Posts Tagged ‘abusive conduct’
Monday, August 3rd, 2015
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?
Tags: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, abusive conduct, dismissal, justice, Karen Lopez Austen, summary judgement, Weatherford College, workplace bullying
Posted in Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Related Phenomena, Rulings by Courts, WBI Education, Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
On July 27, WBI Director joined radio talk show host Bill Carroll on KFI-AM, Los Angeles heard throughout Southern California.
Tags: abusive conduct, Bill Carroll, Calfornia law, Gary Namie, KFI, talk radio, workplace bullying
Posted in Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Media About Bullying, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education, WBI in the News | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Monday, April 27th, 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.
Tags: abusive conduct, HB 1041, Healthy Workplace Bill, law, legislation, Pennsylvania, Rep. Mark Cohen
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | 5 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Sunday, April 12th, 2015
Minnesota leap frogs Tennessee with respect to having a state policy to thwart workplace bullying. First a bit of background. In 2014, Tennessee passed a law (Public Chapter 997) that assigned policy writing to a state commission (TACIR) comprised of elected officials with technical support from WBI-affiliated professionals. The group did produce a model policy. However, several lawmakers refused to allow the policy’s implementation. The workplace psychological safety of public employees in that right-to-work state remains unresolved, treated as a political game.
Thus, the first state to implement a workplace bullying policy for all state workers is Minnesota. The successful story begins with the state employees union MAPE (Minnesota Association of Professional Employees) becoming aware of bullying-related problems for members in January 2012. Discussions of bullying surfaced in contract bargaining sessions. In February 2013, some bullying managers were removed in partnership with the union. Education accelerated in May 2013 when MAPE held a seminar for stewards with lessons gleaned from a public session sponsored by the Minneapolis Bar Association at which Dr. Gary Namie spoke.
By August 2013, MAPE had produced videos of their bullying experiences. In September, results of a membership survey revealed that 1 out of 4 members were either directly bullied or they had witnessed it. State. The state Department of Human Services Commissioner, Lucinda Jesson, signed an anti-bullying petition to ensure safe, retaliation-free reporting of bullying.
Tags: 2014 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, abusive conduct, employee advocates, MAPE, Minnesota state, policy & procedures, Unions, workplace bullying policy
Posted in Bullying & Health, Good News, Unions, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
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
Tags: abusive conduct, bill, Denise Halverson, Healthy Workplace Bill, Keven Stratton, law, legislation, Utah, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
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.
Hear Francesco’s personal story
Tags: abusive conduct, administrators, ANOI, DTOE, educators, Francesco Portelos, New York City schools, perpetrators, teachers, workplace bullying
Posted in Guest Articles, Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Target Tale, WBI Education | 6 Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
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.)
Tags: AB 2053, abusive conduct, Ann Wrixon, bill, Carrie Clark, Gary Namie, Healthy Workplace Bill, HR, Independent Adoption Center, legislation, Michael Kalt, SHRM, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Target Tale, WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Monday, March 23rd, 2015
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.
Tags: abusive conduct, Healthy Workplace Bill, legislation, Ron Latz, SF 1932, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (
Thursday, March 19th, 2015
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.
Tags: abusive conduct, Gary Namie, Healthy Workplace Bill, legislation, Sherrill Gilbert, workplace bullying
Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment (
Saturday, March 14th, 2015
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.
Tags: abusive conduct, Denise Halverson, Healthy Workplace Bill, Keven Stratton, legislation, Todd Weiler, training, Utah, workplace bullying, Workplace Bullying Institute
Posted in Good News, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment (