Poll Indicates Abusive Behavior Fairly Common in American Workplaces

A new poll released by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA) indicates that abusive bosses are more than just a workplace annoyance, but a very real problem.


Stephen J. Hirschfeld, ELA’s CEO, noted in the press release announcing the results that the survey comes at a time when nearly one dozen state legislatures are considering laws to specifically prohibit bullying in the workplace. Dr. Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Co-Director of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization also stated in the press release that this survey “adds to the growing mountain of evidence showing that abuse of power is a rampant problem in the American workplace.” He believes that it is “time for senior management to realize that this conduct damages their people and is costing them a fortune.”


The poll was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Theodore Reed, President of the Philadelphia-based Reed Group, and was based on a survey of a representative sample of 1,000 American adults. Detailed interviews were conducted with 534 full or part time workers.


The results included:

    • 44% said they have personally experienced supervisor or employer abuse;


    • Those with some college or a college degree (47%) are more likely to have been a victim of abuse by a supervisor or employer as compared to workers with a high school education or less (34%);


    • More than half of American workers have been the victim of, or heard about supervisors/employers behaving abusively by making sarcastic jokes/teasing remarks, rudely interrupting, publicly criticizing, giving dirty looks to, or yelling at subordinates, or ignoring them as if they were invisible;


  • 64% said they believe an abused worker should have the right to use to recover damages.


The Employment Law Alliance is an integrated, global practice network comprised of independent law firms in the U.S. and Canada.

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