February 22nd, 2010
01:21 PM GMT
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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not scream or swear at a political consultant who worked for him, the speechwriter told CNN, rejecting allegations published by a top British political journalist Sunday.

"The Prime Minister did not 'scream' at me, blame me or direct a profanity at me. The author who has now written this made no effort to check it with me. I would have told him it was false," American political operative Bob Shrum said in an e-mail late Sunday.

He was responding to claims in a forthcoming book by Andrew Rawnsley published by the Observer newspaper.

The Observer charges that Brown engaged in "abusive behavior" and "volcanic eruptions of foul temper."

Brown and his allies denied the allegations.

"These malicious allegations are totally without foundation," Brown's official spokesman said in a statement Saturday. The spokesman is traditionally not quoted by name.

The Observer claimed that Brown's behavior upset staff at his office, 10 Downing Street, so much so that the head of the civil service launched an investigation and "ordered" the prime minister "to change his behavior."

The allegations raise important questions over the issue of bullying in the workplace.

We want to know what you think.

Have you ever been a victim of bullying at work? How have you dealt with the situation? Do you think there are enough opportunities to make your complaint known?

Filed under: BusinessQuest Means Business


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  1. John

    Yes I was bullied by a female manager at a hospital in Australia. She sabotaged my work, attempted to imasculate me in front of colleagues, and basically made my life hell. Senior managers were afraid of her and I had no option but to leave. I wrote a full explation to the executive board & HR upon leaving. Of course no action was taken against her and the only staff left in her department are her mates from uni.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  2. patjenks

    Brown's behavior seems more suitable to that of a third world dictator, not the prime minister of a democratic country. Unfortunately, as Brown demonstrates, there are toxic bosses everywhere. The best way to avoid bad bosses is to check on sites like eBossWatch to see what their employees really think about them.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  3. Tibli Dickson

    What surprises me is the speed with which Christine Praat (anti-Bullying charity) moved to publicly revealed/confirm supposingly confidential information in this matter! Motive???

    February 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  4. Alex Valiao (New York)

    Bullying at the workplace is unquestionably unacceptable. However, every person has problems and difficulties that is outside the workplace that can affect an individual's behavior and performance in the workplace. There are only a handful (very lucky, mind you) of people who can manage to isolate their personal and professional life 100% of the time. Tempers, emotional outbursts and etc. will happen from time to time as man is created as an emotional being apart from having a superego (the sense of being good and doing the right thing). I believe the main worry lies if the unacceptable behaviors become repetitive or redundant. Then, the administration or the workplace needs to offer help or assistance to the individual (i.e. anger management, destressing the work environment, creating support groups, and/or getting to know the individual better to have a better understanding).

    February 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  5. Theresa

    I've always experienced bullying. I've been discriminated against due to my anti-bullying 'bullying'. Most of the time, no one wants to deal with complaints by one individual. No one wants to create more conflict out of a situation involving just the bully and the victim.That is the root of the problem. Bullyies feel secure in their gangs, groups of friends, coworkers. As a result of being 'bullied' (in this small town) I've not been able to hold down a job for more than a few months at a time. I've also been 'bullied' (that's how I perceive their condescending attitudes) by doctors and it has cost me half of my life. (Time lost to sickness that was conveniently diagnosed as anxiety. I almost died.) I was bullied at university. I am bullied when I shop. I'm bullied by relatives. Not a day goes by that I don't wake up and ask myself, "Why am I still here? Why bother?"

    February 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  6. Lila

    If by bully you mean tax office, then Yes

    February 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  7. Linda

    Theresa- I am sorry to say to you that life is highly unlikely to involve as much bullying as you experience. Your story sounds more like a "poor me" attitude and your short job-life is most likely the result of your poor self-esteem. You may consider therapy to fix yourself before you think the entire world is against you. On the topic at hand, though, I am 58 and recently experienced aggressive bullying from one co-workers who was allowed to behave that way due to the hold she had on our mutual boss. Her year-long subversive, conniving, sabatouging ways not only cost me my job, but cost me such anxiety that almost a year later, I am still not employed. I suppose we should pray for these types of people because they truly are beleagured by a slew of nasty bad spirits.

    February 22, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  8. Dave Phillips

    If you feel that you have been a victim please check out the Workplace Bullying Institute.

    http://workplacebullying.org

    The WBI is the sole United States organization dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying through public education, help for individuals, employer solutions and legislative advocacy.

    Our first and most important advice to bullied targets: put your health first before any job.

