Anita Bruzzese.

Syndicated Column

Helpful information and advice from
America’s favorite workplace columnist

Anita Bruzzese is a syndicated newspaper columnist on workplace issues for 15 years.  Anita Bruzzese’s “On the Job” column is featured in dozens of newspapers and Web sites every week, with a readership of more than eight million.

Anita Bruuzzese

Anita Bruzzese

When  Gannett News Service launched the column in 1992, reader response was immediate.  “I thought I was the only one to go through this” was a common refrain in the hundreds of letters that flooded in from Oregon to Florida and all points in between.   Anita Bruzzese is a notable presence in the workplace advice arena, prompting reader feedback from all over the world.  This award-winning journalist consistently delivers critical workplace information to a consumer audience who might not otherwise be aware of the issues she addresses.

One such issue being the phenomenon of “workplace bullying and mobbing”.  Click on the link below to read her article “Is Any Job Worth a Bad Boss?”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Is Any Job Worth a Bad Boss?

Comments by ABC

Towards the bottom of this article, the words “bully boss” are underlined indicating that when clicked, you are brought to another link.   That link brings readers to the article on this weblog titled “Tactics of a Workplace Serial Bully Boss”.

Thank you Anita Bruzzese for a great article on this important issue and for linking your “..Bad Boss” article with the “Tactics..” article on this weblog.   Just one more way to get the word out, about the devastating affects of workplace bullying and mobbing, and one more day closer to the day when all working Americans will know enough to Recognize it, Name it, and End Workplace Bullying and Mobbing Together!  Thanks again Anita.   ABC

Click on the link below to reach Anita’s blog titled “45 Things”;


Revenge In The News, Getting Back at the Bully Boss is Rarely Worth it! By ABC / Women Apologizes For Revenge Against Boss. AP

Revenge, Getting Back at The Bully Boss is Rarely Worth it!

Bullying In the News


Many of my readers reach this website after putting in the search terms “Revenge against bully boss” or similar phrases. I wrote an article on the subject to satisfy my readers’ interests but didn’t give people what they really wanted. Instead, I more or less said that the best revenge is no revenge, but in quite a bit more detail. Here’s a link to that article;

I still stick by that advice although most people are looking for specific things they can do to complicate their boss’s life. So, click on the link below for an example of what one person did, and the unfortunate outcome. By ABC

Hartford Courant

July 25, 2008

Woman Apologizes For Revenge Against Boss

BRISTOL – A Portland woman charged with trying to get the power shut off at her ex-boss’s home is apologizing and says she’s devastated that her actions damaged her reputation. Click on the link below for full story;,0,3801479.story

Read ABC’s on-line comment to this article in The Hartford Courant:

Hi, I am an anti-bullying (workplace bullying that is) activist and have heard and read thousands of target testimonies about their experience with workplace bullies. The majority of targets are not disgruntled, under performers on their jobs, but quite the opposite. Most targets are high performers, and well liked by coworkers but then catches the attention of a workplace bully along their career path who is threatened by their better performing target. 80% of these dedicated workers usually endure two years of emotional abuse before being eliminated through being fired like this women was, becoming physically or emotionally ill or by even committing suicide. When people are literally intentionally destroyed by an incompetent boss after years of dedicated service, they see red and want revenge. People use the search terms “revenge against boss” or similar terms every day to reach my blog. Bosses need to realize that emotionally abusing their workers puts them at risk for revenge. The women in this article only tried to shut off her boss’s electric. someone who’s a bit more angry or emotionally unstable may try to end their boss’s life, as well as their boss’s supporters lives, then they almost always take their own life. It happens all the time in the United States, so often that it is more commonly referred to as “going postal”, a term that most everyone in the United States is familiar with. So to cruel bosses everywhere, beware of revenge, it may end your life! Lets recognize it, name it and end workplace bullying and mobbing together. ABC-Antibullyingcrusador

Those in “Protected Classes” are Winning Workplace Abuse Lawsuits

Those in “Protected Classes” are Winning Workplace Abuse Lawsuits


There has been great national news stories in The United States regarding people in protected classes winning workplace abuse cases. Are you a member of a protected class? Just about everyone is.

Below, is the definition of “protected class” according to the national “Equal Employment Opportunity Program”


Protected Class: The groups protected from the employment discrimination by law. These groups include men and women on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over 40; and people with physical or mental handicaps. Every U.S. citizen is a member of some protected class, and is entitled to the benefits of EEO law. However, the EEO laws were passed to correct a history of unfavorable treatment of women and minority group members.


