Photo: Latino's Targets of Bullying
Workplace bullying is on the rise in the United States amid the country’s economic woes and particularly afflicts Hispanics, experts told Efe.
Waldemar Serrano-Burgos, a life and business coach in Florida, said that Hispanics are particularly vulnerable to bullying because so many are dependent on a work visa and others are in the country illegally.
“A supervisor or a boss who constantly picks on whatever an employee does badly, who never has a good word to say about his work, who bawls out an individual or a group in a humiliating way and who sabotages a person’s work is engaged in what is considered workplace bullying,” Serrano-Burgos said.
The practice is more common that people believe, he said.
According to a 2010 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute and pollster Zogby, close to 53 million Americans have reported being bullied on the job.
Another survey by WBI indicates that 52.1 percent of Latinos said they were bullying victims, followed by 46 percent of African Americans, 33.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 30.6 percent of Asian Americans.
Psychotherapist Alfredo Hernandez told Efe that moments of crisis are times when “the best and worst of humanity” are in evidence, worse still if the boss has “bad authoritarian habits, because bullying is almost always a learned behavior.”
“History tells us that people who have been victims of abuse and mistreatment tend to become abusers in turn,” the expert said.
He said that these are people who generally have low self-esteem, fierce internal conflicts and a self-image of weakness and incompetence.
When they rise to a position of authority they use it to harass their employees because it makes them feel better.
“They think that ‘all I have is this power over you, so I’m going to use it to show you that I’m better than you.’ They get pleasure from that and look good to themselves through this atrocious use of power,” Hernandez said.
Bullying victims suffer anxiety, panic attacks, depression, insomnia and loss of self-esteem when they realize they are unable to face up to a “boss who exercises unwarranted force thanks to the authority he has over them,” the psychotherapist said.
“Workplace bullying gets worse in moments of economic crisis when the number of jobs available shrinks,” Serrano-Burgos said.
Workers tend to “put up with the bullying” when they lack other immediate job opportunities, and those who depend on visas “put up with these conditions for as long as it takes to obtain permanent-residence status.”
“I urge people who are going through this to take action and not keep quiet about the situation because the day that this employee is no longer in the company, there will undoubtedly be another worker suffering the same experience,” Serrano-Burgos said