Monday, October 19, 2009

Ontarians Please Support Bill 168

Ontarians please contact your MPPs to ask them to support Bill 168. This bill focuses on workplace violence and workplace harassment. Representatives need to know that Ontarians want to be protected from violence and bullies in the workplace. The debate regarding this bill will resume tomorrow. Please do your part to protect Ontarians. Thanks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Categories of Workplace Bullying

In my newly released book In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying, I discuss the results of an online Workplace Interaction survey I administered to 326 men and women in Canada and the United States. The survey sought to determine how commonly people experience the five categories of bullying set forth by researchers Charlotte Rayner and Helge Hoel:

1) Threat to professional status (e.g., damaging the person’s reputation, humiliating the person in public or accusing him or her of lack of effort).
2) Threat to personal standing (e.g., calling the person names; insulting, teasing or intimidating him or her; or devaluing the person based on age).
3) Isolation (e.g., preventing access to opportunities, deliberately withholding important information or isolating the person physically or socially).
4) Overwork (e.g., imposing undue pressure to produce work, setting impossible deadlines or making consistent and unnecessary disruptions).
5) Destabilization (e.g., failing to give credit where it is due, assigning meaningless tasks, removing responsibility or setting the person up for failure).

In the threats to professional status category, 47 percent of survey respondents indicated they had been publicly humiliated and embarrassed by a boss or co-worker. In the threats to personal standing category, 39 percent of respondents were teased, 27 percent were targets of malicious rumors and 25 percent were talked to in a sarcastic way and felt “put down.” In the category of isolation, 33 percent of respondents reported being ostracized in the workplace and 29 percent had their work sabotaged.

Nearly half of the respondents (46 percent) felt overworked. A full 21 percent said they’d received unreasonable deadlines: a ruse commonly used by bullies in efforts to overwhelm and intimidate.

Destabilization was rampant; 51 percent of respondents indicated they did not receive credit for their work and 37 percent said they were neither acknowledged nor rewarded for doing a good job.

The Workplace Interaction survey confirmed the powerfully and profoundly damaging impact of workplace bullying on health and wellness. For example:

• 32 percent of the men and women surveyed indicated that they suffered physical ailments such as fatigue, nervousness, headaches and stomachaches on a regular basis due to mistreatment at work.
• 28 percent were depressed and became anxious when they thought about work or were at work.
• 35 percent indicated that being bullied had negatively affected their personal lives.

To eliminate bullying in the workplace, organizations must establish healthy workplace policies that specifically address bullying. Similarly, lawmakers must pass legislation making workplace bullying illegal. When workplace bullying is illegal, organizations and individuals within those organizations will be forced to change their attitudes and behaviors.

For more information visit

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New book to be released soon

I am very much interested in seeing workplace bullying eradicated in the workplace. I have written a book on this topic titled “In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying”. This book will be available soon. This book is not like any other book which focuses on workplace bullying. I share my personal experiences of being bullied in the workplace and my subsequent research on the issue. My goal was to write a book that let targeted individuals know that someone was willing to speak open and honest about how bullying affects them. I encourage you to visit my website for more information regarding this book and my earlier book titled “Hope For a Healthy Workplace”. Preorder your copy today.

Thank you.

Dr. Lisa M. S. Barrow

Saturday, August 22, 2009

In Darkness Light Dawns:Exposing Workplace Bullying.

Have you been publicly humiliated by a boss or coworker?
Have you been the target of malicious rumors at work?
Have you been ostracized at work?
Have you received unreasonable project deadlines?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, you are experiencing some forms of workplace bullying. I recently completed research in which I asked 286 men and women in Canada and the US to respond to these questions. 44% of respondents indicated that they had been publicly humiliated by a boss or coworker. 25% of respondents were the targets of malicious rumors. 30% reported being ostracized in the workplace and 20% of respondents said they'd received unreasonable deadlines.

At first you make think that these acts are harmless, however, if a person is subjected to them over an extended period of time, they can become quite harmful. Individuals who resort to such acts are psychologically harassing others. They are slowly trying to chip away at the employees' confidence, self-esteem and overall wellbeing. In doing so, the harasser is able to unleash his or her wrath upon unsuspecting victims and the victims are left feeling confused and helpless.