Only those in protected classes, have legal recourse for workplace bullying and mobbing, but only IF they can prove that the abuse was due to discrimination against their protected class. If you’re in a protected class, learn more through the link below. ABC

Click on the link below to reach the national Equal Employment Opportunity Program’s website;


Read three News Articles Below, About Those in Protected Classes, Winning Their Legal Battles


Lesbians sue Citrus Heights police, alleging bias in dismissals

By Stan Oklobdzija –

Last Updated 12:35 am PDT Friday, July 18, 2008
Story appeared in METRO section, Page B3

click on the link below;


2nd Circuit Affirms Award Against Wal-Mart in Disability Bias Case


Jury Awards $1 Million for Sexual Harassment Against Atlantic Automotive

Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:55pm EST
[] Text [+]

Arab-American Who Alleged Hostility at State Agency Wins Award. Published in the St.Louis Post-Dispatch.

Arab-American who alleged hostility at state agency wins $337,000 award

Mohamad Alhalabi

Mohamad Alhalabi


CLAYTON — A jury has awarded $337,000 to a former Missouri Department of Natural Resources supervisor who claimed he was subject to a hostile work environment after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the invasion of Iraq.

Click on the blue link to read the full article;


Comment by ABC

Hurray for Mr. Alhal abi! Even when people are in a protected class like Mr. Alhal abi is, it is still hard for targets of workplace abuse to obtain justice. In Mr. Alhal abi’s case, a jury was convinced that the workplace hostility occurred because he is an Arab-American, of the Muslim faith. Ethnic and religious minorities are considered protected classes, whose members are legally protected from discrimination in the workplace. It is usually easy to prove that abuse occurred, but often hard to prove it occurred because of discrimination.

There are many barriers when seeking legal recourse for workplace abuse, even when someone in a protected class, has solid evidence. It’s often hard or impossible to find an attorney willing to work on a contingency basis and few targets have the financial resources to pay out of pocket upfront.

Not only is the expense prohibitive, but the length of time it takes to go to trial, can be problematic as well. If the case should go to trial years later, witnesses may have forgotten important details or may no longer be available or willing to testify.

People who experience hostility in the workplace, but are not considered to be within a protected class, have no legal recourse at all in The United States. It is not illegal for a bully boss to be verbally and/or emotionally abusive, as long as the abuse is not related to the target being a member of a protected class. Only when a bully breaks existing laws, such as physical assault, or damaging personal property, can legal justice be sought.

These are the reasons that all working Americans need to learn about the phenomenon of workplace bullying and mobbing. All working Americans need to understand that without laws to protect them, they can be chosen as the serial bully boss’s next target, for no valid reason at all. Once chosen as a target, the bully may brutally emotionally abuse them, turn their coworkers against them, then suddenly fire them on a whim and without a valid cause.

Serial bully bosses have the potential to destroy dozens of employees’ physical and emotional health, sometimes disabling a person for life. Despite this destructive force in our workplaces, likely the largest hidden expense in business today, few people in the United States even heard of the bullying and mobbing phenomenon. The time has come for all working Americans to learn to recognize it, name it, and end workplace bullying and mobbing together! ABC

Hospital group issues alert on bullying by doctors, other workers to curb medical errors. The Hartford Courant.

-Bullying and Mobbing in the News.

Hospital group issues alert on bullying by doctors, other workers to curb medical errors

By Carla K. Johnson/Assoc.Press

Hartford Courant

July 16, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) _ Bullying doctors can make nurses afraid to question their performance, resulting in medical errors, according to a hospital group that announced new requirements for cracking down on intimidating behavior.Outbursts and condescending language threaten patient safety and increase the cost of care, according to a safety alert issued Wednesday by the Joint Commission, an independent organization that accredits most of the nation’s hospitals… Click on the link below to read entire article;,0,2667981.story

On-line comment submitted by ABC

Thank you Hartford Courant for publishing another article about the menace of “workplace bullying and mobbing”, now thought to be the cause of 15% of successful adult suicides, an important public health message, that all working Americans should be aware of. The professions of medicine and education are especially prone to this problem, making our most vulnerable citizens, children and adults who are ill or disabled, at high risk for medical errors, that occur as a result of workplace bullying. Workplace bullying and mobbing not only hurts targets of workplace bullies, but everyone whose health and very life, depends on those in the “helping professions”. Lets all learn to Recognize it, Name it, and End Workplace Bullying and Mobbing Together! ABC-AntiBullyingCrusador

Bullying Caused Women’s Suicide, Inquiry Told. The Sidney Morning Herald. Suicide, When Related to Workplace Bullying. by ABC.


