Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Workplace Bill’


ABA: Understanding the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Understanding Workplace-Bullying Legislation
By Randi Melnick
American Bar Association, August 13, 2014

Labor-and-employment attorneys hear countless tales of abuse suffered by employees in the workplace. Employees subjected to mean-spirited or degrading treatment can often feel helpless, or even if they are proactive and make a complaint to human resources, they may simply be told to toughen up, or find a new job. With the realities of today’s increasingly stressful and competitive workplace, it is worth a moment of reflection to consider what level of civility should be expected in the workplace, and what the consequences should be, if any, for those who break such codes of conduct.

Workplaces can have tricky cultural norms, and some people will be more skilled than others at communicating. However, there is a difference between a manager or coworker who lacks tact and one who goes out of his or her way to purposefully target an individual. When one is verbally abused or intimidated, when work is sabotaged, or when humiliation is used as a tactic, that is bullying. And it is not always illegal in the United States.

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



WBI Podcast: Destructive pragmatic politicians

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

WBI Podcast 41

Pragmatic politics used to be considered a virtue, but it really means sacrificing the principles of representing the people to support corporations. With respect to the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, compromises have gutted the bill, extending the rights of employers instead of employees. This brand of pragmatism is destructive.

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Orlando Business Journal: 5 Ways to Prevent Workplace Bullying

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

By Jeff Mandel – Orlando Business Journal – August 7, 2014

A staggering 27 percent of U.S. workers report experiencing abusive conduct at work; 21 percent report witnessing such conduct. And bullying is four times more common than harassment in the workplace, with 65.6 million people reporting to have been affected.

Bullying in the workplace is defined as actions by an individual or group that are unreasonable, physical or psychological, repeated, and cause an intentional impact on the target, such as humiliation, degradation, offense, intimidation or cause dangerous results to the target, such as risk to safety and/or mental or physical health issues. In short, bullying is considered a form of violence.

And the impacts of workplace bullying have a ripple effect. Not only does workplace bullying impact the target of the bullying, but it leaves a lasting impression on others in the workplace as well. Workplace bullying often results in high turnover, low productivity, lost innovations, difficulty hiring quality employees and even customer retention.

Here are five tips for employers wanting to be proactive in the fight against workplace bullying:
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Golly Gee Kids, Let’s Stop Workplace Bullying And Just Treat Each Other with Respect

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

By Richard B. Cohen – Employment Discrimination Report – August 4, 2014

Just as last week we re-opened our discussion about the possibility/desirability of enacting legislation to prohibit workplace bullying, it has been reported that the governor of New Hampshire just vetoed such a bill – calling it “well-intentioned” but ultimately “unworkable.”

Chalk up another defeat for anti-bullying legislation, which is batting zero.

The Healthy Workplace Bill

We have not seen the NH bill, but if “workability” is the issue, perhaps New Hampshire should have turned to Prof. David Yamada, of nearby Suffolk University Law School, who is the author of the template legislation that serves as the basis of most of the workplace anti-bullying bills introduced across the country.

We noted last week that he wrote to us on February 25th about our discussion on anti-bullying legislation and said that “I can attest that the need for such legislation is underscored by the terrible inadequacy of existing law, including tort claims (IIED) and other causes of action. … the template bill, a/k/a The Healthy Workplace Bill, sets a relatively high threshold for recovery, higher in fact than hostile work environment standards for sexual harassment. In other words, it’s about creating a cause of action for abuse, not incivility.”

Goodness Gracious — Bullying Can Be Anything!

However, as Law360 reports, “unworkability “resonates with many employers’ concerns that ill-defined workplace bullying laws would invite a wave of meritless employment lawsuits, attorneys say.” Law 360 quotes some incisive comments from various employment attorneys:

One lawyer proposed a more workable solution that no one has seemingly ever thought of: “Everybody should be treated with professionalism and respect, and none of these issues will ever come up.”

Wow — a breathtaking concept! Goodness gracious, what a boffo idea! Wish we thought of that!

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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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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Unions, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Boston Globe: Dealing with bullies in the workplace

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Victims say the problem is tangled by workers’ fear of retribution, lack of legal protections, and concerns about what constitutes abusive behavior.

By Bella English – The Boston Globe – July 29, 2014

Carol Anne Geary is a veteran librarian who loved her profession and went back to school, while working, to earn a master’s degree in library science. But her passion turned into a nightmare when, she says, she was bullied on the job to such an extent that she was hospitalized with high blood pressure and other health issues.

Geary, who lives in Shrewsbury, was working at a library in another town where she says other staffers verbally abused and excluded her, spoke to library patrons about her in derogatory terms, and made disparaging remarks about gay issues, knowing that she has a gay son.

When Geary took a short leave, on her doctor’s orders, she was bombarded with phone calls, asking her why she couldn’t work from home. The truth was, she could hardly get out of bed. The library, she says, fought her workers’ compensation claim, and then fired her when she was too sick to return to work. “Workman’s comp — they understand if you hurt your leg on the job. But it’s almost impossible to prove that you’re sick because of bullying,” says Geary, who doesn’t want to identify the library because she fears her former co-workers. “We need to make the workplace safe and healthy.’’

In recent months, a spotlight has been turned on the issue of workplace bullying by some high-profile local cases, including Suffolk County Register of Probate Patricia Campatelli, who was suspended over allegations of punching a subordinate after a holiday party. A report by a court-appointed investigator said she “created a fearful atmosphere” in the office.

In July, Leslie Berlowitz resigned as head of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge following several accusations that included subjecting employees to frequent tirades, prompting some to quit in a matter of days or weeks. One former worker recalled that Berlowitz barred entry to the employee kitchen for weeks by posting yellow crime scene tape over the doorway because a worker left a dirty spoon in the sink.

Research suggests that the problem is widespread, with as many as one in four workers saying they have been subjected to abusive conduct on the job. And state legislators are considering a bill to combat it.

Given the apparent scope of the problem, why does it remain so shrouded?
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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 () »



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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