The End of a Six-Year Vendetta

Over the last week, I have been inundated with questions about what motivated Barbara Coloroso to behave so recklessly and to put her reputation at such risk in our dispute.

For the past six years, I chose to take the high road in my dispute with Ms. Coloroso, despite her very public campaign to discredit me.  The question was why she went to the extremes that she did: committing perjury, cyberbullying, publicly calling me a liar, a thief and a cheat, and sending a mass e-mail to everyone on my mailing list, claiming that I fabricated research and falsified statistics.

I do not believe in coincidences.  In my book From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I advise people who think they are being targeted to "tie seemingly unrelated events, comments and situations together and they will usually add up to something.” Now that the legal disputes have been resolved to my satisfaction, I am now able to give my perspective on the reasons for Ms. Coloroso’s actions.

Between February 24, 2010 and July 30, 2011, Ms. Coloroso complimented me nine times on my work on our joint manuscript.  The last compliment was received two days before the expiry of our August 1, 2011 deadline to submit the completed manuscript to HarperCollins.

On July 4, 2011, I rejected what I believe to be a sexual overture made towards me by Ms. Coloroso.  She told me that she had seduced a gay Canadian Olympic athlete, after teaching him to kayak. Then she put her hand on my leg and said "I would love to convert you."  I tried to make light of the situation by gently removing her hand and telling her that I was not a convertible.

We met the next day with my assistant to finalize the manuscript. Ms. Coloroso was a bundle of nerves and we made little progress on the work. That day, July 5, 2011, is the last time that Ms. Coloroso and I have ever spoken in person or by phone, except for her calling me “you bastard” at my examination for discovery. 

On July 7, 2011, three days after the July 4 incident, Ms. Coloroso expressed concerns about my work for the first time.  Thus started her six-year campaign to destroy my reputation.

Coincidental?  I think not.”

 

 

Workplace Culture Contributed to Lawyer’s Death from Addiction

Attorneys may be the last profession to recognize the need for psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces, but as Eilene Zimmerman points out in her New York Times article, “The Lawyer, the Addict,” they need them as much as everyone else. The article is a heartbreaking examination of what drove her ex-husband, a successful patent attorney, to the drug addiction that eventually killed him and how everyone in his life missed the red flags.

Lawyers are notorious for working 60 hour weeks driven by competition for dwindling jobs, professional rivalry and the need to achieve a certain number of billable hours. The effect can take quite a toll. A report in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that 21 percent of lawyers qualify as problem drinkers, 28 percent struggle with depression and 19 percent struggle with anxiety. The numbers reporting drug use are much lower, which is unsurprising for officers of the court. Attorneys don’t seem to be more predisposed to addiction than other profession. In fact, studies of incoming law students have shown them as being more physically and psychologically healthy compared to other graduate students.  Clearly the workplace culture and the legal training take a toll.

The sad truth is that there is no segment of society immune from issues with mental health and/or addiction. What is truly tragic in Zimmerman’s story is the fact that there were bright red flags everywhere, but both the workplace culture in law firms and society’s mental picture of successful lawyers rendered them invisible.

Andrew Faas is the author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

How the Workplace Bullying Institute and Bullying Expert Barbara Coloroso Used Media and Search Engine Optimization as Weapons

We have just distributed the release below to the press about my recent court case against author and bullying expert Barbara Coloroso. As pointed out in the release below, the Toronto Star published an article about the dispute which favoured Coloroso and portrayed me in a negative light.  Coloroso was the source of the article but perjured herself by denying it under oath.  The article has been highly ranked in Google search results of my name for years now, and was linked to multiple times by the website of the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).  The director of the Institute is Dr. Gary Namie, who is a friend and colleague of Coloroso.  I can now better appreciate how the media and SEO can be used as powerful weapons by bullies. And who would know more about this than so-called bullying experts?

WBI represents itself as the first and only non-profit that deals with eradicating bullying in the workplace. Clearly they shouldn’t be in the business of advising people who have been bullied, but even more worrying is the fact that Namie, the WBI founder, is also the national director of a national grassroots legislative movement to enact an anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill. While the bill has been brought before state legislatures numerous times, to date none have passed and they have been unsuccessful in bringing the matter before Congress.   