    Workplace bullying is like domestic violence at the workplace. It affects an individual in exactly the same ways. Long term exposure can lead to PTSD, and why would that be unless work were a war-zone?

    Employers have been aggressive in their efforts to hold back anti-bullying legislation. For more information go to: http://healthyworkplacebill.org

    Don't let the bully get the best of you. If you've been targeted it means that you have intimidated your boss in some way. Bullies target the strongest at the work place – not the weakest as most bullying stereotypes would have you believe.

    Lastly, if you see a fellow coworker being bullied the worst thing you could do is stand by and allow it to happen. Workers must protect each other and stand up against the bully or he/she will conclude the bullying behavior is a successful tool to get what they want.

    Good luck to all targets!

    -D. Phillips, WBI

    February 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  9. Becky

    I was bullied, sabotaged, harrassed, and stalked at work. The company did nothing. The coworker had also violated several hippa regulations. The company was afraid to confront him, because that would have opened up questions about their security system. Finally I went to the FBI with my story along with evidence. The agent assured me that this coworker would be "checked out". After that, the person miraculously decided that they wanted to "live and let live". I'm glad.

    February 22, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  10. Bernie

    Physical...Then I punch her in the nose...Mentally...Nah couldn't happen.....Bernie

    February 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  11. LOGICAL Dave W. Dawson

    *** THE LABOUR PARTY DO NOT COME FROM A VERY LOGICAL PLACE ....***

    EXPECT NO SANITY FROM A VERY ILLOGICAL LABOUR PARTY.
    They all fell in with LOSERS.

    WINNERS laugh at LOSERS & LOSERS cannot laugh back.

    A VERY DARK DEEP CHASM now opens up for the LABOUR PARTY & swollows it up.

    ALL MIS-MANAGEMENT is consumed in HELLFIRE.
    Be glad that it is.

    FAITH IN THE BOSS IS FAITH IN GOD.

    ARE THE LEFT IN GOOD HEALTH?
    ARE REBELS IN GOOD HEALTH?

    The UNDERHANDED techniques used by SORE LOSER LABOUR put it in bed with the Mafia.
    Their DARK MASTER IS NOW BEYOND COMPREHENSION.
    This means that the entire LEFT WING is now ready to CRACK UP.

    BAD STUDENTS ONLY GET RESTRICTION OF PRIVILAGES.

    THE COURT RULES IN YOUR FAVOUR AGAINST THE MAFIA & THE LEFT WING.

    February 23, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  12. James

    recently I had a horrible time working in a horrid place called globetech in cork,,,
    A company of crazies... horrific place.. small company... endless deadlines... impossible deadlines...tiny work force doing the job of 2... Horrific feeling of doom through out the place... Manager who has a terrible temper... screaming non stop...
    I feel really sorry for people there.

    February 23, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  13. Rosetta

    Bully's can be bosses or co-workers. How do you handle bullies in the work place?

    Stand up for your self. Never back down, and document each occurrence to ensure the facts are accurately documented. Bullies survive when there is a perception of weak leadership on the job or they perceive that leadership encourages these tactics.

    On my job there are bullies around each corner. Examples are when the statements are said, (I NEED THIS RIGHT AWAY!!!) or (I DON'T THINK YOU HEARD ME WHEN I SAID I NEED THIS DONE THIS WAY!!!!), touch their guns as they speak is also an indication of bullying tactic. Will it ever stop; only when top leadership can reflect a no tolerance approach to this behavior.

    February 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  14. Demmie Murray

    I was recently terminated from my position as a result of my reactions to the stressors caused by workplace bullying. My boss was an African-Americanb female, as am I, who constantly accused me of incidents without any proof. None of these problems started until she came to the organization as a Program Manager in April 2007; I had been at the organization since 2003. Other examples of her bullying were: excessive monitoring, ignoring my e-mails, asking for my attendance at meetings for one thing only to find out it was a meeting to reprimand me for some hearsay, constantly threatening to send me to HR. She would also threaten and reprimand me in front of others, blaming me for disrupting the workplace and causing low morale; she told other employees to stay away from me. My research of the Workplace Bullying Institute revealed that such treatment can cause anger, heightened anxiety, lowered self-esteem and self-efficacy.

    I have a chronic illness that, along with the medications can cause increased anxiety and feelings of irritation. My boss was aware of this condition. I am in the middle of a grievance but because Virginia has no laws against workplace bullying, I have no defense. The actions for which I am accused that led to termination have been blown out of proportion and because my boss was constantly calling me in for one accusation or another; a case was built against me. To add to my misery, my place of employment did not suupport my receipt of unemployment benefits. Of course, my physical health and economic well-being is suffering because of this.

