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WBI BLOG

Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies



April 10th, 2015

May 14 Springfield, Illinois event with Gary Namie

The Human Services Education Council hosts a day with Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Director
May 14, 2015
Dove Conference Center
Springfield, Illinois

Workplace Bullying & Abusive Conduct: The Preventable Health Hazard

For health professionals, CEUs available


Event Brochure & Registration Form

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Posted in Events & Appearances | 2 Comments



April 7th, 2015

Join WBI on Sirius 126, 7 pm EDT

Gary Namie joins Tuesday host Renee Garfinkel, PhD on the Armstrong Williams Show
Sirius XM Channel 126
7 pm EDT

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Posted in WBI in the News | Post Comment



April 2nd, 2015

About your religious “liberty”

How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions
By Rev. Emily C. Heath, Clergy, United Church of Christ, as appeared in the Huffington Post
Just pick “A” or “B” for each question.

1. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

3. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

4. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

5. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

6. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.

7. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

8. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

9. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

10. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

Scoring key:

If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you can fight for your equality — not your superiority.

If you answered “B” to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.

In closing, no matter what soundbites you hear this election year, remember this: Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority. The only way to ensure your own religious liberty remains strong is by advocating for the religious liberty of all, including those with whom you may passionately disagree. Because they deserve the same rights as you. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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April 2nd, 2015

Firing of coworker who drove correctional officer to suicide upheld

WBI: Justice is about to be meted out in Madison Wisconsin three years after Philip Otto took his own life though he was close to retirement from the WI Department of Corrections. Otto had transferred from one facility to another. The climate at Oakhill represented by the actions of several coworkers and led by one supervisor was extremely toxic and unwelcoming. After his death, investigations were conducted leading to terminations of key coworkers. The supervisor was allowed to retire. One captain was reinstated. Other workers filed an appeal with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission asking for reinstatement. The hearing examiner Stuart Levitan heard testimony during 16 days in 2013. I reviewed the record and testified on behalf of the State concluding that the fired employees (Rachel Koester, Matthew Seiler and Justyn Witscheber) had demeaned, harassed, bullied and disgraced their peer, Mr. Otto, who had transferred recently to their facility — new to the place, but a veteran corrections officer. Progress in the case reported below is that the hearing examiner ruled Rachel Koester was justly terminated, according to a pending decision released on March 4. … Gary Namie

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Examiner: Firing of Oakhill Guard Following Suicide Was Proper
By Dee J. Hall, Wisconsin State Journal, March 31, 2015

A hearing examiner has determined that the state Department of Corrections properly fired a guard who allegedly shunned and belittled a fellow officer who later committed suicide.

Philip Otto, 52, killed himself in March 2012 after what his wife, daughter and co-workers described as a pattern of bullying by fellow employees at Oakhill Correctional Institution.

The 20-year DOC veteran’s death came just months before he planned to retire with full benefits, his wife, Peggy Otto, told the State Journal in 2012.

In the proposed decision dated March 4, Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission examiner Stuart Levitan found the firing of correctional officer Rachel Koester was justified. He cited an internal investigation launched after Otto’s death in which dozens of Oakhill staffers were interviewed.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Rulings by Courts, Target Tale, WBI Education | 1 Comment



April 1st, 2015

Utah mandates Abusive Conduct training for state workplaces!

Utah HB 216, sponsored by Rep. Keven Stratton, sailed through the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert. The training mandate law drew its definition of abusive conduct from the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill:

“Abusive conduct means verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of an employee to another employee that, based on its severity, nature, and frequency of occurrence, a reasonable person would determine is intended to cause intimidation, humiliation, or unwarranted distress or results in substantial physical or psychological harm as a result of intimidation, humiliation, or unwarranted distress; or exploits an employee’s known physical or psychological disability.”

The law requires state agencies to train supervisors and employees about how to prevent abusive conduct. Biannual training must include the definition of abusive conduct, its ramifications, resources available and the employer’s grievance process. In addition, professional development training will also cover ethical conduct and leadership practices based on principles of integrity. The law takes effect July 1, 2015.

Trace the bill’s route through the legislative process. WBI thanks the sponsoring Representative, Sen. Ted Weiler who ushered the bill through the Senate, the Governor, and State Coordinator Denise Halverson and citizen lobbyists who participated in committee hearings.

Utah is the second state to pass a training-only law to begin to address abusive conduct in the workplace. Utah’s bill is superior to Calfornia’s training-only bill of 2014.

Here’s the current legislative HWB map as of 4/1/15

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



April 1st, 2015

Don’t Tread on Educators (DTOE): Bullied teachers naming names

Dispatch from WBI colleague Francesco A. Portelos, New York City teacher

Sometimes workplace bullying affects only the victim. Sometimes it propagates to surrounding colleagues, morale and family members. In all cases though, the work is negatively affected. As you can imagine, when workplace bullying hits schools, the students are hurt as well.

Recently, a group of bullied New York City educators, known as Don’t Tread on Educators (DTOE), got together and created a list of administrators that have been known to bully and harass their employees. The Administrators in Need of Improvement (ANOI) list has grown in recent months and is now at about 85 administrators throughout New York’s five boroughs. It even has an interactive map to locate these bullies by geographic area. The list has given teachers a platform to share their stories and concerns about workplace harassment. The curtain has been pulled back and the harassment exposed.

