Need Help?

If you are in need of assistance for a workplace bullying, mobbing, or abuse situation, the following information and resources may be helpful.

Assessing options

To help people understand the scope of potential options in dealing with workplace bullying situations, here is a quick checklist of possibilities, with a note that the legal and employee benefit options are specific to U.S. readers:

1. Medical assistance — For seeking treatment for physical and mental health conditions related to the mistreatment.

2. Therapy and counseling — For addressing mental health issues related to the mistreatment, ideally with a licensed mental health provider who understands interpersonal abuse and traumatic stress.

3. Coaching — For understanding, developing, and assessing options and choices.

4. Career coaching/counseling/consulting — For obtaining career guidance in the midst or aftermath of a bullying situation.

5. Employer-provided vacation, personal, and sick days — Using up accumulated leave days to remove yourself from the toxic work environment and to consider options.

6. Family and medical leave — Federal and state laws providing (usually unpaid) family and medical leave may offer an option if you have used up paid leave time but want to retain the right to return to your job.

7. Legal assistance/potential lawsuit — As many readers know, we are still working to enact comprehensive workplace bullying legislation. However, in some instances, anti-discrimination laws, disability laws, whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections, collective bargaining agreements, employee handbooks, and other miscellaneous legal provisions may provide the “hook” you need for a potential legal claim.

8. Legal assistance/public benefits — Unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability offer potential sources of income replacement due to job loss and work-related injuries.


There is no substitute for learning about these behaviors and their underlying dynamics. For those who seek information, advice, and expert commentary on workplace bullying, especially bullying targets, I highly recommend these two affordably priced books:

Gary Namie & Ruth Namie, The Bully at Work (2d ed. 2009)Gary and Ruth are co-founders of the Workplace Bullying Institute, whose website also is an excellent source of information. This is the bestselling book on dealing with workplace bullying situations, and for good reason.

Maureen Duffy & Len Sperry, Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying (2014)Maureen and Len have written an excellent book, especially for those who are facing mobbing-style mistreatment at work. 

Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2014) — This is a superb, accessible look at the nature of psychological trauma and its treatment, by one of the pioneers in the field.

Workplace Bullying Institute — Coaching for Targets

Targets of workplace bullying may consider confidential coaching by telephone offered by the Workplace Bullying Institute through Jessi Eden Brown, a licensed counselor and WBI’s professional coach. For more information, including availability and rates, go here.

Jessi discusses her approach to working with targets in this in-depth 2016 cover piece in Counseling Today, “Fertile grounds for bullying,” which examines the effects of bullying behaviors in schools, workplaces, and online. If you are already working with a therapist, counselor, or coach, you might consider sharing this article with them.

Blog posts

Targets of workplace bullying who are weighing their situations and options may find these articles from the blog helpful:

Because of the nature of blogging, there is some repetition and overlap in the information and advice contained in these posts.

Workplace bullying: Recognition, response, recovery, and renewal

After being bullied at work, what next?

Bullied at work? Avoid making these common mistakes

Possibilities (resources for those considering career shifts)

“Should I stay or should I go?” Career insights from Seth Godin and The Clash

Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder and workplace bullying

No magic answers: “What should I do if I’m bullied at work?”

Should you confront your workplace bully?

APA Resource Page

I worked with the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence to create an informational webpage on workplace bullying, including a list of resources and this short animated video:

Legal Advice


Those seeking to retain an employment lawyer can find online referral assistance from the National Employment Lawyers Association, a bar association of attorneys who specialize in representing workers.


Massachusetts residents also can “window shop” the attorney directory of NELA’s Massachusetts chapter.

Legal Overview

For a general overview of legal issues related to bullying at work, see my paper, Potential Legal Protections and Liabilities for Workplace Bullying.  This is provided for informational purposes only and cannot substitute for the advice of a lawyer. There are tremendous variations in state employment laws that are not covered by this overview.

Suicide Prevention

If you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached around the clock at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In addition, you can go to a hospital emergency room and ask for help.

