Jonathan Karmel’s “Dying to Work”

“There are no accidents.” That’s a main theme of Jonathan D. Karmel’s Dying to Work: Death and Injury in the American Workplace (2017). Karmel, a Chicago-based labor lawyer, talked about his book at a Thursday event organized by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) and hosted by the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

Karmel was referring to his observation that most serious workplace injuries and fatalities are not the result of “accidents,” assuming we define them as random, chance events. Rather, they’re the result of negligent or deliberate actions that undermine worker safety and health.

Dying to Work contains plenty of basic facts and statistics about work-related injuries and deaths, as well as a thorough history of workplace safety and health legislation in the United States. The heart of the book, however, is a series of stories of workers and how they were seriously injured or died on the job. 

Paul King

At Thursday’s event in Boston, Karmel focused on the story of Paul King, a husband and father of three children who lived in Massachusetts. Paul had worked in the printing industry for many years until his company closed its doors, a casualty of the digital revolution. He eventually enrolled in a technical school, and in 2005, he was hired by a contractor, MainTech, that did maintenance work at Logan International Airport.

Some two months after starting his new job with MainTech, Paul was sent to the roof of a Logan terminal to work on some wiring. A co-worker on the ground made repeated attempts to call him, with no response. Minutes later, Paul was found on the ground with burns on his hands, face, and shoulder. Efforts to save him failed. It was later determined that he was electrocuted after coming in contact with a live electrical box. After a subsequent investigation, MainTech was cited for eight “serious” violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, covering a failure to provide training and safety equipment, and fined all of $54,000.

Melissa King, Paul’s daughter and now a MassCOSH activist, also spoke at the program and was joined by members of the King family. The pain of losing Paul remains very palpable, yet they have channeled their grief into advocacy for stronger workplace safety protections.

More stories

Dying to Work is filled with these accounts, for Karmel smartly understood that a book filled mostly with dry facts and figures would not convey the human impacts of these injuries and losses. In the midst of a busy law practice, he traveled around the country to talk to injured workers and surviving family members in many different occupations, including store clerks, hotel housekeepers, miners, nurses, grain handlers, and others.

In rendering his assessment, Karmel ultimately concluded that “all of these deaths and injuries were preventable,” and he urges us to understand that these stories are “a tip of the proverbial iceberg” in terms of the deadly hazards that workers face across the country. He hopes that Dying to Work will contribute to a dialogue about how to prevent these deadly events from occurring, and I believe he is succeeding at that.

 

Networks vs. hierarchies

Historian Niall Ferguson has written a very interesting book for anyone interested in the intersections of power, institutional hierarchies, and social networks. It’s titled The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies, and the Struggle for Global Power (2018). Here’s a snippet from the publisher’s description:

Most history is hierarchical: it’s about popes, presidents, and prime ministers. But what if that’s simply because they create the historical archives? What if we are missing equally powerful but less visible networks – leaving them to the conspiracy theorists, with their dreams of all-powerful Illuminati?

The twenty-first century has been hailed as the Networked Age. But in The Square and the Tower Niall Ferguson argues that social networks are nothing new. From the printers and preachers who made the Reformation to the freemasons who led the American Revolution, it was the networkers who disrupted the old order of popes and kings. Far from being novel, our era is the Second Networked Age, with the computer in the role of the printing press. Once we understand this, both the past, and the future, start to look very different indeed.

I’ve spent some time with this book, and although its focus is on the grander sweep of history, it’s a thoughtful and provocative read for anyone who wants to contemplate the hierarchy vs. network dichotomy generally.

In fact, the book’s main theme may have special significance for those of us in “underdog” roles with the ideas and causes we’re advocating for, in a world where political, economic, and social power can feel so stubbornly concentrated. In essence, The Square and the Tower invites us to think about how we can use our horizontal networks to overcome entrenched hierarchies. It’s not easy, but it can happen, and access to digital communications can help us do it. Technology is not a panacea, but it can be an accessible and relatively affordable connector, not to mention a welcomed complement to face-to-face communications.

Of course we shouldn’t err in assuming that all networks are good and all hierarchies are bad. Structures can be created and activated for positive and nefarious purposes alike; human motivations and actions give them their meaning.

This theme is but one element of the much larger conversation of how we can change an increasingly plutocratic society, with its enormous hierarchies of wealth and power. Nevertheless, it puts some historical “oomph” behind the notion that networks matter and can impact change.

