Workplace violence is on the rise in our country. On an average working day, three people will be murdered on the job in the U.S. One million coworkers are assaulted, and more than 1,000 are murdered every year, according to the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Homicide is the second leading cause of death on the job, after motor vehicle accidents. What is more shocking than these statistics is the fact that half of these cases go unreported. Workplace bullying and violence must be dealt with seriously and swiftly.
The violence can be physical, but often it involves verbal aggression and abuse by a workplace bully. The murder of Annie Le may be the case of a workplace bully turned murderer. Even though we wish bullies would outgrow their behavior, many of them simply transfer their bully behavior to the work environment and probably at home too. The difference is that usually workplace bullies don’t use their fists — they generally use words and actions to intimidate their victims. Since the murder, the president of Yale University has said, “Yale will have a zero tolerance policy at work for harassing, violent, or threatening e-mails.”
Bullies in the workplace can be challenging to deal with, especially if your supervisor is the bully. A superior’s bullying behavior can be in the form of unreasonable demands, yelling at employees, or degrading remarks. It can also cross the line into harassment when the boss makes suggestive remarks, tells racist jokes, or engages in unwanted touching.
Bullying behavior by coworkers can be slightly different. This can include cyber-bullying, when hateful or hurtful e-mails are sent around to coworkers or yourself. It appears suspect Raymond Clark allegedly sent text messages to Annie Le on the day of her murder. Serial bullying is when one employee targets another employee and repeatedly harasses them. Another type of bullying is when a coworker tries to get other employees or management to be “against” another employee.
Bullying at work can include ridiculing, teasing, and humiliating the victim in front of others. Bullies are often controlling and angry individuals. They most likely have a history of verbal aggression and even physical violence against other individuals. Bullies often want to take down other coworkers that don’t conform to their way of thinking. A workplace bully often subjects the victim to unjustified criticism and trivial faultfinding.
Nobody should feel intimidated or harassed at work by either a coworker or a boss. If you are being bullied at work, consider speaking to a supervisor, and if you feel you are in danger, go to the police.