25 responses

  1. Pingback: Need Help? « Minding the Workplace « Stop Workplace Bullies…Now!

    • Hi, I wasn’t sure where to post this. But, do bullied employees or graduate students have any rights in terms of being able to obtain a reference from the bullies or their peers? For example, I was bullied as a student at university in Australia. My supervisor obviously gave me a good reference two years ago when I completed, as I was offered interviews on the back of this. Following two years of being bullied by the same people even after I had left the institution, I have just worked up enough strength to try again to enter postgraduate study. Ostensibly there has been no interaction between us since I left, even though I suspect that behind the scenes she has been involved in my bullying. I recently emailed her to ask whether she would supply a reference for me based on my performance when I was at the university, as she has done in the past. She has not yet responded, and I suspect she probably won’t. Is there anything I could do? She shouldn’t have changed her opinion about my potential, if she has it is because of the bullies’ behaviour. Any advice gratefully received. Thanks.

      • As I noted at the top of this page of the blog, for legal reasons I cannot provide legal advice or personal coaching on individual situations. The question you raised would require knowledge of Australian employment and (perhaps) education law, so it would be advisable to look in that direction for assistance. Perhaps some other readers may be of assistance.

  2. Hi David, We have chatted back and forth on FaceBook regarding my precious daughter, Jodie Jones Zebell, of Wisconsin, who lost her life to Bullying/Psychological Harassment in the Workplace in 2008. She was 31 years old. I and my family have been stumbling along, trying to enact legislation, as well as make a difference in the Workplace, so there will be no more “Jodie” stories in the future. Bev Petersen has done a short documentary on Jodie’s story under No Job is Worth It. You can also “Google” Jodie Zebell and find a number of references. This looks like a great new resource. Jean Lampman-Jones

  3. Jean, thanks for your good note and for your advocacy in the face of such terrible personal loss. Sadly, we are seeing more of this terrible phenomenon of suicide in the wake of horrific bullying. I hope we can enact the Healthy Workplace Bill as one additional weapon in the battle against this form of inexcusable abuse.

  4. Hi there–thank you so much for this. About eight months ago I quit a job in which my boss treated me like total **** for my six straight months working there. Just miserable–I was 23 and he was in his fifties, a wealthy guy who ran the office comprised of me (his copywriter–though quickly EVERYTHING ELSE) and the usually absent (and kind, but oblivious) CEO. The bullying became constant–forced overtime without pay, midnight emails, work far outside of my job or experience level, total verbal abuse, rampant lying to and about me, and just daily assortments of terror. Anyway, I finally quit the job and even received a severance so long as I didn’t sue for past wages, distress, or anything else, even though I never threatened to.

    I learned later that this guy had done this to previous assistants at previous jobs–he’s gone through four companies in as many years. Three months after I left, he got canned, and even had the nerve to send me an email telling me about his big plans for the future, though the last words we’d exchanged were me telling him he needed to get psychiatric help.

    Anyway, the point is, if you’re suffering workplace abuse QUIT YOUR JOB. Recession or not, we all have one life to life (unless we’re Hindu) and none of it should be spent boxing the glacier of deranged lunatic bully bosses.

    • Has anyone ever heard of the bully actually losing her or her job? In my experience, the bully has kept their high paying job, while being named as the reason (in exit interviews) for very good people (including managers) leaving.

  5. I have to get up and go to work in 5 hours. Right now I am awake and trying to find anything positive from what is happening in my office everyday! The boss lady is a psychopath and I have been and continue to be the target of her sneaky, underhanded tactics. When she really lets me have it she is white as a ghost, shaking and “sets me up for failure” time and time again.
    It is effecting everyone in our small office. Three auto accidents with coworkers, one was the boss and all of a sudden two of my co workers are going on Medical Leave for months. We cannot work anymore under this boss and everyone is trying to get out.
    I took my concerns to her boss but was told to “just get along”. I wrote the CEO of the company and explained that workplace bullying was taking place. The response was to take it to my immediate Manager which I had already done.
    Now, I am looking for another job, even in this economy but my skill sets are in high demand. It will require a move to another state but so be it. I cannot take anymore!!! The best part of this? I volunteered to help with this job vacancy which became my job after 6 months after I applied for it. Now, this new boss wants me out to get her friend in it. So much for trying to help an employer out!