Our primary purpose behind “Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the United States”

Volumes 1 and 2 are published!!!

Waiting for me in my office today was a box containing authors’ courtesy copies of the newly-published, two-volume book set that Dr. Maureen Duffy and I co-edited, Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the United States (Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2018). This was the first time that I’d held the actual printed volumes in my hands, and I have to say it was a happy and proud moment.

This is, after all, the culmination of a lot of work with a superb co-editor who invited me to join her in this endeavor and a very talented and smart group of contributors. The project reflected our deep and ongoing commitment to research and public education about workplace abuse. In fact, I would like to draw from our Preface to share our primary purpose behind the project:

Our primary purpose in developing this book set was to bring together important research and thinking about workplace bullying and mobbing from leading and emerging American researchers, theorists, and practitioners and to present that work in a comprehensive and systematic way. (For a chapter on applications from neuroscience, we did go half-way around the world to Australia to find the relevant expertise.) We assure our readers, especially those from outside the United States, that we were not being provincial or ethnocentric in choosing this focus. Rather, we understood that the employment context in the United States is very different from that in European nations, Australia, and Canada—countries that have produced so much foundational, high-quality research, scholarship, and commentary about workplace bullying and mobbing. For better and for worse, these American differences cover the major employment sectors (private, public, and nonprofit); systems of employee relations; and mechanisms for resolving legal and labor disputes.

In the context of this American focus, we perceived a need for an encyclopedic treatment of workplace bullying and mobbing that embraces multidisciplinary and multifaceted examination and analysis. We intended these volumes to be theoretically inclusive and to present a range of policy, practice, and research perspectives. We also wanted to showcase the accumulated wisdom of practitioners in the area of workplace bullying and mobbing so that readers would be able to juxtapose practitioner understandings and perspectives with those of researchers and scholars. In so doing, we tried to stay true to the most robust and comprehensive interpretation of evidence-based practice, namely, reliance on a combination of research and practice evidence with stakeholder values, priorities, and preferences.

We believe that the books will serve a variety of important uses for our readers. As we further stated in our Preface:

We hope that these volumes will be useful in different ways, depending on the individual reader’s needs. For some, this material will yield specific research summaries or potential good practices. For others, single chapters or groups of chapters will be worth cover-to-cover reads to obtain topical overviews. For those who want a comprehensive overview of workplace bullying and mobbing, a full reading of both volumes will provide a useful, comprehensive starting point. In any event, we trust that engaging with these volumes will be time well spent.

The book set includes 25 chapters written by over two dozen contributors, with some 600 pages packed into two volumes. You can use the “Look Inside” feature on the Amazon page to read the table of contents, Foreword, Preface, and first chapter. I also provided details about the book set in a January blog post.

With a $131 publisher’s retail price (e-book versions cost about 20 percent less), the volumes are aimed at researchers and practitioners who want an encyclopedic treatment of this topic, as well as specialized and general libraries. Most of the chapters are accessible to a general audience as well, and thus will be informative for individuals who simply want to learn more about the overall topic.

Reissued for 2018: Robin Stern’s “The Gaslight Effect”

Dr. Robin Stern’s The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life, first published in 2007, has just been reissued in paperback for 2018 with a new Introduction. Especially for those interested in more manipulative forms of workplace bullying and abuse, this is a very useful and important book.

Dr. Stern defines gaslighting as:

a type of emotional manipulation in which a gaslighter tries to convince you that you’re misremembering, misunderstanding, or misinterpreting your own behavior or motivations, thus creating doubt in your mind that leaves you vulnerable and confused. Gaslighters might be men or women, spouses or lovers, bosses or colleagues, parents or siblings, but what they all have in common is their ability to make you question your own perceptions of reality.

According to Stern, gaslighting is a “mutually created relationship” involving a gaslighter who wants “the gaslightee to doubt her perceptions of reality,” and a gaslightee who is “equally intent on getting the gaslighter to see her as she wished to be seen.”

For those who are new to the term, gaslighting draws its inspiration from a 1944 film, “Gaslight,” in which a husband is trying to drive his wife insane, including the periodic dimming of gaslights in a house where her aunt was murdered years before.

