National Freedom from Bullying Week is Oct. 20-26. Bullying employees in the workplace is legal, unless the target is in a category protected from harassment. Some 53.5 million U.S. workers have experienced abuse on the job perpetrated by a bully and, sometimes, supported by the company.

The strained economic times have pushed this toxic environment to levels of being acceptable in some workplaces. Because targeted employees need their jobs, they make themselves vulnerable to the silent violence. They are devastated by the continued abuse, suffering from physiological and emotional pain. Majority lose their livelihood as the result of quitting or being fired when they stand up to their tormentor.

Unscrupulous companies will used the legal maneuver of bullying to cheat long-employed workers out of collecting employment security benefits for years of exceptional service and replacing them with lower paid employees.

Ultimately, keeping bullies on the payroll has a huge financial impact on companies, affecting productivity, morale, customer satisfaction, and creating revolving door employees not invested in the company’s success. Poor public image goes out to the community, and there’s an increased risk of legal action.

Enough is enough. All workers in Illinois deserve a safe and healthy workplace. Let’s work on making Illinois a bully-free state.

Arlene Salamendra