Westmead Hospital Whistleblower

Link to the updated site Westmead Hospital Whistleblowers at westmeadhospitalwhistleblowers.com

Against bullying and mobbing. Working for whistleblower protection.

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Bullying in the Schoolyard Is Not the Same as Workplace Bullying by Janice Harper

Janice Harper distinguishes bulling from Mobbing in her Huffington Post article.

“In workplace bullying, the instigators are very often people in positions of organizational leadership. Reporting a bully in the workplace puts the worker at risk of being targeted for ever more aggression if the person they charge with bullying has authority or influence over other workers. When that happens, workers quickly mobilize to protect their own interests, align with management, and recast the reporting worker as a trouble maker who must be removed from the workplace. This latter process is termed “mobbing,” which is distinct from bullying in that it involves a group of people who become increasingly aggressive and increase in size provided they have been told by management that a worker is unwanted, that any reports about the worker are encouraged, and that any adversarial action taken against the worker is acceptable….

“People behave very differently in groups than they do as individuals….

“The process of mobbing and the nature of group aggression has been poorly explored and rarely discussed in the anti-bullying literature, and the paucity of information on mobbing in comparison to that of bullying is striking.”

There is some research which supports Janice Harper’s view.

The Milgram experiments on obedience to authority showed that most people can be encouraged to commit immoral acts if they are sanctioned by those in authority.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

And Zimbardo performed an experiment in which one grouped ‘mobbed’ another group of volunteers to such a degree that the experiment had to be stopped in just 6 days because the behavior had become so psychologically violent. It is interesting that Dr Zimbardo did recognize the behavior as violent but not recognize the behavior as ‘mobbing’.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

read more of the Janice Harper article here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janice-harper/workplace-bullying_b_1073916.html


Comment on ‘HR was useless’

Whistlebloweraustralia recently commented on an article ‘HR was Useless’ on the Minding the Workplace site.  The Minding the Workplace site is hosted by Professor David Yamada Professor of Law and Director of the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University in Boston USA.

On May 13, 2010 at 10:38 pm Not all said:

I currently work as a HR Advisor after stumbling into the role from Training and Development. I was as cynical of HR as the average Joe until I actually joined the club. I try to approach all situations objectively as we are constantly faced with “your word against mine” scenarios. I tend to support the notion that communication is the key and often HR becomes the scapegoat for Managements lack of communication deliberatly or not (this includes the supervisor/employee relationship). Why oh why do so man supervisors find a one on one catch up with their staff so hard to fathom???

Many also fail to understand that although HR aims to be a part of the ‘strategic’ team, HR is rarely involved in the decisions that impact employees, and even when HR is advocating (unbeknown to staff) for employee’s, Management will always do what they want to do. HR is a thankless job where people feel entitled to treat you with as little respect as possible, until they actually need you – thats when the sickly sweet attitude comes in.

Currently my organization is faced with a situation where a Manager is a typical workplace bully, HR would like nothing more than to make this person accountable yet the employees come to HR stating that information they provide is confidential and they do not want it revealed – yet, they want us to do something with nothing to go on? We have asked them as a group to come forward, document everything, state it on their supervisors performance appraisal yet nobody stated anything negative. HR can not seriously be expected to do anything when the employees have effectively tied our hands. All staff need to realize that they are accountable to themselves and their standards first and foremost. If you want to change your workplace then make a stand and respectfully support your arguments. A good organization will be willing to receive feedback and open to change. If your organization is not like this then I would suggest reassessing your standards and whether this is the type of organization you would like to work for.

Reply
  • On July 29, 2011 at 1:32 am whistlebloweraustralia said:

    An article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, 23 may 2011 exposed William Tarnow Mordi, a neonatologist and director in the neonatal intensive care unit. Even obstetricians rescheduled their deliveries if he was on service to avoid him taking care of the babies. After 8 years, in 2008, an external investigation finally found that he should not be allowed to work in the neonatal unit.

    According to the same report Dr Michael Cole, another neonatologist in the unit, had repeatedly claimed to have been bullied for alerting management to the dangers faced by babies in the unit due to this lack of competence. These reprisals came from all levels of management including HR.

    A year earlier, in 2007, HR interviewed 43 staff members from the unit because of complaints of reprisals and bullying. Apparently every staff member decided not to say anything. They felt afraid to speak out because they had mortgages, family and careers to consider and they did not trust HR. They knew that HR cannot keep what is told to HR confidential. HR must release any complaint to the alleged bullies before any action can be taken. That would be normal due process and natural justice. Apparently no one disclosed any reprisals or bullying at all. Predictably HR found no evidence of bullying.

    Staff obviously felt more confident about discussing their concerns about William Tarnow Mordi’s lack of competence. This led to the external investigation in 2008.

