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Workplace Bullying
Clinical and Organizational Perspectives
Judith Geneva Balcerzak
ISBN: 978-0-87101-490-0. 2015. Item #4900. 272 pages.
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Are you or your colleagues stressed out at work Do you feel degraded, humiliated, embarrassed, or threatened If so, maybe you are a victim of workplace bullying. Although the problem of workplace bullying is not new, the incidence, prevalence, and severity have worsened in the United States. In Workplace Bullying: Clinical and Organizational Perspectives, Judith Geneva Balcerzak provides an understanding of workplace bullying from a theoretical, clinical, organizational, and public policy perspeive. This book is unique in that it approaches the subject of workplace bullying from multiple disciplines.

There are few laws that protect workers from emotional abuse. Individuals who have been victims of workplace bullying may develop severe symptoms and illness, including major depression and suicidal ideation. Some bullied workers have become disabled and are unable to continue working or return to work after taking a leave of absence. Because it is not illegal, workplace bullying is difficult to prosecute and perpetrators are rarely held accountable.

This timely resource will serve as a practice guide for social workers, clinicians, practitioners, consultants, and policy advocates addressing the concerns of workplace bullying. It offers strategies for bullying prevention and intervention, treatment, remediation, and advocacy for those who are or have been bullied in the workplace.

Foreword by Georgianna Regnier and Richard Regnier

About the Author

Acknowledgments and Dedication


1 Introduction to Mobbing in the Workplace and an Overview of Adult Bullying

2 Multiple Theoretical Explanations for Mobbing

3 Data and Trends in Workplace Emotional Abuse

4 At-Risk Professions, Environments, and Organizational Functioning

5 Reactions of Victims to Emotional Abuse at Work

6 Interventions with Individuals

7 Workplace Interventions

8 Social Perspective, Social Work, and Implications for Social Policy

9 Additional and Alternative Explanations for Increased Bullying


As attorneys with a combined experience of over 50 years in the field of employment law, we have seen dramatic changes in the protection the law affords to workers. Most of us have a sense of the dismal working conditions endemic at the beginning of the 20th century. Although worker-manned machinery facilitated mass production, tort law failed to protect the worker against serious bodily injury or death, and no compensation was afforded for injured and disabled employees. In response to deadly mine explosions and machinery accidents, workers’ compensation laws were enacted to protect against the hazards of an unsafe workplace. Not until the 1970s, with the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, were employees entitled to environmental protections, including those against deadly chemical exposure, unsafe machinery, excessive temperatures, and workplace pollution.

Whereas safety issues were improving, America’s legal system essentially failed to address the lack of equitable opportunities for all. A major step forward occurred with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. It outlawed discrimination in nearly every aspect of American life. Enactment the following year of Title VII specifically targeted discrimination in the workplace. This legislation explicitly prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin and created an enforcement agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Next came the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which forbids employment discrimination against workers age 40 and older. Enforcement provisions were added to Title VII in 1972. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act expanded Title VII’s protections to citizens with physical and mental disabilities. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 brought further changes to Title VII litigation. Its greatest change was authorizing plaintiffs to recover punitive damages.

Notwithstanding the passage of the aforementioned laws for workplace protection over the past century, the tragic truth is that no law has been passed in the United States to protect workers against the pervasive existence of mobbing and bullying. Like an oasis in a legal desert, Judith Geneva Balcerzak’s work deals with this untamed issue. Until now, no body of work has approached this matter so effectively and thoroughly. Balcerzak addresses the sociological, economic, psychological, and physiological implications of the bullying threat with depth and clarity. Her analysis of the plight of victims of emotional abuse in the workplace is well documented and consistent with our observations and professional experience. Balcerzak has taken on this profound challenge and captured the heretofore elusive solutions.

Only a writer as astute as Balcerzak could present her readers with such an incisive, academic perspective on a workplace plague that has been tolerated far too long, infecting countless workers at all levels of the employment spectrum. Readers will find this definitive work indispensable to understanding the economic, social, and psychological impact of mobbing; its prevalence throughout the United States and globally; and the measures needed to eradicate the abuses and injuries resulting from such conduct. This book is a breakthrough in social work literature. May it provide the inspiration and impetus to craft state and federal legislation that will withstand political influence, corporate self-interest, and legal inequities that have impeded essential progress toward equal justice under the law.

