The Incognito-Martin Incident and Workplace Bullying

The biggest story in the sports world for the last several weeks has been the allegations swirling around the NFL Miami Dolphins’ offensive lineman, Richie Incognito, and his supposed bullying of his fellow lineman, Jonathan Martin.

According to published reports, Martin claims that Incognito sent him racist and threatening voicemails and text messages. Incognito claims that Dolphin coaches instructed him to work with Martin to make him tougher. Martin also claimed that Incognito extorted $15,000 from him so he could take a trip to Las Vegas.

Martin, a second year player, has left the team, while Incognito, a NFL veteran known for his quick temper and history of personal fouls, has been suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins. The NFL is currently investigating the situation. Many Dolphin players have defended Incognito, saying that Martin played Incognito’s voicemail for his teammates and laughed about it.

Many players in the NFL say that what some people see as bullying is actually just hazing, which is a rite of passage for the younger players. Some players say that if Martin felt bullied or threatened, he should have reported Incognito’s behavior to his coaches or the team’s front office. Others claim that Incognito’s alleged behavior is the norm in NFL locker rooms and an ingrained part of the culture of profession football.

In a normal workplace setting, behavior like that allegedly conducted by Incognito would be bullying and should not be tolerated. Additionally, racist remarks may rise to the level of discrimination. In the event an employee feels they are being bullied or intimidated by a supervisor or co-worker, the employee should immediately report it to his or her employer, which may be held accountable should the employer fail to address the offending behavior. Further, an employee should always document incidents of bullying or discrimination to support their claims.

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