Thursday, March 31, 2011

Forum in Litchfield Targets Bullying: Litchfield County Times

Here is an excerpt from the article: 
LITCHFIELD—In a town where some red-haired students were recently kicked in an incident inspired by an episode of the animated show “South Park,” and in a larger region that includes a school district that lost administrators because of purported bullying and harassment, a discussion held Monday had plenty of context.

The panel discussion with one parent and two professors from Central Connecticut State University was scheduled at Litchfield High School to discuss the growing phenomenon of bullying. (Neither the recent bullying in Litchfield, nor the experience at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village led directly to Monday’s session.)

Council’s Initiative

The event was set up by Betsy Fabbri and Lori Shuhi, president and vice president of the Student Teachers Parents Council, as part of the STPC’s programs to bring students and teachers together. Close to 30 parents and residents attended.

Dr. Katherine Hermes, a professor of history at CCSU, also spoke at the event. Dr. Hermes pointed out that she was not an expert on the phenomenon of bullying, but had joined the nationwide advocacy on the issue after the suicide of her friend, Marlene Braun.

Ms. Braun, an Army veteran and 13-year employee of the federal Bureau of Land Management, had been bullied by her boss over a difference of opinion in the maintenance of a national landmark of which she as in charge. She took her own life on Aug. 20, 2005.

The story of Ms. Braun’s death made headlines in the Los Angeles Times. Ms. Hermes has since been an advocate against workplace bullying, and has petitioned the Connecticut legislature to examine the phenomenon in its state agencies, including the Connecticut State University system, where she works.

“After 18 months of systematic bullying, this person, who had been a U.S. Army veteran, put a bullet in her brain,” she said. “Many, many people who don’t actually do it, think about it and have tremendous mental and physical health consequences.”

Dr. Hermes said that by the time her friend took her life, she had lost 30 pounds and was suffering from sleep problems.
“People would say to her, ‘Your boss is a jerk,” but we’re not talking about jerks,” she said. “We’re talking about intimidation of someone, such as telling them like a child that they’re not needed at a meeting and should sit in a hall; physical intimidation that is not quite hitting, such as backing them up against a wall. All those things are bullying.” 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Talks on Bullying: "You Have the Right to Be Yourself" Spring, 2011

Press Release

Contact: Joe Mustich, 860.868.7355

President, ACLU NW CT Chapter

March 7, 2011

A Three Part Series on
"You Have the Right to Be Yourself"

March 24, @ 6:30 pm with a talk by
Professor Nan Taylor of UConn
On Domestic Violence, Bullying and Collective Violence

Sponsored by the ACLU NW CT Chapter
Gunn Memorial Library & Museum, Washington, CT
Free and Open to the Public

Thursday, April 21 @ 6pm
Screening of the Laramie Project
Gunn Memorial Library & Musuem, Washington, CT
Free and Open to the Public

Thursday, May 19
Open Forum on Bullying
Register Citizen's Newsroom Cafe @ 6pm
59 Field St, Torrington, CT

Washington, CT...March 1st.....The ACLU NW CT Chapter is very proud to announce its sponsorship of a three part series, on Domestic Violence, Bullying, and Collective Violence, beginning on Thursday, March 24 @ 6:30 pm, with a talk by pyschologist Nan Taylor, PhD of UConn, at the Gunn Memorial Library & Musuem in Washington, CT. The talk is free and open to the public. Dr Taylor's talk will be followed by a question and answer period.

On Thursday, April 21 at 6 pm, the ACLU NW CT Chapter will screen the award winning movie The Laramie Project, which deals with the death of college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, WY, which is an example of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and trans-gender) violence, at the Gunn Memorial Library & Musuem in Washington, CT. The event is free and open to the public.

On Thursday, May 19, at 6pm, the ACLU NW CT Chapter will sponsor an Open Forum on Domestic Violence, Bullying and Collective Violence at the Newsroom Cafe of the Register Citizen, 59 Field St, Torrington, CT

"Our ACLU chapter decide to tackle the problem of bullying after hearing and reading about the suicides of young people, many of whom were LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi, and trans) youth, late last year," said Joe Mustich, president of the ACLU NW CT Chapter.