Stern has played a major role in popularizing the concept of gaslighting, with her main focus being on such behaviors in interpersonal relationships, especially as experienced by women. This emphasis remains in the re-issued edition, but the new Introduction explains how gaslighting is now being applied to additional scenarios, including bullying. In fact, I was flattered to read a reference to this blog:

Meanwhile, an increasing number of blogs linked gaslighting to bullying, both in personal relationships and at work. “Is gaslighting a gendered form of workplace bullying?” asked David Yamada on his blog, Minding the Workplace, while numerous dating and self-help blogs talked about the importance of identifying and standing up to your gaslighter. 

I’m happy to recommend The Gaslight Effect. In addition, you can check out past blog posts about gaslighting at work and in society:

Gaslighting at work (2017)

Inauguration Week special: “Gaslighting” goes mainstream (2017)

Is gaslighting a gendered form of workplace bullying? (2013)

Gaslighting as a workplace bullying tactic (2012)

Appearing 1/31/18: “Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the United States”

Dr. Maureen Duffy and I are delighted to report that our co-edited, two-volume book set, Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the United States (ABC-CLIO, 2018), makes its appearance at the end of the month! Booksellers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) are taking advance orders. An Amazon Kindle version will be available as well.

With over two dozen contributors (including a Foreword by Dr. Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute) and some 600 pages packed into two volumes, we believe this will be an important, comprehensive contribution to the growing literature on workplace bullying and mobbing, useful for scholars and practitioners alike. The project deliberately takes a U.S. focus in order to take into account the unique aspects of American employment relations.

From the publisher’s webpage for the book, here’s a quick rundown of the highlights:

  • “The first comprehensive, multi-contributor book on workplace bullying and mobbing grounded in American employee relations”;
  • “An ideal starting place for anyone seeking to better understand the breadth and depth of research on workplace bullying and mobbing in the United States”;
  • “Features contributions from leading researchers and subject-matter experts on workplace bullying and mobbing, including some who are founding members of the U.S. Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Abuse”; and,
  • “Summarizes and analyzes leading research for scholars and researchers in industrial/organizational psychology, clinical and counseling psychology, organizational behavior and communications, business management, law, and public health”.

With a $131 publisher’s retail price (the Kindle edition is currently set at $104), we realize this purchase is not to be taken lightly and may be beyond the budgets of many readers. This book set is aimed at academicians and practitioners who want an encyclopedic treatment of this topic, as well as specialized and general libraries.

Table of Contents

Here’s what appears inside the volumes:

VOLUME 1

Foreword
Gary Namie

Preface
Maureen Duffy and David C. Yamada

PART I: UNDERSTANDING WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING

Chapter 1
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing: Definitions, Terms, and When They Matter
David C. Yamada, Maureen Duffy, and Peggy Ann Berry

Chapter 2
Prevalence of Workplace Bullying and Mobbing among U.S. Working Adults: What Do the Numbers Mean?
Loraleigh Keashly

Chapter 3
Risk Factors for Becoming a Target of Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
Gary Namie and Ruth Namie

Chapter 4
Organizational Risk Factors: An Integrative Model for Understanding, Treating, and Preventing Mobbing and Bullying in the Workplace
Len Sperry

PART II: EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING

Chpater 5
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing and the Health of Targets
Melody M. Kawamoto

Chapter 6
The Psychosocial Impact of Workplace Bullying and Mobbing on Targets
Maureen Duffy

Chapter 7
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing: A Neuropsychotherapeutic Perspective
Pieter J. Rossouw

Chapter 8
Vicarious and Secondary Victimization in Adult Bullying and Mobbing: Coworkers, Target-Partners, Children, and Friends
Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik

Chapter 9
When Workplace Bullying and Mobbing Occur: The Impact on Organizations
Renee L. Cowan

PART III: PREVENTION OF WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING

Chapter 10
How Awareness and Education Can Help with Recognition of Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
Gary Namie, Ruth Namie, and Carol Fehner

Chapter 11
The Role of Human Resources in Bullying and Mobbing Prevention Efforts
Teresa A. Daniel

Chapter 12
Innovative Practices in Workplace Conflict Resolution
John-Robert Curtin

VOLUME 2

PART IV: UTILIZING EFFECTIVE INTERVENTIONS IN RESPONDING TO WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING

Chapter 13
Best Practices in Psychotherapy for Targets of Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
Maureen Duffy and Jessi Eden Brown

Chapter 14
Best Practices in Coaching for Targets of Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
Jessi Eden Brown and Maureen Duffy

