March 2nd, 2014

Vermont advocate calls for hearing on workplace bullying bill

Ban on workplace bullying stalled at Vermont Statehouse
Advocacy group asks lawmakers to hold public hearing
by Stewart Ledbetter, WPTZ, NBC-TV, Montpelier, VT, Feb. 28, 2014

Sherill Gilbert says she walks the Statehouse hallways as often as she can, trying to persuade members of the Legislature to take up her cause.

She’s determined, even after five years without much success.
“I’d love to see Vermont become first state with law against workplace bullying,” Gilbert said Thursday. “I’ve heard from people from all 14 Vermont counties. Somebody needs to do something. It’s the only legalized abuse in the United States.”

For Gilbert, who worked in hospital health care, the cause is personal.
She says she was the target of repeated workplace bullying from her supervisor and points to new national research showing the problem is surprisingly widespread.

A survey of U.S. workers conducted last month by Workplace Bullying Institute, found 27 percent had personally endured harassment at work.

Twenty-one percent said they had witnessed bullying on the job, while 72 percent were aware of the problem. 

Fifty-two percent say they had never been bullied at work. 

Gilbert says particularly when the boss is a bully, victims suffer isolation, sabotage of their work, lost productivity and self-esteem.

If a victim complains to management, she added, “they’re usually seen as being the problem,” when often the bully’s target “is an employee who excels.” 

A trio of senators representing Washington County agreed to co-sponsor S.34, a bill that creates civil liability for bullying on the job. 

The idea, Gilbert said, is to give victims a way to fight back and make employers liable if they neglect to take action against bullies.

The current version of the bill was introduced in the Senate last year.
So far the five-page bill has not seen action by the Senate Economic Development Committee, where it is still tacked to the wall. 

Sen. Kevin Mullin, a Rutland Republican who chairs the committee, said “We had a discussion about our workload and it didn’t make the cut.” 

Sen. William Doyle, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that committee decision does not indicate that “we didn’t care about it.” 

Gilbert isn’t giving up. 

“I’d love to see the Legislature hold one public hearing,” she said. “I think they’d be surprised what they hear.” 


Sherill Gilbert is the Vermont State Coordinator for the Healthy Workplace Camapaign to enact the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill in U.S. states. You can contact her by completing the form at the VT State Page.


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This entry was posted on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 at 1:12 pm and is filed under Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, WBI in the News, Workplace Bullying Laws. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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