During this past week much has been written (including myself) about the case of a person in a position of power, Kelly Blazek, the gatekeeper of a Cleveland, Ohio jobs listing for marketing positions, writing a nasty email to a job seeker. Blazek’s language in the email was unyielding in her attempt to embarrass and humiliate the job seeker. Blazek was using her power to bully someone who was in an inferior position.
Therefore, I was shocked when I read an ‘Opinion‘ on CNN.com by Dr. Peggy Drexler, who wrote that by publicizing the email and seeking attention to the bullying, the job seeker:
“….acted with malice, and caused the older woman significant damage…”
The specific language suggests that Dr. Drexler is encouraging Blazek, the person who was the bully, to sue the victim on the grounds of malice, libel, and/or age discrimination. One might question as to whether Dr. Drexler’s motives were that of an ambulance chaser, seeking to be employed by Blazek as an ‘expert’ witness in a civil suit.
Dr. Drexler’s opinion piece did describe the nature of Blazek’s email; however, she softened Blazek’s misdeeds by saying:
“Blazek’s words were, of course, undeniably, and likely unnecessarily, harsh”
In her opinion piece, Dr. Drexler masterfully works around the most blatant language in Blazek’s email and, in at least one place, segmented the quoted language so that the most vicious remark doesn’t look like it was the climax of the rest of the paragraph. She also uses Blazek’s “Communicator of the Year” recognition as a reference of her skills, rather than the irony that is obvious after reading a complete version of Blazek’s blistering email. The most damning paragraph from Blazek’s email is missing from Dr. Drexler’s opinion:
“I suggest you join the other Job Bank in town. Oh wait — there isn’t one.”
Dr. Drexler admits that Blazek’s behavior was wrong:
“No question, Blazek lashed out first, with unprofessional behavior that can only be described as bullying.”
However, Dr. Drexler seems to enable Blazek’s behavior by accusing the job seeker:
“But Mekota responding in kind makes her no less a bully.”
In Dr. Drexler’s world, when bullied, sit back and take. Don’t fight back and don’t call out the bully. Other professionals have a different take on how to respond to a bully. In responding to adult bullying, Mental Health Support (from the United Kingdom) suggests the following :
“…if you find yourself the victim of bullying, a bully’s bad behaviour is entirely his or her responsibility, not yours,…”
The website goes on to say:
“Once you have identified a bully and know what to expect from him or her, you must choose not to be a victim, if you want the bullying to stop. Expose the bullying for what it is. Take a stand, and don’t back down…”
“…The important point here is to expose the bully and call him or her to account. Confrontation and exposure, with evidence to support a victim’s accusations, are what the bully tries hardest to avoid. Once exposure happens, the bullying is likely to stop.”
There was an injustice done to Ms. Blazek, but that was from Dr. Drexler in attempting to sanctify Blazek’s behavior by accusing the job seeker of an equal act. Dr. Drexler’s portrait of Blazek as the older woman, victimized by the young, evil job seeker, causing her to lose her career and disappear from social media is absurd. The job seeker did not write the email, nor did she make the decision to shut down Blazek’s websites and social media accounts. Blazek was in the wrong and the damage to her career rests solely in her hands.