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How Workplace Bullying is Impacting LGBT Employees

Oct 19, 2017 / Media Coverage / Psychology Today — Sue Scheff

Harassment in any form can be debilitating. In the recent news we have read about more and more women coming forward sharing their experiences of sexual harassment, whether it was in the workplace or otherwise—these women felt powerless to men at the time.

New research indicates that LGBT workers are facing bullying in an area that should be a safe place—their office or place of employment. Two in five LGBT workers (40 percent) report feeling bullied at work, 11 percentage points higher than the national average of all workers combined. Fifty-six percent of bullied LGBT workers report being bullied repeatedly, according to a new nationwide survey by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder.  

Michael Erwin, director of corporate communications and social media at CareerBuilder said, “Bullying of any kind or of anyone has no place in the workplace – period,” and continued, “Employers have a responsibility to create a safe working environment for all employees. They can minimize this destructive behavior by offering sensitivity training and enforcing anti-bullying policies across their organizations.” 

Would you recognize workplace bullying?

Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is: Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or. Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or. Verbal abuse. 

No one should have to feel threatened in their place of employment, no matter what. 

We already know that traditional bullying can lead to emotional distress: The Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2012 survey reported that the stress from bullying is associated with emotional disorders such as anxiety and panic attacks, as well as physical ones, from loss of sleep to stress headaches. Ellen Walser deLara, a family therapist, professor of social work at Syracuse University, and author of the book Bullying Scars: The Impact on Adult Life and Relationships, writes that adults bullied as children or teens can suffer for years afterward with trust and self-esteem issues, as well as psychiatric problems. She calls the phenomenon adult post-bullying syndrome.

This latest CareerBuilder survey revealed that 53 percent of bullied LGBT workers say they were bullied by one person, and 13 percent say it happened in a group setting. Fourteen percent of LGBT bullied workers say they were bullied by someone younger, and 61 percent say they were bullied by someone older.

Some of the most common examples of bullying given by LGBT workers who were bullied on the job according to this new survey were:

  • 61 percent were falsely accused of mistakes they didn't make.
  • 50 percent were ignored—comments were dismissed or not acknowledged.
  • 47 percent were gossiped about. (Likely it trended online too).
  • 42 percent were picked on for personal attributes such as race, gender or appearance.
  • 40 percent were constantly criticized by a boss or co-worker.
  • 31 percent were purposely excluded from projects or meetings.
  • 28 percent experienced comments being made about them during work meetings.

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