The intersection of bullying and discrimination
Didn’t we all grow up thinking that we need to stave off a bully? There was the kid at the playground that pushed others around. Or even the popular girl who turned her nose up or gossiped about you. We remember stories of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer who was banished to the Island of Misfit Toys because no one accepted him. Even Cinderella was picked on by her older stepsisters and needed her fairy godmother to rescue here. However, workplace bullying is no child’s play. But this is a more critical issue when it manifests in the workplace.
Workplace bullying is similar to harassment; it is a pervasive and escalating behavior which demeans the target and creates a hostile work environment. Close to 54 million people endure workplace bullying, with 72% of the bullying coming from a boss or supervisor. Work is tough enough without reporting to a war zone. Since 2003, 21 states have introduced healthy workplace bills, with 11 states supporting current legislation.
When bullying invades the workplace, it can cost employers millions. The cost of turnover when people leave a hostile environment can damage the budget in regard to recruiting and retraining. The organization earns a poor reputation for being a safe haven for bullies. If the target of workplace bullying is of a protected class, bullying can lead that organization straight to court. If people feel targeted because of their race, gender, religious background or other membership of a protected class, what started out as an off color joke over time can explode to a messy lawsuit. According to Query & Hanley (2010),bullying behavior costs employers $64 billion annually. Ironically, this is the same amount recovered by the EEOC for all sex and race discrimination cases reported from 1997 to 2006.
Managers, be sure to recognize bullying and DEAL with it. The bully will not just stop without an intervention. As a leader, the supervisor has a responsibility to minimize threats to staff morale and productivity. Ignoring the problem can lead to a hostile workplace and discrimination complaints. Meet the bully constructively and protect the work environment.
To protect your organization from workplace bullying and discrimination, take the Patricia Berkly 72 point risk assessment. This 10 minute survey will result in a seven page report that will highlight the risks and potential interventions for your staff.
Legal Justification for Training:
KOLSTAD V. AMERICAN DENTAL ASSN. (98-208)
257 U.S. 526 (1999)
When an employer has made good faith efforts to comply with Title VII through educating staff in regard to Title VII policy, and through the development and maintenance of anti harassment and discrimination policies “…in the punitive damages context, an employer may not be vicariously liable of managerial agents where these decisions are contrary to the employer’s good faith efforts to comply with Title VII…”
EEOC Reports Job Bias Charges Hit Record High of Nearly 100,000 in Fiscal Year 2010
Retaliation Surpasses Race as Most Frequent Allegation;
Agency Obtains $404 Million for Victims
- The EEOC announced that private sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal agency nationwide hit an unprecedented level of 99,922 during fiscal year (FY) 2010, which ended Sept. 30, 2010.
- The FY 2010 data show that the EEOC filed 250 lawsuits, resolved 285 lawsuits, and resolved 104,999 private sector charges. Through its combined enforcement, mediation and litigation programs, the EEOC secured more than $404 million in monetary benefits from employers — the highest level of monetary relief ever obtained by the Commission through the administrative process — to promote inclusive and discrimination-free workplaces.
Soaring Costs of Complaints:
A single EEOC charge against your organization can cost $450/hr in attorney fees and easily soar to $20,000 minimum to defend.
Cursory Figures of settlement:
- $10K – $20K – If settled at initial point of filing
- $80K – $120K – If case settled at conciliation, mediation or other petrial procedure
- $185K – If settled once trial has started
- $250K – If plaintiff wins court case
(figures do not include attorney fees or possible punitive damages)
Organizations can use several cultural diversity training activities:
Needs assessment- Cookie cutter programs don’t always apply. Solid training programs include an assessment and intake with participants.
Policy review- Training is a great way to educate staff on new policies and changing legislation.
Environment- Interactive training should utilize creativity of large group and small group insight.
Learning styles- No one wants to hear a lecturer drone on for hours. Interactive training which appeals to multiple learning styles keeps training engaging and appealing to all participants.