April 17, 2007

Why grievance procedures are inappropriate for dealing with bullying

Grievance procedures are inappropriate and ineffective in dealing with bullying for a variety of reasons:
  • Bullying is equivalent to rape (it's psychological and emotional rape because of its intrusive and violational nature) and grievance procedures force the victim of this rape to have to relive the trauma repeatedly - this could be a breach of Article 3 of the Human Rights Act: No one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

  • The person who normally chairs the grievance is usually the bully, or a friend of the bully or appointed by managers with the single purpose to hide the truth and institutional/organisational failings.

  • If the bully is a co-worker, the manager who would handle the grievance has already failed as a manager for allowing the bullying to occur and for failing to deal with the bullying before it got to the grievance stage. Common practice at this stage is for the manager to give a statement against the victim and lie.

  • The bullying manager has lots of friends in HR and management and will blacken the target's reputation before grievance procedures begin. This is part of the bullying tactics - for example, management may leak to a newspaper confidential information.

  • Most bullies will successfully lie, cheat and deceive their way through grievance.

  • The bully will make sure the grievance lasts as long a possible (eg a year or more). This is a common tactic to wear down the victim.

  • The bully will deny the target access to records, sometimes rifling the target's desk and stealing notes. The bully may even falsify documents. White-collar crime is common.

  • The bully manager will ban the target from having contact with fellow employees. This is breach of Article 11 of the Human Rights convention.

  • The bully will threaten fellow workers into withdrawing support for the target. Intimidation of co-workers is common - if you support him we will not renew your contract and if you are a part-time lecturer/teacher you will think twice about supporting the victim.

  • The bully and the employer will limit representation to a union representative (many reps are untrained, unsupported, and some are part of the problem) or co-worker (all of whom are too frightened to stand up for a fellow worker). Often there is no union rep and no co-worker.

  • The so-called 'investigating officers' are appointed by managers - in effect, management is judge and jury.

  • Investigating officers and chairs of grievance hearings very rarely had specific and suitable training to deal with workplace bullying.

  • Universities have almost unlimited access to funds (tax payer's money) - the victim has to use his/her savings.


Anonymous said...

Considering all the evidence on stress and depression due to bulling and mismanagement of staff, I believe that Governments under a European directive should recognize stress/depression as "professional illness" of the educational sector; I don't see why other professions have their conditions recognized whilst in the educational sector we should be the one to retire early, get antidepressant, get our career disrupted by sickness, all this due to stress.

(the same happens in Italy - in fact, there, stress among educators is becoming an issue at national level)

Stand - up. Claims your rights. Keep the fight -


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

My local Rep has said from the beginning that the Grievance process and the grievance committee in my university are useless. The union at a local level has not yet taken any action to address this.

Aphra Behn