Are there bullies in your workplace?

If the world wide web provides realistic feedback, one of three employees have been bullied by other employees and of those bullies, 60% are men and of those men, they are equal opportunity bullies by bullying men as often as they bully women.  On the other hand, when women bully in the workplace, women predominantly bully other women.  Do these generalizations ring true?

Whether the statistics are true or not, anecdotal evidence reveals that there is an abundance of bullying in the workplace.  With that unfortunate reality, tribal employers should address the issue through policy, training and an enforcement protocol which declares zero tolerance for bullying.  As to policy, here is a straight-forward example which you might consider implementing:

Dignity and Respect Policy

The ABC Tribe is committed to the promotion of an environment for work which upholds the dignity and respect of the individual and which supports every individual’s right to work in an environment which is free of any form of intimidation or bullying.

Intimidation and bullying is defined as behavior of a physical, verbal or a psychological nature which is unwanted and unwelcome and which could reasonably be regarded as offensive. The bully, intentionally or unintentionally, misuses the power of position, knowledge or personality to domineer, intimidate or humiliate others.

The following are common but not exclusive examples of bullying behavior:

• Open aggression, threats, shouting abuse or the use of obscenities
• Constant humiliation, sneering or ridicule
• Unreasonable scrutiny or unreasonable demands
• Undermining a person’s authority
• Spreading malicious rumors

If you are the victim of bullying or you witness it you are obligated to report the bullying to Human Resources.  If you are a bully in the workplace, the behavior will not be tolerated and it could lead to discipline which may include termination of employment.

Do you have a better sample policy?  Will you share it with me so I can share with others via this Newsletter?

Recommendation:  Address this important issue through policy, training and consistent enforcement.  Be careful in the application of the policy since the definition of bullying is not precise and therefore open to interpretation.  When policies are open to interpretation, good managers apply them uniformly, but poor managers apply them politically.

About the Author:

Richard McGee is a lawyer in Minneapolis, Minnesota who focuses his practice on gaming, gaming regulation, tribal employment and litigation in tribal, state and federal courts.  Richard has the privilege of working with tribes and tribal organizations on Human Resources matters including training.  Additionally, tribes ask Richard to address specific topics while incorporating the tribe’s related laws and policies into the sessions.  This is an invitation to engage Richard to produce and facilitate training for your tribe.