Legal Action Can Help Stop Workplace Bullying

Oct. 20, 2011
Workplace bullying tactics can range from gossiping behind a co-worker’s back to physical abuse. And with the introduction of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, bullying now can extend far beyond the workplace and in some cases, long past employment.

Regardless of the technique, bullying is unquestionably harmful, often producing distressing consequences. Victims of bullying report decreased workplace productivity, loss of confidence, debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, clinical depression and even physical illnesses.

Quitting the job or changing departments is not always the answer, as the abuse can and often does continue after employment and during the reference checking process for a new position.

"A large number of the references we check are in response to workplace bullying," says Jeff Shane, vice president of Allison & Taylor Reference Checking, a firm that offers cease-and-desist letters to stop the bullying. "People are feeling the pressure of persecution in the workplace. They're also worried that should they seek other employment, the negative feedback they are receiving in their current job will carry over and affect their ability to get a new job."

At issue for most employees is the fact that managers or supervisors are the most common offenders. Since the perpetrators often are operating within the realm of standard practices in their organizations, victims feel that they may deserve the criticisms, or are simply too fearful to confront the harasser.

So what are the options if an employee feels he or she has been the victim of unwarranted harassment or criticism? "First, try speaking directly to the bully. If an honest, calm discussion does not resolve the issue, then an employee has to consider other options." said Shane. "If an employee's concerns are brushed aside or ignored completely, they need to consider taking more assertive action."

"The dilemma of workplace bullying is often made worse by the feeling that nothing can be done to resolve it," said Shane, "but this is simply not true. An employee definitely can, and should, take proactive steps to improve or protect their employment situation."

Companies like Allison & Taylor research what bullies are saying about co-workers or former co-workers, both personally and in regards to their work performance. If a workplace bully is speaking out of turn when responding to an employment inquiry, employees can exercise the option of a cease and desist letter or pursue more substantive legal action. Such tools will help ensure that the transgressor will stop their actions out of fear of corporate reprisal.

To find out more about workplace bullying and the steps you can take to prevent or eliminate it, contact Allison & Taylor Reference Checking.

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