Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying in the Workplace

There are many institutions that were set up by mankind after civilization. This is with the intentions of promoting economic, political as well as social development among the human species. These institutions are supposed to work together in harmony, making sure that every goal associated with these institutions is achieved. In relation this context, this analysis looks at bullying and other forms of violence in a school setup, at work and through the social media. In definition, bullying can be defined as the act of using force, coercion or threat to intimidate, abuse or imposing aggressive dominion over others (Kuykendall, 2012). Some people argue that for such a behavior to fit the definition of bullying, it has to be habitual and repetitive. It may not necessarily be the case since there may be particular a student who likes picking on his colleagues after a long time. As long as the act involves the characteristics of coercion, threats, and use of force meant to intimidate abuse or impose aggressive dominion, then the act qualifies as bullying.

In a situation where there is continued bullying, a prerequisite perception always comes into the mind of a bully or any other party involved: physical and the social power imbalance. There are many behaviors that qualify as bullying especially when they are directed towards a particular person on a repetitive manner. These behaviors include; threats, verbal harassments, coercion, physical assaults and many other mean acts towards an intended individual. There are also many factors that are highlighted as justifications of bullying including; sexuality, religion, class, gender, race, personality, lineage, body language, appearance, reputation, behavior, size, strength or ability (Kuykendall, 2012). All these are rationalizations that are heighted as causing factors of bullying behaviors, which sometimes may even be carried out by a group of people. When individuals participate in an aggressive bullying incident; it is referred to as mobbing.

However, means not that there is a particular definition of bullying for there is none. In fact, in countries like the United Kingdom, there is no known legal definition for bullying. However, in the U.S bullying is defined in four categories, and there are even laws that have been passed all in effort to try and curb this vice. The four categories that define bullying in the United States of America include; verbal bullying, cyber bullying, physical and even emotional (Lieberma, 2012). Emotional bullying is sometimes referred to as relational bullying. Bullying is a very sensitive vice in schools and even in the work places as it condones use of different forms of violence, which may later have greater repercussions. It may also range from just one person disliking an individual to involving a group who may be willing to participate in the bullying act, which may be just as simple as spreading rumors.

Numerous researches have been done to investigating bullying and what may lead individuals to take up bullying behaviors. For instant, different researches have shown that resentment and envy are primary factors that promote bullying (Hile, 2013). In fact they are considered as the most common motives of bullying in everyday life. There has also been research carried out on the self-esteem of bullies, which has proved to show equivocal results. This means that the self-esteem of a bully also contribute to a big percentage why a person may become a bully or not. For instance, the research showed that some bullies can be classified as narcissistic and arrogant. They just bully their workmates or their neighbors just to have fun and feel powerful. Bullies can also belong in the category of people with low self-esteem and they may use the act of bullying as tool of concealing anxiety and shame. This means that there are bullies who use this malicious behavior to try and boost their self-esteem, by simply demeaning other people (Hile, 2012).  Psychological research in the matter says that when people with low self-esteem bully others, it makes them feel empowered.

The above research says that bullying may occur out of jealousy. For example, there are bullies who bully people they feel attract too much attention and everybody likes them instead, of the bully in question getting all the attention or being liked. The research says that bullies can also adopt this behavior if they themselves were bullied at some other stage in their lives (Hile, 2013). Others argue that bullies often reflect the kind of environment they grew up in, and they may be repeating what the learned from their parents.

There are any effects of bullying on the individuals who are bullied and also on the society at large. For instance, psychologists have argued that victims of bullying are likely to experience numerous challenges in their social lives. For instance, doctors argue that they may lack social skills, become aggressive and even not be able to solve their social problems. They may also feel rejected by the society and even start thinking evil thoughts like committing suicide or taking revenge on their offenders (Sexton-Radek, 2005). This means that they may turn from being victims at one point and become intensely violent offenders.

