Archive for the ‘Workplace Bullying Laws’ Category


NH workplace bullying bill vetoed by governor

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Gov. Hassan Vetoes Workplace Bullying Bill
By Holly Ramer, Associated Press, July 28, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill Monday aimed at protecting New Hampshire state employees from abusive work environments, saying it was well-intentioned but unworkable.

Lawmakers passed the measure after hearing from current and former state workers who said they experienced workplace bullying. It would have required state departments and agencies to develop policies to address harassment.

But Hassan said the legislation’s definition of “abusive conduct” was overly broad and would have made the most routine interactions potential causes of action. For example, workers could claim abuse if they believed they had “unreasonable” workloads, felt co-workers weren’t answering emails in a timely manner or had received constructive criticism from supervisors or peers, she said.

“The bill also attempts to legislate politeness, manners and the interpersonal relationships of co-workers,” Hassan said.

The governor said state employees deserve respect and the opportunity to work in respectful environments, but she argued the legislation would lead to a dramatic increase in lawsuits, which would in turn hinder productivity.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diane Schuett, said she hopes lawmakers will override the veto.

“We all know there’s bullying in school, and just because someone graduates from school, doesn’t mean they stop doing it, and it carries over into the workplace,” she said. “It undermines the efficiency within state government if you end up with one or two employees being harassed on the job, either by another employee or a supervisor, and you end up with the entire agency being aware of it and feeling like they have to pick sides.”

Schuett, D-Pembroke, and other supporters said the state has no written policy against abuse in the workplace nor any office procedure to follow to address such issues. But Hassan said existing state rules give employees an avenue for making complaints.

Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees’ Association, disagreed. She said in the two years since the bill was first introduced, the governor has done little more than have the state personnel division develop an online “Respect in the Workplace” training presentation.

“It just feels like more stalling,” she said. “The governor has the power to issue an executive order to take this more seriously … If the governor wasn’t going to support the legislation, the governor’s office should’ve pitched an executive order and has not done so. So we’re very upset.”

As for the concern about litigation, Lacey said state employees already have been using the courts to seek relief.

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The WBI response to the veto.

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NY State Senator candidate Everly Brown to walk against workplace bullying, for the HWB

Monday, July 28th, 2014

A candidate for NY State Senate District 10, Everly Brown, is a man committed to ending Workplace Bullying. This is a national first. Brown, a Rosedale Queens resident, is gathering signatures to demand that current State Senate leaders to pass the WBI anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (S3863/A4965) NOW !!! Brown will hand deliver the petitions by walking from Sen. Skelos’ (Republican Senate leader) office on Long Island to Sen. Klein’s (Democratic Senate leader) office in the Bronx — 40 miles on August 11.

Visit his website to support Everly Brown’s campaign.

On the left is the New York Times ad run by Everly Brown on July 28, 2014.

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Stupid state lawmakers deliberately distort science

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

“Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself.”
Mark Twain

I’m starting to sound like my father and can’t believe I question nearly every day “what is this world coming to?” Near the top of my “it’s all going to hell” list is America’s turning its back on science — unabashedly, proudly, defiantly — through legislation.

In the UK, the BBC has banned from their airwaves crackpot guests preaching that climate change is not real. The change is to bolster scientific integrity. Staff will receive training in science and scientific conferences will be attended by staff to stay abreast of developments.

Deniers get equivalence here in the US. One denier with one believer (proxy by Bill Nye, the “Science Guy”). Viewers ignorant of the facts could conclude that climate change is not really something to be concerned about. The fallacy of this false equivalence was never more clear than this demonstration by comedian John Oliver on his HBO show This Week Tonight.

And recently the British government extended its public school ban on teaching pseudoscience, creationism, to cover “academies” and “free schools,” the equivalent of charter schools in the States. The government recognizes the religious bases of the founders of such schools. Thus creationism promotes religion and has no business in the teaching of science.

America is headed in the other direction, driving headfirst into ignorance. Creationists and advocates for “intelligent design” in the US seem to be gaining clout. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) 2014 legislative scorecard identified states that are attempting to make their children science illiterates.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), The New America, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



SCOTUS confirms that owners’ rights trump workers

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

WBI friend Lewis Maltby wrote convincingly in his book, Can They Do That?, that American workers have very few rights. Without a union bargained contract, all rights are owned by management unless state or federal laws provide specific protections. Among the industrialized nations (members of the OECD), US workers have the fewest rights.

Robert Fuller, another WBI friend, speaks and writes eloquently about somebodies and nobodys, the hierarchy in our lives. For him, the issue is rankism. It makes good sense in our nation of ever-expanding income inequality.

From the work of stress guru, Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University professor and researcher, we learn that simply organizing social groups in hiearchical ways with rank playing a role in how all resources are unevenly divided is stressful. Those dominated by others are doomed to lives of ongoing stress. Social subordination generates distress, that in turn, triggers major life-threatening diseases through disruption of the adrenocortical, cardiovascular, reproductive, immunological, and neurobiological systems (Sapolsky, 2005).