Psychological harassment or workplace bullying can have a devastating effect on employees who find themselves as the target of this abusive behavior. Unfortunately, some individuals become so distraught, they feel the only way out of their suffering is by suicide. Suicide is not the answer. Workplace bullies need to be held accountable for their actions. Organizations that choose to ignore the issue of workplace bullying need to be held responsible. That is why it is so very important for anti-psychological harassment laws to be passed. Employees need to be protected from the bullies who are roaming the halls of our organizations and who are wreaking havoc in millions of lives. The time has come for us to put forth a united effort to stop workplace bullying.

My soon-to-be released book "In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying.", provides valuable insights about workplace bullying and recommendations for how to stop workplace bullying. The book will be available mid-September.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What can I do if I am being bullied?

Over the past several months I have been diligently writing my next book "In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying." which is about workplace bullying and my experiences. As I think about my audience I am sure many will ask themselves the question "What can I do if I am being bullied?" I have devoted an entire chapter to answering this question, however, I thought I would share a few tips for those of you who need guidance immediately.

One of the first things you must do is uphold your personal value. You must look in the mirror and embrace the person looking back at you. Bullying has a way of playing tricks on your mind, and may cause you to begin to doubt and devalue yourself. You have to begin to change your mindset about YOU. No matter how discouraged and defeated you may be feeling at this time, you must muster up the strength to see your true worth and to embrace it. If you do not value one else will value you.

The next thing you must do is surround yourself with people who love you and are willing to support you. Trust me this is very important. I could not have survived my bullying experience without the love, prayers and support of family and friends. There were times when I doubted myself while going through my bullying experience, and then I would receive a call from a sister or friend and the person would say something that would let me know that I was valued and that I would be ok.

Document your interactions with the bully so that you have concrete evidence. Record the time, place, date, persons involved, and what was said and done. This will come in handy should you choose to pursue legal action. Carry a little notepad with you so that you can write down the facts right after a bullying incident and while it is fresh in your mind.

I would encourage you to talk to a counselor as he/she can help you work through some of the psychological damage that has been caused by the bullying. Counselors can offer insights to help you regain your strength so that you can confidently confront the bully. Yes, I said "confront the bully". I can just hear the collective gulp. In confronting the bully you are taking back your life and letting him or her know that you will not tolerate the bullying any longer. If you feel as if you do not have the courage or strength to do this on your own, take someone with you. Setup an appointment with a representative from human resources or your union. The bottom line is that you must tell someone. Know that you will meet with great resistance from the bully, but that is ok. Take deep breaths. The more you are aware of your breathing, the calmer you will be. Interact with the person in a professional manner. Clearly, let him or her know that the bullying must stop or else you will have to pursue your options. You must be firm. You should also file a formal complaint with the human resources department. Be sure to let your doctor know what is going on. Workplace bullying causes a great deal of stress for a person and can cause other ailments as well. Your doctor needs to know of your situation so that you can be cared for in an appropriate manner. Finally, if you cannot get assistance from your human resources personnel, then contact a lawyer.

So these are a few suggestions. I expand on these suggestions and provide other insights in my soon to be released book "In Darkness Light Dawns". Stay tuned. In the meantime, keep your head up and continue to see your personal worth and beauty.


Friday, May 1, 2009

New York State Residents Workplace Anti-bullying Survey

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Health Fair at Villa Maria College. I spent the day talking to individuals about workplace bullying and our efforts to convince legislators to pass the Healthy Workplace Bill in New York State. Every person with whom I spoke, shared a story about being bullied in the workplace or knowing someone who had been bullied. There are so many people who are suffering in silence because they are afraid to speak up about what is happening to them. Just as we encourage our children to tell us if someone is touching them in an inappropriate manner, we must encourage employees to tell someone about their bullying experience. No longer can workplace bullying be a taboo topic. It needs to be openly discussed. It needs to stop!!!! There needs to be a law to protect employees from abusive bosses and colleagues. 

After interacting with individuals at events such as the Health Fair and hearing their stories, my commit and passion for creating a healthier workplace environment increases. My energy is fueled by the stories I hear and my strong desire to help individuals escape from their bullying situation. I am reminded of the tears that are shed as people share their stories. I am also encouraged by the courage some have displayed as they share their stories. The pain is so evident. The emotions are so raw. The wounds are so deep, yet these individuals muster up the courage to speak up. How can I ignore these survivors of workplace bullying? I cannot!!!! And I am asking you not to ignore them as well. 

You can have your voice heard by taking a few seconds to complete this online survey and passing it along to people you know who live in New York state. Enter your name to win a $50 Macy’s gift card, just by completing this survey.  The drawing will be on May 30, 2009. Click on the link below.

New York Residents!!! Please complete the following online survey and pass it along to friends, family, colleagues and etc who live in NY.

