By Arun Persaud and Carl A. Williams, October 25, 2023
Workplace bullying describes a wide range of behaviors, making it a complex and challenging issue. For instance, bullying can be overt, such as physical or verbal abuse, which organizations often address through anger management and zero-tolerance policies, and covert, such as withholding information or gaslighting, which are rarely considered or addressed.
At our All-to-All meeting held on September 27, 2023, ATAP staff scientist and deputy of the Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program, Arun Persaud, presented some findings from studies into workplace bullying. He also provided information on who to contact to report bullying or seek advice on bullying.
According to Persaud, the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 5810 union, which represents over 11,000 postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers from all ten campuses of the University of California and Berkeley Lab, reported in August this year that bullying was the number two issue for postdocs.
Published in 2021, a study by Sherry Moss from Wake Forest University and Morteza Mahmoudi from Michigan State University reported the findings of the responses from 1,904 scientists who described their experiences with academic bullying. The vast majority (71%) of respondents who experienced bullying “did not report the behavior to their institution, mostly for fear of retaliation,” said Persaud. Of the 29% who did report, he said, “only 8% found the process fair and unbiased.”
The findings from a survey of postdoctoral researchers published in Nature in 2020 showed that 65% of those surveyed reported experiencing power imbalances/bullying, noted Persaud.
For further information on dealing with bullying in the workplace, contact:
- Human Resources representative for your area, details for which can be found at https://hr.lbl.gov/contacts/hr-field-contacts
- FAIR@LBL at https://fair.lbl.gov/
- Union representative, if applicable
- UC Ombuds Offices at https://staffombuds.berkeley.edu/
- UC: Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination at https://ophd.berkeley.edu
- “STOP BULLYING NOW HOTLINE” (1-800-273-8255), a helpline set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Prevention and learning opportunities:
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