Working Notes: 401(k) blues, challenging unpaid internships, and Shape magazine on workplace bullying

I use this Working Notes feature to flag items worthy of attention. Here are pieces on 401(k) plans and the retirement funding crisis, unpaid internships, and workplace bullying (especially as relevant to younger women).

1. Steven Greenhouse on 401(k) plans — Here’s more evidence of the crisis in retirement funding, in the form of a thorough look at the inadequacy of 401(k) plans as retirement funding vehicles, courtesy of labor reporter Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times. It begins:

JOHN GREENE worked for 30 years at an Oscar Mayer plant in Madison, Wis., deboning hams and loading boxes of hot dogs. His 401(k) plan grew to $60,000, and soon after retiring he began withdrawing $3,600 a year from it, money that allowed him and his wife to take what he called a wondrous two-week trip to Scotland, his ancestral homeland.

But when the financial markets plunged four years ago, his 401(k) dropped to less than $18,000.

2. Plaintiff Eric Glatt on unpaid internships — Eric Glatt, lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures for unpaid wages to interns working on the production of “Black Swan,” explains why he and others were not paid for their labor in this blog post for Other Words:

Because I, like scores of other workers on that film, was a relative newcomer to the industry. And being a newcomer to the film industry often means doing unpaid work, an illegal arrangement camouflaged behind the term “internship” — a term the movie industry embraces for its promise of alchemy, magically removing costs from budgets to the delight of producers and shareholders.

Eric is now pursuing his law degree at Georgetown University Law Center. I wrote up a blog post about an enjoyable brunch meeting we held in New York last December with writer Ross Perlin (author of Intern Nation) and journalist Tiffany Ap.

3. Jeannette Moninger for Shape magazine on workplace bullying — The September issue of Shape magazine includes a lengthy, informative feature on workplace bullying by Jeannette Moninger. Jeannette is a health writer who convinced the editors of Shape to devote quite a bit of space to this topic. Hat’s off to both for bringing this information to a demographic (younger women) often targeted by workplace bullying. (It’s also the first and likely only time that I’ll be quoted in Shape!). Here’s the lede:

When Stacie started as an account manager at an architectural firm two years ago, she couldn’t believe her luck. In a tough market, she’d landed her dream job at age 31, complete with a great salary, friendly coworkers, sleek high-tech offices, and a corporate gym membership. There was just one problem: Her boss was a nightmare.

4 responses

  1. This a great article on Bullying. Unfortunately this type of Boss that Stacie has sounds almost identicle to the one that i had. I experienced everything and plenty more tht Stacie writes about, I unfortunately for many reasons stayed way too long, ten years and am suffering the consequences dearly. The Best bet really is to get out as soon as possible, not always easily done. Everything in this article is correct, no one cares and most will support the employer.The only thing i would disagree with is if you become sick like i did with post traumatic stress disorder and you can prove it, you may have recourse through workers compensation, although it is a tedious and long and difficult process, and surviving in the meantime is a real challenge. I tried every human logical based tactic there is to deal with the Woman that bullied me and nothing stopped her, the problem is that many times the Bully locks onto a target and they intend to injure and destroy thier victim. I am a perfect example, i was a very experienced professional with 29 years of skills and i was beat down to a point where i could not do a simple task without severe anxiety, my career was taken from me. Bullies have to destroy, it is in their nature and for them to fail at it in thier own eyes is very devastating to them, this is one of the reasons they push on until they succeed, it is part of the fight. Higher ups rarely help because generally the bullies are in some way more valuable than the target and the bully knows it, usually it has to do with money. In my case i went to the board several times and they outright admitted that this woman was abusing me and told me they would not address it because she was too good of a fundraiser!!! Getting out is the answer and getting help for yourself has to come first, otherwise you could end up like me, out of work and broken in many ways. It can take years to recover emotionally and financially. It is critically important that people like Stacie and i commend her in every way , step up and tell their story, we need laws against this behavior and soon. Bills are written are being fought for but lawmakers just do not seem to see the real damage that Bullying causes, esecially in this economy. Every human being has a right to a healthy and safe work environment and Bullying prevents this. I also think OSHA , the OCCUPATIONIONAL SAFETY HEALTH ADMINISTRATION has dropped the ball by not getting involved, it is their responsibility to see to it that injuries do not happen in the work place and Bullying is an injury, they need to get on board and push for this law yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I’ve been keeping up with this blog since January 2011, the month after I left an extremely abusive work situation. I somehow managed to survive four very long challenging years that proved to be emotionally, mentally and physically taxing much like Stacie’s experience. Though I’m in a much better place now I still struggle greatly (personally and professionally) with the effects that my experience cast on me, but it makes me incredibly happy and empowered to know that more and more people and publications are engaged in sharing information about the topic of workplace bullying. This blog has done a terrific job of sharing advice and information, and has effectively served as a tremendous force to give positive momentum to the cause of raising awareness of workplace bullying. It’s very real, and it’s incredibly damaging. The fact that Shape decided to cover this issue gives me hope that progress has been made in introducing the topic to the masses while projecting a hopeful light of reassurance that we, the bullied targets, are not alone and shouldn’t settle in accepting this behavior as the norm. Thank you for creating this blog, for being a sounding board representing all those affected by this kind of abusive behavior and championing the cause.

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