Bullying Caused Women’s Suicide, Inquiry Told. Published in: The Sidney Morning Herald by Natasha Wallace. and

Suicide When Related to Workplace Bullying. By ABC.

Bullying Caused Women’s Suicide, Inquiry Told.

The Sidney Morning Herald. July 9, 2008.

By Natasha Wallace, July 9th, 2008

In happier times … Christine and Jason Hodder with their daughter.p

CHRISTINE HODDER, 38, was a much-loved woman with a husband and a three-year-old daughter, and had almost completed her Bachelor of Nursing degree when she killed herself in her backyard. Click on, or copy and past, the link below to read complete article.

Suicide, When Related to Workplace Bullying.


Edited&Revised 7/15/08

Suicide due to workplace bullying including mobbing, is becoming an increasingly popular topic in the war against workplace bullying. One recent study revealed that 15% of successful adult suicides are related to workplace bullying. It can be a real hard blow for targets, and is usually the first sign of real trouble, after the bullying has begun, and the target gets their first unfair reprimands. Often these first reprimands, are the first reprimands ever received in a target’s usually long career. This in its self, can be the last straw, or the deciding factor for a target who is considering suicide, especially for someone who is already on shaky ground emotionally.

Typically these reprimands are given “behind closed doors”, and are often presented in loud, angry voices, with threats of further reprimand or dismissal. Targets are usually stunned by the bully’s first allegations which may be based on half-true incidents, which are exaggerated, twisted versions of the true events. The target typically tries to reason with the bully boss by describing the true events, but fails, because there is no real validity to the allegations, and the bully has no real intention to resolve issues with the target in the first place. The target is often treated very disrespectfully during these “behind closed doors” meetings with their responses being interrupted, minimized, or met with eye rolling, tongue clicking, moans, groans and outright accusations of lying. These behaviors toward the target are “tactics”, meant to, and often succeeding in, provoking the target to anger, tears, or an emergency medical crisis, such as an asthma attack, heart attack, hyperventilation, or emotional collapse.

You should suspect that bullying is rife, if a company has one or two tiny, windowless meeting rooms, minimumly furnished and intentionally made as uncomfortable as possible. These are modern day corporate versions of medieval torture chambers. The difference being, medieval torture chambers were designed as places which enhance the infliction of physical pain. Modern corporate torture chambers, are designed as places which enhance the infliction of emotional pain. Physical abuse is painful, visable to others, and is illegal. Verbal abuse is just as painful as physical abuse, but is not outwardly visable to others and in most cases, does not cross the line to what is considered to be, an arrestable offense.

The room my bully met with me in was so small, you had to move the chairs to open the door. It was windowless, with a tiny round table surrounded by 3, small, minimally padded chairs. The reason for 3 chairs is, one for the target, and two for the bully boss and a supporter of the bully, usually a Human Resource Rep.. Two against one. Even if the bully boss meets alone with the target, the bully boss has the extra chair on her side of the table, to represent the two to one advantage. There was nothing else in the room. There were no refreshments, not even a glass of water or a paper cup in case you should want to get one. When I was provoked to tears. there were no tissues, so the tears streamed down my face and I wiped the snots from my nose on my sleeve.

They were short on compassion and human decency was nonexistant, as they continued the verbal assault packed with one absurd lie after another. Not even the bully boss could possibly believe her own words. All of this continued, seemingly endlessly despite my increasing inability to maintain my composure. I was left unable to respond, literally speechless and defeated. The bully left the room impatiently while the HR rep advised that I take a walk outside “to clear your head” as she said. I couldn’t even form words to respond, as I walked out the door, my eyes to the floor, hoping no one would even know.

“Behind closed doors” meetings is a common tactic of bullies, described both in anti-bullying literature, as well as in dozens of target testimonies that I have read through the years. It’s unbelievably amazing how similar, details of bullying tactics, such as these, in which I am describing a “behind closed doors meeting room”, will be strikingly similar to meeting rooms that other targets, at different companies, even in different countries, will describe. Other details that target testimonies reveal are that these meetings are often called suddenly, during unexpected times, when the target is the most uncomfortable. Examples being, when the target is hungry, just before their lunch break, or when they first arrive, and feel flustered and unprepared. Choosing a time when the target is exhausted, or is trying to cope with other problems, is another tactic.

