There are many reasons how and why bullies target others, and the reasons are consistent between different cases. There are many euphemisms used to describe bullying (e.g. firm management”) and myths used to justify it (e.g. “victims are weak”). None of these are true. Bullying often repeats because bullies target their victims for the same reasons each time. This page may answer the question, “Why do I keep getting bullied?”.
Why do people get bullied?
Bullies can act because they are jealous of their target’s status, talents, abilities, circumstances or possessions. Bullies act without integrity, and despise people who display it. Sometimes they act with no reason other than for the kick they get from realising that something they have done has provoked a reaction in their target. Making people annoyed can be a cheap source of gratification and amusement. But bullies with jobs fear exposure of their perceived shortcomings, such as inadequacy and incompetence, and these people bully not for fun but in order – they think – to survive. Competent colleagues fuel the bully’s fear that shortcomings in their capabilities will surface, so they tend to select targets who fulfil some of the criteria below.
- Being in the wrong place at the wrong time
- Bullies are predatory and opportunistic. Irrespective of any other explanation, being in the wrong place at the wrong moment is the main reason.
- Being competent:-
- being good at their job, often excelling;
- being willing to go that extra mile and expect others to do the same;
- being successful, tenacious, determined, courageous, having fortitude;
- being imaginative, creative, innovative;
- being able to master new skills;
- thinking long term and seeing the bigger picture;
- being helpful, always willing to share knowledge and experience;
- being diligent and industrious
- Being Popular:-
- with colleagues, customers, clients, pupils, parents, patients, etc;
- Being regarded as an expert and the person to whom others come for advice, either personal or professional
- having a sense of humour, including displays of quick-wittedness
- Having strength of character:-
- displaying integrity, honesty, intelligence and intellect;
- having a well-defined set of values that they are unwilling to compromise;
- being trustworthy, trusting, conscientious, loyal and dependable;
- a sense of fairness:
- willingness to tackle injustice;
- low propensity to violence and strong forgiving streak
- refusing to join an established clique
- being sensitive (having empathy, concern for others, respect, tolerance etc)
- being slow to anger
- showing independence of thought or deed
- refusing to become a corporate clone and drone
- having high coping skills under stress, especially when the injury to health becomes apparent
- Having a vulnerability:-
- The need to earn a living from work;
- being proud of one’s reputation and record;
- being too old or too expensive
- finding it difficult to say no
- low assertiveness and a need to feel valued
- believing everyone is on the same team and working toward the same goals;
- being too tolerant;
- being a perfectionist;
- low propensity to violence and strong forgiving streak;
- a tendency to self-deprecation, indecisiveness, deference and approval seeking;
- high expectations of those in authority and a distaste for those who abuse their power;
- quick to apologise when accused, even if not guilty.
- Having raised concerns
- .. about bullying, fraud, safety or any matter where the bully feels implicated or at risk as a result.
The characteristics above typically apply to targets who have done nothing wrong to provoke the treatment to which they are subjected. However, some people respond to bullying with bullying. Sometimes they target their bully, effectively engaging in a fight. Revenge bullying does not require the subject of the revenge to have the sort of characteristics listed above. Some would argue that bullying in revenge is justifiable, but in absolute terms it is no less unreasonable than the behaviour that provoked it.
It is common too for a person be reasonably reprimanded for something they have done wrong, to feel the reprimand is unjustified, and to take action against the person who reprimanded them. This is a common response to whistle-blowing, but it can also happen to a manager who takes reasonable steps to address a shortcoming in a subordinate’s work or conduct, and it can happen when someone snaps in response to a bully’s efforts to provoke anger. The perpetrator of revenge bullying can lose any moral high ground they might have had at the outset, and if they persist or their response is particularly mean or damaging, they can ultimately lose their right to criticise the conduct to which they were originally subjected.
Taken from Bully On Line
2004 Voluntary Project to Combat Workplace Bullying in UK. 10 Years Later – FAILED. Now is the time to bring in UK Legislation to Protect our Workers as in other Countries.
Valerie Davey MP. (Lab) for Bristol West stated in 2004
“The need for the Government to be more proactive in promoting and ensuring dignity at work for all employees at every level has been reiterated from the back benches of this Chamber and the House of Lords since at least 1996……
All Members of Parliament must know through their surgeries of cases of constituents experiencing bullying at work and being unable to voice that experience and seek a resolution. When we first heard about those often desperate cases most of us were unaware of the scale of the problem….