  6. I would really like someone to help me fix my credit and finances. I have a chronically ill husband oweing money disturbes him. I lost over 7 jobs if i had not found Dr. Namie an saw what was going on i would have sunk futher into depresion— i have had more than enough i was underpaid,over charged and sabatouged i want my money straigt i always paid my bills on time what time i have left i would like to spend in far less adversity

  7. Good morning,
    So many of these stories resonate and I am holding good thoughts for everyone. I am being terminated from a professional position where I have been bullied by my direct reports, faculty and my boss (an officer). I am filing a complaint and the attorney with whom I’m consulting believes I have a good case for age discrimination, whistle blowing retaliation and disability discrimination.

    The result of the bullying and harassment for me has been a deep depression and inability to focus, as well as very intense fear. My staff “mobbed” me in an effort to get rid of me and my associate will move into my position (which he clearly wanted from the beginning)

    My boss, colleagues and faculty became angry every time my work was successful and ultimately played horrible mind games and my boss gave me work, only to take it away after I had done what he asked. Nullifying my efforts.

    Meditation, prayer and changing my diet, esp reducing caffeine-
    have helped and I am only just starting to improve. (Add to that being a cancer survivor 1.5 years out of chemo with subsequent, related surgeries and ongoing disability related to the original surgery for cancer). The health issues never slowed me down at all until the harassment started.

    I keep trying to think good thoughts, do what I can to help others and look forward to my last day and my future. Keeping up with economics and business trends and contemporary readings on management, ethics, and sites like this, have also helped a lot!

    Highly recommend: MindTools, and any sites dealing with creative/critical thinking as good resources.

    Please keep the faith and don’t give up. If a counselor or coach is out of budget, talk with a pastor, or other religious leader. Meditation is also helpful to keep quiet inside.

    I return to work soon after a medical leave for major surgery (which I had planned to do after leaving my position, but my situation reached emergency status with complications, and I had to be rushed to the hospital – so much for plans!)

    Blessings and peace to everyone. There is enough room and the right place and position for everyone. Keep believing in yourself!

    • Dear CGK: Thank you for sharing. Your story resonates with me…it’s amazing that bullying at work has so many common threads for so many different people and work situations.

      Without going into detail, I was forced to leave my job. I was there for 18 years. Leaving may have saved me from some catastrophic consequences; however, the residual effect has done a lot of damage to both my health and my economic situation. I am still unemployed.

      I am trying to change my way of thinking; trying to rid myself of what was done to me and concentrate on what I can do to make me well and productive again. I am feeling better and strive for inner-peace and well-being. I am thankful for the people who have been working so diligently in this cause to eliminate toxic behavior in the workplace. We know that harmful actions can alter a person’s life forever. Let’s hope we can be catalysts in change. I’m starting to believe that everything happens for a reason…

      God bless, mj

      • Hi,
        I have been going through mobbing/Gang-stalking/group-stalking/Stalking-by-proxie for the last few years. There are many names to this type of Bullying, I was working for a large billion dollar company and I resigned from it about 3 years ago. Before leaving the company I had anonymously(supposedly anonymous) about my supervisor and his supporters since they were practicing a religious cult inside the company. After leaving the company also I talked badly(telliing truth about the bullies) about this group when I met my friends. I joined a new company and was doing well in new company for 1 year. Then all of a sudden Mobbing/Gang-stalking was started by my previous company. They send people to follow me everywhere, take my pictures, stand near me and stare for few minutes and walk away. They also sent people with gangster tattos and tall and muscular men to stare at me, take my pictures and walk away. Because of lot of un-known people stalking me all the time, I had to resign from my new job also. I am currently out of job, without a lawyer and running out of money. I don’t know what to do and how long I can sustain to be without a job. I don’t feel like getting out of the house because of the fear of who will stalk me. I complained to the police once and they were not of any help.