"I bought a copy of People magazine last year which had photos of young suicides on its cover, and it sits on my desk in my office, and we knew we needed to do something about it," continued Mustich. Additionally, the ACLU has a site called "You Have the Right to Be Yourself" at

For additional information, please see:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New CT Bill, LA Times Article, and Recognizing Signs of Bullying

Please sign our Connecticut petition for the bill currently before the legislature:

The LA Times has published an interesting article about the Healthy Workplace Bill that is well worth reading:,0,1767245.story
State bills against workplace bullying gain traction
Proponents say workplace bullying is widespread and procedures for dealing with it are ineffective. They back a model called the 'Healthy Workplace Bill.'

Texas Healthy Workplace Advocates has gained some recognition across the state, and this article offers some tips about how to recognize bullying in the workplace, which can be subtle and not always easy to admit:
Suzy Fox, a workplace researcher, has identified six common types of workplace bullying.
“Any of those, any one of us does once in a while,” Fox said. It’s when a pattern of behavior develops that bullying takes place, she said.
- Threatening or intimidating behavior. This can be verbal threats or nonverbal, like glaring, Fox said. Cyberbullying also can fall in this category, Fox added.
- Demeaning behavior. Not only does this include insults and put-downs, but also excessively harsh criticism of job performance, according to Fox.
- Isolation. The silent treatment, said Fox, or leaving the room when someone else enters or excluding them from work meetings.
- Abusive supervision. “That’s threatening you with job loss,” Fox said, or blaming workers for things that aren’t their fault, along with unreasonable work demands.
- Work sabotage. “That’s intentionally destroying or stealing your work or your material,” Fox said.
- Harm to reputation. This includes spreading rumors and also some cyberbullying that can ruin a worker’s reputation, Fox said.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AFT Resolution Against Workplace Bullying

American Federation of Teachers Resolutions
WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers resolution on Dignity, Respect and Justice in the Workplace (2009) defines workplace bullying as a "a pattern of coercive, insidious behavior used by one person to gain or exercise power and control over another person and creates a harmful work environment"; and

WHEREAS, workplace bullying has also been defined, by the Work Place Bullying Institute, as the repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators, taking the form of verbal abuse, such as threatening and humiliating or offensive behavior that interferes with or sabotages and prevents the completion of job-related tasks (Work Place Bullying Institute, WBI); and

WHEREAS, according to a Zogby Survey (2007), 54 million or 37 percent of all Americans have reported incidents of bullying in the workplace, and another 12 percent have been a witness to it; and

WHEREAS, the same survey indicates that 45 percent of targets suffer health problems related to bullying, such as stress, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, reduced immunity to infection, stress-related gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, pathophysiologic changes that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other such conditions; and

WHEREAS, the same survey indicates that targets can suffer economic harm through termination, demotion or denial of promotion, and, in 70 percent of cases, targets are forced to leave their jobs voluntarily or involuntarily ("Worry for a Living? Workplace Bullying Report on Abusive Workplace," APA Monitor on Psychology. Volume 37, No. 7 July/August 2006); and

WHEREAS, although 42 percent of bullied employees file a complaint with their employer, 60 percent of such complaints are ignored; and

WHEREAS, the majority of those victimized by this form of harassment are not members of a protected group; and

WHEREAS, workplace bullying, which is generally not prohibited by law in the United States, is four times more prevalent than illegal harassment or discrimination based on sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disabilities and veterans status; and

WHEREAS, fearing possible retaliation, as occurs in 52 percent of cases, victims often suffer in silence ("Worry for a Living? Workplace Bullying Report on Abusive Workplace," APA Monitor on Psychology. Volume 37, No. 7 July/August 2006); and

WHEREAS, every worker has a right to be treated with dignity and respect and to work in a safe and healthy environment, free of verbal and nonverbal abuse, intimidating body language, retaliation and any form of hostility; and

