Deseret News
Letter to the Editor

Just imagine you are driving to work, feeling short of breath, knots in your stomach and dreading your arrival. Maybe your feelings of aversion are because you are the target of a bully, as is experienced by 20 percent of the workforce, according to Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) 2017 statistics.

Despite the method of bullying used, what is common is a real or perceived difference in power being exploited by the bully. Let’s say that you show civility and respect for other employees. Your bully can selectively do just the opposite. Others at your work may know what’s going on, but they are just as afraid of the bully as you are, and as long as you are the main target, they feel somewhat safe.

Even more alarming, your boss is twice as likely to be the one bullying you, again based on WBI statistics. The methods are generally less dramatic and have a more “official” disguise to them, but are also meant to undermine your confidence, discredit you as an employee and maximize your stress. Now it is even less likely the HR department will help you and more likely they will facilitate your boss’s hostile actions. The desired result from the boss’s point of view is that you are intimidated, transfer somewhere else or better yet quit your job. In which case, you will have little or no cause for a claim against your employer, because you are the one who decided to leave.

Bullying is not new in the world of work, but that doesn’t make it right. Targeted employees obviously suffer severe financial impact, when they lose their jobs, and also experience damaging emotional stress no matter what happens to their employment. On the organizational side there are also costs as skilled workers are expensive to replace along with other disruptions to efficiency.

How do we shield workers from bullying? By installing rules similar to those contained in Utah Code 67-19-44 and now covering state employees. We can make it happen by stepping up and demanding those protections from our managers, employee organizations, HR departments, elected officials, etc. If workplace bullying offends you, then do something about it.

C.B. Stirling