Virginia at Work: Workplace bullying

Local News

The mud slinging that can take place during a presidential campaign, did not end after election day this year.

There have been plenty of people on both sides of the aisle who allege harassment from people on social media, at school, and in the workplace.

Workplace harassment has a big cost on both the people who suffer the bullying and for a company’s bottom line.

According to the Department of Labor, examples of a hostile work environment include:

  •     discussing sexual activities;
  •     telling off-color jokes concerning race, sex, disability, or other protected bases;
  •     unnecessary touching;
  •     commenting on physical attributes;
  •     displaying sexually suggestive or racially insensitive pictures;
  •     using demeaning or inappropriate terms or epithets;
  •     using indecent gestures;
  •     using crude language;
  •     sabotaging the victim’s work;
  •     engaging in hostile physical conduct.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workplace harassment remains a persistent problem, and too often, goes unreported. The EEOC sites a compelling business case for putting an end to it, reporting that it recovered $164.5 million last year, for workers alleging harassment.

Tommy Strelka, a Roanoke attorney who practices employment law, says, “Virtually everything a presidential candidate can say leading up to the point of election is going to be protected speech under the First Amendment. This allows them to speak about a wide variety of things and opinions that may be favorable or disfavorable to certain people.  But that protection for the First Amendment stops for the vast majority of Americans when they clock in. You don’t have the right to repeat political speech at a place of employment, especially if it discriminates or, in any way, is used in a negative hate filled way at work.”

As CEO of Cortex Leadership Consulting, executive coach Lynda McNutt Foster teaches leaders, on a regular basis, about the need to build trust in the workplace, she anxiety is high – productivity is low. Harassment in the workplace can also lead to increased turnover and even reputational harm.

“For any leader, any manager, any supervisor, you’re the one setting the tone, you need to come to work and speak to people with respect. And it will flow down and cascade from your actions.  What you say, what you do – will make a difference,” says Lynda McNutt Foster, CEO of Cortex Leadership Consulting.

Foster made the trip to New York City to talk with nationally-known author and consultant Judith Glaser about her book Conversational Intelligence.  The two spoke about building trust in the workplace and how to deal with bullying.

Glaser says, “Bullying in the workplace is like a disease that spreads from one person to the other. So you have to catch it when you can define it. And I want to give everyone listening, to say, that they can go to HR and they can go to their boss, and they can ask for help, because doing it on your own is not enough for any individual. So reaching out and letting your company know that bullyism is starting to spread in the company is only corrected when you have the courage to go and speak up and ask for help. So don’t take it as an insult that you have to do it, take it as something that’s empowering you to help change not only your life, but the life of others in the workplace.”

Strelka adds, “This isn’t a little fine and or a ticket, or go to small claims court. This could blow up into a large federal lawsuit. It doesn’t matter who is in charge, the Commander in Chief can not in anyway change title 7 of the civil rights act or any of the other laws that are in the books that protect our workforce.

We recorded a 3-part podcast with Judith Glaser while Lynda McNutt Foster’s visit to New York City.

To listen to the first podcast on using conversational intelligence at work, click here.

To listen to the second podcast on dealing with bullying at work, click here.

To listen to how you can rebuild trust with someone at work, click here.

Also, be sure to tune into Good Day Virginia tomorrow morning.  Lynda will join our morning team in studio, to delve further into the topic and how leaders can get a handle on building trust and workplace bullying.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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