Bullying is a vice that also exists even in different workplaces in the world. Sometimes it may even spark law suits or even explosive violence. Sexual harassment tends to be among the most prevalent forms of bullying in work places. A perfect example would be bosses who sometimes intimidate their junior employees into intimate encounters for them to keep their jobs. Other bosses sometimes even threaten to fire those who may demand for increased wages, better working conditions or question bad leadership (Hile, 2013). Such behaviors kill the morals and the code of ethics that accompany the profession in question. To protect employees from such mannerisms, there are policies that are adopted by organizations to make sure that no employees is bullied or harassed by in their line of work for whatever reasons. However, when it comes to sexual harassment, there has been a contentious debate in the matter since the highest court in this country, The Supreme Court of the United States of America, recently provided a new meaning to sexual harassment. This is upon close examination of the Supreme Court’s decision on sexual harassment on 17th June of 2013. On the said date, the Supreme Court sought to define under what basis a person is considered liable for sexual and racial harassments as well as the company that employs them.

For starters, the Supreme Court nullified the circumstances in which a worker can accuse a fellow work mate for sexual harassment, if they do not possess the power to reassign them in totally different tasks, hire, fire, demote or suspend them (Greenhouse, 2013). This means that in my policy, if a case of sexual harassment was reported, it would be up to the organization to either reassign the female or the male officer to a different task in order to avoid scenarios that no longer apply in court. The Supreme Court also reserved the meaning and the definition of the word ‘supervisor’. In the previous sexual harassment policies, companies were being held liable if a person in charge of another’s daily activities harassed his juniors. This meant that the definition of supervisor was considered as the person overseeing another’s day to day activities. However, in the new Supreme Court definition on sexual harassment cases, the terminology “supervisor” should only apply to a person who has powers to hire, fire, suspend, demote or reassign an employee (Greenhouse, 2013).  In reassignment, a supervisor is defined as a person who can reassign a junior coworker into assignments that may be totally different from the previous ones.  This is because a senior worker can also reassign a junior employee to a task although not an entirely different one.

This means that any officer who is in charge of another’s day to day activities, but does not have the powers stipulated above cannot be viewed as a supervisor. This means that he can only be viewed as a co-worker. The Supreme Court also ruled that if there was sexual harassment from a co-worker, the organization in question can only be held liable if there was unquestionable doubt that it was negligent in preventing or stopping the vice (Greenhouse, 2013). Looking at the recent Supreme Court decisions on sexual harassment, people who bully their workmates by intimidating or harassing them sexually, as well as the organizations that employ them may get away from with their habits.

On top of that, bullying also exist in social media against workmates, sometimes even leading to violence (Hile, 2013). For instance, with the invention of the internet people get to share information online with just a click of a button. To make matters worse, the whole world is connected by the internet making it even more stressful for a person who may be bullied online. It is not only the people in one’s work place who would get to see it; it would be the whole world who would get to see the whole bullying act making it even more humiliating. For example, since people have also gadgets that can hold information like mobile phones, a person can simply take a video or a demeaning picture of a person they dislike and then post it online. Others are even using photo-shopping technologies to make these pictures look weirder and funnier, something that would humiliate a bullying victim even more (Hile, 2013). When this happens and the whole world gets to know and judge a person only from what the internet says, such a person may never be in a position to recover from such humiliations and socialize with other people in the future.

These people will definitely have evil thoughts against those who humiliate them to the whole world, and they may just decide to revenge in the most violent ways (Kuykendall, 2012). This more so happens with peers who are always pulling pranks on their age mates, only for them to turn violent and go to an extent of man slaughter and even murder. When this happens, the public is always ready to prosecute a peer who commits manslaughter or murder without even investigating what may have pushed them to commit the act (Hile, 2013).