The bully’s only real motivation is to engage the target in battle, while having the resources to have an advantage, before the target even arrives. Their intention is not only to hurt the target, but to manipulate, control, subjugate and eventually to destroy and eliminate the target from the workplace. Target testimonies repeatedly identify the two year mark, from the day the bully chooses the target, as the critical period in which the bully is ready to eliminate the target. Targets who sense that they’re about to be fired and cannot cope with that eventuality, are vulnerable to suicide.

Targets are often eliminated right out from under one of these meetings, never returning to their desks. This happens when the target is provoked to anger, and marches out from one of these meeting rooms never to return, or is taken out by security, if not by their own volition, after being provoked to anger, then being fired for insubordination. Then there are some who are carried out by an ambulance crew. Targets who survive these behind closed doors meetings often suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This may cause them to be subjected to sudden flashbacks, in which they have repeated vivid memories or dreams about these very traumatic experiences. Some people can’t cope with these memories, or they become fearful of experiencing another meeting. Sometimes people commit suicide over these obsessive, intrusive thoughts.

Most targets try numerous ways to resolve these issues before falling into despair, such as going to the bully’s boss or Human Resources. There are long explanations in the literature about why doing this rarely works. Briefly stated here, these are unlikely sources of help, because it is simply not in their self interest to believe the target, and if they do believe the target, to act on the allegations made against the bully.

Going to coworkers and/or to trusted mentors, family members and friends, are other sources that first, usually fail to fully believe the seriousness of the target’s issues, and then, even if they do, are unable to give useful advise. Well intentioned advice, by those with little or no understanding of the bullying phenomenon, may well result in an escalation of the problem, rather than resolution. Most people in the United States have never even heard of the phenomenon, and have no useful information to share.

Target’s often find it hard to get others to believe the seriousness of the situation as mentioned above, because it is so unbelievable. Authors of anti-bullying literature describe bullies by using the example of “Jekyll and Hyde” known for being a “master of deception”. Bullies feign trust in coworkers by confiding half, twisted stories about the target, and by pointing out the increased stress level the target may be displaying, which are really symptoms of the bully’s emotional abuse. This creates doubt among coworkers about the targets mental health, competence and loyalty, and sets the stage for workplace mobbing, where coworkers unwittingly participate in the abuse. This is described in much more detail in my article on this weblog about workplace mobbing.

Isolation, a bully’s most harmful weapon, and described in more detail in another article by this title on this webblog. adds to the emotional crisis that can lead to suicide. A target is first reprimanded repeatedly by their bully boss who cites incidents that are described completely different from that of the target’s perception of the same events. The incidents the bully cites as issues, are usually of a trivial nature concerning relationships with coworkers, personal insults and put downs. Rarely are there serious work related issues, because most targets of workplace bullies are better than average workers. Then, coworkers begin to shun the target and unwittingly participate in the emotional abuse. Going to the bully’s boss or to Human Resources only escalates the problem. The last straw being when Family, friends and mentors either don’t believe the target, or have no useful information to share, and become tired of hearing the target obsessively repeat issues that can’t be resolved. The target is now very much alone and increasingly vulnerable to suicide.

Some people are more prone than others to commit suicide, if faced with the same measure of stress. This is due to a person’s preexisting intellectual, emotional and psychological health, strengths and weaknesses. These are determined by each person’s individual genetic makeup, as well as the number, types and kinds of both physical and emotional environmental and interpersonal interactions and experiences a person is previously exposed to. This creates wide berth for diversity, in regards to how each individual will cope with any given stressor, making predictability of suicide difficult at best.

Obviously, a person who is already depressed or who has a history of depression or of suicide attempts are at higher risk. Someone who already has poor self esteem, or who is highly dependent on the approval and acceptance of other people, are at high risk. Then there are people who you would not expect to be at risk. This includes very intelligent people who are very capable of high level productivity and performance. They could be very capable of competently managing a large complex department, but when faced with a bullying problem that they can’t understand and resolve, resort to suicide.

Intelligent targets who take their own lives, usually have emotional problems which deceive their intelligence. One emotional problem that could cause targets of workplace bullies to take their own lives, is one that they share with many bullies. That is, having fears of inadequacy and shame which took root in early childhood experiences. Bullies who have this problem, often target employees who are especially good at their jobs, because their feelings of inadequacy and shame, are heightened when they compare themselves to that of the better performing target.