Subsequent evidence from trade Unions confirmed that despite years of campaigning against bullying, it remains a persistent and extensive problem.”
Valerie Davey MP went on to describe a new project that was being launched.
“The project has been launched to provide supportive advice and training to organisations that are trying to tackle bullying, train employees as counsellors, devise and promote a voluntary charter on dignity at work, promote examples of excellent employers in the UK and produce a benchmark that enables organisations to measure their success in achieving dignity at work and a “ban the bullying” pack.”
She went on to say “ I remind the Government that other European countries have followed the legislative route and I hope the work (Project) will be compared with the work in other countries.”
Ms Davey MP hoped that the project would be enough to stamp out bullying in the workplace and therefore no need to bring in legislation. However she went on to say that if the project was not successful that Ministers would then reconsider and bring in legislation.
“-and with assurance –from the Minister that the project will be monitored and that should good practice not prove as infectious as we all hope, the Government will reconsider the possibility of legislation and revisit the new clause or a similar provision later”
That was back in March 2004.
Ten years later the project I argue has not been successful. Surely 10 years is long enough to test out a project. Was there any monitoring? Are there any reports regarding any monitoring? I think the following links to newspaper articles over recent years reporting on workplace bullying is enough to show that ‘the project has not been successful and therefore legislation needs to be brought in, in line with other countries.
These are just a small percentage of articles I have collected from newspapers which I believe shows that the Project referred to by Valerie Davey has not been successful.
It also must be recognised that the articles are referring to large Public Sector organisations which attracts media attention. We must not forget the millions of workers employed in small businesses who equally suffer psychological trauma by workplace bullies but do not attract media attention.
Surely after 10 years, MP’s need to start acting again in order to bring in legislation, in line with other countries, to protect our workers and economy from the insidious bullying that is taking place every day in organisations up and down this country.
Tell us about your experiences and opinions. Do you think the UK has a problem with Workplace Bullying? Do you think that there should be legislation to protect our workers?
Support the Campaign To Introduce Legislation To Protect Workers and our Economy Against Workplace Bullying
In Germany the Ministry Of Labour and Social Affairs on its website page, “Bullying at Work” states,
“Employers are obliged to protect their employees’ right of privacy and health. They must therefore prevent mobbing, act against employees who mob others and take all possible measures to prevent mobbing in their companies.”
The German Constitution provides protection of personality, honour health and equal rights of individuals. This is deemed to include the outlawing of bullying. The German Civil Code (GCC) provides a legal foundation for contractual liability and tort claims which can be extended to claims for bullying and stress at work.
In addition many businesses treat bullying as a violation of their collective work agreements and/or have implemented internal regulations to address work-related stress and harassment.
Within this general framework, there are three categories of bullying:
1. harassment that is not based on Protected Characteristics (called bullying or mobbing);
2. harassment that is based on Protected Characteristics; and
3. bullying as a criminal offence.
Isn’t it about time that the UK also treated bullying as a criminal offence regardless of any protected characteristics?
Next week the blog will look in detail at the legislation in Sweden to protect their workers. Sweden was the first country in the world to enact specific anti bullying legislation. Following that, the blog will summarise legislation in other countries around the world and look at the reasons why UK politicians have not accepted the Dignity at Work Bill to provide the workers in the UK the same protection.
Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged Bullying, bullying as a violation, constitution, contractual liability, Dignity at Work Bill, employment protection, Germany, Humiliation, intimidation, mobbing, outlawing of bullying, protection of personality, Stress, Stress at work, Sweden, workplace bullying in the UK.
In Spain, the legal framework for bullying can be split into three categories:
- bullying under Spanish civil law other than in relation to Protected Characteristics;
- bullying in relation to Protected Characteristics; and
- criminal liability for bullying.
For this blog, I’m not looking at bullying in relation to Protected Characteristics as these people are protected under various legislation, including the Equality Act 2010. This Act is based on the EU Equal Treatment Directives, which all EU member states had to transpose into law.
Workplace bullying not based on Protected Characteristics
1. The Spanish Constitution – which guarantees “dignity” as an inalienable right, the “right to life, and the physical and mental (or moral) integrity” of every person and the right to privacy, honour,and respect of one’s image and reputation.
2.The Law of the Statute of Workers gives all workers rights to their “physical integrity,” “privacy” and “due consideration for their dignity” including protection against abuse based on ethnic origin, religion, convictions, sickness, age or sexual orientation.
3.The Law on Prevention of Occupational Risks and Rule 39/1997 on Preventative Services (RSP), and other health and safety regulations – which includes a broad duty for employers to maintain a safe workplace.