  8. I have been teaching at a catholic based institution for 17 years. The last four have been absolutely the most uncivil experience I have ever encountered. I am a full tenured professor, a white male, and have been basically demoted to teaching freshman speech classes and still a few courses that require my expertise. We have an unbalanced gender bias, have been forced from a three to a four course load, and basically am being run off by means that lack legal protocal. Two years ago I had a a stroke, I know have diabetes. This has had a terrible effect on my health. Oddly enough, I write grants and support the school financially, which is over. I have about had it.
    My school has NO incivility policy.


  9. Cudos for listing so many resources for folks. Individuals who are represented by a Union should contact their Union Representative and ask for assistance through their union. If the Union does not understand the issue or have Bargaining Agreement Language in place, advocate for such language. Our National Union, at Convention, has endorsed the advocacy of the Workplace Bullying Institute and Professor David Yamada. We are beginning to advocate for our members protection from Bullying. In this way Unions can help all working women and men, member or not. This is a fundamental right of all who work for dignity in the workplace! It is a slow and arduous process, but if we all work toward the same goal (Freedom from Workplace Bullying), we will get there.

  10. I have been working for the largest public school system in this country for 18 years. Shortly after the loss of my father in recent years, I came to learn through a colleague that a collection was made by the union rep. that was supposed to be issued to a medical foundation in my dad’s name which was never done.
    After questioning, a fatal mistake, what happened to the collection and the certificate I was told I would recieve, I became a target of abuse. This union rep. began bad mouthing me in the teachers lounge. I no longer have support of my union and am being targeted by administration as the “whipping boy” of the building.

  11. Every time I read this blog, I feel like I am not alone when I say I feel miserable at work. Last week, my boss sent my colleague an email that was so disgusting and rude, telling her to shut her voice tone because it was disruptive. We work as advisors in a college, how are we supposed not to talk when that is what our job entails? We get to talk to students, faculty, other administrators. I brought this up to my boss’ supervisor and of course she brushed it off. But not only did she brush it off, she made a mockery out of it with other employees and told my colleague that she needed to talk to our boss about it. I feel that the humiliation is already too much for my colleague. I have had issues with our boss too. To be honest I am done trying to work and be civil with this boss I am ready to just walk. I know no matter where I go I will always find roadblocks, but I am sure other workplaces have better leadership. My opinion is if the leadership is so inmature and disrespectful, then nothing will ever be accomplished.
    Anyway, thank you Mr. Yamada for this blog, it really is the best read for me every day!🙂

  12. My apologies — I di not post my message correctly.
    Does anyone know of a speaker in the Washington DC area who could give a talk to a union membership for a reasonable (or no) fee on workplace abuse.
    Also, do you know of any workplace abuse support groups or hotlines in this area either. Many thanks.

  13. I resigned my job because of workplace bullying by my manager. I worked at a small business where I was one of four employees. This man resented me because I was the veteran at this business and was well liked. He made my life miserable. I took it for a very long time always hoping it would get better. I had a Afib issue and decided that now my health was more important. I never thought it would come to this point. I have been going to a therapist since the afib and was told I have Acute Stress Disorder. I was denied unemployment but plan on appealing. It was good to see someone somewhere is getting recognized. I have no witnesses since they have to keep their jobs. I will have to go this alone. I so deserve it. If I had stayed I would have had a stroke for a nervous breakdown. I just have to be able to get through this appeal.

    Thank you for this article. I have visited and contacted the Workplace Bullying Institute and it has been a blessing. It is awful to think I am one of so many that are dealing or have dealt with this.