Georgianna Regnier and Richard Regnier
In my initial quest for reliable and valid information about bullying, I wanted to examine and perhaps challenge some of the popular opinions about the phenomenon. I was particularly curious about the validity of anecdotal information about victims, perpetrators, and risk environments. Are victims really innocent? Is it true that targets are generally high-functioning, well-adjusted workers who contribute positively to the workplace, or are they workers with performance problems? Are perpetrators always mean and "evil," or are their actions misunderstood and misinterpreted? Do bullies scan the horizon looking for opportunities to be hurtful to others, or are bullying behaviors merely opportunistic responses to workplace dynamics? Are risk-prone environments highly dysfunctional systems? Are they usually typified by low morale, emotional tyranny, and lack of emotional safety? Can organizational problems be resolved with policy and training, or are there additional dynamics that need attention if the workplace is to remain bully-free? What about legal protections for workers? Are any protections readily available? What laws address the needs of bullied workers, and what else is needed?

This book examines the definition, causes, effects, and prevalence of workplace bullying and mobbing and identifies solutions from a variety of theoretical perspectives. It includes an exploration of the history of the definition and conceptualization of mobbing, its role in high-risk professions, and the personality traits of people who are mobbed and their persecutors. This work also identifies organizational practices related to the risks of mobbing, strategies for prevention, social work’s role, and the role of other clinical disciplines in treating physical and psychological symptoms resulting from mobbing.

I have addressed the need for an integrated framework identifying organizational vulnerabilities and leadership strategies; provided suggestions for victim survival, clinical assessment, and treatment for targets of abuse; and highlighted organizational prevention and best practices for remediation. The laws and public policies currently in place and those in development are examined. Finally, I have explored larger public policy issues and human rights concerns.

To establish the breadth and scope of the problem from a global perspective, citations include research from countries and cultures where literature sources originated. The conclusions of this work provide a basis for social work scholars and practitioners to include this growing social problem as a domain in which to intervene and call for social change.
Judith Geneva Balcerzak, PhD, MSW, LCSW, has worked as a clinical social worker for over 35 years. Licensed in California since 1981, she has spent decades working in health care in the public and private sectors. Balcerzak teaches in the Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Degree Program at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. She also teaches in the Psychology and Sociology Departments at Ventura College, where she developed the Human Services Degree and Certificate Programs. After completing her MSW at Wayne State University (Detroit) in 1977, Balcerzak has been a resident of California since the early 1980s. In her private clinical and consulting practice, Judith has encountered many clients, students, and organizations with workplace bullying problems. Balcerzak’s recent doctorates in social work and organizational psychology are examples of her passion for lifelong learning. An avid sailor and scuba diver, Balcerzak and her husband, Daniel Jordan, PhD, ABPP, divide their time between Ventura County, California, and the island country of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean. Their commitment to human rights and social justice is central to their values and practice.
All readers will find in this book one of the most comprehensive, research-driven, and accurate introductions to the soul-robbing phenomenon that is bullying at work. But it is the detailed advice for social workers, people who contact bullying victims intimately and frequently, that makes this book a pioneering volume. The author implores clinical colleagues to abandon tendencies to fault flawed individuals. Instead they should craft new life narratives with survivors of bullying. Suggestions for tweaking bullying-prone work cultures, another influence opportunity for social workers, follow. The journey ends with a call for moral action by the social workers as a profession, who can appreciate the role of systemic factors in the maintenance of nonphysical workplace violence.
Gary Namie, PhD


Workplace Bullying Institute


Whether you are an employer, employee, organizational consultant, or labor representative, the complexity and scope of addressing the issue of bullying and abusive disrespect in the workplace is difficult, delicate, and potentially overwhelming. I found this book an invaluable resource in examining organizational resistance to the issue of mobbing, content of policy, and the sensitization of the community mental health practitioner. With comprehensive depth and detail, Dr. Balcerzak offers an array of evidence-based solutions and interventions to choose from. Quite simply, after reading this book it will be hard for anyone to ignore this issue. It provides the must-have elements for an effective plan that will bring integrity and success to an organization wanting to unravel the dilemma of workplace bullying.

Scott Barash, MSW, LCSW

Director of Employee Assistance Services for Ventura County, California