Workers bullied by higher ranking bosses (56% of all targets) will find it nearly impossible to avoid contact. That toxic contact is the exposure to stress that causes health harm.

I say all this to put into context the June 30, 2014 decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). By majority votes of the conservative-dominated court, the rights of company owners were expanded. The (chief justice) Roberts Court has never ruled against corporate interests.

The two cases decided upon were Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of HHS v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (13-354) and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation v. Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of HHS (13-356) — jointly dubbed the Hobby Lobby decision.

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Healthy Workplace Bill legislation: A 2014 perspective on distorted amendments

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The Healthy Workplace Campaign is WBI’s effort to enact anti-bullying legislation for the American workplace state by state. The model bill is called the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB).


Features of the HWB

• Suffolk University Law Professor David C. Yamada, text author, used federal Title VII Civil Rights laws as basis

• Defines severe abusive conduct — does not use term workplace bullying

• Provides legal redress for anyone subjected to abusive conduct, whether or not the person is a member of a protected status group

• Requires that abusive conduct result in either demonstrable health or economic harm to plaintiff

• Plaintiffs who file lawsuits make public formerly hidden, confidential employer processes that hide and deny bullying

• Prohibits retaliation against any participant in procedures involved in dealing with the abusive conduct complaint

• Requires plaintiffs to hire private attorneys, no fiscal impact on state government

• Provides incentives (affirmative defenses) for employers who implement genuine corrective procedures

• Preserves managerial prerogative to discipline and terminate employees

• Does not interfere with state workers’ compensation laws or union CBAs

We named the HWB in 2002. All other uses of the name HWB are unauthorized by us. California first introduced the HWB in 2003. It has been carried in over half of states and two territories since. The Workplace Bullying Institute trains and provides support to a national network of volunteer Sate Coordinators who lobby their respective state legislators to sponsor the HWB. You can track its status at the HWB website.

Botched Amendments & Unanticipated Consequences

As authors of the HWB, we naturally want the full and original version of the bill enacted into law. And we realize compromises will be made during the process. It is “sausage making,” after all. We just wish all bill sponsors would refuse to allow major revisions that change the spirit of the bill from protecting abused workers to something else. Since the HWB was first introduced, different amendments have been proposed or made.

Often the well-intended sponsor, a pro-worker advocate, agrees to compromise adopting the belief that the law can be built in steps. Let’s get this version passed now and it will be revisited in the coming years and supplemented with the other desired provisions.

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Tutorials About Bullying, Unions, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Workplace Bullying: Support for U.S. Laws

Monday, July 14th, 2014


SUPPORT FOR A LAW in 2014

Question: Do you support or oppose enactment of a new law that would protect all workers from repeated abusive mistreatment in addition to protections against illegal discrimination and harassment?

The respondents who answered this question were individuals who were directly bullied, those who had witnessed it, the few who were perpetrators, and those with no personal experience but who believed it happened and those who believed it was exaggerated. Those groups taken together constituted the American public who were “aware” of abusive conduct at work, the 72% (See National Prevalence).

It is clear that those respondents, the American public aware of abusive conduct, want to see worker protections extended beyond the anti-discrimination statutes – 93% support specific anti-bullying legislation.

Furthermore, 50% of Survey respondents self-defined as Conservatives strongly support the Healthy Workplace Bill. With such little opposition from
those expected to oppose the bill, it is a certain conclusion that now is the time for passage of this new law.


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HR Exec: Taking Aim at Workplace Bullies

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

By David Shadovitz | Human Resource Executive, July 10, 2014

Anti-bullying legislation continues to gain momentum in state legislatures, with Tennessee becoming the first state to pass anti-bullying legislation.

On June 17, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law the Healthy Workplace Act, a law that affects the practices of state and local government agencies. Private employers are not affected.

The law defines “harassment, intimidation or bullying” as any act that “substantially interferes with a person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment,” and instructs the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernment Relations to create a model policy by next March. Employers have the option to adopt the TACIR policy or not. Those deciding to enact it would be immune from claims arriving from bullying behavior.

Proponents of anti-bullying legislation and experts believe other states could soon follow in the Volunteer State’s footsteps, with some pointing to New York and Massachusetts as the most likely to pass anti-bullying laws that would also include private-sector employers.

So far, 28 states have introduced anti-bullying legislation this year, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash.

In June, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla vetoed legislation that would have held both public- and private-sector employers in that territory accountable for workplace bullying. In doing so, Padilla pointed to the Department of Justice’s view that the definition of “workplace harassment” is too vague and the fact that victims of workplace bullying can still seek protection under the territory’s Constitution.

Gary Namie, national director of the Workplace Bullying Institute and a chief architect of the Healthy Workplace Act, says his reaction to the Tennessee law is generally positive. Any legislation that focuses on abusive conduct in the workplace breaks the silence, he says. “You’re going to have all of the institutions talking about it now.”

