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Curious About Dealing With Bullying Bosses At Work

BOSTON (CBS) – There are laws to protect kids from bullying, but what about the rest of us?

Karen on the North Shore Declared her Curiosity:

"What can be done about bosses who are bullies? My boss bullies everyone!"

Right now, quitting is one of your only options. But, lawmakers are working to change that.

A bullying boss can take more than your lunch money. They can take your mortgage money…

A Zogby poll found that 37 percent of workers have been bullied by their bosses, while 64 percent of them were forced to get a new job.

"He's never nice about what he's asking you. He's just constantly 'I need this now!'" said a woman, who we're calling Barbara.

WBZ-TV's David Wade reports.

Barbara said her current boss is a real jerk and that her pain isn't just 9-to-5.

"Oh, I've spend many days depressed and just hating to go to work," said Barbara.

"(Boss bullying) is a big problem. It's a given in organizational behavior that no one quits a job. You quit your boss," said Robin Abrahams, a local expert.

Abrahams is researcher at Harvard Business School. She has written books on conduct and has an advice column in the Boston Globe.

"Bullies always kiss up and kick down," said Abrahams. "If you notice that pattern, you are not working for a good guy."

Abrahams offers this advice:

  • Take control by controlling your emotions and stay calm.
  • Figure out if your boss is a bad apple or part a bad bushel.

"If your boss is the only bad apple in an otherwise good company, stay, because sooner or later he will be managed out or they will get rid of her," said Abrahams.

Talk to someone in human resources and, if nothing works, leave, but make sure you have something better lined up.

"Sometimes you have to stay, in this economy, it's facile advice 'life's too short to work for a bad boss!' Yeah, well life is too short to starve to death too," said Abrahams.

Lawmakers have already taken on bullies at school, but how about bullies at work?

Well, the healthy workplace bill would allow a worker to sue an abusive and malicious bullying boss for damages. That bill stalled last year, but was just filed again.

Would a law work?

"You cannot outlaw people being jerks," said Abrahams.

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