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Bullying bosses can cause employee suicide

Did you ever have a boss who didn’t say hello or goodbye to you, screamed, socially ostracized you in other ways, used scare tactics, or told you that you’d done something wrong when you hadn’t?

Have you seen employee after employee in your nonprofit be singled out and eliminated, either through ostracism, bullying, harsh criticism, or through other attempts to emotionally destroy

When you have a bullying and abusive boss, you may suffer from PTSD or other serious mental health consequences which can take YEARS to recover from. According to WBI-Zogby U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, 54 million Americans are bullied each year. (Thanks to Ji Hyun Lee for the inspiration and statistic!)

A fundraiser I knew suffered from an abusive boss. “In the space of two years, this boss bullied his way through six or more employees in the same position. Some stayed a week, some stayed a month, some were forced out. “The more I smiled and tried harder, the more he ostracized, yelled and nitpicked everything I did.” she recalled. She was so traumatized by her experience with a bullying boss that she began to doubt her worth as a fundraiser, and to wonder if she belonged in the nonprofit world at all. Later, she told me this boss had been fired, finally, after doing years of damage to the nonprofit’s reputation, relationships, AND bottom line.

Where was the board during all of this? Checked out, not listening to staff, not “having time” to govern the nonprofit, or they were the friends of the nonprofit leader. If your nonprofit board doesn’t believe that workplace bullying affects them, ask them, how much does employee turnover cost? Here’s a calculator to show them how much they lose each year due to bullies.

In parts of Canada and Europe, workplace abuse is against the law. Unfortunately, there are laws to protect employees against discrimination and sexual harassment but no specific law protecting workers against workplace abuse and bullying in the USA. It’s not like we haven’t tried. Sixteen states have tried to make workplace bullying illegal. If you believe workplace bullying should be stopped, you can take action here.

This video of Marlene’s Law tells the story of a woman whose boss terrorized her so much that she ultimately committed suicide.

Check out, a website that explores how to end workplace abuse. Here is a definition of workplace bullying.

You may not be able to ban bullying in your state YET, but you can organize to make sure that you and people you work with have more power to stand up to bad management practices. Here is a union that you can join for public service workers, UFCW.

To form a union at your nonprofit, check out
Organizing 101
How to form a union

Stand up! Do the right thing! Follow Wild Woman Fundraising on Twitter!

One response on “Bullying bosses can cause employee suicide

  1. rocky says:

    i once worked for one of the nation’s top video chains. i had a supervisor ask me to stay a few minutes after our department was dismissed for thanksgiving holidays. i was informed my co-workers did not like me because i used $30 words (more than two syllable words, i suppose), did not like the smell of the food i brought for lunch (ethnic, indian, middle eastern, oriental), and point blank informed i smelled so bad the general consensus was that i probably needed a strong deodorant/antiperspirant. i left broken hearted and humiliated. it tooke me years to realize i could come home after a day’s work and hang my clothing to wear again. i had been ostracized because my daily meals didn’t consist of local fast food fare, my vocabulary exceeded a fifth grader and the personal attack on my hygeine was nothing but cruel. the best revenge is to live well–i’m currently finishing my master’s degree. the department i once worked for was disbanded several years ago. most positions were eliminated and sent overseas–where indian and middle eastern food is common!!