    Thank you for allowing this opportunity and forum to voice my plight.

    February 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  15. Darian Land

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Once management has decided to bully you, it is best to find another job immediately. The insidious harassment will not stop until you leave, since that is management's objective. The employee who has done nothing wrong will be vilified and ridiculed until departure, either on his own, or until trumped up charges can be put in place for a "discharge with reason."

    In the United States, the American judiciary seems to be in the back pocket of the big corporations — don't even mention the big insurance companies. Just look at Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Lobbyists have effectively gotten, to Congress, too, so that laws are made to favor the corporations and NOT the American citizen. Notice that everything seems to default to the large corporations when decisions are dealt.

    When the Supreme Court decreed "citizenship" to corporations by using the 14th amendment to the Constitution, which was to empower black men during the Reconstruction era after the Civil War, it becomes obvious that Joe America is up against a stacked deck.

    I have worked for four American corporations and several schools. At three of the American corproations I was bullied and at one private business school I was bullied to the point that the experience inspired me to write a novel called The Teasdale Primer (for MBAs). Honest workers can be damaged to the point that they are unable to return to the workforce. My advice to anyone being bullied is to get out as fast as possible, before they leave your health and sanity crippled.

    February 23, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  16. Dr. Ahmet N. IMRE

    I was terminated from my position as Chief Economist at the Black Sea Trade & Development Bank (www.bstdb.org), three years ago, after having worked there for eight years. I believe I was the victim of "horse-trading" between the 11 shareholder countries who, since the Bank's inception have turned "sharing" of professional positions amongst themselves, into the Bank's corporate culture. Unfortunately (for me) this time it was my turn to come under the axe, with the only apparent reason being that I preferred to work according to my professional ethics, rather than compromise my standards for the sake of serving at that institution for a few more years.
    My termination has caused myself and my family a great deal of stress. What is worse is that because international financial institutions (unlike private companies) are practically immune from any legal action that any of their unfairly-dismissed employees, I have not been able to pursue the matter through legal channels.
    I have to say that personally I don't feel any sense of guilt for my dismissal from the BSTDB. On the contrary, I congratulate myself for not having "cow-towed" to the management whose members are motivated solely by political considerations. I do feel sorry however for the fact that literally millions of dollars are allocated as loans by them, more on the basis of such considerations, rather than on the basis of sound economic principles.

    February 26, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  17. Jack

    I have been bullied horribly by a coworker and now in my current job by a boss. I hate it but feel powerless due to my financial and employment circumstances. I try not to let it get to me excessively though as that just damages ones emotional and physical health.

    February 26, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  18. Jon

    Bullying by management is commonplace, especially in the retail field, which I work in. Now I am not the fastest worker, but I am on time and never call out, and I always complete my tasks, even if i have to stay late. One particular member of management is universally hated among my fellow crew members. While I will not call him by name, it is needless to say that he has faith in no one, and considers himself to be the best at everything, even when he does a horrible job at something and completely screws up and section of our store, all in the name of saving time. He stares and people and is constantly hounding people to work faster. IF he had his way, we would all be dumb and mute, so we could not talk and just follow his every order. He does not like people talking to each other, doesn't even like it when you take bathroom breaks, which as he has said in a meeting to all of us, "try to keep your bathroom breaks to your lunch and two 15 minutes breaks you receive. You don;t need to go to the bathroom 5 times a night". He's a coward and a bully. An why don't we say anything? Because he can fire us. And right now, jobs are too hard to find.

    February 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
  19. K

    Bullying can come from coworkers too. They can be on your team or on a team from a different department. Either way, compromising our own deliverables until we do what the bully wants.

    February 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  20. Wendy

    I was bullied and sought out every organization designed to help protect me. Finally, I was told,"it isn't illegal for your boss to disrespect you, be mean or mistreat you unless you can prove it has to do with race/gender."

    This boss made every attempt to destroy my career and I finally had to quit my job during a time when the economy is at its worst. Its time to make laws to protect people. Sexual harassment and discrimination were tolerated at first but now it is unacceptable. Workplace bullying should NOT be tolerated anymore!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  21. Wendy

    Darian, my experience has been that when your boss is a bully, its best to leave. Tell me and the others here, how do we stop it if we move to other positions? I fought for three years, suffered health issues that I have until this day and emotionally it has left me drained! Was it worth it? I don't know. I fought for as long as I could. Working for a police department and being harassed by an employee in Command, it was difficult even though I documented, I went to the Dept of Civil Rights, my union and the NAACP.

