Workplace bullying still rampant in U.S.

Nearly one-half of survey respondents have experienced or witnessed bullying at work
||Last Updated: 11/09/2010

One-third of Americans have been bullied in the workplace, according to a new survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute.

A similar survey conducted in 2007 found this proportion was 37 per cent, showing only a slight improvement in the past three years.

However, when including those workers who have witnessed bullying, the proportion of employees who have been affected by workplace bulling increases to 49 per cent, found the online survey of 4,210 adults that was conducted from Aug. 4 to Aug. 11.

Workplace bullying was defined as “repeated mistreatment: sabotage by others that prevented work from getting done, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation or humiliation.”

In a separate survey, employees were asked about employer engagement in anti-bullying activities.

The vast majority (79 per cent) either were not sure or were certain employers do little to nothing to address workplace bullying. One-fifth believed employers are currently addressing it through policies and enforcement.

Also, 56 per cent of respondents reporting confidence that American employers would voluntarily stop bullying without being mandated by law to do so. Only 32 per cent disagreed, believing only a legal obligation would compel action.

“This surprising result is probably wishful thinking by bullied individuals and their friends who want to believe that their employer cares about them,” said Gary Namie, WBI director. “Similar studies in Scandinavian countries where anti-bullying laws began in the mid-1990′s find a much lower employer compliance rate.”

The majority of respondents, 64 per cent, supported having laws to protect workers from “malicious, health-harming abusive conduct” committed by bosses and co-workers, while just 23.8 per cent opposed such laws.

“Clearly a majority of Americans want a law. This statistic will be given to lawmakers as proof of the popular appeal of such legislation," said Namie.

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