You remember the feeling. The mean kid at recess. Picking on you. Well, the bully is back. And the nastiness has moved from the playground to an office near you.
Thanks to a recession and shrinking job market, office bullies have been given a "blank check," said Gary Namie, head of the advocacy group Workplace Bullying Institute.
The "absolute control of an employer is more apparent in a recession," he said. That means workers are feeling the heat, as Namie attributes the bulk of workplace harassment cases to superiors taunting their employees.
"People are more stressed because there's no escape," he said. Instead, employees endure verbal abuse, humiliation, career sabotage or intimidation because finding a job is harder during a recession.
Namie's institute wants legislation that sets guidelines and consequences for abusive behavior. Currently, the federal government prohibits harassment based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability and age. He says bullying affects productivity and morale.
"You have to make the argument that the bully's too expensive to keep," Namie said.
Bottom line, bully right back.