January 30, 2010

Financial costs to employers

Several studies have attempted to quantify the cost of bullying to an organization.

  • According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH) mental illness among the workforce leads to a loss in employment amounting to $19 billion and a drop in productivity of $3 billion (Sauter, et al., 1990).
  • In a report commissioned by the ILO, Hoel, Sparks, & Cooper did a comprehensive analysis of the costs involved in bullying. They estimated a cost 1.88 Billion Pounds plus the cost of lost productivity.
  • Based on replacement cost of those who leave as a result of being or witnessing bullying, Rayner and Keashly (2004) estimated that for an organization of 1000 people, the cost would be $1.2 million US. This estimate did not include the cost of litigation should victims bring suit against the organization.
  • A recent Finnish study of more than 5,000 hospital staff found that those who had been bullied had 26% more certified sickness absence than those who were not bullied, when figures were adjusted for base-line measures one year prior to the survey (Kivimaki et al., 2000). According to the researchers these figures are probably an underestimation as many of the targets are likely to have been bullied already at the time the base-line measures were obtained.
Research by Dr Dan Dana has shown organizations suffer a large financial cost by not accurately managing conflict and bullying type behaviors. He has developed a tool to assist with calculating the cost of conflict.In addition, researcher Tamara Parris discusses how employers need to be more attentive in managing various discordant behaviors in the workplace, such as, bullying, as it not only creates a financial cost to the organization, but also erodes the company's human resources assets...

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_bullying

January 26, 2010

Peltzing in Arkansas

The scientific study of mobbing proceeds most fruitfully by thoughtful dissection of specific cases. The common point of reference for all five of the papers below is the case of Richard J. Peltz, a tenured high-achiever in the Bowen School of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This well-publicized case has given birth there to a new synonym for mobbing, namely peltzing, which means getting together and pummelling a professor with a barrage of aspersions and accusations toward the end of destroying the prof's good name, curtailing his or her work, and eventually eliminating the prof from the faculty. So adroitly has Peltz fought back, however, that in the longer run, peltzing may come to mean fending off collective attack — not mobbing itself, but effective self-defense from it. However the case turns out, it is instructive on many counts.

Invited by Robert Ashford, Professor of Law at Syracuse University, the papers below are published here in the order of their presentation at the session, "Workplace Mobbing and Academic Freedom: the Socio-Economic Connections," 2010 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, New Orleans, 7 January:

(1) Mark A. Schneider, Introduction

(2) Richard J. Peltz, Academic Mobbing in my Own Experience,

(3) Joan E. Friedenberg, Mobbing Indicators and their Economic Consequences,

(4) Kenneth Westhues, Mobbing, Socio-Economics, and the Case of Richard Peltz,

(5) Mark A. Schneider, Concluding Comments.

From: http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~kwesthue/AALS10.html

January 22, 2010

Suicides soar as 1.5 million workers a day fall victim to bully bosses

AN EPIDEMIC of workplace bullying is sweeping through Germany, with as many as 1.5 million people a day affected and the economy haemorrhaging money. Known in German as "mobbing", the harassment in offices, call centres, factories, warehouses, police stations, doctors' surgeries and hospitals has reached such a level that workplace bullying has been linked to numerous suicides...

More at: http://news.scotsman.com/world/Suicides-soar-as-15-million.6004718.jp

January 21, 2010

About the University of Leicester...

I am an academic employment lawyer. In November 2007 I brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET) at Leicester against my former employer, the University of Leicester, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, and the (now former) Director of Personnel Services, Dr Alison Hall.

I had resigned from my post as lecturer in the University's Department of Law in May 2007. The core allegations in my claim were disability discrimination (against all three respondents), constructive unfair dismissal (against the University) and detriment and/or dismissal for having made protected disclosures (against the University). I lodged a second claim with the ET against the above three respondents in 2008. This claim alleged continuing disability discrimination. The respondents denied the allegations.

In June 2009 an application was submitted to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on my behalf. This application was concerned with case management matters in the ET; there has been no determination by the ET of the merits of my claims.