    It appears that the staff involved in 2007did not trust HR and doubted HR’s promise of confidentiality. Proving allegations of bullying or reprisals would be difficult, especially in an organisation where the culture of bullying was endemic but denied (as found by the external investigation) and HR was part of that culture. Perhaps the staff felt on safer ground discussing their concerns about competence which is something better recognised and dealt with.

    All the staff involved, especially Dr Michael Cole, appeared to act as though they knew that HR is not the employee’s friend. HR works for and is paid by the organisation and is expected to work for the organisation’s benefit.

    Workplaces react to threats by eliminating the threat. It is often called ‘workplace bullying’ but is more correctly called ‘Mobbing’. HR is part of this mobbing unit. The process for removing staff, usually whistleblowing staff, is run by HR who could not accomplish the task without at least passive support from the administration.

    HR is not the employee’s friend.

See ‘HR was Useless’ on the Minding the Workplace site.


Bullying, Mobbing, Reprisals and Whistleblowing Resources

(Please contribute by suggesting useful sites in the comment area below. Links to this site are appreciated.)

Bullying

Entry to Tim Field’s wonderful site dealing with Bullying, Mobbing and Reprisals
An encycopaediatic site covering an enormous body of knowledge on Bullying and Mobbing.
There is a useful and detailed though different ‘contents’ and ‘site-map’ area at the end of each page.
Sadly, for bullying to exist it must be at least passively tolerated by the most senior
managers including human resources. That means there is actually not much that one can do. 
But one must learn and understand what it is that is happening to one.
Bully on line
Another entry point to Tim
Field’s site.
Tim Fields book, Bully in Sight: How to Predict, Resist, Challenge and Combat Workplace Bullying
One of the best books for a bully target (victim). Sadly one will still lose.
The book is so packed with information that it will be difficult to find the information again when
you need it. Buy the book, use a pen to underline or draw a big box around important parts,
and stick post-it-notes on these important pages, so you can find the information again when you need it. 
Peter Hyatt’s insightful review of Tim Fields book, Bully in Sight
Peter Hyatt sums up the essence of bullying in reviewing Tim Field’s book.
Gary and Ruth Namie’s site – open at the law page and navigate from there
There is no law against bullying in the USA nor Australia. Generally going the legal
route will leave you broke. This page discusses the options. The Namies have lobbied hard
in the United States for laws against bulling. They have published a book, Bully at
Work
.
 
Review by Brian Martin of 10 anti-bullying books
Also a portal to Brian Martin’s Suppression of Dissent Webpage
 

Mobbing

Shooting the Messenger

An excellent description of what happens during mobbing. But without mentioning the word Bullying or Mobbing.

Dr Heinz Leymann’s pioneering site on Mobbing
Dr Leymann first recognised a human social
behaviour called Mobbing.
As a psychologist he treated many
hospitalised victims of bullying and mobbing.

The Wikipedia site about Dr
Leymann

Kenneth Westhues’
huge site on mobbing 
Kenneth Westhues is a Professor of Sociology. He has worked and published extensively on
the mobbing of academics (university and research staff).
Kenneth Westhues’ more general Home
Page
Mobbing Portal. Gateway to the scientific study of ganging
up
At the Mercy of the Mob
A short
examination of Mobbing by K Westhues.
The Wikipedia site
about Kenneth Westhues
The site has many
mobbing and bullying links.

16 Signs of
Mobbing

Summary of the WAMI
for the 2004 Conference on Workplace Mobbing.
Westhues.
Animal Mobbing
Behaviour
Wikipedia site
explaining Mobbing in terms of instinctive animal
behaviour.
Bullying
vs Mobbing
The differences
and similarities between bullying and mobbing.
Bullying vs
Mobbing
Heinz Leymann’s
discussion of the terms bullying and mobbing.
Milgram’s
psychology experiments
Milgram showed that many humans will behave inhumanely if encouraged by an authority figure.
This may explain the disproportionate influence a ‘chief bully’ has during mobbing.
Later experimental variations showed that a bystander who spoke out
against the behaviour had a powerful influence in stopping the behaviour.
Teaching bystanders to speak up may be a useful means of reducing bullying, mobbing and
reprisals.
The Stanford Prison
Experiment
One of many sites discussing the Stanford
Prison Experiment. Behaviourally it showed how the perpetrators group together
(mob) and how the targets are disempowered. At one level this is an example of the evolution
of mobbing.
 

