WVU employees discuss bullying in the workplace

MORGANTOWN W. Va. - Bullying is commonly associated with the playground and sometimes the internet among older youths, but it can happen in the workplace as well.

Different behaviors in a work environment may fall under the heading of bullying.

Bullying is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job. 

"It's the targeting of usually a fairly strong individual. Someone who the bully has decided is someone that is a threat," said Ann Lofaso, professor of Law at the WVU College of Law. 

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, workplace bullying is repeated, health- harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators. 

It is considered abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, a work interference or sabotage which prevents work from getting done, and verbal abuse that includes yelling, swearing, and name calling to belittle an individual.

Bullying can take many forms. 

"The rumour bullying, where you tell rumours about the person that you want to get fired, that are not true, but you're trying to ruin their reputation because you don't want them in the workplace anymore. That's extremely common," said Lofaso. 

In some instances, bullying can have an impact on work performance by leading to health issues involving hypertension, auto immune disorders, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. 

"It effects the workplace in terms of productivity, people getting along harmoniously in the workplace, and when that doesn't occur, then we intervene as managament," said Jim Morris, human resources department at WVU. 

To date, no U.S. state has passed an anti-bullying law for the workplace. But many workplaces have policies in place that prevent this type of behavior, including West Virginia University. 

"We really do not tolerate that type of behavior here at WVU, we take it very seriously. We're trying to create a culture of positive work environment. Last year we created the university values, five values, one of which is respect, and we expect all of our employees to treat one another with respect," said Morris.  

If you are experiencing workplace bullying, a website made by the Workplace Bullying Institute is available to connect you with resources. Find more information here

More Stories