Posted by: healingtheworkplace | May 12, 2012

80% of Bullying In The Workplace Is Legal

That’s right!

According to the website 80% of bullying is legal (which came as a bit of a shock) and 72% of bullies are bosses (which I already knew).  The site describes bullying as

 “the least skilled attacking the best and brightest because they are somehow threatened.”

I don’t think the attackers are always less skilled but they are certainly afraid of something.

What continues to amaze me is the number of people who I know personally who have been bullied in their workplaces.

Fortunately there is a growing awareness of this problem both locally and internationally. For instance did you know  that there is a huge national anti-bullying grassroots movement in the U.S.A.?

 “The Healthy Workplace Bill is the boldest proposed change to U.S. employment law in 40 years. We are a volunteer network of citizen activists working since 2002 in many states to pass the bill into law.Current discrimination and harassment laws rarely address bullying concerns. Bullying is four times more prevalent than illegal discrimination, but is still legal in the U.S. People deserve more protection against arbitrary cruelty that has nothing to do with work. “

The healthyworkplacebill website is packed with information about the effect of bullying for both the employees and the employers, information about what is happening internationally, and some suggestions for what we can do about the problem:

  • Share your story
  • Comment on blogs
  • Review articles
  • Volunteer to be a coordinator if you have a healthy workplace bill initiative in your area
  • Write to your elected official
  • Write to your local paper

I was surprised to see how quickly this movement has spread across the USA. The model that they have adopted includes state coordinators. This appears to be a voluntary leadership position but the link was broken so I can’t tell you anything more about what the coordinators do.

Closer to home the B.C. government announced new legislation this week aimed at preventing workplace harassment and bullying.  B.C. is the fifth province to enact anti-bullying legislation following Quebec (2004), Saskatchewan (2007), Ontario (2010) and Manitoba (2011).

A couple of months ago I learned about an important initiative sponsored by the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.  This initiative is focused on the need for businesses to ensure that they provide psychologically healthy workplaces.

Since bullying often leads to depression, anxiety and stress I was pleased to see that the Board of Trade is taking this matter seriously and providing some leadership.

Take care, Lesley



  1. Within the past few years I had a client who was a young man with disabilities. He worked for a retail location in a janitorial role. He loved his job and everyone he worked with. Unfortunately he was the victim of workplace bullying and was made to work obscene hours tirelessly. He did so with a smile because he truly loved the company.

    Unfortunately this led him to neglect warning signs about his own health and when he brought them to the attention of his shift supervisors he was told to go back to work.

    Later he ended up passing out on the floor, being hospitalized, and later passing away. All this because bully supervisors took advantage of him.

    • HI! thanks for sharing this sad story. I was sorry to read about the man who died because he was bullied at work. Fortunately there is growing awareness of bullying world-wide and more and more countries are enacting legislation to prevent bullying, at least in the developed world. We have a long, long way to go before it’s under control. L

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