“Examples of bullying/harassment behavior include: unwelcome sexual advances, making threats or comments about job security without foundation, exclusion or victimization, spending malicious rumors or insulting someone by word or behavior (particularly on the grounds of age-sex, disability, sexual orientation and religion or benefit, deliberately undermining a component worker by overloading and constant criticism and preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.
Constructive and legitimate fair criticism of the performance and behavior of an employee at work is not bullying. It is also recognized that an occasional argument or a raised voice does not constitute bullying”. (Daniel B. et al, 26) Management routinely coerce employees not choose union representation. Freedom of association- the right of employees to join a union and bargain collectively is theoretically guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the US constitution and several international human rights agreements.
Employees’ freedom of association in the United States is routinely violated through employer coercion. Employers illegally fire employees for union activity in at least 25 percent of all organizing efforts. Employees who are not actually fired fear losing their jobs if they support union representation. In one poll conducted by Daniel et al, 27, 79 percent of workers agreed that workers are very or somewhat likely to be fired for trying to organize a union. The National Labor Relations Act penalties against illegal firing of union supporters are so minimal that employers treat them as minor costs of doing business.
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Employers who illegally fire workers for union activity are required only to pay back wages minus what the workers have earned in the meantime-a sum that is often negligible. Moreover, the employer is usually not required to pay any compensation until years after the firing occurs. “Illegal discharges are extremely effective in thwarting employees’ efforts to form a union though virtually cost free to the employers. Even when workers are reinstated, they are often so scared that they do not involve themselves anymore in union activities.
Many are treated badly by their employers and have to leave their job within a year of reinstatement. The dramatic increase in discrimination and illegal firing against supporters of unions over the past decades is evidence of the ineffectiveness of current law remedies against coercion by employers. ” (Aryee et al 277) Under current law, employees do not have equal access to such mandatory injective relief against employers. Employees may request the National Labor Relations Act to seek a court order to stop illegal employer conduct such as firing of union supporters but these requests are granted only in rare circumstances.
Employers have a duty under the Health and safety at work Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. If they do not do this they are breaching an individual’s contract of employment. Employers should also recognize that while currently “lawful” bullying behavior by employers is indicative of poor management, it can reduce productivity by diminishing employee morale and exposes employers to enhanced risks of union organizing and retaliatory employee litigation. (Aryee et al 278)
Industrial Relations Act, 1946-2001 allows that individual grievances that are not resolved at workplace level can be referred to the Rights commissioner, Labor Relations Commission or Labor Court. There is some evidence that such bodies are happier dealing with the absence of effective procedures in bullying cases rather than the substantive issue of bullying itself. Another problem is that most outcomes and recommendations from the Rights commissioner or labor court are non-binding on the employer and not enforceable in law. (Aryee et al 277). Research suggests that bullied employees waste between 10 and 52 percent of their time at work.
Instead of working, they spend time defending themselves and networking for support, thinking about the situation, being unmotivated and stressed, not to mention taking sick leave due to stress-related sickness. Employees who are psychologically based in the workplace have little time or mental energy for productivity. Abuse makes them disillusioned, exhausted, and burnt out, unable to perform their jobs effectively or efficiently. “Research shows that, when threatened with a union, 30% of employers fire pre-union workers, 49% threaten to close down, 51% use bribery of favoritism to lilt up the election and 32% hire union busting consultants.
The reason why employers are able to bully employees so successfully preceding an NRLB election on whether to certify a union is because the employees are not unionized. ” (Aryee et al 271) Trade unions exist primarily to represent and protect the interests of their members at work. Union representatives are often the first point of contact for employees who have problems. Increasingly they find themselves taking on the pastoral role no longer provided by today’s strategically focused human resource services. However, they face a great challenge considering the mistreatment of union employees as shown above.
The federal laws need to be amended for them to be more stringent on rogue employers.
Aryee, S. & Chen, Z. X. (2002). Mediation in Work Relationships: Test of a social exchange model. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(2), 267-286 Duffy, M. K. , Ganster, D. C. , Pagon, M. (2002), “Social undermining in the workplace”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 45 pp. 331-51. Daniel B. Kennedy, Robert J. Homant and Michael R. Homant. 2004. Perception of Injustice as a Predictor of Support for Workplace Aggression. Journal of Business and Psychology. Volume 18, No. 3. pp. 24-31. Springer Netherlands.