CASE STUDY: How one organization Investigates Workplace Bully Bosses: NOT


Please note CEO’s/HR professionals:

We value your input. If you are an executive or HR professional please share how your organization handles investigations of bully bosses or harassment.  Perhaps your experiences of success can be used for learning organizations.  You can choose to remain anonymous.

This is the first of many case studies I will be sharing informally on the topic of “How organizations handle employee complaints of harassment/bulling by bosses.

This is a third sector Hierarchical educational Organization with over 5,000 culturally diverse employees.

Typically complaints of those staff without union representation are handled in the following manner:

Formal complaint is filed with Human Resources by employee

  1. Individual is interviewed within 2-3 weeks depending the amount of complaints and investigators available. Witnesses are interviewed.
  2. After the formal interview, the employee is told that within 60-90 days they will receive the report which will only give information whether they found the complaint valid or not.  There is no information given as to whether any of the employees were true nor whether any one will be receiving any consequences or follow up.
  3. The employee who complained as a general rule in this specific organization is found to have a complaint that was not substantiated by the investigator.
  4. The investigators are internal and have dual roles, both as HR representatives and as investigators when needed.  These internal investigators are employees who have worked at this organization in various capacities for over 15 years acquiring many long term friends out side of the job, and very close co-worker relationships. All of these relationships among the investigators/HR and those bosses being complained about, serve to discredit the feasibility of objective or impartial investigation results.

(Fall out from such investigations further alienate the complaining party from their colleagues who want no part of being a snitch nor of aligning themselves with a person who is not going to win against the organization.  Now, management considers the complaining worker fair game and even more vulnerable to not winning any support)

Bottom Line:  The organization ALWAYS wins in these investigations but they PAY royally for the privilege.

  • AFTER the investigation this is what occurs typically:
  • The employee is harassed by the immediate supervisor relentlessly.
  • The employee becomes ill as a result and files a worker’s compensation claim.
  • The organization’s insurance carrier, sends the worker to a doctor and that WC doctor turns in a report to the carrier who ALWAYS denies the claim.
  • But, the company expends up to Ten thousand dollars per claim to the initial treating physician.
  • Then, the worker hires a WC attorney. If the WC attorney is really good and knowledgeable about these types of cases, the worker typically is paid on average of ten thousand dollars or more; but the actual amount expended by the insurance carrier is much more.
  • The WC attorney will usually ask for more therapies, etc. for a period of 6 months to one year.  That doctor is then paid by the insurance carrier when the case settles.

Some of these cases go from the WC case being filed to also a Civil case being filed for damages of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.  This organization, X, does not ever go to court.  They do not want their dirty laundry aired, so they simply go to mediation and pay out of court.

How many cases and how much money is lost annually on these cases?  I know personally of approximately 20 cases which settled last year and about 10 that are on-going.  You can guess based on the above information the amount of money which is used to squash, cover-up and protect the bully bosses.  Tens of thousands each year, minimally are used for these cases.

The bully bosses who have a reputation are well known, connected to those who do the investigations and to their bosses as well.  This management style is encouraged and promoted silently while openly it is denounced.  As a result the bully bosses receive the message to continue doing what you do and we will back you up.  There is no one held accountable for the actions nor the fall out which results from the continued bullying, and harassing of workers who are targeted due to whatever the bully fancies at the moment.

This case is representative of many other organizations which continue down the path of ignoring and empowering the actions of the bully boss for self-serving purposes which are costly.

Who are these bullies in this organization? Are they highly valued for their expertise, education, relations? These are some of the questions we will address in an upcoming article on “So why is the bully boss still here?”

Marilyn is an organizational consultant, keynote speaker, advocate for dignity and respect for all in the workplace, and author of   “How Organizations Empower the Bully Boss:A criminal in the workplace ” (link:


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One Response to “CASE STUDY: How one organization Investigates Workplace Bully Bosses: NOT”

  1. Marilyn’s Workplace Blog « Stop Workplace Bullies…Now! Says:

    […] Marilyn’s Workplace Blog. […]

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