Targets who have fears of inadequacy and shame, actually believe their bully boss’s vague lies about their interpersonal relationships, petty flaws and insults. Their intelligence deceives them into believing that a boss would never be capable of lying about performance issues, because there is no logical reason to do so. Believing the bullies lies, their feelings of inadequacy and shame spiral out of control and they begin to obsessively search for the specific reasons and things that they did, to cause these issues, when they did nothing at all, and there are no real reasons that exist. With the obvious increase in the target’s stress level, coupled with the lies and influence of the bully, behaviors of the work group change. Shunning and mobbing behaviors slowly take hold, which further convinces the target that they must be at fault for these changes. As the target continues searching for reasons that don’t exist. coworkers become increasingly concerned and fearful, causing most people to distance themselves even further from the target. The targets obsession with a problem that doesn’t exist, the inability of their intelligence, the thing that always succeeded in guiding them successfully in the past, doesn’t help them understand their current crisis, and their feelings of inadequacy and shame only convinces them further, that they must be at fault.

Their abandonment by coworkers, and the impatience of family members and friends who no longer know how to help the target, leads to utter loneliness and despair. Convinced they have an interpersonal problem that drives everyone against them, a problem they don’t understand, because it doesn’t exist. Everything they try fails, then their intelligence runs out of ideas, they lose all hope, then suicide is considered.

Another type of emotionally vulnerable target at high risk for suicide, are those who love their jobs to the extent that their job becomes a part of who they are. Their position becomes a part of their identity. This type of attitude is wonderful for the business, the customers, as well as the employee. Most people with this kind of attitude enjoy successful employment with the same company for decades. They are the “go to person” in their company, being highly respected for the knowledge that took decades to attain, and are looked up to by long term employees and newcomers alike. How could someone like this become a target of a workplace bully?

It usually takes something big, like a merger or company take over for someone like this to become the target of a workplace bully. Mergers, and company take-overs are great for fixing what ain’t broke. New managers can suddenly take over who have no history with the existing employees. These new managers can be ruthless while giving directives that already had been decided on, without consideration for the opinion of the talented people, who are their new employees. It is during these kind of chaotic conditions that extremely talented, productive employees, can be let go, without much thought at all. Out with the old, and in with the new, as they say.

It is of little consequence to the talented young managers, who newly take over, that they prematurely ended the most valuable part of who a person is. That’s how deeply dedicated people feel about their jobs. When someone who loves their job, suddenly loses their job, it’s like they lost a part of themselves. People like these, are often late middle age, and held no other jobs in the past 20-30 years. They often have chronic illnesses of middle age such as high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. All of these factors lessen the chances that they will settle into another job. More often, without proper support from family, friends and society, people such as these, are unable to find meaningful employment. They grieve the loss of their job and are left feeling deeply embittered and betrayed by the employer who they dedicated the best part of their lives to. If unable to move forward, they may fall into despair and be at high risk for suicide.

We must never underestimate the affects our jobs have on our emotional health. Most full time employees spend more time with bosses and coworkers than with our closest family members. Take care to be kind and cooperative with everyone you interact with at work and be vigilant in recognizing workplace emotional abuse early while it’s still very subtle. Expose problems early, by naming them what they are, “bullying and mobbing” if that is what it is. If you see it, and do nothing, consider yourself part of the problem. Instead, speak out and educate others about the phenomenon. Point it out, name it and end it where ever you see it. Don’t be afraid to stand together against workplace bullies and their mobs. United we can end workplace bullying and mobbing together. ABC

Fear in The Workplace: The Bullying Boss. The New York Times.

Bullying in The News

New York Times

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fear in The Workplace: The Bully Boss.

By Benedict Carey

Published: June 22, 2004
Every working adult has known one — a boss who loves making subordinates squirm, whose moods radiate through the office, sending workers scurrying for cover, whose very voice causes stomach muscles to clench and pulses to quicken. It is not long before dissatisfaction spreads, rivalries simmer, sycophants flourish. Normally self-confident professionals can dissolve into quivering bundles of neuroses.
**Click on the link below to read the entire article in the New York Times;
This article was printed in the online addition of the NY Times on July 12, 2008 but was originally published June 22, 2004. I suspect that there was not very much public interest in this topic when it was first published in 2004 and most people probably skipped right over it after reading the words “Bully Boss”. Most people never heard of a “bully boss” and probably thought these words were made up by sniffling cry babies who were reprimanded for poor performance on their jobs. To the contrary, this article describes the phenomenon and it’s devastating affects in a way that gives the subject matter validity and substance. This is a great article, in a global publication which is sure to reach millions of readers. Thank you New York Times for giving us one more way to spread the word about workplace bullying and mobbing. Let’s all learn as much as we can today, so that we can all Recognize it, Name it, and End Workplace Bullying and Mobbing Together! ABC
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