A judgment was posted on the EAT website on 19th January 2010 (Dr G M Truter v (1) University of Leicester; (2) Professor R Burgess; (3) Dr A Hall). The judgment was written by Judge McMullen. I wish to issue a health warning about this judgment: some elements of a factual nature are not accurately or fairly described and significant issues are not identified. For instance, one would not know, on reading the judgment, that AFTER I informed the ET that I would be appealing certain orders and other matters to the EAT, the ET made an order stating that my claims would be struck out unless I complied with the relevant orders (a so-called 'unless order').

The ET refused to stay or postpone the ET proceedings until the appeal process had been completed. And the EAT refused to order the ET to do so. So, when matters were before the EAT, the ET struck out the claims. The unless order was one of the issues in my initial application to the EAT and when the ET struck out my claims, I asked the EAT to permit me to include an appeal against the striking out in my Notice of Appeal. Serious issues were raised in the EAT proceedings, relating to the legality of both the making of the unless order and the striking out of my claims.

Also not revealed in Judge McMullen's judgment is that one of my allegations in the EAT proceedings was apparent bias on the part of the ET, and that a question had been raised 11 months before the striking out of my claims as to whether the ET was in a position of a conflict of interest arising from associations or connections between the University of Leicester and the ET. There is documentary evidence suggesting associations or connections, though it is not clear from that evidence precisely which individuals this involves in the Tribunal system. No comment on this was made by, or requested from, the respondents; the question was never addressed by the ET. Apparently, the EAT was not troubled by this notwithstanding strict legal and ethical standards requiring such questions to be addressed.

The EAT judgment seems to give the green light to Employment Tribunals to take what may have the appearance of revenge, with impunity, on a party who has alleged apparent bias, by 'killing off' a claim when the ET's warning to kill off the claim has been referred to the EAT. I consider this to be a shocking state of affairs, especially in a legal system generally considered to be advanced.

The issues mentioned above are some of several in my case that I believe to be of considerable public interest. All of these matters will be aired in due course. If anyone wishes in the meantime to read the submissions made on my behalf that are not identified in Judge McMullen's judgment, the documentation can be obtained from the EAT.

I wish to end by expressing my solidarity with those of you struggling with a sense of injustice or any distress arising from the great evil that is bullying, which seems to be so pervasive in our society.

Glynis M. Truter
LL.B. (Hons.) (London), PG Dip. Legal Practice (College of Law), LL.M. (London), Ph.D. (Cambridge)

January 19, 2010

Conflict of Interest?

On some of my internet browsing I have failed not to notice about Ms Judith Jewell: -------http://www.indigoassociates.co.uk/who.html -----------
Magistrate, Judith Jewell's company -- note her role as Governor at Roehampton University is referenced here………….

“[...] She likes to get involved in things - she is a magistrate on Kingston-upon-Thames bench, an Executive Member of Kingston Racial Equality Council, and a Governor of Roehampton University, as well as more creative pursuits like cooking and eating adventurously". ---------

Moreover…… http://www.westfocus.org.uk/westfocus/w47_Roehampton.aspx ---------- you will note the WestFocus consortium relationship between Kingston and Roehampton University shown at the bottom of the home page.--------

Furthermore, I have noticed: http://www.kingston.ac.uk/aboutkingstonuniversity/howtheuniversityworks/partnerinstitutions/ --------- Kingston University and Roehampton University are listed as "Partner Institutions".---------

It is very well known that university governors and vice-chancellors are very much in contact with governors and vice-chancellors of other universities in order to exchange views and ideas on policies and performance for the goodness of the public interests and the pursuit of the perfection of the sector of education of our children: our future.

Given the background information on links between Kingston University – Judith Jewell – Roehampton University, and Ms Jewell’s position as magistrate of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) -which potential conflict of interests could be very easily extrapolated from the internet- I must say that it is unfortunate that Ms Jewell has been appointed to make a decision on a case where a jail sentence could be ordered on a man who has informed the public with his website “sirpeterscott.com” on issues which otherwise would have been swept under the carpet as usually might happen in universities and other public sector companies where confidentiality is paramount.

In addition, I would like to point out once more that the Police report has found no element of harassment in the website whatsoever. Although there are so many magistrates out there in the all UK who could have been chosen to decide on this case, it is however very unlikely that none of the parties like the CPS, or Ms Jewell or any of the board of governors of Kingston University and their lawyers has deliberately overlooked this potential conflict of interests and therefore unwittingly allowed this to however proceed in the circumstances.

