Workplace Bullies?

bulliesNext time you hear someone complaining about bullying, it may not be a taunted ten-year old, but someone like yourself….over 50 and still working. That’s right, now it’s baby boomers who are fighting off the workplace bullies. If it was the last thing you ever thought would your co-workers would do to you, it can be quite a shock to be on the receiving end of some very mean spirited comments.

Being called stupid, too old to keep up, or ready for the scrap heap by your fellow employees are all forms of workplace bullying and their occurrence is on the rise.

Maybe it’s your boss hinting that you should be thinking about retirement, or a co-worker who thinks you’re not up to the task (and they might also want your job), or a client that thinks a younger employee would be a better fit. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeing an increase in claims for what they call age-based harassment, so the bulldogproblem is real. What is it? According the Workplace Bullying Institute, it is repeated health-harming mistreatment of a target by one or more perpetrators, and it includes verbal abuse and offensive nonverbal conduct.

Some of this bullying is almost sanctioned by the employer because they want to drive out the more experienced, higher-paid workers.A 2011 survey by CareerBuilder indicated that 29 percent of workers over age 55 say they have experienced bullying, while only 25 percent of workers 25-44 reported the same treatment.

What do you do about it? Pretty much the same thing you do with any case of employment discrimination. Document the occurrences of who said what and when. Check to see if your company has internal policies regarding harassment that may have been violated. Consult an attorney if you’re not sure if you have a case. And unfortunately, brace yourself for retaliation or having to find a new job, because that’s often what happens to workers who report workplace bullies.

But who said life was fair?

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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