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WBI BLOG

Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies



April 4th, 2017

Mean anti-employee federal legislation

A report from the Economic Policy Institute sheds light on a new piece of Republican legislation sure to pass the R-dominated U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is H.R. 1180, sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL).

It is titled the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017.

Ross Eisenbrey and Celine McNicholas, authors of the EPI report, describe the bill as a false choice (the ostensible flexibility for workers) between getting paid overtime or working extra hours in exchange for comp time to be taken in the future. On the surface, it appears the choice belongs to the worker. Through Republican eyes, that is “freedom” for the lowly worker.

When we consider the source of the bill, and read the text, the only flexibility is given to employers. If the bill becomes law, it will work as follows. The employer wants extra hours on a given day from the worker. She or he is asked if future comp time is desired in exchange for the extra labor now. Employee wants the comp time (paid at the regular salary, not overtime rate) in a month to spend more of the kids’ school break week with family. See how nicely the title of the bill fits?

But this is not paradise, nor how it will go down. When the employee requests the earned comp time for a very important personal reason, the employer can easily deny the request. The bill’s provision allowing this is wide and ripe for exploitation by abusive or controlling bosses. All the employer’s representative need claim is that granting comp time when the employee wants it “unduly disrupts the operations of the employer.”

That will more likely be the reality.

This proposal is another stab in the back for American workers by the Republicans who shamelessly promote and pass legislation to coddle employers as if it is they who have their freedom restricted by onerous laws and regulations.

There is current federal law protecting the right to overtime pay, especially for hourly workers. However, salaried workers who earn $455 per week or more may be exempt from guaranteed overtime if their job duties fall into one of three categories: professional, administrative, or executive. That threshold is incredibly low. It was originally set in the 1970’s. The threshold was raised by the Obama Department of Labor to $913 per week, but denied implementation by the courts.

Don’t fall for the “flexibility” and “freedom” sloganeering in such bills. HR 1180 will trap workers into accepting less money for their extra time given to employers. Oppose this bill. Tell your Congressional Representative.

Read the EPI Report here.

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Posted in Related bills/laws, Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment



April 4th, 2017

WBI offers webinar for legal professionals through Clear Law Institute

WEBINAR for employers and legal professionals.

Eradicating Workplace Bullying
by Gary Namie, WBI Director
April 19th, 2017 1:00 PM to 2:15 PM ET
Hosted by the Clear Law Institute
Register online

This program has been approved for 1.25 (General) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR, and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

Clear Law Institute is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1.25 PDCs.

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Posted in Advice for Employers, WBI Education, Webinars | Post Comment



April 3rd, 2017

Mass. S 1013 Healthy Workplace Bill committee hearing Tuesday

ALERT: The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development meets Hearing Room A2 at the State Capitol on Tuesday April 4 at 1 pm. Public hearing for S 1013.

Massachusetts has been one of the more active states in recent years with the re-introduction of the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill. The volunteer citizen lobbying group, Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates, in concert with the public employees union, NAGE, have been the drivers of the years-long campaign.

The title of bill S 1013 is “An Act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, without regard to protected class status.” It makes abusive conduct legally actionable. Employers are vicariously liable if they fail to prevent or correct it.

The immediate goal after a bill is introduced is to have the committee chairs agree to schedule a public hearing in the committee to which the bill was referred. Now, early in the legislative session, the hearing for S 1013 is set. With a positive vote from the committee, advocates can work with the bill sponsors to get the senior leaders in each chamber to call for a floor vote for the bill. This has been the snag in years past.

WBI will call on its supporters to help compel key Mass politicians to agree to that floor vote.

For now, we want everyone to thank the prime sponsor, Sen. Jennifer L. Flanagan
Her email: Jennifer.Flanagan@masenate.gov
Her office phone: 617-722-1230

Here is the list of all sponsors:

Diana DiZoglio, Frank I. Smizik, John W. Scibak, Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr., RoseLee Vincent, Thomas M. McGee, Louis L. Kafka, Barbara A. L’Italien, Lori A. Ehrlich, Daniel M. Donahue, Michael D. Brady, James J. O’Day, Aaron Vega, Kenneth J. Donnelly, Denise Provost, Jonathan Hecht, Bruce J. Ayers, Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Brian M. Ashe, Chris Walsh, Ruth B. Balser, Danielle W. Gregoire, Steven Ultrino, Tackey Chan, Donald F. Humason, Jr., Brendan P. Crighton, John J. Mahoney, Dylan Fernandes, Solomon Goldstein-Rose, William N. Brownsberger, Russell E. Holmes, Jonathan D. Zlotnik, Kevin G. Honan, Joan B. Lovely, James B. Eldridge, Claire D. Cronin, David T. Vieira, Michael O. Moore, John C. Velis, Kevin J. Kuros, Alice Hanlon Peisch, James Arciero, Byron Rushing, Paul McMurtry, Paul Brodeur, Sal N. DiDomenico, Christine P. Barber

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment



April 1st, 2017

Bullies are too expensive to keep

We at WBI have labored to convince employers that if they view bullying through their “loss prevention” perspective, the only rational action is to purge the one or two destructive individuals who have tormented many more others over the years. It is the rational choice because it stops the losses and prevents future ones.

Still, American employers who face no legal workplace bullying standard are safe to ignore it, when and if they wish. Ignoring and treating it with indifference or flat-out denial that bullying happens on their watch are the typical responses. They do so out of loyalty to the abuser. Simultaneously this sends the message that everyone else is expendable, dispensable and worthless.

