Female-on-Female Harassment in the Workplace

As more and more women are climbing the corporate ladder across America, female on female harassment in the workplace has increased, according to a study. The study, conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, revealed that when women chose a bullying target, approximately 70 percent of the time they chose another female.

Bullying in the workplace is 4 times more common than sexual harassment, according to the study.

According to Dr. Gary Namie, co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, females tend to be much nastier to their victims than male bullies.

“Women feel the need to be hyper-aggressive to get ahead in a male-dominated environment,” says Dr. Namie. Some of the subjects of the study had experienced extensive workplace harassment in the past.

“My female bully lied and gossiped about me and others,” recalled Debra Falozi, a communications coordinator who was harassed by a female supervisor at Boston University. “She used all indirect tactics. I have seen men also use indirect bullying tactics, but they’re much less frequent, and they have seemed solely to protect their ego rather than proactive moves to sabotage.”

Be on the lookout for woman-on-woman harassment in your workplace—there is a good chance it is going on, even if it is not obvious at first. Just because you experienced this type of behavior in school as a child does not mean it is acceptable for adults in the workplace. If this type of behavior is not confronted, it will not simply disappear on its own.

“Women bullies will often befriend you and then air all your secrets later, in boardrooms or at office gatherings. I’ve had patients that just can’t trust again after being humiliated like that at work,” says Dr. Namie. “Report to your superiors and make it a business case on how the bully is affecting your productivity and driving up absenteeism. The minute you talk about how emotionally traumatized you are, you’re unlikely to get any help.”

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—California employment law attorneys