How to Identify Bullying Behavior
Recent commentators have used different ways to describe bullying behavior, but they agree that a bully is only interested in maintaining his or her power and control. Because bullies are cowards and are driven by deep-seated insecurities and fears of inadequacy, they intentionally wage a covert war against an organization's best employees -- those who are highly-skilled, intelligent, creative, ethical, able to work well with others, and independent (who refuse to be subservient or controlled by others). Bullies can act alone or in groups. Bullying behavior can exist at any level of an organization. Bullies can be superiors, subordinates, co-workers and colleagues.
Some bullies are obvious -- they throw things, slam doors, engage in angry tirades, and are insulting and rude. Others, however, are much more subtle. While appearing to be acting reasonably and courteously on the surface, in reality they are engaging in vicious and fabricated character assassination, petty humiliations and small interferences, any one of which might be insignificant in itself, but taken together over a period of time, poison the working environment for the targeted individuals.
Under the totality of the circumstances analysis, a court should not carve the work environment into a series of discrete incidents and then measure the harm occurring in each episode. Instead, the trier of fact must keep in mind that "each successive episode has its predecessors, that the impact of the separate incidents may accumulate, and that the work environment created may exceed the sum of the individual episodes." Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc., 760 F.Supp. 1486, 1524 (M.D.Fla.1991). "A play cannot be understood on the basis of some of its scenes but only on its entire performance, and similarly, a discrimination analysis must concentrate not on individual incidents but on the overall scenario." Andrews v. City of Philadelphia, 895 F.2d 1469, 1484 (3d Cir.1990); see also Vance v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 863 F.2d 1503, 1510 (11th Cir.1989).
Bullying is not about being "tough" or insisting on high standards. It is "abusive disrespect."