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Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies

August 11th, 2015

Anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill nears vote in Massachusetts

As reported by Massachusetts State Coordinator David Yamada on his blog …

After being reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill has been moved to a procedural stage called “Third Reading,” which means it is now eligible for a full vote by the House of Representatives. As reported by Deb Falzoi on the Facebook page of the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates:

BREAKING NEWS: The Healthy Workplace Bill, HB 1771, has been ordered to a Third Reading in the House. This step is the furthest point the bill has gone in Massachusetts in previous sessions, but this session we’ve reached it much earlier in the session. Progress!

Without a doubt this is good news and increases the likelihood for a favorable result during the 2015-16 Massachusetts legislative session.

Continue reading this article… »


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Posted in Good News | Post Comment

August 3rd, 2015

Bullies at Weatherford College find support in Truth-averse 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Workplace bullying is endemic in healthcare and education, including higher education, for reasons discussed elsewhere at the WBI website.

Now comes a story of an inept community college administration, at Weatherford College, unwilling to even consider complaints from a long-time faculty member. Professor Karen Lopez Austen about the abusive conduct she faced in the Athletics Department.

The WBI 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey revealed that most employers deny complaints or justify them. In Austen’s case, they never considered the evidence she had assembled for the Board. An outsider can easily infer that the Administration, led by Kevin Eaton, had decided to not renew Dr. Austen’s contract, despite the legitimacy of her complaint.

So, as was her right, Dr. Austen filed a civil suit claiming sex and ethnicity discrimination along with retaliation for daring to hold the college accountable to operate lawfully and according to internal policies. She probably, like most bullied targets, especially highly educated individuals, expected to find justice in court. We constantly warn targets that justice is rarely found and almost never in court.

Remember, the college administrators refused to hear her complaint. The trial court judge did not allow Dr. Austen her day in court. Judges possess ultimate authority to grant access to their courts.

Judges have two avenues to end cases before they start — dismissal or summary judgement. Targets are typically plaintiffs who sue their employers, the defense. The defense files the motion to dismiss. Dismissal is based on technical details of the case that have not been addressed ensuring that the law cannot relieve the problem — e.g., “including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, insufficiency of process, insufficiency of service of process, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or failure to join a necessary party.”

When the defense files a motion for summary judgement, it is saying that if the parties don’t dispute the material facts of the case, then the judge can determine whether the defendant is liable based simply on the pre-trial evidence assembled, if any exists. In the case Austen v. Weatherford College, there was no such agreement. The civil case was all about the disputed facts. The college said nothing happened. Dr. Austen said otherwise. Guess what. The judge in Federal District Court agreed with the college and threw out the case based on summary judgement.

In most cases, financially strapped terminated and unemployed targets go no further. But Dr. Austen filed an appeal with the federal Fifth Circuit. It was no surprise that the Appellate Court upheld (agreed with) the pro-administration ruling of summary judgement. Remember, no entity had yet considered the evidence that plaintiff Austen had put together to prove her complaint of discrimination.

Austen’s attorney, Mark Robinett, at the Austin Texas firm of Brim, Arnett & Robinett. P.C., was shocked by the 5th Circuit Court’s ruling of a 3-judge panel (Judges Smith, DeMoss and Higginson). What he found appalling was that his client’s evidence did not matter. In a general letter to the public, attorney Robinett wrote:

… the Court of Appeals held that her evidence did not matter, that she had failed to present a “prima facie” case or “rebut the legitimate reasons for termination (sic nonrenewal) offered by the college. The court also holds, as if it has some basis for making a fact finding (which is a “no-no” for an appellate court) that “(t)he six serious, documented instances of misconduct from the semester after the settlement agreement were the primary reasons for termination (sic nonrenewal).

Robinett, quoting the appellate court’s ruling stated

What matters is not the truth of the underlying complaints and reports, however, but rather whether the college could legitimately have relied on them in deciding to terminate Austen. The college could do so.

