University Study Finds That Blacks Are More Likely Than Whites to Be Bullied at Work

A new study led by researchers at Georgia State University in Atlanta finds that African Americans experience higher levels of workplace bullying than is the case for Whites. Workplace bullying involves being subjected to slurs or jokes about gender or race, being given tasks no one else wants to do, being ignored or not taken seriously and being humiliated in front of others. Often the bullying comes from a worker’s manager. The study also found that African Americans reported higher levels of anxiety in the workplace and lower levels of support from coworkers.

The study examined responses from more than 2,300 people who participated in a national health and retirement study. The results showed that about one of every five workers reported being subjected to workplace bullying, but that African Americans were bullied at a higher rate.

Kiersten Kummerow, a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia State University and a co-author of the study, notes that “those who experience workplace bullying are at increased risk for a variety of adverse health outcomes like anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease, among others. The results of our study demonstrate why employers and state policymakers should be aware of workplace bullying and the effects it has on individual’s health. ”

The full study, “Workplace Bullying, Perceived Job Stressors, and Psychological Distress: Gender and Race Differences in the Stress Process,” was published on the website of the journal Social Science Research. It may be accessed here.

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  1. These circumstances would weight far worst on African-American women as they face sexism in addition to their race. Furthermore, I believe there is this stigma about the Black Americans having a poor work ethic that many try hard to disapprove, adding more stress to what maybe an already hostile environment.

      • yes need I’ve never had a problem with White male supervisors theyre usually actually quite protective and gentle with Black women employees

  2. What I find extremely interesting is that we are bully more in the work place but work place violence is conducted or carried out by White males. I know of only one instance (Black male) in Washington, DC where there was work place violence.

  3. It is important to identify both toxic and hostile work environments. Call it what it is! Make adjustments and either prepare an exit strategy or develop serious coping mechanisms. Marginalization, micro-inequity, and discrimination all exist and are prevalent in the workplace. It is a necessity that Women of Color initiate and participate in support groups. Mind over Matter. It’s very taxing!

    Life is too PRECIOUS to work in such environments! Get out! Look up and Live!

    • I totally agree with this. Being both a woman and a woman of color causes double or more harassment and has a profound level of associated trauma and distress. I am in the process of identifying support groups for workplace bullying of Black women & POC. Let’s make this thread a place to share the resources we gather. Online support groups are more accessible. But also national associations and groups which meet in person would also be helpful.

  4. The majority of the bullies are white women that I have experienced. Lying, stealing my ideas/projects, sabotaging, gossiping, then crying when caught are the cycles I have experienced so many times. I have quit several jobs before. I have been accused of stealing so many times and I would never steal or lie! Also policing Black women’s bodies (smile more you look intimidating, your face looks sick, touching my hair, saying what is up with your hair, etc) and policing Black women’s personalities (Why don’t you talk to anyone etc, I have been told it is my JOB to chit-chat with my boss, ask her how her day is going throughout the day, ask her if she is ok anytime there is traffic, stop what I’m doing to greet her anytime she passes my desk etc.) Completely inappropriate slavery is over I am not your mammy or lady in waiting.

    • I have no idea why many White co-workers are so hostile to Black women colleagues perhaps they are oppressed as well so they can only give what they get and this extends to their hostility when driving their road rage is out of this world

  5. Yes to all of this! I don’t know why I’m shocked or even mildly surprised that this and the comments resonate with me. It’s taxing. I’m drained and utterly demotivated. It’s how I found my way to this article. I.just.don’ I’m tired. Sooooooooooooooooooootired. It’s disappointing other people of color and even other Black people turn a blind eye or are really blissfully ignorant and generally unwilling to come to anothers’ aid. If it happened to one person of color rest assured it can would and will happen to you. Some are so contented with crumbs and illusions of power and inclusion.

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