Federal government appears to be moving more strongly against workplace violence
- By FederalSoup Staff
- May 10, 2019
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.