In fact, the college president, Eaton, mis-characterized Dr. Austen’s complaint to the Board. The Board never heard Austen’s perspective.

The injustices Austen faced was compounded by the 5th Circuit with its pro-institutional bias that claimed evidence did not matter. Robinett concluded that the court was doing a trial jury’s job without the benefit of live testimony or assessing the credibility of the Weatherford College administrators.

Read Attorney Robinett’s letter countering the assertion that Dr. Austen was not renewed for just reasons. She never got to tell her side of the story to an impartial court.

Read the ruling by the three judges that back legal scholarship and justice by decades.

Justice in America?


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Posted in Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Related Phenomena, Rulings by Courts, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Comment

July 31st, 2015

Recruiting survey respondents for a study on workplace bullying & emotional intelligence

If you believe you have been bullied at work, you are invited to participate in a dissertation survey on Workplace Bullying approved by the WBI. The title of the dissertation is

“The Effect of Target Demographics and Emotional Intelligence on Workplace Bullying.

It takes about 20 minutes. There are two steps to the process:

Read the Consent Form
Take the survey (there are three surveys all combined into one)
Click here to start.

Please share this with anyone you feels has been bullied. Richard needs about 120 participants for the process.

Thank you.


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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences | Post Comment

July 28th, 2015

Gary Namie on KFI-AM, Los Angeles with Bill Carroll

On July 27, WBI Director joined radio talk show host Bill Carroll on KFI-AM, Los Angeles heard throughout Southern California.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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Posted in Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Media About Bullying, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI in the News | Post Comment

June 29th, 2015

Next WB University Training for Professionals Announced

August 7-8-9 are the dates for the next public WBI Workplace Bullying University® Training for Professionals. The location is Boise, Idaho.

Since 2008, the Drs. Namie have delivered the only comprehensive research-driven training covering all aspects of the workplace bullying phenomenon. They are the pioneers and you can learn directly from them. Passed and pending legislation is part of their work. Graduates will understand the nuances of applicable laws.

This interactive, intensive 3-day session is life-changing.

It will enable professionals to add abusive conduct to their list of specializations with the take-home lessons learned.

Professionals who have attended past sessions:

– Attorneys
– Union officials
– Nurses
– Counselors/psychotherapists
– Academics
– HR professionals
– Physicians
– School bullying trainers
– Consultants to organizations
– Corporate trainers
– Former targets turned entrepreneurs

Tuition has been reduced and a deeper discount applies if registration is completed by June 30. Call today for — 360-656-6630. Visit the Workplace Bullying University website for program and registration details and testimonials from graduates.


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Posted in Workplace Bullying University | Post Comment

May 28th, 2015

Essence: How to handle an office bully

How to Handle An Office Bully

By Arlene Dawson, Essence Magazine, June 2015

When brainy go-getter Nicole*, 28, accepted a position at a trendy beauty start-up in New York City, she thought it was her dream job. “The company promoted itself as being progressive,” says Nicole. But her work situation devolved quickly and became more Mean Girls than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Early on, when Nicole wasn’t dancing at a company party, a White coworker said to her, “You’re Black. We hired you because you could dance.” Other colleagues laughed. “I always thought that if this type of thing happened I would come back with a response, but I went to the bathroom and cried,” Nicole recalls. “I had never experienced those types of comments—racism—so blatantly in a work setting before.”

Nicole reported the incident to her immediate boss and her complaint got laddered up to the CEO. Although her superiors feigned remorse, she says, “That was the beginning of the end for me in the company.” The bully got promoted, found out Nicole “told on her” and escalated the bullying. During staff meetings, Nicole says her ideas were met with coldness; the bully rallied other coworkers not to associate with her; and more negative remarks—this time about Nicole’s naturally curly hair and clothing—ensued.

