People often think of bullying as something that happens in middle school or high school. Once they grow up, they assume that bullying will fade away and they won’t have to deal with it anymore. This is often not true at all. The reality is that bullying happens all the time at various workplaces across the country. As one report put it: “An estimated 48.6 million Americans, or about 30% of the workforce, are bullied at work.”
This can be very frustrating for employees, and it can create a hostile work environment. This is especially problematic if the bullying is based on someone’s inherent qualities, such as their gender or their ethnic background. There are a few different ways that this bullying tends to happen and reasons that it takes place.
Expressing anger directly
First of all, bullying is sometimes a direct expression of anger, perhaps as a means of “motivating” an employee. For example, a boss who is frustrated with an employee’s performance may yell at that employee and berate them in front of everyone else. The boss could just be angry about how the business hasn’t been doing well and taking it out on someone. They could also be trying to project that the issues at the business are this employee‘s fault and not their own. Reports have said that, in about 65% of bullying cases that are reported, it is an authority figure who is at fault.
Passive aggression and power subversion
In other cases, bullying is a form of trying to subvert someone’s power. For instance, maybe one employee knows that their own results have not been very good lately. A new employee has been doing much more for the company and getting far better results. The more established employee is afraid that this person will take their job or simply reach a higher standing in the company than them. They may bully this person to try to force them into submission, and this is sometimes done in a passive-aggressive manner. For instance, they could spread rumors about this individual within the office
No matter how bullying happens, employees do not deserve to be treated this way. They need to make sure that they know about all of the legal options they have when facing harassment and discrimination. Speaking with a legal professional is usually an effective first step forward.