Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Harthill on Bullying in the Workplace: Lessons from the United Kingdom

Harthill Susan Harthill (Flordia Coastal) sends word of her newly published article in the Minnesota Journal of International Law: BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE: LESSONS FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM.

Here is the abstract:

This comparative article explores how the United Kingdom has tackled the problem of workplace bullying with the goal of drawing lessons for the emerging U.S. workplace bullying movement.  In stark contrast to the U.S., the U.K. has been actively identifying and tackling workplace bullying since 1997 at the grassroots, political, organizational, and legislative levels.  This article describes the development of the notion of a “dignitarian workplace” in the U.K. even in the absence of a dignity tradition, and argues that the U.K. provides useful insight for the U.S. at this formative stage of U.S. workplace bullying law.  The most useful lesson is that the U.S.’s lack of a dignity tradition need not be fatal to the workplace bullying movement.  In the U.K., employees have successfully utilized anti-stalking legislation to obtain legal relief against their employers for workplace bullying.  This potential for litigation has, in turn, spurred organizational change.  In addition, recognition of the societal as well as individual costs, not surprisingly, appears to have been another impetus behind trade union and government-funded initiatives to tackle the problem of workplace bullying in the U.K.

Learning from that experience, this article suggests that governmental and management recognition of the widespread nature of the problem is the first step in tackling workplace bullying.  This article proposes that employer self-regulation and new workplace bullying legislation would have a better chance of success in the U.S. if preceded by efforts to educate legislators and employers on the individual and societal costs of workplace bullying.  This article further proposes that legislative efforts can be bolstered by advocating for bills authorizing studies of the effects of workplace bullying.  This approach therefore advocates more effective engagement of trade unions, management groups, and legislators to survey and define the problem of workplace bullying as an initial step in tackling workplace bullying in the U.S.

Good stuff and an issue I think needs more attention in this country.  As the article is not on-line yet, you can either access it on one of the electronic databases or contact Susan for a reprint.


Scholarship | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Harthill on Bullying in the Workplace: Lessons from the United Kingdom:


Thank you for highlighting the silent disease of workplace bullying. Will you help us raise awareness?

I read with interest your article "Lessons from the UK" dated August 2008.

I work for the Andrea Adams Trust, which is the most established UK charity dedicated to preventing workplace bullying.

This complex issue is receiving increasing media attention. I thought it would be helpful to update you with some background information and statistic we hold on the subject - including Ban Bullying at Work Day which we organise each year on 7 November.

Just some of the latest statistics regarding the shocking scale of the problem of bullying in UK workplaces include:

In February 2008, the Samaritans published research findings showing more than 80% of UK employees have experienced bullying at work– with more than 20% being bullied on a daily or weekly basis.

Recent research suggests 18.9 million working days are lost each year as a direct result of bullying at work, costing to the UK economy of £6 billion – massively impacting productivity, creativity, morale and general employee wellbeing

90% of those absent from work due to bullying tell employers their absence was the result of some other kind of illness.
More than three million people were involved in 2007’s Ban Bullying at Work Day, and we are hoping for bigger and better results in 2008.

We have a wealth of information rather than inundating you with information at this stage, if there is more you would like to know about workplace bullying then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Joanna Solino
operations & Campaigns Officer
Tel / Fax: 01273 380611

Posted by: Joanna Solino | Aug 7, 2008 4:04:53 AM

It's good to hear that more attention is being given to the very serious problem of workplace bullying in the United States. I was the target of a workplace bully for more than two and a half years in the respiratory care department at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. St Alphonsus is a part of the Trinity Health care system headquartered in Novi, Michigan. Management at Saint Alphonsus epitomized what could be called an example of how NOT to respond to the problem of bullying. When I reported the bullying to management as well as the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) injury I was diagnosed with as a result of being bullied, the responses I got were as follows: 1. Orders from department, human resoure, and senior management to not talk about the bullying or the PTSD injury to my co-workers. 2. A threat of termination from human resources for reporting the PTSD injury to them. 3. Orders from human resources to lie about the injury if anyone inquires. 4. No response at all from the CEO, chairperson of the Bioethics Committee, and Trinity Health Vice-president in charge of organizational integrity; 5. claims that my complaints and PTSD injury were "petty" from the department manager. 6. Frequent reminders from department, human resource, and senior management that this issue was "confindential," in other words, attempts by management to censor communication about bullying. Eventually I was forced to leave my 30-year employment there because I was gradually becoming disabled by the chronic bullying which, long before I left, was coming not just from the abusive co-worker, but also from management. Since then I've been telling what happened to me in order to raise awareness and hopefully prevent others from being similarily mistreated and injured. There is more information about my experience on my blog at I'm interested in hearing more from others who have been the target of a bully especially if it happened at Saint Alphonsus or another Trinity Health facility. Thanks.

Leonard Nolt

Posted by: Leonard Nolt | Aug 29, 2008 5:54:06 AM

Post a comment