Bullying: From the playground to the workplace

Workplace bullying is four times more common than sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

COLUMBIA (WACH) --The battle of bullying is something that usually comes to mind when talking about children or teens, but the same practices from the school yard are being played out in the workplace.

"It was Sunday at three o'clock p.m that my body, I could feel it, I started getting anxious I started getting nervous," says Dr. Yvonne Corppetts, recalling a time when at the top of her career she felt at the bottom of her work environment.

"Despite the fact that I had advanced degrees, that I had previous awards and declarations, having been in the military, served my country, the accomplishments that I had and the achievements that I was proud of, said Corppetts, "It helped to some degree but it did not emotionally help me in terms of the pain that I went through."

Corppetts is one of almost 54 million workers in the U.S who has reported being bullied at work.

"I would come in the morning say good morning and no one would say good morning back to me."

Dr. Gary Namie with the Workplace Bullying Institute says bullies choose targets based on their abilities.

"They do this because they can not stand the competence the strength the emotional intelligence, the likability of the targeted person, they just want them gone," says Namie.

"I became hypervigilant. I would be looking around, I call it healthy paranoia, but unfortunately it still works on you mentally," expressed Corppetts, "the fact that you don't know what's coming at any given time."

According to a nationwide poll by the Employment Law Alliance, theres a new breed of female bullies cropping up in workplaces across the country, something cropetts says she experienced first hand

"It got to the point that they would walk pass my office, one of the individuals would enter her office, unlock it, enter her office and slam the door"

If unaddressed, workplace bulllying not only costs the employee facing this behavior but companies lose big time through fewer people showing up for work, turn-over and a simple lack of commitment or pride in the company.

"I wrote it down and it was formal and I sent and email and the subject line was workplace violence and that got the supervisor's attention."

Fortunately Corppetts' outcome was different than most, although she did not take legal action she stayed the course and eventually her bullies were reassigned for their lack of work ethic.

"That was a victory for me," says Corppetts, "there was something that kept telling me not to go because when you leave what will happen to those who come after you? That their bullying tactics that they would have thought that you would have left because of that and they would do it to others."

Since 2003, 23 states have introduced the Healthy Workplace Bill, which for employers, clearly definies an abusive work environment and gives them a reason to terminate or sanction offenders.

For the worker, it allows them to hold the employer accountable and to sue the bully as an individual.

So far South Carolina has not taken any action to implement the bill.

Dr. Yvonne Corppetts is currently an international speaker, author and life coach, living in Elgin. She frequently hosts seminars and workshops on self-esteem and image buling, bullying, life balance, and stress management.