    Our unions and other organizations need to be aware of workplace bullying and start to focus (corporately) on bringing about legislation to change this behavior.

    I researched workplace bullying (including the link above) years ago and it won't go away unless we push back!! What do you suggest we do as we "run to another place of employment"? How do we explain it to the next potential employer? We've got to raise awareness!

    March 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  22. Kathleen Schulweis

    As a coach who deals with bullying issues-with targets and bullies alike – all these stories are familiar. I am particularly interested in the multiple bullying problems such as Jack noted above. Are bullies everywhere? Are we sending out signals that make folks think we can be bullied? How do we find each other?

    March 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  23. Darian Land

    One of the best books on workplace bullying was written by several professors in Iowa called MOBBING: EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN THE AMERICAN WORKPLACE. The link is http://www.mobbing-usa.com/ . I used this book in a school where I was being bullied. I used it to show organizational skills and at the same time make my students aware of a subject that is seldom discussed. I wanted them to become more aware of their environment and what transpired around them.

    I reiterate: do not try to outlive bullying. Run as fast as you can. Don't even think of going to the EEOC. I went there twice. Because of the way the laws are written—or do not exist—hands are tied. If you go to there, be sure to have it all on video with good sound.

    March 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  24. A. Smith, Oregon

    With the huge number of job losses across the entire world, there are thousands of new possible replacements for each new hire. Corporations are now routinely getting rid of senior employees and replacing them with temporary employees with no health insurance.

    The really nasty employers are cutting employees before their pension plans are able to fully kick in. Union busting, Pension busting is now rampant in many corporations and across the board in many job markets.

    How do you fight back against a huge mega Corporation? If you notice ANY tax evasion, report your boss and the company anonymously to the Internal Revenue Service who will not only look into auditing your boss and your former employer but also deal with them harshly if any law breaking is found.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  25. Darian Land

    When you are being bullied at work, it will not go away no matter what you do or say. Management has decided it does not want you. It probably has someone in mind to replace you already. Your insistence on staying is considered a confrontation, that management knows you cannot win. Find other employment as fast as you can, so management will not blacklist you. This way, your physical and mental health remain in tact. We are talking about your future and your survival.

    Of course these bullying practices need to be called to account. When the bullying starts, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING IN DETAIL so that when you do file complaints after finding new employment, you have something lawyers can work with. File a complaint with your union; go to your U.S. senators offices and file complaints; go to the EEOC. Just remember that with all the lobbyists the big corporations have, the laws do NOT favor the United States citizenry but rather the artificial citizenry of corporations. You may win, eventually, but it will not be easy.

    March 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  26. Shelley

    I never knew bullying until I started working for a federal agency with alot of retired military personel. They treat their cilivian subordinates as they treat newly enlisted subordinates in the military. I have received physical threats, and they typically keep weapons in their office, but everyone is afraid to confront them about it.

    I never encountered such intolerable behavior in the private sector. I have heard others who work for the VA and DOD tell similar stories. Since it takes the federal bureaucracy years to investigate a complaint, the bullies have little incentive to modify their behavior. And because they are veterans as federal employees, they are assured their job regardless of how they behave. There should be federal laws against this type of behavior in the workplace.

    March 30, 2010 at 12:12 am |
  27. Maria in Maryland

    I was bullied at work by a serial office manager bully and was terminated when I finally couldn't take it anymore after months of it and fought back. I only waited so long because I needed the job. Bullies cannot be changed and will not stop and management would rather keep the bully than deal with the fact that they have a problem. Here in the US our culture has devolved into a culture of bullying – in schools, the workplace, civic and public discourse, media – just about everywhere. Thank you, Dave Philips, for posting the Healthy Workplace Bill information. I am the Maryland state point person on this bill. Being bullied can either destroy you or spur you to action and while I was seriously impaired mentally and physically by what this woman and her cohorts did to me, I was thankfully able to get myself together and seek out the Healthy Workplace initiative. The best thing those of us who are bullied can do for ourselves is recognize the bullying early, understand that we are not at fault and did not cause it and then take steps to either leave (which is usually all bullying targets can do) or try to force management to stop it. For all the damage that was done to me, it was minimized because I never once thought the problem was me – I recognized I was being bullied immediately. Bullies are pathetic, vicious people who have never been stopped. Standing up to one, as I did, was the best thing I ever did even if it resulted in my being let go – so if you do fight back, be prepared to lose your job. For me, it was worth it – even in this economy. I'm still unemployed but have not had one moment of regret for standing up to this poor excuse for a human being. What really bothers me though is that she will continue to bully others as she did to others before me. That is why we need the Healthy Workplace bill passed in state legislatures. Once individual bullies and management can be held legally liable, bullying will become a rare occurrence. If you've been bullied in the US, go to the Healthy Workplace website, find your state and get in touch with your coordinator. We have a lot of legislative work to do and need those who have been bullied to work with us.