AFTER ADMITTING TO PERJURY, BULLYING EXPERT BARBARA COLOROSO CONCEDES DEFEAT IN LEGAL BATTLE WITH CO-AUTHOR

A five-year legal battle with a co-author has ended in defeat for Barbara Coloroso.  The bestselling author and bullying expert admitted to perjury on the eve of trial, and agreed to a settlement requiring her to make a cash payment and written apology.

 The litigation arose from a 2010 agreement between Coloroso and Andrew Faas, a Canadian philanthropist and retired senior executive, to collaborate on a book on bullying in the workplace for HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. However, Coloroso refused to complete her share of the book, accusing Faas of plagiarism.  Both HarperCollins and Faas were willing to address Coloroso’s concerns through the editing process, but Coloroso declined.  HarperCollins terminated the agreement, as no finished manuscript was delivered.  Faas and Coloroso sued each other for breach of contract.  The action was commenced in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Court File No. CV-12-454927).

In 2013, Faas sought to publish his own book on bullying in the workplace, The Bully’s Trap, with a new publisher.  Unbeknownst to Faas, the publisher made The Bully’s Trap available for sale on its website before it was finished.  Coloroso purchased the book and claimed that it infringed her copyright.  The Bully’s Trap was immediately pulled from the website.  Only two electronic and paperback copies were sold during the six weeks that the book was offered for sale, one of each to Coloroso. Nevertheless, she claimed $5 million from Faas for copyright infringement.

Coloroso told a Toronto Star newspaper reporter Amy Dempsey about her dispute with Faas, and gave her a copy of The Bully’s Trap.  Dempsey wrote an article about the dispute, which the Toronto Star published on August 24, 2013.  The article favored Coloroso and portrayed Faas as a plagiarist, but did not reveal Coloroso as Dempsey’s source.  During an examination on March 5, 2014, Coloroso committed perjury by stating under oath that she “did not give the story to Amy Dempsey” and that she had no knowledge of how the Toronto Star had come to publish the article.She also denied sharing her copy of The Bully’s Trap with the Toronto Star, and denied any knowledge of who had done so. 

 Normally, the Toronto Star article would have dropped over time in the ranking of Google search results on Faas’ name.  However, the article still ranks at the top of the Google search results for Andrew Faas.  Faas commissioned a report from a search engine optimization forensics expert, who concluded that the article was highly ranked largely because it had been linked to multiple times by the website of an anti-bullying organization called the Workplace Bullying Institute. One of the directors of the Institute is Dr. Gary Namie, a friend and colleague of Coloroso.

The trial of Faas’ action and Coloroso’s counterclaim was scheduled to commence on Monday, June 12, 2017.  Dempsey was to be one of the first witnesses, and Faas’ lawyers intended to ask her who her source was. By letter sent on June 9, 2017, Coloroso admitted through her lawyers that she had given the story to the Toronto Star and had provided a copy of The Bully’s Trap to Dempsey, contrary to what she had previously said under oath.  The case settled without a trial.  Coloroso received nothing for her claims.  She agreed to make a $20,000 payment to Faas and to use best efforts to remove the Workplace Bullying Institute web postings, which have now been taken down.  Coloroso also settled a defamation action commenced against her by Faas in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Court File No. CV-16-551504) by providing Faas with a written apology for a mass e-mail that she had sent to more than 200 of Faas’ friends and colleagues.  While Faas is pleased with the outcome of the case, he says the harm to his reputation from Coloroso’s actions lives on, in the form of damaged relationships, loss of business opportunities, and interference with his many philanthropic endeavors. 

“Namie, Barbara Coloroso and the Workplace Bullying Institute should not be in the business of giving bullying advice other than how to bully,” said Faas.

Illustration credit: Global Digital Citizen Foundation

Understanding the Magnitsky Act is a Must for U.S. Citizens

Maybe he was overly eager to please his bullying father. Maybe he thought that the rules didn’t apply to him. Or maybe he was just ignorant, but clearly Donald Trump Jr. didn’t give it much thought when he approached a foreign national for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Who would have thought that the “smoking gun” would come from the Trumps themselves?

