* The most authoritative policy is the one promulgated in 2011 by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in the OSHA Field Safety and Health Manual, Violence at Work, Section 10. This policy applies to all OSHA employees. OSHA is responsible for protecting the health and safety of all American workers but, as yet, has done virtually nothing to protect non-OSHA employees from this recognized form of workplace violence. See also the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity’s directive on a model Equal Employment Opportunity Policy for federal agencies. Finally, the Society for Human Resources Management has a sample workplace bully policy here. You can find below two other sample workplace anti-bully policies.
1. This policy is from Final Report, Ventura Grand Jury, Bullying in the Workplace, May 24, 2011.
[YOUR COMPANY] is committed to providing all employees a healthy and safe work environment.
[YOUR COMPANY] will ensure that procedures exist to allow complaints of bullying to be dealt with and resolved within [YOUR COMPANY], without limiting any person’s entitlement to pursue resolution of their complaint with the relevant statutory authority. [YOUR COMPANY] is committed to the elimination of all forms of bullying.
This policy applies to all employees of [YOUR COMPANY]. It applies during normal working hours, at work related or sponsored functions, and while traveling on work related business. There will be no recriminations for anyone who in good faith alleges bullying.
Bullying is unwelcome or unreasonable behavior that demeans, intimidates or humiliates people either as individuals or as a group. Bullying behavior is often persistent and part of a pattern, but it can also occur as a single incident. It is usually carried out by an individual but can also be an aspect of group behavior (see “mobbing” below). Some examples of bullying behavior are:
- Abusive and offensive language
- Spreading rumor and innuendo
- Unreasonable criticism
- Trivializing of work and achievements
Manipulating the work environment
- Isolating people from normal work interaction
- Excessive demands
- Setting impossible deadlines
- Unfairly blaming for mistakes
- Setting people up for failure
- Deliberate exclusion
- Excessive supervision
- Practical jokes
- Belittling or disregarding opinions or suggestions
- Criticizing in public
Context is important in understanding bullying, particularly verbal communication. There is a difference between friendly insults exchanged by long-time work colleagues and comments that are meant to be, or are taken as, demeaning. While care should be exercised, particularly if a person is reporting alleged bullying as a witness, it is better to be genuinely mistaken than to let actual bullying go unreported.
Mobbing is a particular type of bullying behavior carried out by a group rather than by an individual. Mobbing is the bullying or social isolation of a person through collective unjustified accusations, humiliation, general harassment or emotional abuse. Although it is group behavior, specific incidents such as an insult or a practical joke may be carried out by an individual as part of mobbing behavior.
CONSEQUENCES OF BULLYING
Bullying is unacceptable behavior because it breaches principles of equality and fairness, and it frequently represents an abuse of power and authority. It also has potential consequences for everyone involved.
For those being bullied
People who have been bullied often suffer from a range of stress-related illness. They can lose confidence and withdraw from contact with people outside the workplace as well as at work. Their work performance can suffer, and they are at increased risk of workplace injury.
For the employer
Besides potential legal liabilities, the employer can also suffer because bullying can lead to:
- Deterioration in the quality of work
- Increased absenteeism
- Lack of communication and teamwork
- Lack of confidence in the employer leading to lack of commitment to the job
For others at the workplace
People who witness bullying behaviors can also have their attitudes and work performance affected. They can suffer from feelings of guilt that they did nothing to stop the bullying, and they can become intimidated and perform less efficiently fearing that they may be the next to be bullied.
Managers and supervisors
Ensure that all employees are aware of the anti-bullying policy and procedures
- Ensure that any incident of bullying is dealt with regardless of whether a complaint of bullying has been received
- Provide leadership and role-modeling in appropriate professional behavior
- Respond promptly, sensitively and confidentially to all situations where bullying behavior is observed or alleged to have occurred
- Be familiar with and behave according to this policy
- If you are a witness to bullying, report incidents to your supervisor, President or Human Resources Director as appropriate
- Where appropriate, speak to the alleged bully(ies) to object to the behavior
IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN BULLIED
Any employee who feels he or she has been victimized by bullying is encouraged to report the matter to his or her supervisor, or with Human Resources.
- Where appropriate, an investigation will be undertaken and disciplinary measures will be taken as necessary.
2. This workplace anti-bullying policy is adapted by the Ontario Safety Association for Community & Healthcare from the Commission of Occupational Safety and Health, Government of Western Australia. (Toronto, Canada, 2009):
Company X considers workplace bullying unacceptable and will not tolerate it in any circumstances.
Workplace bullying is behaviour that harms, intimidates, offends, degrades or humiliates an employee, possibly in front of other employees, clients or customers. Workplace bullying may cause the loss of trained and talented employees, reduce productivity and morale and create legal risks.
Company X believes all employees should be able to work in an environment free of bullying. Managers and supervisors must ensure employees are not bullied.
Company X has grievance and investigation procedures to deal with workplace bullying. Any reports of workplace bullying will be treated seriously and investigated promptly, confidentially and impartially.
Company X encourages all employees to report workplace bullying.
Managers and supervisors must ensure employees who make complaints, or witnesses, are not victimized.
Disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who bullies a co-employee. Discipline may involve a warning, transfer, counseling, demotion or dismissal, depending on the circumstances.
The contact person for bullying at this workplace is:
Phone Number: _______________________________________
* Patricia G. Barnes is an attorney with experience in both domestic violence and employment law. Contact her at barnespatg(at)gmail.com.