Federal government appears to be moving more strongly against workplace violence

Workplace bullying and workplace violence have come under an increasingly harsh spotlight in recent years, as more people have become aware of these longstanding problems in the American workplace. In the federal government, in recent years agencies—in fits and starts—have been working toward more comprehensive policies for reducing violence, sexual assault and stalking. But just in the latest push, a major advance appears to be on the horizon.

Congress has been considering two bills that would affect society more broadly—H.R. 1309, introduced in February, and already with 79 bipartisan co-sponsors, and S. 851, introduced in March and with 9 co-sponsors. These bills would offer employees and other workers more specific protections from violence on the job—notably by requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop and issue clear workplace violence prevention standards. This week, Nathan Abse interviews Alejandro del Carmen, a professor of criminology and expert on workplace violence at Texas A&M’s Tarleton State University member institution.

Q&A with Alejandro del Carmen

We will get to workplace violence, but first can you define for our readers something that is often associated with it—exactly what is workplace bullying?

Del Carmen: Essentially, bullying is not really legally defined, or is often not that clearly defined, I would say. But bullying on the job is about when a person is manipulating, coercing, influencing and coercing another individual or individuals, at work or to do with work, most often in order to achieve a certain objective or goal.

Why is bullying getting more media and social media attention in recent years—has it increased?

Del Carmen: Well, first of all, bullying and workplace bullying have been around for as long as our country has existed, and long before that!  It’s just that now, we have got a name for it and, especially among millennials and younger people, it has become a much bigger thing—an awareness of it in schools and workplaces and the like. It’s an old story. Someone comes in and starts telling people what to do or coercing people, and if they don’t get their way they step it up—they force their way ahead, and force people into submission.

How does this relate to workplaces?

Del Carmen: As this relates to the workplace, with workplace bullying we see the coercion, the manipulation, the forcing people, as it happens in the workplace. The idea here is that you have several types of situations in a workplace where you can have someone who is bullying. It’s important to keep this in mind, it can be at any level. It can be someone who is not necessarily even a boss—your boss. They can be your boss, but they also could be your equal in the workplace. Or it could be even someone who reports to you. But because of their strong personality or some sort of bullying strategy and manipulative efforts, they are able to manipulate you in some particular way.

*For the full interview with Del Carmen, view the May 13 issue of FEND.

Reader comments

Mon, Jun 24, 2019

If you believe you are being harassed, start keeping a daily log. Write down the dates you had trash on your desk. Document the dates when someone wrote a nasty comments about you on the sign out board, Get a witness. Yeah your embarrassed and humiliated but remember, you've done nothing wrong, you being harassed. Now take it to your union rep and the EEO office where you work and give them your proof. Remember its not your fault your being bullied but you need proof.

Mon, Jun 24, 2019 RD California

When you reach out to the EEOC for help and provide them with documentation and proof of harassment and retaliation against you, and even if you follow all the processes and procedures, your EEO complaint could takes YEARS and YEARS. My case has been in the system for 5 years, with no resolution. When you file your complaint, you will be ostracized and retaliated against and it will be as bad, if not worse, than the harassment. The EEO system is just as bad as the agency when it comes to justice. When the EEO system allows the Agency attorneys to drag these processes out for years and years, then the EEO is part of the problem. When the EEO does not follow their own procedures and timelines and allows these cases to linger for years…. with no resolution….. then what’s the point of the EEO? I really hope someone can fix the huge backlog and all the problems because a victim’s career and people’s lives are being ruined.

Mon, Jun 3, 2019

EEO/ employee empowerment offices; ombudsman offices; no fear act are all bogus do nothing except to enhance and promote employee gender, age bias along with no protections for the employee while covering management minions obvious lies and deceit about how they conduct themselves. Drain the swamp and eliminate management minions.

Tue, May 28, 2019

True enough, that there's plenty of harassment. But you have to somehow make it so those complained about are heard, possibly better than I've seen so far, since there are sometimes complaints that are bogus. Just aimed at a boss or coworker someone doesn't like or that a crazy person at work has some sort of vendetta against.

Fri, May 24, 2019

If the management minions go to the level of harassing workers at home, make sure to record the message by the time and date of the phone message; get a cheap outdoors motion camera with a SD card and is battery operated. Place it in a place that examines the front door and drive way. Make sure there is a date stamp on this, bring it to the civil authorities which include the labor protection board and hopefully such minions careers go down the toilet and face legal consequences. Enough of this bashing of hard working dedicated people. They next president should reduce and not allow management to continue such activities and reduce the total number so that new ones of similar nature cant replaced the ones currently in their power cliques.

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