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Workplace Bullying is Real and Rampant [POLL/AUDIO]

The taunting and harassing doesn’t stop after high school. Recent studies suggest workplace bullying is on the rise nationwide.

From social exclusion to intimidating comments to threats, instances of bullying on the job are reported on a regular basis.

rude co-worker
Flickr User carlomichople

Kevin Costello, an employment rights attorney with Costello & Mains in Mount Laurel, said his office receives about 3,000 calls per year from people describing cases of workplace bullying.

“Ninety to ninety-five percent of the people that call us describe truly toxic abuse and extreme conduct in the workplace,” said Costello. “And we can’t do anything about it because the law doesn’t address it.”

New Jersey has a law in place to address bullying in schools, but there’s no such law that targets the behavior at an older age. Democratic Senator Linda Greenstein has attempted to make the Healthy Workplace Bill a reality in the Garden State. It would make the abusive conduct illegal.

These “bullies” are people who have low-self esteem or a strong hunger for power, according to Jessica Methot, an assistant professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University.

“There’s some research suggesting that bullying can be relatively subtle and that these bullies can hide it front other people,” said Methot. “So they come off as cooperative; they come off as supportive, but there’s this one people that they’re really just putting down or undermining.”

The reaction by many employers may be to just ignore any complaints of bullying in the workplace, thinking it’s something that will go away with time. However, bullying does not only affect the target. Its ripple effect can be damaging on an entire organization.

“Targets of bullying have higher intentions to leave the organization, and turnover is really expensive for companies,” said Methot. “We see lower levels of commitment, higher rates of absenteeism.”

Methot noted the United States is the only Democratic Western country that hasn’t passed a law banning workplace bullying.

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