Therefore, I really hope that in the light of the awareness of this disturbing conflict, for the sake of justice, public interest and freedom of speech, the authorities reconsider the conviction of Dr Howard Fredrics and thus restoring to the public the faith that the juridical system of a democratic society deserves.


January 16, 2010

Defend Hamish Murphy

Hamish Murphy, Principal Lecturer in Youth and Community work at Glyndwr University and a supporter of our Campaign has been dismissed because of his trade union activities.

A Facebook, Support and Defend Hamish Murphy has been created to support his appeal for reinstatement. It tells us:

Hamish Murphy, Principal Lecturer in Youth & Community Studies at Glyndwr University has been dismissed for his trade union activities. Please support the call for his immediate reinstatement. Hamish has been a youth worker for over 35 years, mostly in Edinburgh but more recently in Wrexham as a volunteer and committee chair within his village youth club. He has been a detached youth worker, managing one street-work project and chairing another city-wide one. He has been a volunteer in a drop-in centre, run a youth information project, initiated a drug support agency and created a youth homelessness project. He has been a community centre manager, an adventure playground worker and a community education services manager. Hamish has written widely about youth work, including editing the book Conceptualising Youth Work, and is currently working on a new book on Youth Rights and Age Discrimination. Coming to Glyndwr University in 1999, Hamish has lectured in Scotland, Wales and China and is an external examiner in England. He has also undertaken consultancy work with local authorities, voluntary organisations and trade unions across the UK. His expertise rests in work with young people, recently specialising in its international forms though he has also been active in ‘anti-poverty’, ‘age discrimination’ and ‘professional education’ research.

We are being asked to e-mail Professor Mike Scott at m.scott@glyndwr.ac.uk to express our concern and argue for his reinstatement.

In addition the UCU has issued the following statement, which is to be found below. As things stand it appears that Hamish’s appeal is yet to be heard. Further action in support of Hamish is being planned for the coming weeks – particularly around graduation day. He continues to need our solidarity in these authoritarian times.

STATEMENT to Branch Members from UCU Wales Support Official 14th October 2009

I can confirm that Hamish Murphy was dismissed by Helen James on Wednesday the 5th October on the authority of the Vice-Chancellor. Helen James stated at the beginning of the hearing that Hamish Murphy was there in his capacity as UCU Branch Chair. I can confirm that I believe he was sacked because of his trade union activities.

Hamish Murphy was dismissed for the part he played in producing the UCU March issue of the UCU branch newsletter Hamish was clearly relaying concerns expressed by members and acting in what he believed to be the best interests of the members when he distributed the newsletter. Hamish has never been accused of any wrongdoing as a lecturer in Youth & Community studies and I can confirm that his dismissal had nothing to do with his role as a lecturer.

He was accused and found guilty of the following three offences:
- Bringing the University into disrepute;
- Damaging the relationship of trust and confidence between himself
and the University; and
- Raising false accusations against colleagues.

These allegations refer mainly to the distribution of the March 2009 UCU Branch Newsletter. There was also an issue raised about allegations made in what Hamish had intended to be a protected disclosure under the Universities Public Information Disclosure Policy. Hamish relayed the complaint on behalf of a number of members in a more specific way to the University soon after the newsletter came out.

We are currently taking legal advice to assist us with the appeal.

Unfortunately I cannot say any more at this stage as would not want anything to prejudice our chances of success at the appeal and any subsequent tribunal proceedings.

I would urge members to support the campaign to reinstate Hamish in any way you can.

Phil Markham
UCU Wales Support Official

The winter of discontent is closing in and it is no coincidence that the bureaucracy in Higher Education is keen to strangle debate and dissidence.

From: http://indefenceofyouthwork.wordpress.com/2009/10/

January 15, 2010

Bullying in the workplace on the rise

The recession has seen a big increase in bullying at work, the Guardian has learned. One in 10 employees experience workplace bullying and harassment, according to the conciliation service Acas, while a survey by the union Unison reports that more than one-third of workers said they were bullied in the past six months, double the number a decade ago.

"The fact that bullying has doubled in the past decade is shocking," said Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison.

Fraser Younson, head of employment at the law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, said: "In the last year or so, as running businesses has become more difficult, the way managers interface with their staff has become more demanding. Managers are chasing things up, being more critical. If they are not trained to deal with increased levels of stress, then we are seeing them do this in a way that makes staff feel bullied."