There’s an excellent piece on NPR by Jim Zarroli about the British-born music promoter, Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting between Don Jr. and a Russian lawyer with Kremlin connections. The meeting wasn’t terribly clandestine considering that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and brother-in-law Jared Kushner also attended and it was held at a Trump property.

At that meeting, the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, mentioned a few things about campaign funding in the Democratic party, then tried to change the subject to the Magnitsky Act and the banned U.S. adoption of Russian children. Goldstone says, “at which point the meeting was halted by Don Jr. and we left.”

Junior’s lack of interest in the welfare of children aside, what is really interesting here is the Magnitsky Act. It was named after the Russian attorney of author Bill Browder whose highly acclaimed book, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice (Simon & Schuster; 2015) details the corruption and murderous heart of the Putin regime.

The Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was passed in 2012 to punish the Russian officials responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s horrific torture and death by prohibiting their entrance to the U.S. and access to American banks. The book details the background to this Act. The Washington Post said, “[A] riveting account of Browder’s journey through the early years of Russian capitalism….Begins as a bildungsroman and ends as Greek tragedy…. ‘Russian stories never have happy endings,’ Magnitsky tells Browder, in the book’s most memorable line. Perhaps not, but they do have inspiring ones.”

For anyone who wants the big picture on the Russia situation, this is a must-read.

Photo credit: Reuter's

Ignorance is No Excuse for Bad Leadership

When it comes to CEOs, ignorance of the culture in your workplace is unacceptable. Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently came to the defense of Uber’s Travis Kalanick saying that she didn’t think Kalanick knew about the toxic culture at his company: “I just don’t think he knew. When your company scales that quickly, it’s hard,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.

This is like Donald Trump defending Vladimir Putin. To say that Kalanick didn’t know about toxic culture puts him in the same league as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his infamous comment in the New York Times expose on his workplace’s culture: “That’s not the Amazon I know.” Mayer’s defense of Kalanick as a “great leader” reflects the general attitude of organizational leaders today—their only concern is shareholders and they just don’t care about their workplace culture and, by extension, their employees.

Andrew Faas is the author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire

Photo credit: Observer

A Case Study on How Bullies Deflect by Destroying Whistleblowers

The Queen of Spin is at it again. After a hiatus where we were spared from listening to Kellyanne Conway spread misinformation all over the daily news cycle, she recently sparred with CNN’s Chris Cuomo in full exhibition of bullying as she masterfully manipulated, distorted and denied the truth. There’s no denying how perfectly she inhabits the role of Trump surrogate.

It’s hard not to imagine Conway as the adult version of the flawlessly blond, treacherous and manipulative bully Regina George in the 2004 movie Mean Girls. In the movie, Regina attacks her rival, Cady (played by Lindsay Lohan), by spreading the high school equivalent of misinformation. Until Regina’s final comeuppance (which requires being hit by a bus—what a metaphor!) she has absolutely no scruples about doing whatever it takes to get her way.

I have done extensive research on bullies and Conway (and her colleague Sarah Huckabee Sanders) are textbook examples of how bullies operate. Most appalling is their defense of outright lies and the assumption that people really are that gullible. Even more disturbing is the message that this sends to youth—that it is OK to lie to get your way. I watch with amazement as the Trumpniks use bullying tactics right out of the Steve Bannon playbook and try to turn victims into villains by recasting whistleblowers as leakers. (Something I discuss in detail in the chapter on whistleblowers in my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire). This is so typical of how bullies operate, which is perfectly captured in yesterday’s piece by Joshua Green in New York Magazine, which crystallizes Bannon’s strategy on his bully boss’s behalf perfectly: “Attack, Attack, Attack.”

I wonder if Conway and company have considered the fact these mendacities have gone beyond bullying, beyond lying and are making them complicit in something that’s starting to look very much like treason.

Photo credit: CNN

What to Do When Your Boss Asks You to Compromise Your Ethics

Employees being asked to act immorally by their boss have become far too common. The dilemma is—what to do? And how to do you weigh the price that whistleblowers usually have to pay such as lack of advancement, alienation and even reprisal? Daniel Victor in the New York Times’ Smarter Living column explored this question recently and based on my research forFrom Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I disagree with some of the advice he offers.

