Workshop aims to address workplace bullying

Bullying is usually associated with adolescents and teenagers, but the harassment does not always end in high school. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35 percent of Americans have reported being bullied at work.

Ralph DeLucia, associate director of Penn’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs (OAA/EOP), says workplace bullying is complicated by the fact that most adult bullies aren’t aware that what they are doing is wrong. In fact, they often misconceive their actions as tough but dynamic management.  

To help staff and faculty better understand and deal with bullying at work, the OAA/EOP and African-American Resource Center (AARC), in partnership with the Division of Human Resources and the Office of the Ombudsman, is sponsoring a workshop on Friday, Jan. 11, called “Workplace Bullying: Resources for Penn Employees.” 

The 90-minute program starts at noon at the Human Resources Office of Learning and Education first floor training room at 3624 Market St. DeLucia will be one of the facilitators.

“My own pet theory is that when you have a workplace where there is lack of respect, bullying turns into the ‘isms’—racism, sexism, or ageism,” DeLucia says.

Anti-bullying advocates define bullying behavior as using abusive language that humiliates people, teasing others on a regular basis, making others the brunt of practical jokes, invading someone’s personal space, and making snide comments about others on a regular basis in a public setting.  

“One type of bullying [involves] micro-aggressions,” says AARC Director Valerie Allen. “A person invites everyone in the office to lunch, but forgets to invite one person all the time. People can often find ways to justify what they’re doing. They’ll say, ‘We asked that person to go to lunch three times before and stopped asking.’ ”

But, Allen points out sometimes workplace conflicts that are perceived as bullying may actually be problems stemming from increased demands in an office. The goal of the workshop, she says, is to help staff and faculty make the distinction and alleviate the bullying problem.

“In this economy,” she says, “no one wants to lose a job, and no one wants to look for one.”

For more information or to RSVP for the workshop, call 215-898-6993.

Office Bullying