Bullying is an issue of concern that is normally not restricted or gauged by socio-economic, gender or cultural basis. Previous research studies shows that bullying creates long lasting implications for both the victims of the bullies and bullying. According to the book “little Brown Compact Handbook” by Burke et al; “bullying is one of the most general forms of workplace aggression” (Burke et al, 2012). Engagement in the issue of bullying has been reported to impact all the involved parties with adverse effects including the by standers. In the workplace, bullying occurs in form of persistence mistreatment which may cause harm towards an employee being targeted by others. Bullying in the workplace proves to be significantly difficult to the victim since it happens within the set policies and rules in the organization in question and its society. This is unlike other forms of bullying like school bullying whether the conditions and the environment under which takes place may be totally different. Another disturbing fact is that in many of the cases reported, the act is usually perpetrated by an official with authority over the victim. However, sexual bullying can also come from subordinates as well as peers within an organization. Bullying is the workplace can either be overt or covert. Consequently, it may or may not be missed by the superior officials within the organization, or it may be known by everyone within the organization with little to no action being taken to tame the vice.

Diana Hlebovy’s article titled Violence in the Workplace deals with the much broader problem of workplace harassment and violence in a medical setting. Many people view violence purely in terms of physical assault. Nevertheless, workplace violence constitutes a much wider problem. It refers to the act where a person is threatened, abused, assaulted, or intimidated in the course of his or her employment. Hlebovy defines workplace violence as the threatening demeanor, physical assault, or verbal abuse that occurs in a work setting, which includes, but is not restricted to stabbings, beatings, suicides, attempted suicides, rapes, and shootings (Hlebovy, 2000). It may also include psychological trauma such as an intimidating presence, threats, harassment, or obscene phone calls.

Hlebovy takes a sober look at workplace violence in a medical setting and comments upon studies that conducted by the Institute of Medical Committee on ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease), as well as the statistics obtained from the Bureau of Labor. She notes that the according to the Institute of Medical Research on Medicare ESRD, the management of abusive and/or disruptive patients ranked among the top three ethical concerns (Hlebovy, 2000). She further notes that data from the bureau of labor indicates that health care providers are sixteen times more liable to encounter workplace violence compared to other workers. Hostile and potentially belligerent patients or staff members pose key challenges to ESRD caregivers. Therefore, managers should be zealously aware of what comprise and causes workplace violence together with the demographic and clinical risk factors.

Bullying is often viewed as verbal comments or acts that have the potential of psychologically hurting or isolating an individual at the workplace. On certain occasions, bullying may involve depressing and unwanted physical contact. While bullying refers to a form of aggression, the actions involved can be both palpable and restrained. It is imperative to note that the list provided below is not a checklist and does not declare all forms of bullying. It is mentioned as a way of demonstrating some manners in which bullying may occur.

The forms of bullying, which might occasion violence at the workplace, include peddling malicious falsehoods, innuendoes, and rumors, socially excluding or isolating someone, threatening abuse or physically abusing someone, physical assault, or verbal abuse that occurs in a work setting, and threatening and intimidating behavior (Burke, Clarke & Cooper, 2012). Bullying affects an individual in a variety of ways, including anger, shock, feelings of frustration, loss of confidence, increased sense of vulnerability, low productivity and morale, inability to concentrate, and psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches. It is sometimes difficult to discern if bullying is taking place at the workplace.

Objective comments intended to offer positive feedback cannot be taken as bullying. They are rather aimed at assisting the employee in his or her work. Management commitment is the most effective strategy of workplace prevention program against workplace violence. This commitment is best articulated in a written policy. The management together with the employee representatives must design effective prevention strategy for workplace violence, delineate what is meant by workplace violence or bullying in explicit language, and state in precise terms the organization’s stand regarding workplace violence and bullying (Morrison, 2010). In addition, it should unambiguously outline the ramifications of threatening of committing acts, as well as encourage the reporting of instances of bullying or other forms of workplace related violence.

Looking at the above information, it is true that bullying is a vice that is alive and kicking in the United States of America.  This vice has brought so many disadvantages, especially the escalation of guns violence in our learning and working institutions. One of the main issues that need to be addressed in our schools, workplaces and in every other sector in the society is bullying. Uncontrolled bulling and all kinds of harassments lead to school and work violence, and also plays a significant role as a motive for many homicidal acts that we see in our society. As a result, it is challenge for each one of us to try and discourage bullying of our friends, peers, subordinates and every other person in the society.



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