The July 26 Style article “A place they left in the past” was valuable but missed one point. Speaking about Mary Smith working at home, the article said that “she could disappear from the screen if a colleague said something insulting.” Consequently, she did not want to return to working in person and she quit.

Insulting, degrading or humiliating speech is psychological harassment or intimidation. Many workplace violence programs, e.g., that of the Labor Department, include psychological harassment or intimidation in the definition of workplace violence. (I know because I helped Labor clarify the policy in 2011.)

If Ms. Smith was insulted on screen by any co-worker in the presence of others, the incident would be public humiliation, which is a traumatic assault on the victim. Any decent employer would have responded promptly. And I have not even touched on harassment related to people in protected classes under Equal Employment Opportunity law. This excellent article indicated that many more employers need policies against physical and psychological violence — and they have to carry out those policies.  

Edward Stern, Bethesda

The writer is a researcher, writer and adviser on workplace bullying.