In Focus: Cyberbullying from Co-Workers

Virginia firefighter’s suicide could be linked to anonymous posts

By Lacy Lusk Apr 28, 2016
Photo courtesy 'Celebrating Nicole' Facebook page.

Bullying Probed in Virginia Firefighter’s Suicide
Nicole Mittendorff, a Fairfax County, Va., firefighter, was found dead at age 31 last week in Shenandoah National Park. Her death was ruled a suicide, and it has spurred an investigation into how she might have been treated by her co-workers. “I would like to take a minute to address the local web forum posts that so many of you have been discussing regarding Firefighter Nicole Mittendorff,” Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Bowers wrote in a statement posted online. “We at Fairfax Fire and Rescue are aware of the posts and are looking into the matter. I assure you that my department cannot and will not tolerate bullying of any kind.”

Fire Chief Investigating Reports of Bullying after Virginia Firefighter’s Death
Since her disappearance, anonymous users had hurled insults about the married firefighter on a local web forum.
(ABC News)

Was a Va. Firefighter Humiliated by Co-Workers Online Before She Killed Herself?
Bullying can happen from a home computer and devastate a woman’s reputation and career.
(The Washington Post)

Virginia Firefighter Victim of Cyberbullying Months before Apparent Suicide
Mittendorff had been the victim of cyberbullying for months, and bullying posts continued after her death.
(The New York Daily News)

What Can HR Do to Limit Cyberbullying?
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 40 percent of bullying victims never tell their employers.
If someone does make an allegation, it’s important to know that employers may be held liable for employee’s cyberbullying, as SHRM reported earlier this year.
(SHRM Resources and Workplace Bullying Institute)

Arm Your Workplace against Cyberbullies
SHRM has guidance you can use to help rid your workplace of cyberbullies.
(SHRM Online)

How to Attack Bullying Without Being Attacked
This article provides advice on how have the right footwork to create an anti-bullying policy that meets National Labor Relations Act standards.
(HR Magazine)

Are You in a Bully-Prone Industry? 
Whether a specific workplace is particularly vulnerable to bullying depends on a variety of factors, including the culture, the personalities drawn to that line of work and the organization’s structure.
(HR Magazine)

Book Blog: Taking Down Workplace Bullies
If you’re an HR professional who wants to make a real difference, you need to understand why an organization’s leaders hesitate to take action against bullies—and why HR is in an ideal position to manage and eliminate workplace bullying.
(HR Magazine)

Lacy Lusk is e-newsletter editor for SHRM.


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