Workplace Bullying Conflict Resolution

  • WORKPLACE MEDIATION: How to Win the Battle and Not Lose the War.
    WORKPLACE MEDIATION: How to Win the Battle and Not Lose the War. WORKPLACE MEDIATION: How to Win the Battle and Not Lose the War.

    WORKPLACE MEDIATION: How to Win the Battle and Not Lose the War.

WORKPLACE MEDIATION: How to Win the Battle and Not Lose the War.

Every workplace has the potential for conflict. Some of that conflict is healthy, spurring competition among employees, leading to a better work product. Other conflict is unhealthy and can cost everyone involved in lost production, worsening health, overt or covert sabotage, legal battles and lost jobs. Although not the answers in every situation, mediation and workgroup facilitation can be valuable tools to improve an unhealthy workplace. Upon analysis, the other options don’t stack up well.

How does an employer win the battle to maintain a productive and healthy work environment in the face of conflict? One option is to simply clamp down, stress the rules of the workplace and ignore the roots of the discontent. Things will then get worse. Seeing no other choice, an employee may file suit alleging a hostile work environment. If disciplined, demoted or fired, an employee may file a discrimination complaint. After 18 years as a REDRESS mediator with the U.S. Postal Service, I have handled over 130 of these EEO complaints. I have also facilitated entire workgroups, either before or after things get to the point of actual complaints being filed.

One response by an employer is to defend the suit in court. This typically takes years to come to a conclusion. If the judgment is in favor of the employee, the employer will have borne years of legal fees and then be forced to pay a judgment of perhaps thousands of dollars and possibly calculated back wages. The employee may then be returned to the workplace. If the judgment is in favor of the employer, those same mountainous legal fees will have been paid, minus the judgment. So, in that case, the employer wins, correct? Not really. There are […]

By |September 29th, 2014|Workplace Bullying Conflict Resolution|Comments Off on WORKPLACE MEDIATION: How to Win the Battle and Not Lose the War.
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    Bullying Isn’t Just a Problem in Schools Bullying Isn’t Just a Problem in Schools

    Bullying Isn’t Just a Problem in Schools

Bullying Isn’t Just a Problem in Schools

I have mediated well over one hundred workplace cases in the last fifteen years.  One that stands out as unique involved a mentally challenged worker, who I’ll call Tom, who was alleging discrimination based on his handicapped status.  Tom worked the third (overnight) shift with a large organization and wanted to be moved to another shift.  He alleged that his employer’s unwillingness to move him to another shift was evidence of discrimination against him.  He was accompanied by his union representative, who I’ll call Dave.  Management was present in the form of Tom’s supervisor and a person from Human Resources (H.R.).

The mediation had proceeded without much progress for over an hour, with the two sides sticking to their initial positions (“I need a new shift” and “We can’t move you”).  Suddenly, the employee’s union representative asked for a caucus.  I asked the management folks to move leave and convened the caucus with just Tom and Dave.  Almost immediately, Dave said, “Tom, you have to tell him.”  Tom said nothing, just looking at the tabletop.  Dave repeated his request, more urgently.

So, Tom reluctantly told me his story.  It seems that Tom was being terrorized by a gang of fellow male employees.  Rather than being allowed to do his work, nearly every evening the gang was publically humiliating Tom by calling him names, laughing at his limited social skills and physically accosting him by pulling down his pants while he was concentrating on his work.  Tom had been too embarrassed to tell anyone but Dave, and had asked Dave to keep his secret.  To his credit, Dave knew that such a secret should not be kept.

With Tom’s permission, I reconvened all four parties, and Tom then […]

By |May 26th, 2013|Workplace Bullying Conflict Resolution|Comments Off on Bullying Isn’t Just a Problem in Schools