On October 23 RI state co-coordinators Emilia DaSilva-Tavarez and I organized a rally in support of the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill S2377, which was introduced last March 2015 by Senator Frank Ciccone.
The rally was held in Roger Williams National Memorial Park on North Main street in glorious weather. There were people standing on North Main holding “STOP WORKPLACE BULLYING” signs and handing flyers thru car windows and to pedestrians while engaging them in conversation to either hear their stories of being bullied in the workplace or educating them on what we and others in every state are trying to accomplish.
One of the people most instrumental in inspiring and showing the ropes to us, Debra Falzoi, a Massachusetts co-coordinator for the Healthy Workplace Bill, came down to join the protest with us.
The younger people in the group made colorful “STOP BULLYING” T-shirts and wore them as they handed out flyers to passersby.
Andrew Winters and his husband Don Smith traveled to be with us to lend us their most important support. Andrew has had his story published in RIFuture. I highly recommend that people read it to see what depths people will go to in the showing of abject unwarranted cruelty of unimaginable levels.
Often people are isolated to be better attacked and threatened by the bully – one cannot simply argue with their boss without fear they’ll be labeled insubordinate and people cannot do their work and, without proper training OR involving HR, confront a hostile coworker. People are forced to go out on medical leave for ulcers, migraines, heart ailments and more to get time to figure out the most feasible action to take. They and their negatively impacted families must do what’s best financially, in terms of a search for the next job, in terms of what will best protect the fragile health they have sunk to and more. It is a tightrope not easily walked. None of them knows how or if they’ll get a next job when they come to realize they may have PTSD from their experience.
Also, once isolated, the target of bullying is often forced to withdraw from a society that is slow to understand what has happened in our work and money driven culture to come to grips with what has happened, sometimes feeling unreasonable shame that this happened to them along with intense fear that they will be further harmed and retaliated against if they say or do anything.
In a lot of ways, workplace bullying mirrors child abuse and domestic violence – they are all forms of bullying. “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you.”
Humanity needs to evolve past this barbarity. What can happen to one can eventually and has been proven to happen to all. We must learn to care for one another, not go after each other with bared teeth.
Workplace bullying can take many forms but primarily it is a harsh unwarranted attack on any employee with the intent of inflicting harm thru cruel acts, words, exclusion, gas-lighting (encouraging the employee to believe that they are incompetent), work sabotage, lies, false accusations and more to cause the targeted employee to want to leave their job. Usually the brightest, most talented, high performing employees are targeted because a manager or coworker is threatened by their capabilities and they want to force that employee to quit.
People have actually been physically threatened, accosted and had death threats made against them.
It is never the fault of the targeted employee that they are so treated.
The targeted employee suffers health and emotional harm which can be irreversible depending on the length and type of attack. The work of the employee and therefore of the company suffers. Companies allowing and encouraging this behavior lose their most talented employees and will not be able to get talent to join them as word gets out using such agencies as Glassdoor and even Monster. People are becoming more and more aware of the existence of this problem, but more are needed to be made aware.
Currently there are no protections against this kind of unwarranted, malicious attack.
There are laws against sexual harassment and harassment of employees having protected status but workplace bullying can happen to anyone of any age, either gender, sexual orientation, race and or religious preference. There is currently no protection, workplace policy or legal recourse for anyone suffering this type of abuse.
People do commit suicide after being horrifically bullied and, we believe, engage in workplace violence that is never investigated as to what the violent employee had to endure before they “went postal.” They are only portrayed on the news as either a criminal or mentally ill. We have FOIA requests to help us make that link between workplace bullying and suicide (“bullycide”) and/or workplace violence which often ends in the suicide of the perpetrator.
At the rally, there were many cars honking in support and giving many thumbs up. A couple from Connecticut stopped when they saw our signs, wanting information on how they could help there.
For information on Workplace Bullying and how you can get involved, please go to WorkplaceBullying.org.
Go to the Rhode Island Anti-Bullying Healthy Workplace Advocates Facebook page to get action alerts and much more information and a place to post your own story or get people you know to write their story – anonymously, if needed, take a survey, sign a petition and much more.
For information on the Healthy Workplace Bill, please go to HealthyWorkplaceBill.org.
Get involved! Call your state senator, representative and congressman and urge them to support the Workplace Bullying Bill.