News and Announcements

Activism against Workplace Bullying in the USA

 On Feb. 16, 2006 the President of AFGE Local 12 sent a package of materials to the Secretary of Labor in support of a proposal to establish a labor-management committee on workplace bullying and psychological harassment.

 Most of the elements of the package are at  According to Edward Stern, Vice President for OSHA AFGE Local 12, they created the package to promote examination of the problems and to assist others to examine and to address such problems.


Anti-Bullying campaigner forced to withdraw
long running legal case against British Airways

Just Fight On!'s founder Jo Anne Brown today withdrew her legal case against British Airways for bullying and harassment five years ago that she claims ruined her health and career as an accountant and resulted in her ill-health retirement from BA at the age of 35.

'After the Event' insurance taken out over 3 years ago covering Ms Brown against losing her case was revoked a week before the trial was due to begin at the Royal Court of Justice in London on 5th September 2005. This left Ms Brown, now 37 and from Langley in Berkshire, liable for both her own trial costs and that of BA should she lose the case, estimated to be $40-50k, and with no viable option but to withdraw days before the trial.

Her claim centred on her allegations that while working on secondment in New York as the Manager of Financial Analysis for the Americas, her new manager acted unfairly towards her from the day he started. She claims he persistently criticised her, repeatedly threatened her with her job and company car, removed staff from reporting to her and further isolated her by removing her desk, computer and reallocating her telephone extension whilst she was on sick. She alleges that none of her complaints to four Senior Managers including Human Resources was investigated or acted upon properly. Her last complaint in May 2001 resulted in being advised that little could be done, days later she suffered a breakdown, attempted suicide and required a two and half month stay in a psychiatric ward for severe depression.

As to the injuries Ms Brown contends she suffered as a result of the bullying, BA have denied any liability for them, despite BA's own Consultant Occupational Physician Dr Mark Popplestone granting her ill-health retirement telling Jo the cause of her severe depression was 'mainly down to the bullying'. The Department of Work & Pensions accepted Ms Brown's claim in 2002 that specific incidents with her manager were industrial injuries and agreed she had suffered a disability, awarding her a benefit under the Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit scheme.

In the months leading up to her breakdown, Jo had made further allegations that she had been victimised in her pay by almost 10% since making her a complaint to HR. BA agreed to settle in full a separate Employment Tribunal for this claim back in 2003. Querying whether there was a link between bullying and pay issues generally, Jo sought information from a small sample of peers and this showed bullying victims may have up to a 40% chance of being affected and their pay could be used against them either as method to bully or in response to making a complaint.

Jo was unhappy with the way her case was dealt with by BA but was shocked to discover evidence gained from serving a Data Subject Access Request showing some of the minutes to a formal meeting relating to her termination had deliberately been omitted so it 'could never be used as evidence'. Following her experience and finding she was not the only person to have a complaint of bullying ignored or mishandled, she set up, a small website and support group providing advice to other BA staff.

Of this difficult decision to withdraw, Jo said 'it feels like my life has been on hold since this started five and a half years ago. If I lost BA could take what's left of my retirement fund and Just Fight On! would be financially unable to continue. It feels like BA have taken the last 5 years of my life, I can't allow the risk of letting them take my future too. I have tried my best and that is all I can ask of myself.' She also says that 'to have my insurance revoked is devastating, to not have my day in court to attempt to hold those I feel responsible as accountable for their actions is soul-destroying. Negative events in life can make you a stronger person, how you use them to learn and grow defines you. I can hold my head up high knowing that I have triumphed through adversity, even in the absence of a court decision.'

Jo can be seen in a new BBC series in the Autumn and will detail more of her bullying experience and the impact it's had on her. Jo's recent workshop for Just Fight on! on 'How to Deal with Bullying - And Employers Who Don't!' was also filmed for the 'Making Slough Happy' social experiment.

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people are currently being bullied at work and that there is a 50% chance of being bullied at some time in the working life. For each bullying case headlined in the press there is usually a whole group of people who have failed to get justice through being silenced, intimidated or forced out through a legal technicality. Jo warns that the prevalence and impact of bullying at work is still not understood by the majority of workers, usually until it's too late and affects them. She believes that all workers deserve protection against bullying under employment legislation and it's time the Government treated tax-paying bullying victims justly.





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