But while he considers the Tennessee law a good first step, Namie adds that he’s disappointed by the legislation’s limited scope and authority, describing it as a “gutted” version of the Healthy Workplaces Act.

Namie notes that it’s also unfortunate that under the act “all of the processes still happen in-house under a shroud of secrecy . . . . “Everything remains internal.”

Recent studies confirm that bullying continues to be a widespread and troubling issue in workplaces.

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U.S. Supreme Court strikes another body blow to public sector unions

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Unions have certainly become punching bags recently for anti-union zealots — Republican Governors, mainstream media, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) and their long-standing arch enemy, the National Right to Work foundation. The right to work meaning without union protections so you can work for minimum wages and absolutely no say in how your work is organized and assigned. Incredibly, 24 states have adopted “right-to-work” legislation that undermines unionism. The NRTWF is the organization that sues unions on behalf of workers fed up with their unions.

So arose the court case Harris v. Quinn (the State of Illinois). The SEIU has been organizing low-paid workers in the home health industry for years. Those workers are typically women of color. They serve disabled individuals in their home — hard work by compassionate underpaid people. When they unionize, wages rise a bit.

Unions, like corporations, engage in political activity. Unions contribute to politicians’ election campaigns at a fraction of the amount corporations do, given that the latter have all the cash. Two SCOTUS decisions — Citizens United decision and one this session — made limits of corporate giving disappear. Anti-union groups like the NRTWF exaggerate the amount of union dues spent on political activity and have successfully separated union funds set aside for that activity from funds to run the business of the union — being advocates for their members. Some states require non-members to pay a “fair share fee” to the union in order to take advantage of workers’ benefits negotiated in collective bargaining agreements between unions and government employers. In other states, anti-union legislation has allowed public sector employees to benefit without having to join or to pay the union. Unions call this “free riding.” Alito thinks the phenomenon is “something of an anomaly.”

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Wall Street Journal: First State Workplace Bullying Law Has Few Fans

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By Adam Rubenfire – The Wall Street Journal – June 20, 2014

Last month, after a decade of stalled progress in 26 states, advocates of workplace bullying legislation scored their first victory. But they’re not entirely pleased.

Tennessee approved the Healthy Workplace Act on May 22, a law designed to curb verbal abuse at work by making public-sector employers immune to bullying-related lawsuits if they adopt a policy that complies with the law.

Though federal laws outlaw workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and other protected statuses, advocates like Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, are lobbying for laws that recognize the verbal abuse of coworkers regardless of whether they fall under a protected class.

Dr. Namie, a social psychologist, said the Tennessee law doesn’t go far enough. The bill his staff drafted for the legislature would have allowed both public and private employers to be held liable in civil lawsuits regarding incidents of alleged workplace bullying if they failed to enforce policies that recognize and protect workers who claim physical or mental harm as a result of bullying.

However, the signed law applies only to public-sector employers, and administrators aren’t required to follow guidelines that the law ordered a state commission to draft by March 2015. Instead, they’re incentivized to do so in exchange for immunity from potential lawsuits.

Under the new law, individual employees may still be held personally liable for abusive conduct.

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Fuzzy Math: The guesstimate that struck down California’s teacher tenure laws.

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

This article UPDATES A California Judge guts teachers union.

By Jordan Weissmann – Slate – June 12, 2014

This week Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu handed the education reform movement a stunning legal victory, when he struck down California’s teacher tenure laws for discriminating against poor and minority students. The statutes made it so onerous to fire bad teachers, he wrote, that they all but guaranteed needy kids would be stuck in classrooms with incompetent instructors—rendering the laws unconstitutional.

As evidence, Treu cited a statistic that sounded damning: According to a state witness, between 1 and 3 percent of California’s teachers could be considered “grossly ineffective.” Here was the passage:

“There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms. Dr. Berliner, an expert called by State Defendants, testified that 1 to 3% of teachers in California are grossly ineffective. Given that that the evidence showed roughly 275,000 active teachers in this state, the extrapolated number of grossly ineffective teachers ranges from 2,750 to 8,250. Considering the effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students … it therefore cannot be gainsaid that the number of grossly ineffective teachers has a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact on a significant number of California students, now and well into the future for as long as said teachers hold their positions.”

This seemed like a fairly important piece of the decision — if you’re going to argue in court that a state law is dooming children to second-rate educations, you ought to be able to quantify the problem. Politically, it also seemed liked a pretty awful indictment of the state government if officials knew for certain that so many useless teachers were lounging around California’s classrooms. But where did this number come from?

Nowhere, it turns out. It’s made up. Or a “guesstimate,” as David Berliner, the expert witness Treu quoted, explained to me when I called him on Wednesday. It’s not based on any specific data, or any rigorous research about California schools in particular. “I pulled that out of the air,” says Berliner, an emeritus professor of education at Arizona State University. “There’s no data on that. That’s just a ballpark estimate, based on my visiting lots and lots of classrooms.” He also never used the words “grossly ineffective.”

The expert cited in the ruling doesn’t even necessarily believe that low test scores qualify somebody as a bad teacher.

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