Chapter 15
Best Practices in Coaching for Aggressors and Offenders in Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
Benjamin M. Walsh

Chapter 16
The Role of the Consultant in Assessing and Preventing Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
Gary Namie and Ruth Namie

Chapter 17
The Role of the Ombuds in Addressing Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
Tony Belak

PART V: THE LEGAL LANDSCAPE IN THE UNITED STATES FOR WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING

Chapter 18
The American Legal Landscape: Potential Redress and Liability for Workplace Bullying and Mobbing
David C. Yamada

Chapter 19
Comparing and Contrasting Workplace Bullying and Mobbing Laws in Other Countries with the American Legal Landscape
Ellen Pinkos Cobb

PART VI: WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING WITHIN SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT SECTORS

Chapter 20
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the Health Care Sector
Susan Johnson

Chapter 21
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in K–12 Settings: School Principal Mistreatment and Abuse of Teachers
Jo Blase and Joseph Blase

Chapter 22
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in U.S. Higher Education
Loraleigh Keashly and Joel H. Neuman

Chapter 23
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the Public Service Sector and the Role of Unions
Gregory Sorozan

Chapter 24
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the Corporate Sector
Kelly H. Kolb and Mary Beth Ricke

Chapter 25
Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the Nonprofit Sector
Vega Subramaniam

Epilogue: An Agenda for Moving Forward
David C. Yamada and Maureen Duffy

About the Editors and Contributors

Index

Endorsements

We’re also proud to share the following endorsements from valued colleagues:

Michael L. Perlin, Esq., Professor Emeritus of Law, New York Law School; Cofounder, Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates: “With each day that passes, the need for these volumes grows. This is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary major work looking carefully at issues of workplace bullying and mobbing, asking hard questions, and offering a multifaceted agenda for interventions, law reform, and behavioral changes. It calls out for an infusion of much-needed dignity into our offices, factories, and universities. If only this were to be read in the White House. Bravo!”

Linda M. Hartling, PhD, Director, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies: “Finally, a comprehensive, reader-friendly, research-based text examining the full spectrum of interpersonal cruelty that poisons productivity and creativity in the American workplace. This book is not only an essential resource for anyone who has experienced workplace bullying or mobbing, it is a vital guide for professionals at all levels seeking practical approaches to prevent, reduce, and reverse the risks of aggression in today’s hyper-competitive world of work.”

Loree Sutton, MD, US Army Ret. Brigadier General: “Bravo! In this two-volume book set, Maureen Duffy and David Yamada have provided a most timely and essential resource for policymakers, practitioners, advocates, employers, and workers seeking to advance and accelerate desperately needed changes affecting the health, wellbeing, civility, and productivity of American society. This pioneering work, representing the collective expertise of cutting-edge legal, employment, therapist, human resources, and public policy professionals, is destined to serve as the tipping point of our country’s awareness concerning the devastating impact of workplace bullying and mobbing. As importantly, the knowledge, insights, and strategies outlined in these volumes identify what each of us, inspired by the ‘fierce urgency of now,’ must do to create a workplace whose culture and contributions are imbued with dignity, pride, and respect for all.”

Suzanne L. Walker, MS, CCMHC, LCAS, LPC, American Mental Health Counselors’ Association (AMHCA) Current Past President: “As a seasoned mental health professional of 35 years providing clinical mental health and psychotherapy to scores of traumatized people, I never imagined that I would be ‘that person’: a victim of workplace bullying and discrimination for more than 13 months. My friends, family, and professional colleagues still have trouble understanding how workplace bullying could exist in the public sector despite scores of potential legal protections. This book is a critically needed, seminal piece of well-written and researched professional literature—long overdue and so desperately needed.”

Ellen Cobb’s “Workplace Bullying and Harassment”: A global legal source guide

For those seeking a handy compilation and summary of laws relating to workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment around the world, Ellen Pinkos Cobb’s Workplace Bullying and Harassment: New Developments in International Law (Routledge, 2017) may be your go-to source. The following is drawn from the book’s online description:

Workplace Bullying and Harassment: New Developments in International Law provides a comprehensive tour around the globe, summarizing relevant legislation and key developments in workplace bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, violence, and stress in over 50 countries in Europe, the Asia Pacific region, the Americas region, and the Middle East and Africa.

