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Is it possible more bosses and co-workers are becoming bullies?  Maybe, says founder A. Harrison Barnes.  Recently, along with the massive egg recall that’s affected most states, another story came through; this time, it included the “sweat shop” attitude on one Iowa farm where many of the eggs came from (more than 300 million).  The owner, Jack DeCoster, was labeled the “poster child of worker mistreatment” in an article written in 2006.  He’s been accused of paying poverty wages and forcing his workers to do unsanitary chores without the benefit of proper sinks, soap and running water and with the absence of gloves.  Everything from handling dead chickens to being forced to live in rat infested facilities are a few of the accusations being thrown at the Iowa farm owner.  A. Harrison Barnes says this is likely the tip of the iceberg.

Workplace bullying, also referred to as “psychological violence” , is indeed on the rise according to many psychologists.  One woman reported being bullied in her job to the point of having to take a leave of absence.  She reports being screamed at by her managers and co-workers; worse, no one would listen until she hired an attorney.   She’s not searching for a New Jobs yet, but she likely will, regardless of the outcome of the pending lawsuit in Washington state.

The founder says bullying is defined as anything that includes “acts or verbal comments that mentally hurt or isolate someone in the workplace”.  It might include physical contact and usually includes a pattern of repeated behaviors by the bully.  Experts say any of the following can be construed as workplace bullying:

  • Spreading rumors or gossip
  • Intimidation
  • Excluding or isolating the same co-worker time and again
  • Physical abusing a co-worker or threatening to do so
  • Stalking or spying on a co-worker
  • Yelling and cursing
  • Belittling one’s contributions
  • Hiding, damaging or altering one’s equipment need to perform his job

These are just a few of the many ways a workplace bully can make life hard.  And if you think the frustration is temporary, think again.  Many of the emotions felt by someone’s who’s been bullied are similar to those felt by an abused woman.  Anger, fear, loss of confidence, inability to sleep, loss of appetite, anxiety, tension, inability to concentrate and low self esteem are all common in those who’ve been the victim of the office bully.

Lawyers across the country are reporting higher incidents of workplace bullying, too.  Some firms in larger cities are reporting they now receive a couple calls a month, whereas in the past, they might go two years or more without ever hearing from a victim who’d been bullied on the job.   Clearly, this is easily to discern why so many more of us are so stressed on the job.  Pay cuts, layoffs, loss of perks and benefits – these are all enough to make us crazy, says Barnes.  The problem comes in when bullies allow themselves permission to take it out on their co-workers.

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