Samantha Mangwana, an employment solicitor at Russell Jones & Walker, said: "We are getting a very high level of cases. Most of the people who come to us with a problem at work talk about bullying. It frequently arises in people's line-manager relationship."

Employment lawyers say allegations of bullying have become a frequent feature of claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

Support groups are struggling to cope with the rise in cases, with one helpline recently forced to close.

"We have been overwhelmed by a huge rise in complaints over the last two years," said Lyn Witheridge, who ran the Andrea Adams Trust bullying helpline until last year. "We had to close the charity and the helpline because we couldn't cope with the number of calls – they more than doubled to 70 a day.

"The recession has become a playground for many bullies who know they can get away with it. Under pressure, budgets have got to be met. Managers are bullying people as a way of forcing them out and getting costs down."

News of the increase comes amid a number of high-profile employment tribunal cases, including a News of the World sports reporter, Matt Driscoll, who was awarded almost £800,000 by an east London tribunal after he suffered "a consistent pattern of bullying behaviour" from staff, including Andy Coulson, now David Cameron's head of communications.

Last month two yeomen were sacked from the Tower of London after an inquiry revealed a campaign of bullying against Moira Cameron, the first female yeoman warder in the tower's 1,000-year history.

"We see some cases of bullying in discrimination where the employer invokes what we colloquially call the 'bastard defence'," said Mangwana. "Their defence is that they were a bastard to everyone, so it's not discriminatory."

Academics have long warned of the link between economic conditions and bullying, with studies in the 1980s and 1990s predicting that workplace competition and the threat of redundancy were most likely to cause an increase. The decline of trade unions and of collective action has also been cited as a factor.

Experts also believe that press coverage of bullying cases has raised awareness, encouraging more employees to take advantage of what has been described as an "explosion" of individual employment rights over recent years.

Although "bullying" is not a legal term, cases of bullying at work have arisen through employment law, health and safety and protection from harassment legislation. But news of the rise in bullying cases across different jurisdictions, which research suggests contributes to the 13.7m working days lost every year as a result of stress and depression, has prompted criticism that the government has failed to adequately address the problem.

"The increase in tribunal claims this year is part of a lurch towards the American culture of litigation, but that is not necessarily the answer," said Witheridge. "More should be done to resolve bullying disputes without litigation, and for people to be treated with the dignity they deserve at work, while also being strongly managed."

The government said it was working to tackle the problem. Lord Young, the employment relations minister, said: "Workplace harassment and violence is unacceptable and the government is committed to addressing these problems."

From: http://www.guardian.co.uk

January 07, 2010

Lecturer 'intended to harass' VC, court finds

An academic is wanted by police after being found guilty of harassing the vice-chancellor of Kingston University.

Howard Fredrics, who worked at the university as senior lecturer of music between 2003 and 2006, was convicted at Kingston Magistrates' Court of harassing Sir Peter Scott via postings on a website, www.sirpeterscott.com.

Dr Fredrics was found guilty in his absence, having failed to appear for the hearing last month, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He will be sentenced later this month.

At the trial, Sir Peter said the site was "intended to embarrass and humiliate" him and that some of its material, such as an allegation that he was a friend of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, was inaccurate. He added that he had met Dr Fredrics only five times.

Finding Dr Fredrics guilty, Judith Jewell, chairman of the bench, said: "We believe the course of conduct he pursued in setting up this website was intended to harass Sir Peter Scott ... he ought to have known that such actions would amount to harassment."

Dr Fredrics has used the site to expose controversial practices at Kingston in recent years. In 2008, he posted a recording of lecturers pressurising students to inflate their National Student Survey responses.

Sir Peter complained to the World Intellectual Property Organisation that Dr Fredrics was infringing his right to the domain name www.sirpeterscott.com. In May 2009, it ruled that the vice-chancellor had no rights to the name.

In a statement issued after the trial, Dr Fredrics says the conviction had been handed down despite a "compelling police report that indicated there was no evidence that the site contained anything that could lead to such a charge".

The report, seen by Times Higher Education, says the "sites listed do not contain content that is consistent with any harassment".

A second charge against Dr Fredrics of threatening and abusive behaviour following an encounter with Sir Peter in Kingston last year was put on hold.


From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk