A study published by CareerBuilder reports that a large proportion of American workers have been bullied on the job. Most reported bullying by an immediate or higher up boss, while others cite coworkers and customers as the antagonizers. An interesting aspect of the survey breaks down the type of conduct included in bullying. Some were on a personal level, such as gossiping, yelling, and belittling the employee’s work in public. Others were tied more directly to the job, such as someone stealing credit for another’s work, forcing him or her to do jobs outside of the job description, wrongly accused of making mistakes, and holding the employee to different standards from the others. Women were more likely to have felt bullied than men, by a 34 to a 22 percent difference.
None of these behaviors can actually help the workplace, yet often nothing is done to root it out unless the target of the bullying can connect it to illegal discrimination. Human resources departments should have the power and the interest in preventing the recurrence of bullying, even if the bully must be fired. Victims of bullying often suffer mental and even physical illnesses, and take off time from work. When they are at work, their resentment or sense of futility at working hard can prevent the employer from getting their best work. Collaboration diminishes if an employee has his or her ideas stolen or ignored.
Even if Maryland eventually passes the anti-bullying legislation, only the most severely affected workers will have a right to take action. But the existence of the law may change how employers view erratic or mean-spirited behavior.