suffering through workplace abuse but you have been denying it; some people fear that taking action against a bully will be even more difficult to endure than the everyday abuse that's been grinding them down.
The most effective thing you can do is to document the occurrences. This approach will make your experience objective and help build a case by keeping a paper trail. In some states, you are able to record audio or videotape a conversation under the one-party consent law. You can also document the occurrences with programs like OnLock to do the following:
- keep time-stamped journal entries
- upload documents, photos, videos
- maintain email records
- present fact-based accounts
- share documents securely with your attorney
Advice From the Workplace Bullying Institute
The Workplace Bullying Institute conducts studies and offers education on the consequences and the systemic campaign of workplace abuse. According to their system, there are three steps you can take to act now. Why? You put your health first, you reveal the impact of bullying, you hold your employer accountable, and you take control of the situation:
Step 1: Name it. By identifying what's happening with a term like bullying, harassment, etc., you can legitimize and identify what is going on.
Step 2: Take time off. See a mental health professional, check your physical health, and research your state and federal legal options (consider talking to an attorney). Take this time to start searching for another job as well.
Step 3: Expose the bully. One state says that those who are bullied typically lose their job involuntarily or leave anyway, so you risk nothing by exposing the bully. Give your employer a chance to right the situation. If they defend the bully, prepare to move on.
What not to do:
- Don’t feel guilty
- Don’t sacrifice your morals and integrity
- Don’t wait for the situation to improve or fade
- Do not retaliate
- Do not go to HR for advice (they work for management)
- Do not get emotional
- Do not share your documentation
Identifying Workplace Abuse: Signs Your Boss Is Abusive
Determining fair and unfair treatment may require some investigation. From time to time, constructive criticism is totally acceptable from your superiors or employer—it's an unfortunate but real part of a healthy work environment. If you make a mistake, it's only rational that you will receive critical feedback.
But, there are some signs you shouldn't ignore that might indicate that you are a victim of workplace abuse. These signs can be confirmed by learning how to identify common bullying tactics. Bullying isn't just bad behavior—some scenarios are downright illegal. Bullying situations may escalate into the following:
A verbally abusive boss may resort to name calling. This type of abuse can include racial slurs, jokes, insults, and other degrading comments based on ethnicity, skin color, ancestry, nationality, status, and disability. Comments and jokes are meant to humiliate.
An emotionally abusive boss may use psychological ploys to belittle, isolate, discredit, humiliate, and challenge an individual. This may include excessive demands, power moves, intrusion into one's personal life, ostracizing, and intimidation. Severe cases even include physical threats and threats to inflict harm.
Sexual harassment is against the law and violates a working relationship; it can affect both men and women. Sexual harassment often plays out when a person in power violates an individual's personal space. Although sexual harassment can be verbal, it is especially punishable if it turns physical and is not consensual.
Generalized harassment causes severe stress for an employee. Harassment can occur in person or online and may extend into one's social or private life. Harassment may even involve the destruction of one's property, cyberstalking, or blackmail. This type of abusive behavior often bleeds into someone's private life and may cause post-traumatic stress disorder in affected individuals.
Types of harassment:
- Intimidation: Intimidation occurs when the perpetrator uses their power to exercise bullying tactics such as blaming and using intimidating gestures to create fear and hostility.
- Undermining: Undermining often involves teasing, patronizing, and a refusal to accommodate someone's needs (such as disability-based or religious needs—holidays, traditions, customs). Age-based harassment is often accompanied by undermining—this may occur when a worker is discredited of their accomplishments and abilities because of their age.
- Humiliation: Humiliation-related harassment occurs when issues are created without reason to attack an individual. A male nurse may experience gender-related harassment and humiliation based on the stereotype that women primarily enter the nursing field.
- Threats: Threatening behavior may be primarily verbal. For example, threats may occur in environments that are hostile towards someone's sexual orientation and may be targeted at heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual individuals.
- Physical: Hitting, shoving, kicking, and other forms of violence are illegal and punishable in the workplace and require immediate disciplinary action. Physical abuse has long-term negative effects on the physical body and on mental health. Affected people may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
What Are My Legal Rights?
Can You Get Workers' Compensation for Bullying?
Unfortunately, the U.S. Workers' Compensation (WC) system was created for employers to protect them from lawsuits. Physical-physical and physical-psychological WC cases are sometimes recognized, but most states do not recognize psychological-psychological cases in the event of bullying.
Many times, bullying is often written off as "personality conflicts." The bullied individual may experience lost wages, job termination, poor health, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. The Workplace Bullying Institute advises individuals to work with a psychologist and file for short-term disability insurance rather than attempting to work with HR.
Can You Trust Human Resources?
According to many experts, Human Resources works for the company, not the employee. As published on Peoplehr.com, career expert Trent Silver from Nerdster explains:
“HR’s responsibility is to always protect the organisation. But sometimes, the way HR does this is by defending individuals within the company, and helping the organisation avoid lawsuits or PR disasters.”
In other words, bullied employees should only work with an independent psychologist or attorney.
What Is Workplace Revenge?
According to Wikipedia.com, revenge is defined as an infliction of harm in return for a perceived wrong. Workplace revenge is retaliation to injustice by victims of interpersonal conflicts within the organization. Revenge might include silent or passive aggressive acts between colleagues.
A study by insuranceQuotes surveyed 1,000 U.S. workers and found that 44% admitted to having acted out of revenge on a coworker. Revenge was often carried out due to resentment or anger towards the following:
- Abuse of power 35%
- Work sabotage 23%
- Unflattering rumors 20%
- Stealing credit for ideas 20%
- Property theft 5%
- Premeditated termination 3%
And how is workplace revenge most commonly carried out?
Top 10 Workplace Revenge Tactics
- Reduction in quality or quantity of work of an individual
- Spreading unflattering rumors
- Hiding an individual's possessions
- Getting a coworker fired
- Sabotaging a coworker's work
- Tampering with an employee's computer
- Stealing someone's property
- Stealing someone's private information
- Deleting files
Know Your Rights and Stop Bullying
While it may be safe to fantasize about workplace revenge, it is best to steer clear of it as it could mean career suicide and lead to constructive dismissal or worse. As an employee, you have a right to a healthy workplace and should instead work with a reputable attorney or organization rather than acting on feelings and confronting a bully boss yourself.