Workplace bullying has become a hot-button topic over the past few years, with statistics suggesting that up to 35 percent of the work force have fallen victim to this alarming trend.

Some suggest that bullying victims simply are people who “can’t take the pressure” at work. Not so, says Jeff Shane, vice president of Allison & Taylor Reference Checking.

“Bullying has become an unpleasant fact of life in too many workplace environments. What makes it especially insidious is that it often continues even after someone has left a job, with the bully continuing to make their life difficult by them a poor reference to a prospective employer,” says Shane.

Workplace bullying tactics can range from derogatory comments to public humiliation or physical abuse. In any event, they unquestionably lead to decreased workplace productivity. Victims may experience a loss of confidence, debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, clinical depression and even physical illnesses.

Central to the issue is the fact that management or supervisors are the most common offenders, and their bullying actions leave the recipient in a difficult employment position. Since many bullies are operating in accordance with a company’s “standard practices,” victims often speculate that they may deserve the criticisms, or they are simply too embarrassed, reluctant or fearful to confront the harasser.