WHEREAS, the AFT's Resolution on Dignity, Respect and Justice in the Workplace (2009) affirms the AFT's core commitment to securing dignity and fairness for all in the workplace; and

WHEREAS, 17 states, including New York and Illinois, have introduced Healthy Workplace Bills to correct this injustice, and some have begun initial passage of the legislation—for example, New York, where the State Senate passed the bill in April 2010; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers, which has already resolved to draft legislation that would make workplace bullying illegal, continue to work to see this legislation enacted, if necessary, creating a coalition of support with the AFL-CIO and other unions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to provide examples of relevant contract language to its locals and that the AFT provide locals and state federations with examples of relevant state legislation, and that the AFT continue to provide information about workplace bullying to its local and state affiliates in order that they might pursue state and local remedies to correct legal victimization of our members and fellow workers.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Should Workplace Bullying Be Illegal?

Cutting-Edge Leadership 

The best in current leadership research and theory, from cultivating 
charisma to transforming your organization. 
by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. 
Should Workplace Bullying Be Illegal? 
Resources for combating workplace bullying. 
Published on March 10, 2011 
I'm certainly not a lawyer, and I am not a recognized expert on 
bullying, but I do know about leadership and best organizational 
practices. As an I/O psychologist, I'm also aware of legal issues in 
the workplace and how they impact the practice of organizational 
psychology. So, it is often puzzling how legislation works, but it is 
clear that the development of laws and regulations is often a 
haphazard process. 

Take workplace bullying. It constitutes a form of harassment, but 
bullying itself is not illegal. However, it is illegal to harass or 
discriminate against someone who is in a protected group (i.e., 
harassment based on sex, race, age, disability, color, creed, national 
origin, or religion). The problem is that bullying behavior often 
"flies under the radar screen" and often does not get defined as 

Here are some differences between harassment and bullying. You will 
see that the bully is often able to keep the bullying from rising up 
to the harassment level - to keep from getting caught and punished. 

•     Harassment is often physical (e.g., unwanted touching, use of force) 
while bullying is psychological and verbal (often not using cursing or 
obscene language, which would then cross the threshold into 

•     Bullying targets anyone, so many victims are not members of 
protected groups, or the bully and victim are from the same group. 

•     Harassment is often obvious and focused on the victim's group 
membership. Bullying is typically more subtle and begins as mild 
criticism and then escalates or persists. 

Bullying results from the inadequacies of the bully. Typically, 
bullies choose targets who threaten the bully's self-image, so targets 
are often highly competent, accomplished, popular employees. This 
actually makes it harder for the victim to get authorities to take 
notice ("You are a successful worker, I don't see what the problem 

There is some good news! To date, 20 states are exploring legislation 
that would put bullying on the legal radar screen. Much of this 
legislation is focused on creating healthier - both physically and
psychologically - workplaces. In the meantime, it is important to 
educate people about workplace bullying and to fight back. 

Here are some resources: 
Follow me on Twitter: 

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology and former Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. Professor Riggio is the author of over 100 books, book chapters, and research articles in the areas of leadership, assessment centers, organizational psychology and social psychology. His most recent books are The Art of Followership and The Practice of Leadership(Jossey-Bass, 2008, 2007), Applications of Nonverbal Behavior (co-edited with Robert S. Feldman; Erlbaum, 2005), and Transformational Leadership (2nd ed.), coauthored with Bernard M. Bass (Erlbaum, 2006). Professor Riggio is an Associate Editor of The Leadership Quarterly, and is on the Editorial Boards of Leadership,Leadership Review, Group Dynamics, and the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, and he was the originator of the Shoptalk column at the Los Angeles Times, a Q&A column dealing with workplace problems/issues.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What is a Healthy Workplace? Discussion

Take the Healthy Workplace Poll sponsored by the AFT:

The Women's Issues Committee of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association is hosting a talk by Prof. Katherine Hermes, Central Connecticut State University, Wednesday, March 23 -- What is a Healthy Workplace?

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