Workplace Bullying in the NFL?

Bullying is an issue that happens far after a person’s school days are over. For some, workplace bullying is an everyday distress that affects their quality of work and even their life.

It isn’t an easy task for HR managers to tackle the issue of workplace bullying, much less for professional sports managers to do so. Nevertheless, it is a REAL issue that affects all lines of work! Take Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins – he recently spoke out about the offenses made against him by teammate Richie Incognito.

Martin filed a “formal grievance of player misconduct” against Incognito after several occurrences of threats by text message and voicemail. He even checked himself into a hospital to be treated for emotional distress. These problems are part of a larger issue of hazing in professional sports culture that is largely ignored by leadership. Instances like this one warrant some long-overdue attention to the problem.

How did Incognito even get away with such behaviors? If workplace violence was a serious issue in the NFL, the abuse could have been somewhat prevented. It just so happens that 36% of workers say they have experienced hostility in their workplace. Some experts suggest this has been exacerbated by recession and job insecurity.

In a typical bullying situation, the bully has “more power” or “higher status” than the victim. Being humiliated in front of others can cause emotional damage that affects the person’s well-being & quality of work. The sad truth is that it doesn’t always go well for the victims when they speak up. A 2007 study showed that about 53% of employers didn’t act on the accusations, and in 24% of cases the person reporting the problem got fired!


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