Even management turned sour, setting her up for failure by assigning impossible, vague projects. And despite Nicole’s management of million-dollar accounts, she recalls work review meetings being filled with nitpicky, unfounded accusations. “They were systematically trying to push me out without actually firing me,” says Nicole.

Continue reading this article… »


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Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI in the News | Post Comment

April 27th, 2015

Pennsylvania anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill makes 11 bills in 10 states in 2015

Pennsylvania state Rep. Mark Cohen, along with seven co-sponsors, introduced HB 1041 on April 21, 2015.

PA joins other states — Texas, New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota — with versions of the WBI anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) that include employer liability for enabling a health-harming abusive work environment.

In 2015 alone 11 bills have been introduced in 10 states. Since 2003, 29 states and two territories have introduced some version of the HWB.

If you are a Pennsylvanian, go to the State Page for all contact information for lawmakers — co-sponsors and the key members of the House Labor and Industry Committee. Thank sponsors and encourage committee leaders to hold a public hearing for the bill, HB 1041.


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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | 5 Comments

April 25th, 2015

10th anniversary of Japanese train disaster caused by workplace bullying

On April 25, 2005 at 9:19 am, a 7-car Japanese commuter rapid train 5418M derailed at high speed on a curved stretch of track and slammed into a parking garage of an apartment building. The train was operated by 11 month veteran driver 23-year old Ryūjirō Takami in front car. A second rail employee, the conductor, was in the rear car.

It was the second worst rail disaster in the country’s history. 562 people were injured and 107 died, including Takami. 99 of the fatalities were in the front car. In all, four cars derailed.

Click here for the full story and details.

National Geographic recreated the events in an episode of Seconds from Disaster.


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Posted in Bullying & Health, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | Post Comment

April 22nd, 2015

UNA/AFSCME National Nurses Congress tackles workplace bullying

National Nurses Congress UNA-AFSCME 2015 in San Diego

On Sunday May 3, Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Director addresses the national conference. He will also deliver several workshops. If you are a UNA or AFSCME member, consider attending. Too often nurses consider lateral or horizontal violence an acceptable occupational hazard. It need not be. The irony is that healthcare providers, primarily nurses, care more for patients than for their own health. Much can, and should, be done to make the healthcare workplace safe for nurses.

Location: Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa; Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, CA.


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Posted in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2 | 1 Comment

April 22nd, 2015

Get robbed, get fired says ungrateful Houston fast food franchisee

Z & H Foods Inc. is a Houston-based company that owns and operates two restaurant franchises — Popeyes and Louisiana Kitchen. At a Popeyes location on March 31, a hooded thief brandishing a handgun at staff robbed the store of about $400 from the cash registers when the woman shift manager, Marissa Holcomb, told him she had no access to the safe. Marissa was subsequently fired for violating a Z & H policy. Yes, the HR person (who has yet to be identified) justified the firing of a pregnant mom who was just robbed at gunpoint. The basis? Repeated violations of leaving too much cash in the registers.

If Holcomb was responsible for transferring the cash, she would likely have to store it in the safe, as opposed to paper bags or her personal purse. For that to happen, she would have had access to the safe where the largest amount of cash was stored. But Holcomb protected the safe, and therefore the company from losing even more money, by telling the robber that she had no access. The HR rep who justified the firing has now leaked to the public the fact that managers of Z & H-owned restaurants on all shifts have access to their safes. Oops. She just endangered every manager.

Not only is the company ungrateful for Holcomb’s minimizing company losses, the company is too dangerous to work for at any salary. Spread the word in Houston.

Here’s the story from KHOU-TV.

Let Z & H know what you think: 281-988-5726 or give them hell on their google+ site

Z&H President is Shoukat Dhanani
Z&H Vice-President is Amin Dhanani

Note the restaurant is a Popeyes. Popeyes is a Georgia-based franchiser and deflects all responsibility for the actions of its franchisees like Z & H.


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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things | Post Comment



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