Thank you in advance.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New York Workplace Anti-bullying Legislation Survey

New York state residents, please take a few minutes to complete this short survey related to passing the first workplace anti-bullying law to protect employees. Your assistance is appreciated. Let your voice be heard. Please pass this link along to friends, family members and other New York state residents. Thank you for doing your part to stop workplace bullying. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Workplace Bullying Jodie's story

Yesterday I returned home from Albany, NY after spending Monday, advocating for support for the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB A05414 and  S01823) . Eight individuals from the NY Healthy Workplace Advocates traveled to Albany to garner support from senators and assembly men and women. The feedback we received was encouraging and positive. Hopefully, the feedback will translate into votes for the first ever NY state anti-bullying legislation. I would like to encourage NY residents to contact your local representatives and ask them to support this bill. It is so important and is literally a matter of life or death for some.

As I reflect on my experience, I cannot help but reflect on the individuals who traveled to Albany to share their workplace bullying stories. All of the stories shared were quite compelling.  A police officer shared his workplace bullying story. Two individuals who worked in universities shared their stories. As they shared their stories with assembly men and women and senators, one could see that their wounds had not healed.  Joie traveled from Naples, Florida to share her story. You see, Joie's 31 year old niece Jodie, committed suicide 14 months ago because she could not face her bully any longer. Jodie wanted the bullying to end and saw suicide as a way out of the pain she was suffering. Jodie was married and had two beautiful young children. I commend Joie for having the courage to share this painful story with us. Through Jodie's death Joie has found the courage to speak out against workplace bullying. This story is just a reminder of the seriousness of workplace bullying and the devastating impact it can have on the lives of the targeted person and their loved ones.

I am sharing Joie & Jodie's story because I do not want another person to take his/her life because of workplace bullying. There needs to be laws in place that hold the bully and the organization accountable for their actions. There needs to be an avenue for bullied people to take once they have exhausted their options within the organization. Jodie had gone to HR for assistance and the bullying escalated. Perhaps if there was an anti-bullying law in place, the bully and the organization would have handled the situation differently and Jodie would be alive today. Jodie is not alive today because of workplace bullying. With all of the turmoil in this world and in our organizations, the need for anti-bullying laws has greatly increased. We need to protect one another from individuals who believe it is ok to psychologically harass employees. It is not ok and they need to be held accountable. I encourage you to do your part to help save lives. Please contact your local representatives and encourage them to pass anti-bullying legislation.  For New York state residents please refer to the Healthy Workplace bill 
A05414 (Assembly and   S01823 Senate). Thank you for doing your part to stand up to workplace bullies.  

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Doing Your Part To Stop Workplace Bullying

Several of my colleagues are heading to Albany, New York to advocate for the Healthy Workplace bill. They will be presenting the bill to Senators and Assemblymembers and asking them to support it. Though I will not be attending this round of lobbying, I have sent letters to 55 Senators and Assemblymembers asking for their support. Though we have a long ways to go, we cannot become frustrated or discouraged as too many people are relying on us to do what we can to get this bill past.

Passing this bill will help to create healthier and more productive workplaces. Eliminating bullying in the workplace will increase employee productivity and morale which will ultimately have a positive effect on organizations’ performance and ability to compete in this ever increasing global marketplace. Not only will productivity and morale increase, the healthcare costs associated with bullying in the workplace will decrease. Typically, individuals who are bullied in the workplace experience mental, physical and emotional ailments which prevent them from contributing to the organizational efforts. The absenteeism rate for bullied employees is high as they seek ways to avoid going to work so that they do not have to encounter their bullies.

According to research conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, the turnover costs for Fortune 500 companies is approximately $16 million and litigation due to bullying ranges from $225000 to $1.4 million. These figures undoubtedly will increase as organizations seek to adapt to the current instability and uncertainty of the economy. Further the cost related to prolonged stress according to the Workplace Bullying Institute founder Gary Namie is approximately $150,000 to $200,000 per employee. Here in lies the business case for passing the Healthy Workplace bill, as companies cannot afford to continue to waste money on an issue that could be addressed by the incorporation of anti-bullying policies. When individuals are no longer able to work, they inevitably turn to their state and federal government for assistance, which puts an additional strain on governmental agencies that are already operating at maximum capacity and are trying to meet the needs of constituents. Having workplace anti-bullying legislation would ensure that organizations take the steps needed to create healthier and respectful workplaces. Just as anti-discrimination legislation has had a positive effect on organizations; anti-bullying legislation would do the same and even more. All parties gain by the passage of the Healthy Workplace Bill.