European Experience

Victimization at work, Swedish law.url

Dealing with bullying at work – the
Norwegian lesson 

Search Results mobbing
Eurofound


Whistleblowing 

Whistleblowers
Australia Inc

The Australian
Whistleblowers organisation. Many whistleblowing resources.
Just Fight On! Against workplace
bullying and abuse

http://www.whistleblower.org/blog
The blog and
home for GAP (Government Accountability Project). Protecting mainly
USA whistleblowers since 1977.
GAP appears to
be a very professional organisation with a creditable record.
The Corporate
Whistleblower’s Survival Guide

A very clear
and informative guide to Whistleblowing. Don’t do anything until you
have read this book. An absolute must read.
It may be
that most bullying and mobbing in the workplace is in fact either a
reprisal for ‘outing’ improper behaviour
or a
pre-emptive strike reprisal against someone who it is feared might
expose those behaving improperly.
The guide was
written by senior members of GAP, mentioned above. Can also be obtained
from

www.amazon.com
The illusions of
whistleblower protection

There have been
some changes to the law since this article was published in 2002. In
2011 the law still ultimately fails to protect whistleblowers. The
protection is retrospective and may or may not be conferred by the
Court, investigation of the complaint is not mandatory, managers are not
legally responsible or liable for any reprisals, the whistleblower
cannot disclose to an independent source including the media in a timely
manner, etc
Suppression of Dissent
Portal to Brian Martin’s Suppression of
Dissent

webpages 
 

Other Resources

Home of Dob in a
Doctor
Australasian Legal Information
Institute (AustLII)

BBC- One Life – Personal –
Bullying – Further Information

Bullying and Harassment at Work –
[2002] HotTopics 2

Bullying at work – Social life –
Relationships – Homepage – Connexions Direct

Bullying of Academics and
LINKS
Circulars & Information
Bulletins
Do You Bully
Employers
Liabilities
Have You Been Bullied at Work –
Well Blog – NYTimes.com

Mobbing and multistalker
harassment in Australia
The Mobbing
Encyclopaedia
Workplace Bullying – The Drs.
Namie – US and Canada

Workplace Bullying
Institute
http–www.qwws.org.au-filestore-OWOL Papers-PDF-Hartig and
Frosch paper FINAL.pdf
Prevent bullying, violence,
harassment, mobbing and abuse in the workplace.

Resources by Topic Overview of
Workplace Mobbing

Search Results mobbing
Eurofound
VISTAS 2006 Title
Whistleblowers
Australia
Workplace Bullying Institute –
Legislative Campaign

Workplace Stress Caused by
Bullying at Kingston University

Please contribute by suggesting useful sites in the comment area below.

Links to this site are appreciated.

Last edited 9 July 2011


Whistleblowing can be good for everyone (except the badies).

The only standout success as a law for whistleblowers is the United States ‘False Claims Act’.

Whistleblowers can go to a lawyer and file a claim in Court. The claim is for the value lost to the Public (taxpayer) by fraud, corruption or incompetence in the public service, plus the penalty.

The total penalty under the False Claims Act is treble the value of the fraud. The whistle blower gets 15% to 30% of the penalty. The government gets the rest.

The US government has recovered one Billion US Dollars a year since 1986.

The Washington Post published today that the law is to be changed to include fraud in companies regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The controversy is whether the employer or company should be alerted by the whistleblower before filing the claim in Court.

The problem with forcing the whistleblower to go to the employer or company first is that whistleblowers are more frequently subjected to reprisals and destruction of their careers by the employer than they are to be valued. Their careers are often destroyed by bullying and mobbing. Employers appear to be more likely to ‘cover-up’ the fraud than they are to applaud the whistleblower.

There appears to be too great a conflict of interest for an organisation to regulate itself. Regulation needs to be external.

Hopefully Australia will embrace a law similar to the False Claims Act. Although intended to addresses fraud, it appears that it can be used to address the waste of taxpayer’s funds through negligence or incompetence as well.


Our Aims and Objectives

This blog aims to support Whistleblowers in Australia and to fight reprisals, bullying and mobbing.

Whistleblowing is a legitimate method, and often the only method, of alerting the public to fraud, waste and deplorable behavior by those in charge of private companies and public services. The same private companies and public services make it part of their Code of Conduct that such disclosures are grounds for immediate dismissal and include disciplinary policies which allow reprisals through bullying.

The Media is the one of the most powerful and essential forces maintaining free speech. Not surprisingly, going to the Media is often grounds for dismissal. Going to the media in any useful way is also not allowed by the Australian Protected (or Public) Disclosures Acts. If dismissal and disciplinary action are not an issue, then going to the media can be very effective.

Often the disclosure that could be made is of no interest to the the established Media. In that case the Independent Media, Social Networking Sites or Anonymous sites might be useful.

Before writing comments to this blog, if you are disclosing anything (whistleblowing) one should ensure one’s anonymity by:

  • not using a work computer, and
  • downloading and installing the Tor bundle on your computer, and
  • using Tor and Firefox to write to this or any site when one wishes to remain anonymous. One must NOT visit any other site like your own hotmail, banking or other sites connected to you while doing this, and
  • not saying anything that can only have come from you. Nor saying anything that could identify you. Nor saying anything that only you could know, and
  • logging out of Tor and Firefox when you have finished writing to the blog or other site. Only then can you open another browser (or browser session) and visit the sites that may be associated with you.

This site is not the whistleblowers Australia support site Whistleblowers Australia Inc which can be found at www.whistleblowers.org.au .