I agree with Victor that employees should first make sure that they didn’t misunderstand their supervisor’s request. There are times when things are poorly stated and it’s imperative that this isn’t misinterpreted. But let’s say that the request was crystal clear—what do you do next?

 First, determine if this request restricted to just this manager in this department, or is it something being enacted throughout the organization? Second, forego human resources, which in my experience is usually part of the problem, and send an anonymous note to the audit committee of the Board of Directors apprising them of an ethics issue and request an investigation. In your note indicate that if there is no response within a set limit of time you will seek external recourse with legal representation, the media, or both.

Under no circumstances would I recommend following Victor’s advice to expose the situation internally—this could be fraught with danger. Had the employees who went from victim to villain at Wells Fargo exposed the scandal in the manner I advocate, their story would have had a far happier ending.

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

Why Organizations Fail

It does little good to relive Donald Trump’s latest offensive tweets (after all, you never know what he’ll send out at 3 a.m.). The truth is that Trump doesn’t use Twitter to communicate; he uses it to cyberbully a nation. The results have been toxic—respect for America is down around the world, he’s sowed seeds of doubt about the nation’s electoral process, civil servants, courts, and, of course, the media. According to Ezra Klein on Vox: “Six months into his term, Trump’s policy achievements are few and thin, but he has coarsened our politics, shown the power of shamelessness, undermined our faith in each other and ourselves, modeled behavior we would punish children for exhibiting, and implicated all of us in the running fiasco of his presidency. He has diminished the country he promised to make great.”

Trump’s bullying tactics cannot be denied. Charles M. Blow took it a step further in an op-ed in the New York Times, when he pointed out that Trump’s ongoing rants reveal exactly how he defiles the office of president.  “Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness. The presidency has been hijacked.

What Trump is doing to America goes on every day in organizations led by bully bosses. What really jumps out for me is how insecure they really are, hiding behind a dangerous veneer of abrasiveness. Their biggest fear is being exposed as frauds who prey on people's fear—using hate as a weapon.

Andrew Faas is the author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire

Illustration credit: BIGSTOCK 

Happy Birthday, Canada and America!

While my American friends are getting out their red, white and blue decorations, up here in St. Andrew’s by the Sea in New Brunswick we’re celebrating our own special day. July 1 marks the 150th birthday of Canada. For my friends to the south who may not know, the date commemorates when the British North America Act was signed in 1867 to unite the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario into the Dominion of Canada.

This is a special celebration here in Canada, and we’re doing it up proud here in St. Andrew’s. This lovely, diverse community has been a warm and welcoming home for me and my husband, Lee. When we were married in 2015 the entire community cheered us on and even set up chairs to enjoy the vows and catch the toasts.

St. Andrew’s is known across Canada for the Cory Cottage at the Pansy Patch. This house is considered a model of gabled Greek revival style architecture and is the most photographed building in New Brunswick, and perhaps all of Canada. That’s just part of the reason why it was named the number one travel destination in Canada by USA Today. It’s a true pleasure to be able to celebrate Canada’s 150th here.

Whether you’re watching fireworks for Canada Day or Independence Day, I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.

Photo credit: St. Andrew's 

Abuse Charges Against Australian Cardinal Points to Disjointed Culture

There’s a reason why I used the Catholic Church as an example of disjointed workplace culture in my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire. A disjointed culture is typified by a hierarchical and bureaucratic culture that tries to accommodate everyone. In a disjointed culture process is substituted for purpose, regional employees work in silos, there are few checks and balances, and bullies can operate freely.

Yesterday’s news that Australian Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy at the Vatican, has been charged with sexual assault should open up a serious look at not just at the allegations, but more importantly at Pope Francis’s actions when it comes to charges of sexual abuse. It’s extremely alarming that Pell wasn’t thoroughly investigated before being elevated to cardinal. Given this continuing lapse in judgment, the Church shouldn’t dispense any kind of moral authority until it cleans up its own house. Small wonder that congregations are shrinking along with the Church’s ability to attract and retain candidates for the priesthood.

Photo credit: News.com.au