Although I've never been involved in a situation like you describe, I've witnessed similar, and it was just plain sad for all involved. I've since moved to a new company, with a vastly different culture. I believe company / team culture is the core of this problem, and it is the solution.That said, changing a bad culture (ones that tolerate situation like you found yourself in) is an epic task, not impossible, just epic.
As for the original question, if they have got this kind of culture in the office, it needs to change faaast. Maybe they will make it into the 21st century?