So Gary Namie, a co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, has announced the WBI will offer a three-day “Workplace Bullying University” in October that will cost upwards of $2,000 to attend.
The faculty are Namie, who calls himself “North America’s foremost authority on workplace bullying,” and Ruth Namie, his wife, a clinical psychologist and former workplace bullying target who says she is “the definitive expert on the devastating effects of bullying on targeted workers.”
Meanwhile, the WBI web site advertises sundry programs for employers, personal “low cost” consultations for targets of bullying, books, DVDs, etc. Alas, the Institute has announced it is no longer giving free advice to telephone callers.
The Bellingham, Wash.-based WBI is a veritable hive of capitalism. all revolving around workplace bullying, a serious problem affecting one in every three or four workers in the United States that has eluded a solution for decades.
Could one impediment to progress be the WBI?
Since 2001, the WBI has championed a plodding state-by-state solution to the problem of workplace bullying, rather than a targeted national approach. The WBI recently claimed that Rhode Island will be the 30th state to consider the WBI’s seriously flawed proposed anti-bullying legislation, The Healthy Workplace Bill. If by some miracle, a state does finally pass the WBI’s proposed bill, it is anyone’s guess how long it will take for the second state to do so. It is almost inconceivable that so-called business friendly states ever will adopt such a bill.
What’s the lesson here?
There are many possible approaches to workplace bullying that offer far more promise than the by now clearly unsuccessful state-by-state approach. I have proposed amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to eliminate the requirement that a target of a “hostile workplace environment” qualify on the basis of race, sex, religion and disability. Any worker who is subject to severe workplace bullying – a recognized and harmful form of workplace violence – should have the right to legal redress. But I would consider other options because there is not just one solution.
Many of us got into this endeavor because we – or our loved ones – were victims of workplace bullying. There is nothing wrong with offering services and products that generate income from a problem that has caused so much misery to so many. At the same time, it’s not okay to accept failure and the status quo. The WBI and other workplace anti-bullying advocates should work together to achieve a real and lasting solution to the epidemic of workplace bullying.