Many of these stories are similar and show a pattern of harassment that exist in the NYC Department of Education. The ANOI list gives teachers who are being bullied the power to hit administrators where it hurts. ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Visit the DTOE website.

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Hear Francesco’s personal story

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Posted in Guest Articles, Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Target Tale, WBI Education | 6 Comments



March 31st, 2015

Comstock’s: Calif mag scrutinizes new workplace bullying law

This Time, It’s Personal
Will legislation to protect employees from workplace bullying stifle demanding managers?

By Steven Yoder, Comstock’s, March 31, 2015

Carrie Clark, 63, says bullies aren’t confined to playgrounds. Sometimes, they run the whole school. 

In 1995, Clark directed an English as a Second Language program in West Sacramento’s Washington Unified School District. An influx of foreign students was forcing her staff to work ever-longer hours. She wrote several reports to the district superintendent documenting the extra load and asking for more help. She got no response, she says. So her teachers union representative suggested she put together a petition signed by program staff.

That got a reaction, but not the one she wanted. The superintendent took Clark off of the school’s committee of department chairs and canceled and consolidated classes. Clark says he called her house and left an odd, garbled message, and one day after a meeting, he followed her into an empty hallway. Towering over her, his face a foot from hers, he screamed that he wanted “no more petitions!”

Scared, Clark quit a few weeks later. She developed tremors in her right side, which she still has, started having heart palpitations and couldn’t sleep. Today, when she talks about what happened, her speech slows to a crawl and her voice quavers like a warped record. A Sacramento occupational medicine specialist diagnosed her with a post-traumatic stress disorder related to her job. After a 20-year teaching career, she’d never set foot in a classroom again. In 2002, she won a $150,000 workers’ compensation claim against the district.

There’s evidence that the superintendent targeted others who crossed him. He took a job in a district near Yuba City, and in January 1999 the teachers association president there told The Valley Mirror that the superintendent verbally threatened her and that she’d asked a court for a restraining order. She also told a reporter that she was having panic attacks for the first time in her life. (The superintendent, now retired, keeps an unlisted phone number and didn’t respond to a certified letter sent to his address requesting an interview.)

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Target Tale, WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws | Post Comment



March 23rd, 2015

Minnesota is 8th state in 2015 to introduce Healthy Workplace Bill

Sen. Ron Latz a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party introduced SF 1932. Its first reading was today, March 23. SF 1932 is the complete version of the WBI anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill.

Minnesota tried the HWB back in 2011, but the bill went nowhere.

This 2015 bill was referred to the Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

In 2015, Minnesota becomes the fourth state to introduce the full bill, joining Massachusetts, New York, and Texas. Four other states amended the full bill and introduce some variation.

WBI thanks Sen. Ron Latz. Visit the MN State Page of the HWB website for details. And WBI recognizes the efforts of our volunteer State Coordinators — Jill Jensen, Debbie York & Scot Adams — who successfully lobbied for its introduction. Next step … a public Committee hearing. Stay tuned.

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



March 19th, 2015

Times-Argus: Make workplaces safe from bullies

By Sherill Gilbert, Times-Argus, March 3, 2015

Since 2007, the healthy workplace bill has remained on the committee’s wall. Each new biennium this bill has been re-introduced. In January, Sen. Anthony Pollina has once again sponsored the bill. In the midst of budget issues, the talk of cutting jobs and programs only furthers the need to pass this bill. The bill would not require the state to fund this bill. It will increase productivity; it will mean employees would thrive in a safe and healthy environment; it will mean fewer sick calls and a decrease in errors. Perhaps even more important would be improvements to the morale and loyalty of staff.

For the state this would translate into more tax revenues to help lessen Vermont’s money woes. I am sure many of you are asking how this could be.

Bullying has been estimated to cost the United States $300 billion that is passed on to goods and services, including health care. Bullies are extremely costly as well as a threat to the targets, families, community and health of the economy.

Continue reading this article… »

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Comment



March 14th, 2015

Utah poised to pass law educating state employees about workplace abusive conduct

On March 12, the Utah Senate unanimously passed HB 216 on a vote 24 ayes -0 nays -5 not voting. The bill, introduced by House Rep. Keven Stratton and sponsored in the Senate by Todd Weiler, sailed through both House and Senate committees and floor votes in both chambers. The bill becomes law with Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature.

Though the HB 216 is not the complete Healthy Workplace Bill that carries employer liability for fostering an abusive work environment, it is stronger than two previous state laws — CA and TN — that mildly approached the epidemic of workplace bullying, abusive conduct as defined by the Workplace Bullying Institute.

Features of the Utah bill, soon to become law, are that it:
• applies to state agencies only
• mandates training of employees AND supervisors
• states that training will include description and “ramifications” of abusive conduct
• training to include resources available to abused workers
• and training to cover the internal grievance process details (WBI: to hold abuser accountable)
• also training in Ethical Conduct
• also training in Organizational Leadership with Integrity
• training every other year
• State may allocate funds to develop policies for agencies
• State may support development of agency training

Visit the Utah State Page at the HWB website for details. State Coordinator Dr. Denise Halverson deserves credit for shepherding this bill through the legislative process while providing her expertise on the topic so lawmakers could confidently and unanimously pass this HWB-related bill.

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



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