In the United States, laws have been passed in most states protecting individuals from harassment, sexual harassment, assault, stalking and discrimination.
However, employees still complain that they are abused verbally, intimidated, and, in general, made to feel inadequate. Situations in which employees are subjected to verbal attacks and to harassing and intimidating behaviors occur frequently in organizations (Namie & Namie, 2003; Rayner, Hoel & Cooper, 2003; Hochheiser, 1998, Hornstein, 1996). Incidents that have non-fatal endings leave employees frustrated; some quit their jobs or develop major health problems. Researchers who recently began examining these workplace behaviors conclude that the deliberate and repeated verbal aggression coupled with ridicule or harassing and intimidating strategies cause mental and physical harm which they regard as a complex phenomenon-workplace bullying (Middleton-Moz & Zawadski, 2002; Davenport, Schwartz, & Elliott, 2002;
They adopted the term "workplace bullying" from their counterparts in England, Europe, Canada, Australia, and other countries around the world where research has led to legal and legislative interventions to highlight and prevent workplace bullying. However, American researchers have been slower than their counterparts around the world to investigate the nature of workplace bullying. ...
99). For some time now, requests for relief from the workplace bullying have not been very successful in the courts (Yamada, 2000).
Psychologists Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie formed The Campaign Against Bullying after
Dr. Ruth Namie personally experienced severe bullying at work (Namie & Namie, 2003). In
2002, the organization, which helps to "raise public awareness (of bullying) and initiate a national dialogue . . . create and promote solutions for individuals and workplaces" (Namie &
Namie, 2003, p. x), was renamed the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute.
Human Resource (HR) professionals are also interested in workplace bullying.
Responses to a poll of 480 HR professionals showed that bullying "is definitely an HR issue"
(Dunn, 2000, p. 1).
Statement of the Problem
This interest in workplace bullying has generated studies about "the types of bullies that exist, the tactics they use, the targets they tend to seek out, and the individual and systemic consequences of their behavior" (Yamada, 2000, p. 1). There is need to discover what elements/symbols constitute workplace bullying and whether workplace bullying is a unique phenomenon. Many people have differing points of view as to what constitutes workplace bullying, a situation which, in my opinion, stems from the scant research on the communication elements/symbols that are associated with workplace bullying. For example, some people believe that power is the main factor and agree with Namie & Namie (2003) that workplace bullying is: the repeated, malicious verbal mistreatment of a Target (the recipient) by a harassing bully (the perpetrator) that is driven by the bully's desire to control the Target (p. 3).
Others locate workplace bullying in