When whistleblowers find themselves in conflict with their bosses, they may be subjected to many different forms of reprisal. Occasionally they may be fired abruptly without explanation, but in countries that have labour laws this is rare: the employer is likely to use more subtle methods, making it difficult to fight back or even to prove that reprisals have taken place.
Thus forms of harassment, like bullying and mobbing, have become 'weapons of choice' for vindictive managers seeking to attack an employee. These methods are devastating to the individual targetted while at the same time providing 'plausible deniability' for the instigators, who can always claim in court that they didn't know what was going on... it had nothing to do with them...
In fact bullying and mobbing are easily orchestrated by management, because once someone has been picked out as the target, other employees become fearful of supporting them or even being associated with them. A vicious group dynamic quickly takes hold in which the victim is shunned, isolated from colleagues and subjected to constant criticism, ridicule, belittlement and humiliation.
Almost no-one, however strong mentally, can stand up to this treatment indefinitely. Over time such harassment predictably leads to permanent injury, as initial reactions –such as stress, anxiety, and fatigue – progress into panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, deep depression and even thoughts of suicide.
This is the ideal outcome for the attackers, because the victim can easily be labelled as being defective in some way, thus lacking in credibility and responsible for their own plight.
People being targeted in this way need to recognize quickly what is going on, stop blaming themselves, learn about countermeasures, and figure out what they can do to end their ordeal.
Bullying On The Job, What It Is, Who Is Doing It and How To Stop It
Host Steve Zeltzer with Dr. Gary Namie & Dr. Ruth Namie, Carrie Clark, Rhea Settles, Bill Lepowsky. (53 min)
For unedited copies of this video ($20.00) contact: Labor Video Project P.O.Box 720027, San Francisco, CA 94172. 415-282-1908 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bully At Work: What You Can Do To Stop The Hurt And Reclaim Your Dignity On The Job
by Gary Namie & Ruth Namie
"Looks at the latest issue in the work place – allowing a manager to demean you as a method of control and keeping you from seeing your value as an employee of a company. The authors outline the steps you need to take to derail the psychological manipulation, restore your self confidence and sense of self worth." (extract from a review on Amazon.com)
Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace
by Noa Davenport, Ruth D. Schwartz and Gail Pursell Elliott
"A must read for anyone who has been bullied or harassed at work and for others interested in this phenomenon. This book is a soup to nuts resource taking us from the origins and basics of mobbing to the eventual healing and prevention. It is concise and detailed leaving no stone unturned and is loaded with terminology essential to define and identify acts of mobbing and the course one goes through in it's aftermath." (extract from a review on Amazon.com)
At The Mercy Of The Mob
A summary of research into workplace mobbing, by Prof. Kenneth Westhues, University of Waterloo
The story of one woman and her battle with a bullying female boss.
By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco, Financial Post
Bullied workers suffer 'battle stress'
Research from a leading psychologist suggests that bullied workers go through the very same emotions and stresses as battle-scarred troopers.
By Julian Knight, BBC News Online
An award-winning Canadian site with a large collection of articles, books, and links to other related web sites.
No Bully For Me
A Canadian-based campaign to support and inform the targets of workplace bullying and to promote respectful workplaces.
Another website with a wide range of resources on this subject.
Workplace Mobbing in Academe
Focuses mainly on mobbing in an academic environment. Maintained by Kenneth Westhues, Professor of Sociology at the University of Waterloo.
The Mobbing Encyclopedia
Contains a great deal of valuable information compiled by the Swedish psychologist Prof. Heinz Leymann who pioneered the study of mobbing in the 1980's. Note: this is an old site and tricky to navigate, but worth the effort.
Towards a Respectful Workplace
Research results and guidance for both employees and employers. Maintained by the University of New Brunswick.