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

Wed, May 15, 2019

Have a heart or other condition and your career goes down the toilet. The minions called management are waiting for this to happen so they can put one of their social drinking buddies in order for a promotion or bonus.

Tue, May 14, 2019

Managers in Newark have taken workplace harassment to new levels. They have crossed the line from workplace bullying into personal life bullying. Managers here delve into employees personal lives and have taken it upon themselves to destroy relationships with slander and spreading gossip. Managers engage in stalking, HIPPA violations, illegal surveillance and a whole lot more. Complaints are swept under the rug (if they even make it to their destination). Computer hacking is basically a given and I mean your personal computer folks. Emails on integrity and privacy increase while employees are being ruthlessly emotionally abused and exploited. Never in my life would I have imagined managers to be so destructive towards a good employee. Do not look here for leaders with integrity or a conscience.

Mon, May 13, 2019

I hope that someone reads the comments about bullying in the federal workplace and takes notice. It is a real and serious issue and it needs to be addressed. Victims of bullying suffer physically and emotionally. It results in the loss of good employees and reduces morale and motivation for those employees who stay.

Mon, May 13, 2019

Management minions go through peoples cubes and offices snooping. Having reported such abuse it went ignored. The supervisors must have nothing better to do, that is why management minions need severe streamlining and reductions in their numbers so that employees can do their job and get promotions and recognition for their sustained hard work.

Mon, May 13, 2019

Management (not all but most) are bigots, verbal abusers, lazy and self-promoting. If an individual with any form of intelligence questions their stupidity or lies they are abused by overlooking promotions, bonuses or other forms of recognition. What really takes the cake is the minion managers take credit for work they do not do, get bonuses for it, pretend they are teleworking rather than using annual leave and all their supervisors do the same and even endorse each others corrupt behavior. The big outfit in Bethesda is well known for this and it continues on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. If you are a rank and file employee and you are five minutes late the minions called managers gossip about it in staff meetings while they come and go and take extended lunch hours shopping and talking on the phone during business hours.

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