If you are in need of assistance for a workplace bullying, mobbing, or abuse situation, the following information and resources may be helpful.
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 and mobbing, especially 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.
In addition, because severe work abuse can often trigger psychological trauma, including symptoms consistent with PTSD, it may be useful to learn more about this topic:
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.
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.
Possibilities (resources for those considering career shifts)
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:
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.
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.
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.