Many – if not most – industrialized countries acted (some years ago!) to protect workers from workplace bullying. Sadly, the United States has not, subjecting American workers to potentially serious health and safety hazards.
Overwhelming research shows that workplace bullying exacts a terrible toll on its victims and in the workplace. Yet it is not widely recognized as a problem in the United States because many Americans fail to perceive the similarities between workplace abuse and other kinds of bullying (including domestic violence). Indeed, popular television shows like Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen normalize and glorify workplace bullying.
More than a third of American workers report having been bullied at work but most currently have little if any recourse in the American court system.
Proposed legislation to provide a specific legal redress for victims of workplace bullying has been introduced in more than 20 state legislatures since 2003, including New York, Massachusetts and Illinois. As yet no state has passed a measure.
The study of interpersonal bullying at the workplace originated in Scandinavia in the 1980s with the work of Heinz Leymann who used the term “mobbing” to describe the phenomenon.