In this context, the labour administration has adopted a code of practice on violence and harassment for the labour inspectors in charge of enforcing health and safety regulations which provides for the following general definition of bullying:
“Where an unwanted conduct occurs with the purpose or the effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” (Code of Practice for the Spanish Labour Inspectors on Bullying and Violence at Work 69/2009).
4. The Code also establishes three basic elements constitutive of legal bullying:
a) the acts must be carried out with “the purpose or the effect” of violating the victim’s rights (demonstrating the bully’s intent is not required). As in France, therefore, under civil law, bullying does not require the bully to have the intent of bullying. Rather, there only needs to be a causal link between the conduct and the resultant harm (Spanish Constitutional Tribunal, 89/2005);
b) the behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the victim; and
c) the behaviour is repetitive and capable of harming the victim’s health (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Galicia 30 May 2005, AS 1515).
Criminal liability for bullying
In June 2010, bullying at work was codified as a criminal violation under Article 173.1§2 of the Spanish Penal Code. Specifically, the new law has made it an offense, punishable by imprisonment for between six months and two years for:
“those working in the private or public sector takingadvantage of their superior position and performing against another person repeated hostile orhumiliating acts which without constituting degrading treatment involve serious harassment of thevictim”.
The necessary elements of the criminal offense of bullying are:
- repeated acts (this requirement has been further elaborated by case law);
- hostile or humiliating;
- that do not constitute degrading treatment, but represent a serious harm to the victim;
- must be committed by a superior towards someone lower in the hierarchy (this excludes “horizontal” harassment where co workers or peers mistreat one another, or inverse vertical harassment where it is the supervisor who is the victim); and
- intentionality is required (negligent harassment is not punished). However, there are questions as to the effectiveness of this new law, particularly given that criminal proceedings are very slow and generally last for a minimum of three years.
Criminal sanctions specific to bullying include six months’ to two years’ imprisonment.
From the civil standpoint, in addition to damages the following remedies are available:
- claims analogous to constructive discharge; and
- an order to nullify any termination or other measures taken on discriminatory grounds.
In addition to actions brought by bullied employees, employers run the risk of being sanctioned by the Spanish Administration itself where Labour Inspectors find that a worker’s dignity has been violated, including through acts of bullying. This may lead to significant fines ranging from €6,251 to €187,515 for violations of labour law and from €2,046 to €819,780 for infringement of health and safety regulations.
Labour Inspectors may also initiate proceedings to impose a 30-50% surcharge of a
bullied employee’s Social Security charges if the harm suffered was caused “exclusively” by the performance of work. (Spanish Social Security Act, Article 115.2.e).
Finally, bullying can lead to additional Social Security liability. An employer guilty of bullying is liable to be charged between 30-50% of an injured employee’s total disability subsidy for work related injuries that are due to the employer’s failure to properly mitigate risk.
Some illustrative examples of workplace bullying in Spain
- Spain’s Supreme Court ordered the municipal government of Coria to pay €4,500 in compensation to an employee who was forced to work in a basement, with neither daylight nor ventilation.
- Spain’s Supreme Court ordered a tool company to pay €14,000 for “biased psychological pressure,” and another € 30,000 in compensation for psychological damages to an employee who was forced to do work that did not fall within his job description, and was below his qualification level.
Bullying in the Workplace DOC – International labor Law
Next week I will look at legislation in Germany.
Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged Bullying, Bullying and Violence at work, civil law, Code of Practice, criminal liability, criminal violation, dignity, intimidating environment, law, legal bullying, legislation, moral integrity, occupational risks.
The Dignity at Work Bill, which has been blocked by successive governments would have helped the people described in the stories on this blog, who have been victims of workplace bullying, to have got justice.
The Bill states that it is every employee’s right to have a right to dignity at work. The employee would not be allowed to suffer harassment or bullying or any conduct which causes him to be alarmed or distressed.
Such conduct would include for example, any offensive, abusive, malicious, insulting or intimidating behaviour that has happened on more than one ocassion; unjustified criticism on more than one occasion; any punishment imposed without reasonable justification.
An employer would not be allowed to treat any employee less favourably than any other person.
If this Bill had been passed by Parliament, the victims in these stories would have been able to seek redress at the Employment Tribunal. If the complainant’s case was upheld, the complainant could have expected compensation which may have also included an award for injury to feelings.
I think it is time that this Bill was looked at again and presented to Parliament.
Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK