Headlines & Deadlines

For starters, here are a few links and excerpts from recent stories on workplace abuse appearing in the U.S. and abroad. If you find a newstory that is noteworthy, either for its committment to or its disregard for workers' rights and the adult bullying issue, please submit* it to 4elyse@earthlink.net (*in Word or Basic Text files, preferably).

Whether the story advances our cause or insults our intelligence, inquring minds want to know!

January 2003

Be sure to read about Time's "Persons of the Year--Whistleblowers" in their year-end special. 2002 was a good year for some whistleblowers, but the anti-bully rally cry also needs to be sounded

July 2002

From The New York Post--about whistleblowing and public education

June 26, 2002 -- Schools Chancellor Harold Levy shot down a popular Queens principal's promotion to superintendent after the candidate blew the whistle on his controversial computer tax, The Post has learned.
Levy, in a June 24 letter to the District 24 community school board, said veteran PS 12 principal Ronald Costa lacks the "managerial qualities or judgment that I expect in a superintendent." But the chancellor denied his decision was retaliation against Costa for attacking his computer policy.

Costa, a 35-year city schools veteran, was the only candidate recommended by District 24 board members. The overcrowded district covers schools in Woodside, Sunnyside, Elmhurst, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood. Costa drew Levy's ire after complaining to The Post that the Board of Education had slapped a special tax on all school computer purchases this year to help balance the system's budget. He and other critics said it inflated costs by 28 to 50 percent.

Levy's office admitted the one-time accounting trick raised revenues to balance the books. Levy was so upset with Costa that he called him the day The Post story appeared to say he was "disappointed" with the principal's public criticism, sources said.

"I think he rejected me because I opened my mouth on the computer tax. I'm being punished for opening my mouth," Costa said yesterday. Costa said he's surprised Levy doesn't think he's qualified given the fact that more than 90 percent of his third- and fifth-graders met the promotional reading criteria. He also is a former deputy superintendent. District 24 school board member Linda Sansivieri blasted Levy's decision.

"I think it's retaliation. I can't see how he can refuse Ron Costa," she said. Levy insisted he gave Costa's candidacy "serious thought" and rejected the local board's recommendation of Costa on the merits.

June 2002

Although the following is not about workplace bullying, I found the following, from The Los Angeles Times wire service, was disturbing and important enough to post on the site...that bullying and mobbing cannot be ignored or pushed aside.

LOUISIANA-Two Young Girls Arrested in Mob Killing of Teen
A crowd of children and teenagers attacked and killed a 16 year-old in front of her home, New Orleans police said. Vincia Smith was apparently killed in a neighborhood feud, said police Sgt. Paul Accardo He said two girls, ages 12- and 14, were booked as juveniles on second-degree murder charges. Police were looking for more boys and girls, Accardo said. Seven to twn people attacked Smith, and one stabbed her with a steak knife, Accardo said. Witnesses pointed out the 12 year-old and the 14 year-old surrendered moments later.

May 2002

And now a word about, "Nasty People," another great book about adult bullying by Dr. Jay Carter and Kathy Noll, submitted by Kathy Noll.

On April 25, 2002, Oprah Winfrey aired a special show on girls bullying other girls and women bullying other women. If you have seen this show, please send us your throughs on if she and her guests and experts handled this effectively. Remember, 4elyse@earthlink.net.

And thanks to my supportive parental units, we have two great recent articles from The Chicago Tribune, discussing the bully phenomenon in greater detail, and how muckracking can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

April 2002

Forwarded to us by Jayne, in North Carolina (read more about her and her daughter, Kati, in the "Bullytin Board"). The original source is the "Workbully" web site, passed along to them by Diana Ayling, of New Zealand. Also click here for more articles about collegiate test cheating and the professor who took a stand.

"I have found a couple of things in the last few days that may be of interest to various people. I found an article on workplace stressthat suggest stress audits to identify sources of stress in
organisations. A good article on this is found in the May 2000 issue of Director, there is a website to check out "businesshealth" at http://www.ususal.co.uk .

We have had an interesting a ground breaking case in New Zealand decided by the Court of Appeal (second highest court in the land, for some reason we retain the Privy Council as the highest court).The case concerned the manager of an engineering company, Mr. Matheson, who's responsibility was servicing a fast ferry. He worked long hours, let the job get to him, fell out with his staff and eventually resigned in desperation. The company offered more staff at one stage but didn't become actively involved in solving the problems. Later when staff started to resign they sent in a Mr McLaughlin to interview all the staff but did not communicate what they were doing with Mr Matheson and did not involve him. This undoubtly fed his feelings of worthlessness. On the day he resigned he was very upset, not thinking clearly. His resignation was accepted on the spot by the manager with no attempt to resolve the problems or seek help for him. The same day he committed suicide.

The action was brought by his wife, claiming he was unjustifiably dismissed and that the company had failed to act fairly and reasonably in its treatment of her husband.

The court found for the unjustifiable dismissal claim, and stated that the acceptance of his resignation was not reasonable in the circumstances. The had some very interesting things to say about the fairness and reasonableness claim.

The judge agreed with the lower court judge that the company had "failed actively to provide Mr Matheson with any real support to help him solve his management problems. The only support offered was to make it clear that Mr Matheson could employ more staff. While that would have helped with Mr Matheson' extreme self-inflicted workload it would have been unlikely to have solved the staff relations problems; failed properly and constructively to alert Mr Matheson to inquiries directors were making notably Steve Wooff, about staff relations. Instead Mr Wooff's inquiries were undertaken in the physical presence of Mr Matheson without involving him. The cumulative effect of these two failures mean that the procedure adopted by Mr McLaughlin on 5 February 1999 was inevitably flawed.

At least he was entitled to have the opportunity to calm down, take some advice, or get some support before and during the meeting with Mr McLaughlin. Mr McLaughlin's ready acceptane of Mr Matheson's desperate offer of resignation was unfair in all these circumstances. The dismissal was therefor unjustified."

At last some recognition that managers must take active responsibility for the mental state of their employees and to become involved in finding solutions to problems and providing support for staff who are suffering from workplace stress. As an aside the wife received distress damages for $25,000 (75,000 pounds) and the company paid her an additional $10,000 gratuity."

March 2002

Click here for an in-depth article about Principal/Teacher relations in Dallas, TX, and a heated debate about teacher termination

Article leads from Nineveh:

February 2002

Click here for an insightful, personal look at the hazards (and necessary evil) of job jumping from one of the good folks at Vault.com

February 15, 2002- Jon Stossell hosted a full one-hour "20/20" special on bullies in public schools with a short segment on how childhood bullying leaks into many adulthoods. To check this out, goto www.abcnews.com and click on "20/20" and February 15 for a partial transcript of the show

February 17- Los Angeles Times/Careerbuilder.com Poll: "How would you describe your job security?"
Solid & Safe ---------------->27%
Possibly Perilous------------>36%
Definitely Doomed---------->37%

February 18, 2002 - Oprah Winfrey followed Stossell's lead timing-wise with her own special on teen bullying, which was interesting, though it focused more on cliques and mild teasing. Visit www.oprah.com for more details.

January 2002

Click here for an eye-opening story about women whistleblowers and the current Enron scandal, written by Barbara Brotman and published in The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times

December 2001

Click here for an eye opening article about workplace abuse and institutionalized
changes affecting the U.S. Workplace/By Judith Wyatt

Click Here for a great December 14, 2001 story from The Toronto Star.

Finds from (Tim) Field

ABCNews.com recently published an article from a 20/20 segment about how school bullying is, at last, being connected to shootings, suicides and other bully/target-related hazards. Go to http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/2020/2020_011128_bullying.html.

Also unmined: Awareness of bullying in Canada is growing. Canadian union CUPE recently documented their resolutions at their 2001 Convention with hopes of raising awareness. http://www.cupe.ca/aboutcupe/convention2001/showitem.asp?ID=3893 and http://www.cupe.ca/aboutcupe/convention2001/showitem.asp?ID=4049

Is your job making you sick? Aparently it's becoming an epidemic in the U.K.: While a U.K. employers organization blames general practitioner doctors and others in the medical establishment for prolonging the amount of sick days workers allow themselves, apparently no credence is given to the causes of sick leave: bullying, harassment, bad management, threat, intimidation and anything else that makes the cubicle galaxy feel more like a black hole. More at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid_1688000/1688921.stm.

Area workers break silence on their nasty bosses - December 3, 2001


Buffalo, NY reporter Sharon Linstedt examines the efforts of local workers to fight back against workplace incivility and features Dr. Gary Namie's input on the issue.

It's time to make peace with what you do (MSN News)

If only life and resoultions to workplace shenanigans were that easy. This solutions proposed by Ms. Simmons look great on paper, but the effectiveness in the real world office has been questioned by people in my computer class who have been there, done that and read this article- e.g.

"Readers from the South are, no doubt, familiar with kudzu--a prolific vine that wraps itself around other vegetation, strangling the life out of it. Does this sound like what your job is doing to you? Rather than helping you to blossom, is your job running you over like a lawnmower? Stop the madness! You spend
too much time at work to be miserable. You can cut through "career kudzu" by putting the following advice into action. (more at http://content.careers.msn.com/WorkingLife/GettingAhead/gwst030109.asp)"

November 2001

Getting catty with Cosmo

Although Cosmopolitan offers a lot of useful career advice, there was a sidebar story several of us loyal readers and career girls found disturbing, but all too common: Cutthroat Career Criminals--"These staffers stopped at nothing to eliminate the office competition." (p. 106). These dirty deeds--from cancelling a peer's wake-up call during a convention, to spiking a co-worker's coffee with laxative before a presentation, to invading a co-worker's email--were done dirt cheap, and with the intention of getting ahead at someone else's expense. One friend remarked that although this story was brief, it could be construed as a bully-how to.

July 10, 2000

EMPLOYEE RAGE: American workplace stress rising, produced by Martha Brownlee (television account)

"“I started getting sick. I lost weight and couldn’t sleep at night,” says Connie Armstead, an office worker in California who became a victim of workplace rage. “I got down to 89 pounds. I was hospitalized because I felt suicidal."

"Although Armstead’s case is extreme, workplace aggression and stress are on the rise, affecting nearly a quarter of American workers. Bullying and a host of rude behaviors are causing stress-related disabilities that cost American industry more than $300 billion per year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That amounts to more than $7,000 per worker annually." (hit the link for more!)

February 29, 2000

Our hands are in their hands, apparently. As the government tries to decide on the kinds of ergonomic guidelines it wants to put forward for employers, Salon gives readers a "hand" by way of a story by Jennifer Sullivan. She is one of hundreds of thousands of repetitive stress injury (RSI) sufferers crippled by too much time at her work station. In describing her own travails, she details the lack of RSI knowledge, and poses the unfortunate argement that in the Internet age, humans rule by the doctrine of multi-tasking are burning themselves out in their futile attempts to keep pace with ever faster machines.

International Articles-- Source: Andrea Adams Trust Web Site

A Wonder from Down Under

According to News Interactive Australia, workplace bullying affects 25% of the working population and costs employers up to $12 billion a year, according to research by the head of one of Australia's leading employment agencies.

Going "Postal" in the U.K. - February 15, 2000

The Times reports on how the Post Office is adopting a "zero tolerance" policy against workplace bullying and harassment.

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