  14. I too had to leave my job because of the bullying from my supervisor she would give me written warnings to terminate my employment if I got sick again I was humiliated and coerced she even asked me one time what I feared the most I trusted her and told her then she turned on me and played on my mental well being with this information and I had a nervous breakdown and went on disability.
    The doctor I chose to help me with my anxiety and paranoia also worked for the same company I did, he is a psychiatrist I tried telling him about what was happening at my work and he just discredited every thing I would tell him I would leave his office in tears. My neighbour told me I used to be a handsome man but now I just looked old and stressed. On one occasion at the doctors office I couldn’t take his discrediting me anymore I got up to leave and he blocked my way to the door and told me I was staying I told him no I am leaving and he wouldn’t let me get by him and he made me stay.
    The next appointment I had with him I told him what my neighbour said and he kicked me out of his office and said you are not getting me with torture and then he lied about it and said I fired him.
    I feel he was gas lighting me so I would look like a deranged liar. The awful thing is I was working for the government and my supervisor had a history of stays at psychiatric hospitals she was fired and I am left out in the cold with no job no home and labeled a pathological liar.
    What they don’t no is I have the written warning papers still and the hospital reports and the dates match up.
    Conclusion I was bullied and threatened with termination because I was sick in the hospital with kidney stones.
    This was the first incident there are more which I still have the paper work for but I am having nightmares and I cant get over how I was treated when I was sick.

  15. Greetings,

    My sympathies extend to all victims of employers who use their power and manipulative abilities to abuse their employees and ultimately cause many of them to leave their jobs or give up and put up. We all know this is wrong. I am not sure if this kind of workplace behavior is on the rise or if people are starting to talk about it more. While it is important to share our stories, I think it is even more important for us to stand together as a community and get our state politicians and national politicians to enact legislature to protect employees from bullying in their workplaces.

    An attempt was made in my state of NH to do this in 2014 and legislature was even passed by both houses. However, when it got to the democratic Governor’s office, she vetoed it saying the language was too vague and opened the door for employees to make false accusations about their employers. We happened to be in a period where the climate was ripe to get the bill that far. Things are very different now.

    It would be very helpful if those in the know would share legislature that has been passed in their states to protect employees, or copies of legislation that got only so far and was not passed. If we print these examples out and go to a sympathetic state rep or senator, perhaps we can get the political ball moving.

    I see that one part of the problem is that administrators stick together and are far more likely to support other administrators, CEO’s and managers than to listen to the employees. In my case there has been overwhelming evidence against a number of administrators in my school district, but the superintendent denies it all and blames the teachers every time. This is the climate we are dealing with. Teachers have filed lawsuits and failed.

    Let’s not just be a support group for each other, although that in itself is very helpful. Let’s take a bigger step together and take political action to try to make administrators responsible for their behavior in the workplace. Cruelty, yelling, insulting, criticizing rather than supporting, backstabbing, and all the other things people describe will only be kept in line if there is a political process in place to deal with this apparently rampant egregious workplace situation.

    Solidarity is a must!

    All best,

    Sylvie Stewart
    New Hampshire

  16. In March of 2012, I fell due to the actions of a student and sustained a traumatic brain injury. I am unable to work and unanimously met the qualifications for ADR by the medical panel. On August 29, 2914 the mtrs board “tabled” they’re decision seeking clarification from medical panel on permanence. However, the medical panel was never notified of this and no further action was taken. I took it upon myself to look into the situation and finally a meeting with medical panel took place on 8/8/2015. They stand by their initial findings about permanence and causality. In the meantime my life had been permanently altered due to this negligence. I am financially ruined and on the verge of foreclosure. I have been close to suicidal. Is there any action I can take legally against the board?

    • I’m terribly sorry to hear about your situation. The question of what possible legal actions might be available needs to be answered by a lawyer admitted to practice in your state, ideally one who is experienced at dealing with these matters. You may find some online referral assistance from the National Employment Lawyers Association (link on this Need Help page), or perhaps your local bar association has a referral service. Also, I urge you to seek counseling to help you deal with this. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (again, info on this Need Help page) for help. I wish you the best of luck in dealing with all this.

  17. I’m sharing your blogsite with our union representatives at the USDA Forest Service. The agency averages over 650 EEO complaints each year. And these are the ones which actually make it all the way up and out of the Forest Service to the parent agency. It’s amazing that there is no watchdog group or congressional oversight on shutting down this bad boy behavior which seems to only be getting worse in the agency.

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