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WASHINGTON (Reuters Life!) - Nearly half of working Americans said they suffered or witnessed workplace bullying, including verbal abuse, job sabotage or destruction of workplace relationships, according to a new survey.
And 37 percent, or 54 million employees, questioned in the online poll said they are being or have been bullied at some point in their working life.
"It's our version of competition, it's interpersonal competition, and it's destructive," Gary Namie, the director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Washington, which conducted the poll with Zogby Interactive.
Namie suggested it happens because bullying behavior is not illegal in the United States.
"They tolerate it, as long as it produces results for Wall Street. That's why about 40 percent of the victims leave voluntarily," he added in an interview.
In the long term, unpleasant work environments lead to high turnover and litigation for companies, and stress, psychological or physical health problems for the victims, Namie added.
Employers are indifferent because most of the bullies tend to be bosses (72 percent) and they target their subordinates.
Men tend to bully other males and females almost in the same proportion. But 71 percent of women, when in a position of power, prefer to make other women's lives miserable.
"It's pure women to women cruelty," Namie said.
He believes it's the role of employers to develop a healthy work environment, because they set up working conditions and tasks for employees, something that European companies do much better than their American counterparts, he added.
Nearly 8,000 people took part in the online survey August 10-13.