. . . This book brings together need-to-know information on global workplace bullying and harassment in one place, the first publication of its kind to do so. It will aid those in the fields of labor and employment, human resources management, occupational and industrial health psychology, health and safety, and workplace regulatory compliance stay abreast of laws and developments that these practitioners must be aware of, whether operating nationally or globally. Academics will also benefit. Links to laws and references are provided, enabling further research.

Ellen is a Massachusetts attorney who has been steadily researching laws related to bullying at work, and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for many years. She first published this guide independently. After producing several self-published versions, she then secured a contract with a major publisher. I’m delighted that her very useful and comprehensive resource is now more broadly available, and at a relatively affordable price for a book designed for practitioners and scholars.

Coming in December: “Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the United States”

Dear readers, Dr. Maureen Duffy and I are going through the final galley proofs of our forthcoming two-volume book set, Workplace Bullying and Mobbing in the United States (ABC-CLIO, 2018), scheduled for publication in December!

With over two dozen contributors (including a Foreword by Dr. Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute) and some 600 pages packed into two volumes, we believe this will be an important, comprehensive contribution to the growing literature on workplace bullying and mobbing, useful for scholars and practitioners alike. The project deliberately takes a U.S. focus in order to take into account the unique aspects of American employment relations.

From the publisher’s webpage for the book, here’s a quick rundown of the highlights:

  • “The first comprehensive, multi-contributor book on workplace bullying and mobbing grounded in American employee relations”;
  • “An ideal starting place for anyone seeking to better understand the breadth and depth of research on workplace bullying and mobbing in the United States”;
  • “Features contributions from leading researchers and subject-matter experts on workplace bullying and mobbing, including some who are founding members of the U.S. Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Abuse”; and,
  • “Summarizes and analyzes leading research for scholars and researchers in industrial/organizational psychology, clinical and counseling psychology, organizational behavior and communications, business management, law, and public health”.

With a $131 publisher’s retail price, this book set is aimed at academicians and practitioners who want an encyclopedic treatment of this topic, as well as specialized and general libraries. 

We’ll be sharing more about the contents and our contributors during the weeks to come. In the meantime, we’re proud to reprint the following endorsements from valued colleagues:

Michael L. Perlin, Esq., Professor Emeritus of Law, New York Law School; Cofounder, Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates: “With each day that passes, the need for these volumes grows. This is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary major work looking carefully at issues of workplace bullying and mobbing, asking hard questions, and offering a multifaceted agenda for interventions, law reform, and behavioral changes. It calls out for an infusion of much-needed dignity into our offices, factories, and universities. If only this were to be read in the White House. Bravo!”

Linda M. Hartling, PhD, Director, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies: “Finally, a comprehensive, reader-friendly, research-based text examining the full spectrum of interpersonal cruelty that poisons productivity and creativity in the American workplace. This book is not only an essential resource for anyone who has experienced workplace bullying or mobbing, it is a vital guide for professionals at all levels seeking practical approaches to prevent, reduce, and reverse the risks of aggression in today’s hyper-competitive world of work.”

Loree Sutton, MD, US Army Ret. Brigadier General: “Bravo! In this two-volume book set, Maureen Duffy and David Yamada have provided a most timely and essential resource for policymakers, practitioners, advocates, employers, and workers seeking to advance and accelerate desperately needed changes affecting the health, wellbeing, civility, and productivity of American society. This pioneering work, representing the collective expertise of cutting-edge legal, employment, therapist, human resources, and public policy professionals, is destined to serve as the tipping point of our country’s awareness concerning the devastating impact of workplace bullying and mobbing. As importantly, the knowledge, insights, and strategies outlined in these volumes identify what each of us, inspired by the ‘fierce urgency of now,’ must do to create a workplace whose culture and contributions are imbued with dignity, pride, and respect for all.”

Suzanne L. Walker, MS, CCMHC, LCAS, LPC, American Mental Health Counselors’ Association (AMHCA) Current Past President: “As a seasoned mental health professional of 35 years providing clinical mental health and psychotherapy to scores of traumatized people, I never imagined that I would be ‘that person’: a victim of workplace bullying and discrimination for more than 13 months. My friends, family, and professional colleagues still have trouble understanding how workplace bullying could exist in the public sector despite scores of potential legal protections. This book is a critically needed, seminal piece of well-written and researched professional literature—long overdue and so desperately needed.”

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