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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Employee Relations case study: How do you manage workplace bullying?

Amber confides in her supervisor, Paul, that another employee, Brooklyn, is bullying her. Brooklyn is repeatedly spreading lies about Amber, speculating on her personal life, questioning her qualifications for her position to others within the department, and implying that Amber is addicted to drugs. Brooklyn was verbally warned by Paul previously to stop gossiping about other employees.

Workplace bullying can take place in many forms. Rudeness, gossiping or spreading lies, ignoring or excluding coworkers, insulting employees' habits, and hostility are just some of the ways this behavior is exhibited.

In this situation, what should Paul do?

Paul must speak with Brooklyn to investigate this situation.

In his discussion with Brooklyn, she admitts to Paul that she shared her opinion of her coworker's performance with several other coworkers and that she teased Amber about the "meds" that she takes daily. This confirms the bullying behavior.

Paul contacts the Employee Relations department to discuss his recent issue. After reviewing the available information, an Employee Relations consultant advises Paul to formally document the issue with a written or final warning. Brooklyn was coached previously and continued to disregard Paul's guidance on behaving in a professional manner in the workplace.

In addition, the consultant advises Paul to follow up with Amber and reassure her that this behavior will not be tolerated. Paul should close the meeting by encouraging Amber to continue to come directly to him when she has concerns within the department, and he should have an open-door policy.

If you have an issue to discuss with your Employee Relations consultant, call 49-41679.

- Aaliyah Newell
Employee Relations

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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.