|| Print ||
|Articles - September 2013|
|Monday, August 19, 2013|
BY LINDA BAKER
Unlike sexual harassment and discrimination based on race, workplace bullying isn’t against the law. But bullies in the workplace are as common as their playground counterparts, and they can be a major financial and liability risk for employers.
What is it? “Workplace bullying is when an employee is being intimidated, threatened or unmercifully teased — when people are compromising an individual’s ability to do their work effectively,” says Judy Clark, founder and owner of HR Answers in Portland. “It is persistent and offensive, and designed to make the target feel vulnerable.” Bullying behavior runs the gamut, adds Tamsen Leachman, a partner with employment law firm Fisher & Phillips.
Leachman says perpetrators might take credit for other people’s work, or keep project and meeting information from their targets. Then there are behaviors that are “flat-out intimidating — like yelling and screaming.”
How common is it? When Leachman lectures on workplace bullying — for local and national audiences — about 60% of attendees say it’s a problem in their office. That number increases to 95% when participants are asked if they have worked in an environment where bullying was a problem.
Hierarchical workplaces such as health care and education tend to attract more bullies than collaborative organizations. The bottom line, according to Leachman: “It’s way more prevalent than sexual harassment.”
The risk to employers. Targets of workplace bullying tend to be valuable employees — they are bullied precisely because they are threatening to someone else. Victims often become distracted, work quality declines and many incur medical costs. “All of that costs the business money,” says Leachman.
Litigation is another concern. Although workplace bullying is not against the law, employees who leave a job because of workplace bullying usually file other claims, such as stress-related workers’ comp or harassment. “Targets are going to find a lawyer,” says Leachman, “and that lawyer will attach a claim to it.”
What to do about it. Workplace policies are expanding from a focus on harassment and discrimination to include positive and respectful work environments for everyone. “It’s about having a core ‘thou shalt not’ turned into: ‘What does everyone who works here have a right to expect?’” says Clark.
Instead of adopting a specific antibullying policy — “we already have a million policies” — Leachman suggests employers focus on their mission and value statements. “Look at your culture, your training for managers and supervisors, and make sure you are holding them accountable, letting them know this is who we are, and this is what we care about.”
Clark takes a harder stance. “Harassment is against the law; bullying is against policy,” she says. “Employees need to understand that violating policy has consequences, from poor performance reviews to termination.”
|The more they change, the more they stay the same|
|The 2014 List: The Top 33 Large Companies to Work, For in Oregon|
|The 2014 List: The Top 34 Medium Companies to Work, For in Oregon|
|The 2014 List: The Top 33 Small Companies to Work, For in Oregon|
|The future of money|
|Cerberus Capital to buy Safeway|
|U.S. adds 175,000 jobs|
|Bitcoin creator revealed|
|Staples closing 225 stores|
|EU to offer aid package to Ukraine|
|Daily sugar intake 'should be halved'|
|White House reveals 2015 budget|
Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest means enjoying our wonderful surroundings, while remaining aware of the multiple types of natural disaster threats that we face: winter storms, windstorms, floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.“
Oregon State University's hospitality degree program invests in next-generation leaders.
Allowing individuals to access their own healthcare options has created more difficulty instead of making things easier. There are so many examples that illustrate why agents are more important than ever in helping businesses and individuals determine the healthcare coverage that best fits their need.
The 2014 World Trademark Review 1000 (“WTR”) recently named Lane Powell as one of the top trademark law firms in Oregon and Washington, and Lane Powell attorneys Kenneth R. Davis II, Parna A. Mehrbani, Frances M. Jagla and Paul D. Swanson as top individuals in the practice.
Capital Pacific Bank, a Portland-based community bank serving businesses, professionals and nonprofit organizations, today announced that it has earned recognition as a Certified B Corporation by B Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a community of socially responsible businesses. The bank is one of six financial institutions across the country to achieve B Corp status.
On Thursday, April 3, from 8 a.m. to noon (registration begins at 7:30 a.m.), Lane Powell will team with Oregon Business magazine for a half-day seminar titled “Best Practices For Best Employers™: How to Become One of ‘Oregon’s Best Workplaces’ Starting Today!”