    March 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  28. Matt

    I worked for a major news corporation, and the manager there was abusive as anything. He ended up having a lawsuit filed against him and would later be removed of his duties. Its good to know that things end up coming around in life. I do put partial blame on school administrators who do not take enough action in rectifying these problems. They can have serious long-term psychological damage on an individual who is a victim.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  29. R

    Workplace bullying is definitely a fact of life...moreso in someparts of the country than others. In some corporate environments, particularly at extended sites, it is acceptable to "yell" routinely at lateral coworkers or employees in a lower position that you don't agree with. It is acceptable to verbally harass and treat with outright disrespect a new member of the team who isn't to the liking of the good old boy group in power. It's OK to demean a new team member's or manager's skills and expterise and to shout that they don't care who you are or what you know, they don't have to follow what you say (this being said by employees under the manager as well as other managers in lateral positions). This is especially true if it is a woman coming in to an environment previously dominated by men or by women being controlled by the males leaders. Men in these circumstances seem tro think that they have an unwritten "right" to say anything they want to the new female manager, treat her any way they like, and disregard her human rights as a person, not to mention disregarding her position with the company. I believe this often happens in other sites located away from the main Corporate entity...out of sight, if you will. The Corporate office turns a blind eye to this and blames the new recruit they sent tot he site rather than investigating the inequality and abusive environment that exists at that site. It does no good to complain because you are called either a troublemaker or are accused of having "thin skin" and not being tough enought o handle your job. You can't win and you end up leaving a company you thought you liked and admired voluntarily or the bullies at the extended site force you out behind the scenes...downsizing you due to an "elimination of the job", or saying that "changed the chain of command", etc.

    There are other thorns in the sides of the bullies who harass the new manager...sexist beliefs and behaviors are only one...differing politics is another, making changes that they don't like is another, standing up for the equality of other employees not being treated equally is another...often a new recruit to a site will quickly see the inequities that exist at the extended site...inequities that did not exist at the Corporate level and inequities that ...would it not for being transferred to the site...would not ever be known.

    It's disappointing to find that the company you respected and worked hard for is NOT the company they portray themselves to be in the media...equal, progressive, respecting diversity, etc. And it's hard to believe that the company is NOT aware of this on some level and just chooses to let it stand and do nothing, all the while losing valuable employees who are tired of being considered the problem. I guess I am guilty of idealism believing that a company could be all that it says of itself. How naive of me.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
  30. Darian Land

    Matt, trust me when I say that the corporate office knows what is happening at other company sites. It is often more convenient to turn a blind eye to bullying, especially if it is to the company's advantage.

    Corporate culture in too many American corporations is twisted. From your message here, it is obvious you are from the old work ethic of hard work will get you somewhere. Be careful. You can work yourself to death trying to show these corporations what a good, considerate, caring employee you are. Since these corporations do not bat an eye at sending jobs (yours included) overseas, you are considered expendable, and all your effort will be appreciate, but do not expect any monetary acknowledgment for it, only if it benefits the company or someone in management.

    You have to consider yourself a business and look to your needs. With corporations and their management, keep it all business. Anything other than this, and you will quickly find how quickly you can be and will be exploited. Many in management will consider you a softy, a sucker to do their bidding. After I had advanced the reputation of a workplace with my skills and expertise, the only thing I got for it was this acknowledgment: he works cheap and does as he is told.

    If you find you are being disrespected, bullied, harassed, then DOCUMENT each incident in detail and keep all memos and email message in a separate file that your company cannot access. In other words, keep hard copies or forward documents to your personal email account, where the company computer personnel cannot touch it.n seek legal counsel. Protect and defend yourself. You are a professional.

    April 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  31. carlos ceglia

    It is a common situation in the Brazilian foreign service..............

    it is considered quite normal ............

    September 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm |

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