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Author of “Bullying Bosses: A Survivor’s Guide.”
Robert L. Mueller has nearly 40 years experience as a workplace strategist, organizer, and consultant. He holds a Juris Doctorate degree with 20 years experience in labor law. Prior to becoming an attorney, as a Colorado native he worked for years in heavy industry and construction in a West Virginia steel mill, the Vermont Carpenter’s Union and the Quincy Shipyards, south of Boston.

Robert’s professional examination of workplace bullying began in 1983 as a union attorney with a high volume caseload. Many of his cases involved bullying that resulted in particularly serious harm to individual employees and compromised operations. The Bullies and their targeted subordinates could be of any sex, race or ethnic group. But in every case that involved bullying there was a then unidentified commonality beyond their intensity. Whatever it was, it was present in his politically charged workplace as well. It made everyone feel terribly uncomfortable. Typically, people wrote it off as an unusually difficult personality clash. Nothing could be done.

But it turned out that some things could be done. To make sense of it, Robert conducted focused interviews over a period of two decades and conducted research in many of the major disciplines. He came to know as adversaries, several Bullying Bosses on various sides of labor-management relations. He observed that the Bullies tended to repeat their behaviors creating patterns. They sometimes even used the same words with each target they chose in series.

Observably, they undermined the collective endeavor called “work.” They fundamentally lacked the ability “to connect” with others around them. As an apparent substitute, they “charmed up” to their superiors with uncanny expertise, while “bullying down.” Where there were patterns, there was predictability. Political strategies and tactics could frequently be devised for each bully as practical counter-measures.


The Bullies rarely experienced any negative consequences. On the contrary, over time they became increasingly bold, commonly assuming a messianic character. At all times and barely under the radar, the Bullies campaigned “to dumb down” the employer’s talent pool to levels that were less threatening to them. In crisis, managements and its HR departments customarily defended the Bully, sometimes at great expense to  themselves.  Bullies both artificially generated conflicts in the workplace and were the ultimate defenders of mediocrity, starting with their own.
Nearly 25 years after his study began, Robert released his findings with hundreds of techniques helpful to employees determined to protect their dignity and humanity. Robert has:
Represented a couple of thousand employees frequently including the targets of Bullying Bosses in intense disciplinary and grievance hearings.
Secured, abstracted and crosschecked documentary evidence against the available testimony prior to submission or omission as exhibits at hearing.
Learned the perspectives of employee witnesses, managers, human resources and other supervisory influences, subpoenaing many of them for examination and cross-examination at hearing.
Learned to appreciate the relevant general, occupational and employer cultures through personal inspection of workplaces as they influence the political dynamics there.
Learned the perspectives of Bully Bosses beginning with a review of their paperwork, then as represented by opposing counsel and frequently culminating in a face-to-face, cross-examination of them at hearing.
Concurrent with all the above, devised practical, political strategies and tactics for employee empowerment as against Bully Bosses.
For over 20 years, as an attorney, Robert investigated, litigated and solved legal and political problems in a wide variety of difficult work circumstances in California and Nevada where he represented nurses, social workers, professionals, teachers, clericals, customer relations, law enforcement, intellectuals, creative persons, trades people, miners, heavy construction and manufacturing workers.
Robert Mueller's strategy-based, political successes as an attorney in employee related cases are a matter of public record in the highest courts in California, including the following cases ordered "published" as legal precedent by those courts.

Mueller convinced the California State Supreme Court to require public employers to provide employees with a due process, Skelly-type hearing prior to terminating ("automatically resigning") them for allegedly being absent without leave for five consecutive days. Employers primarily used these "automatic resignation" processes to vacate positions held by disabled employees who were on extended leave. Disabled employees are now entitled to a "Coleman Hearing" before the employer takes formal action and where they can present medical evidence of their continuing disability and thus save their jobs.

Mueller convinced the California Court of Appeal to prohibit any employer from making unilateral, unauthorized deductions from any employee's paycheck. Previously, and without comment to the employee, employers simply deducted from the employee's paycheck any money the employer claimed he was owed, such as for an alleged wage overpayment from the past or for alleged damage to equipment. Now, employees get fully paid while their employers must proceed in the same fashion as any other creditor, either by reaching an agreement with the employee or through judicial trial and wage garnishment procedures.

Mueller Convinced the California Court of Appeal to strike down a state "underground" regulation which created new grounds and additional criteria for disciplining employees beyond those established as law by the Legislature. The California State Supreme Court later decided to let the winning ruling stand, but ordered the Appeal Court's opinion de-published (and thus no longer useful as precedent in other cases).
Copyright © 2007 Bullying Bosses: A Survivor’s Guide