We list the following tangible bully-related costs: undesirable turnover, absenteeism, increased utilization of healthcare-workers comp-diability insurance, and litigation-related expenses. This is not simply theoretical.

The New York Times reports that Fox News has paid out over $13 million in case settlements to five women who claimed that network host Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed them. Some of the women worked for him; others were guests on his show.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Tutorials About Bullying | Post Comment



March 30th, 2017

WC Board agrees with widow that bullying at work caused husband’s fatal heart attack

P.E.I. Widow Awarded Benefits After Husband’s Death Linked to Workplace Bullying
By Sally Pitt, CBC News, March 30, 2017

A Prince Edward Island widow has been awarded benefits after her husband’s death was linked to workplace bullying and harassment.

“I said that from the get-go,” said Lisa Donovan. “I believe that Eric’s workplace bullying and harassment was the reason that my husband had his heart attack.”

Donovan got the ruling from the Workers Compensation Board of P.E.I (WCB) in December 2016, after three years of complex legal proceedings to decide whether the WCB or the P.E.I. Supreme Court should hear her claim, and then whether the bullying that was alleged could be considered a workplace accident.

Donovan’s lawyer Jim Macnutt said, despite an extensive search, this was the first case in Canada he could find of any death being linked to workplace bullying or harassment.

‘Twisted journey’

“It took me on this twisted journey that took me three years to navigate, and it was difficult and it was expensive and it was heart-wrenching, and frustrating,” said Donovan. “It was an uphill battle all the way.”

The benefits awarded by the Workers Compensation Board to Lisa Donovan have not been made public.

They include funeral costs, a lump sum for death benefits and monthly payments to cover survivor benefits, based on a percentage of his pensionable salary.

Without this decision, Donovan would have been eligible only for a percentage of his workplace pension.

Surrounded by memories of her late husband and the life they shared together with their two children in her Hazelbrook, P.E.I., home, Donovan reflected on her loss, and the journey she’s been on since he died.

“I thought I would be more, I don’t know, relieved, proving it,” she said. “It still doesn’t bring Eric back, it doesn’t change what happened, but it does give me some sort of closure I guess, some acknowledgement that this experience has happened to us.”

Eric Donovan was 47 when he died after a cardiac arrest. He’d spent 17 years with Queens County Residential Services (QCRS), a not-for-profit organization that runs nine group homes and a number of programs in Charlottetown for about 130 intellectually challenged adults.

According to his widow, he loved his job and had “a special way” with clients, helping them feel more comfortable and more involved in the community.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Bullying & Health, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Target Tale, WBI Education | Post Comment



March 30th, 2017

New WBI online poll

For anyone currently employed: How, if at all, did the 2 years prior to the 2016 election and its aftermath affect your workplace?

View Results

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Posted in WBI Surveys & Studies | Post Comment



March 29th, 2017

UK Guardian newspaper seeks your workplace bullying story

A journalistic trend in recent decades has been the reliance by American progressives on international press outlets to tell the truth about our own country. One such source has been the UK-based international paper, The Guardian. They have a US edition with US based reporters and columnists. But if readers want to see how the US actions are perceived around the world, best to read the world edition. Official government pronouncements have always been designed to portray the US in the most positive angle. However, under Trump, facts are only one optional account of decisions made and actions taken. The Guardian is more important to Americans than ever.

The Guardian’s focus this week on Workplace Bullying for an entire week illustrates the paper’s boldness. Workplace Bullying, in fact, is a British term coined by the late pioneer Andrea Adams. The national prevalence is 31% (the US prevalence is 27%).

The paper is soliciting stories of workplace bullying from April 3 to April 6. Begin the submittal process with their encrypted online form.

While on-site, consider subscribing to help support the caliber of journalism rarely seen in the US.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | Post Comment



March 22nd, 2017

Boss abhors “snowflakes” – won’t hire ’em

A brash owner of a small marketing firm in Manchester, Connecticut is making news by describing his hiring interview strategy. Unapologetic about being comfortable leveling applicants with personal questions not related to performance — thus demonstrating his loathing of “political correctness” — he gives what he calls the “snowflake test.”

“A snowflake is somebody who is going to whine and complain and come to the table with nothing but an entitled attitude and an inability to back their perspective,” Kyle Reyes, owner of Silent Parner Marketing, told the Fox Business Network. “Snowflake is a mentality.”

“Snowflakes” don’t get hired. The company says this on its About Us page: “Political correctness be damned. We are who we are and have what we have because of a greater good. We might call that greater good by different names…but faith is an integral part of who we are.”

Using Reyes’ reasoning, victims of sexual harassment and bullying, who complain, would be “snowflakes.” In other words, he won’t hire anyone who if abused or harassed would complain.

Gee, with a boss like him, wondering what are the odds that something wrong, unlawful or unethical will happen????

There are surely alternative marketing companies in New England to work for. Good luck.

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Posted in Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Media About Bullying, The New America | Post Comment



March 20th, 2017

Another characterization of lying. Can we be frank?

A 2005 book from Princeton philosophy professor emeritus Harry Frankfurt

The pdf version.

Fareed Zakaria’s books and CNN Sunday Show, GPS.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, The New America | Post Comment



March 17th, 2017

Irish Prime Minister Tutors Trump on Immigrants

“It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He, too, was an immigrant. And though he is of courst the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also a symbol of — indeed, the patron of — immigrants. Thirty-five million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years. Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed. And four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore. We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and we became Americans.”

Enda Kenny
Prime Minister Ireland
St. Patrick’s Day, 2017

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, The New America | Post Comment



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