More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Companies must deal with workplace bullies or lose brightest employees:expert
May 08, 2006
Canadian Press

VANCOUVER (CP) - Businesses that want to improve their bottom line would do well to purge the bullies on the payroll who are repeatedly ridiculing and humiliating others in the workplace, says a psychologist.

Gary Namie told an overflow audience Monday that people who are targeted at the office by a supervisor or co-worker may think they're alone, but their numbers are growing to epidemic proportions.

Namie, who co-founded the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute in Bellingham, Wash., was speaking at the Western Conference on Safety.

He said a Michigan study found about one in six employees is bullied at work in any given year.

In Britain, about 11 per cent of people say they face psychological harassment in the workplace, while in Australia the number is 18 per cent, he said.

But when people are asked if they've ever been bullied at work, 40 to 50 per cent of them say they have, Namie said.

"People are getting fed up with bullying and it's got to be addressed," Namie said before he spoke.

Quebec is the only jurisdiction in North America with legislation to deal with workplace psychological harassment, but Namie said the law that came into effect in 2004 is too weak.

"I think it's imprecise," he said, adding complainants must face a huge government labyrinth.

Those who are psychologically harassed at work are often better skilled at their jobs than the bullies who target them but are forced to quit their jobs because they're non-confrontational, he said.

"It's a talent flight. The best and the brightest are driven out. The slugs, the slow-minded, dimwitted sycophants are the bully's allies."

Thirty per cent of women who are targeted experience post-traumatic stress disorder, Namie said.

"Bullies are too expensive to keep. It's smart business to purge these guys and gals - and 58 per cent are women."

Stephen Hill, who runs a support group called No Bully For Me, said he worked for a non-profit organization at a British Columbia university when he was the target of workplace bullying by supervisors and co-workers.

"You know, monkey see, monkey do," said Hill, who finally quit his job when he started having health problems.

Hill said he would be asked to provide reports but was denied the information, was given the cold shoulder at meetings and was repeatedly isolated.

"It's the fact that it's continuous, that's what does the damage."

Four years ago, Hill co-founded a web site that became a huge hit with people across Canada and also spawned support groups in various cities.

People often say they can't afford to leave their jobs but Hill's advice is: "Get out."

A national survey on the group's web site ( appears to suggest that most bullies are women and co-workers, not bosses, Hill said, who took two years off from work to recover.

Hill now helps the unemployed on Vancouver tough downtown eastside find jobs.

Renzo Bertolini, a health and safety specialist with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, said it's hard to track the number of people who are bullied.

"Not every single bullying incidence is reported because often bullying does not result in an accident or injury and there is no compensation claim," Bertolini said from Hamilton.

The Quebec law, modelled after those in Sweden, France and Belgium, gives the province's labour standards board the authority to order fines and the reinstatement of employees.

The agency handles complaints from non-union employees. Unionized workers must file complaints through their union.

Nathalie Bejin, a spokeswoman for the Quebec Labour Standards Board, said 4,700 complaints have been filed since the law was enacted.

Bejin said the board encourages businesses to prevent psychological harassment by stepping in when conflicts arise between employees.

Ethel Archard, spokeswoman for the Canada Safety Council, said workplace bullying is a huge issue that isn't getting enough attention across the country, except in Quebec.

"I think the interest in the topic is shown by the fact that it is the single-most visited web page on our entire website, so we know that people are looking for information. They're desperately looking for information."

Despite skyrocketing claims for stress resulting from psychological harassment in the workplace, the issue doesn't appear to be adequately addressed, Archand said.

"Quebec took a look at this as a business issue because it's a tremendous drain on productivity. This should be a real issue for businesses because they could be losing their best people."

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Holly said:
I would think many companies could lose good employees over workplace bullies!

One of the problems is that many of them are managers. And managers stick together like an old boys club. And administrators keep quiet because they don't want to rock the boat.

The sad truth is that scum and hot air are often what rise to the top.


David Baxter said:
The sad truth is that scum and hot air are often what rise to the top.

Dr. B. that quote is awesome. I am going to have to steal that from you....hope you don't mind. That is one of the best lines I have heard in a while. ;)

Well like mom always said theres always an hole in at every job you go to. I can realate to this topic. Im always butting heads with my co workers. I find that there always lazy and I get critized of not doing things by my boss. oh well Im in a job now ware I don't have to worry about that..


Dr. B said:
The sad truth is that scum and hot air are often what rise to the top.

That is really a great quote! It's so uplifting...I might have to steal it too for my profile signature!! ;) Don't worry Dr. Baxter I will be sure and give you all the credit! :D
I like this article. I am a good employee and they might lose me.
I don't know if I have P.T.S.D. But I relieve the events in my mind all the time. I am scare most days when I go to work not knowing what is something going to happen that day. I could be at church or the casino and my mind wonders off to stuff that happened to me at work. Sometimes I think about it at home and it makes me cry that the situation has gotten to where it is at right now. I feel powerless at time.
I know they have been treating me better after higher ups found out but once I am done my regular light duties and go back to modified work what is going to happen then? I am sure they will say well you had physio why can't you do this job now. I am anticipating in my mind how people are going to treat me. I think at times when I am at the casino it is to escape my thoughts on what is going to happen next in my life because I have a hard time to deal with it.
At home or anywhere my mind just wonders off to how I am being treated at work. So even when I am not at work I can't escape it.

It's not fair that I have to leave my job of 24 years because of some people. Till the day I die I will never forget how I was and am being treated at work. NEVER In my mind they make me feel like I am worthless useless a pain in the butt but why can't I just get over those feeling I have about this situation why is it I can't get rid of these thoughts from my mind.
I know I am a good person that gives a 100%. I give my heart and soul to that place. I just hate the fact the stressful thoughts of work just pop in my head and I never know when that will happen.


Resident Canuck
I have had staff not being nice to me. More so when I started to relapse and my attendance got worse. My upper managers were very supportive, but it was actually an assistant manager and some "equal" co-workers who were being not so nice.

I work in retail and when I would have anxiety attacks. These two once abandoned me in the office counting my cash box to be able to leave. Without them I can't secure my money. When I was apologizing while crying for leaving I got a real kirt "Yup!" as they walked out of the office. Luckily another co-worker who has battled mental illness came into the office and he helped me.

Last year, exactly this day actually. At another store I was at a desk typing somethings for my boss and a co-worker came behind me with the office chair, pinning me to the desk with my back to him (I was in an office chair too) and he was pushing his hands between my upper arm and my ribs trying to grope my chest.

There are some days when my "mentality" dictates when I feel safe to be in an "adult" world now. That day, I was like a "little girl" as my doctor calls it. I stopped going to work when I felt like that.

As soon as I had another day off, I phoned and went to see my family doctor. Not being able to make sense of what happened. I didn't just want to assume the worst (I think now it was more denial) as to what happened. She told me that any uncomfortable touch was wrong to begin with and after I struggled saying no, stop, and he didn't, he took it to another level again.

I continued to work there, but afterwards he bullied me. I will probably get flack for this, but I didn't report it. I don't have the strenght to fight, especially not the VP of the Union.

I asked to go back to the store where my boss is a gem and adores me like a daughter. The staff are generally good, I have a few supporters. Otherwise, people just leave me alone.

I was recently put off work by my family doctor, pending seeing my Pshychatrist again. She has "currently considered disabled" me. As now I am having terrors before work. I have never experienced such terror feeling before. It had not even occoured to me until 2 weeks ago, that it is a year now since that innapropiate incident. She thinks there are subconscientious triggers making me feel bad now.
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