For New York Residents, when contacting your Senator or Assemblymember please refer to Bill number S08793-2008 and A10291 that will sponsored by Senator Thomas P. Morahan and Assemblyman Steve Engelbricht. Thank you for doing your part to see that this bill gets passed.

Writing to your own legislators is the most important action you can take. Legislators value their own constituents very highly and will always give you a moment of their time to pay attention to your concerns.

If you are not sure who you state senator or state assemblymember is, use these simple zip code searches to find out:

Senator Search:

Assembly Search:

Writing to the legislator that represents you is a power action for getting anti-bullying in the workplace legislation passed. Letter writing is the most effective way to have your legislator consider an issue that is important to you.

Thanks for your support.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Healthy Workplace Bill-S8793 and A2247

This past Monday I had the privilege of traveling to the State Capitol in New York to advocate for a new bill that would help to eliminate bullying in the workplace. I, along with several individuals representing the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates, spent all day meeting with senators and assembly members regarding this bill. Many of the advocates also spent Tuesday and Wednesday advocating for the Healthy Workplace bill. We presented our case for why this bill is important and asked these individuals to support this bill. We were encouraged as many of the senators and assembly members recognized the need for such a bill and said that they would support it. Of course, we have a lot of work to do and will be traveling to Albany in February to present our case again. As I went from office to office presenting our case, I was reminded of what can happen when a few people have a common vision and begin to work towards making that vision a reality. If it were not for a few individuals years ago, we would not have anti-discrimination laws and other laws which protect employees.

I truly see the movement towards creating a healthier workplace, as a civil and human rights movement for employees. It is a logical progression of the current New York State Human Rights Law. The time has come to make bullying in the workplace illegal. A state law needs to be passed to protect employees and to save lives. As it stands today, individuals are literally being harmed or are dying as a result of workplace bullying.

Currently in New York State, an employee who is being bullied does not have any recourse because there isn't a law specifically related to bullying in the workplace. If after an employee has exhausted all avenues within his/her organization and decides to go the legal route, he/she will have difficulty convincing a judge to decide in his/her favor even when substantial evidence is presented. The reason being that the judge does not have a legal basis from which to render a decision in favor of the bullied person. If the bullied employee can prove that he/she has been discriminated against because of race, religion, gender and etc, then the judge would render a decision in his/her favor based on one of these issues, however, to solely present a case on bullying would not be sufficient. Based on the evidence provided, the judge may acknowledge that the person had been mistreated, however, because his/her decision must be based on a law, the judge would have to dismiss the case. The reason being, there aren't any anti-bullying laws on the books. The bullied person is left feeling violated and helpless because there isn't a law to protect him/her, which only exacerbates his/her situation.This feeling of helplessness is often what causes some employees to commit suicide. The Healthy Workplace bill would prevent this situation from occurring as bullied employees would have a legal platform to stand on when presenting their bullying cases. Their cases would not be dismissed because of a lack of legal justification.

I encourage you to take the time to contact your state senators and assembly members about the Healthy Workplace bill and to garner their support. This bill will protect you and someone you know. Passing this bill could literally save lives and begin to restore hope for individuals who are currently being bullied or have been bullied in the workplace in New York state.

When contacting your New York State senators please refer to bill S8793 and S2715 which were introduced in 2007 and 2008. When contacting your New York State assembly members refer to bill A2247 for 2009. A10291 and A4921 were introduced in 2007 and 2008.

Together we can make a difference in our workplaces and save a few lives along the way. Please do your part to ensure that this bill is passed. Please send this information to your family, friends, neighbors and etc. Begin making a difference today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Year With New Promises

2009 can be the year when significant progress is made regarding eliminating bullying in the workplace. I will be doing my part to convince lawmakers in Canada and the United States to pass laws to protect employees from workplace bullies. I truly believe that the incidences of workplace bullying will decrease when organizations and bullies are held liable for their actions. Just as there are sexual harassment and discrimination laws, there needs to be anti-bullying laws. I would encourage each of you to begin to contact your representatives about protecting employees by passing anti-bullying laws.

In recent months, the focus has been on bailing out troubled organizations, however, very little discussion has occurred regarding protecting employees. Now is the perfect time for this discussion to take place. I encourage you to begin discussing this matter with friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and politicians. Together we can make a significant difference in the workplace. Together we can create healthier and more positive workplaces for all employees. Let's make workplace bullying illegal in 2009!!!!!