Given the epidemic of toxic workplaces in the healthcare industry it shouldn’t surprise viewers that the second season of HBO’s “Getting On” opened with the topic of workplace bullying front and center in a very sensitive way. As the title implies, the show takes place in a hospice center. Nurse Dawn is being pressured by her superior to help with a research project in addition to her already emotionally overwhelming job tasks.
Dawn’s immediate supervisor, Patsy De La Serda, tries to help her understand the situation she’s in:
“Dawn, I think we both know what it is. It’s Dr. James. You’re in an abusive and toxic relationship with a woman who hates women and she’s taking it out on you. I think you have difficulty maintaining firm boundaries and saying no.”
Dawn responds: “I say no to her all the time even though it’s very hard for me. It’s true that I am sensitive and it’s true that I let people take and take and take and take and I’m not very comfortable it doesn’t come natural for me to focus on me.”
Patsy counsels her: “Which is why we need to work on your mindfulness training. You can’t be solid in life unless you’re solid with yourself. I take care of me first and then you. I put my seatbelt on then yours. Mindfulness is mind fullness.” [more below]
Later, during a staff meeting they open the suggestion box to find one from anonymous: “Could Doctors, especially Directors of Medicine, kindly stop abusing and coercing nurses into participating as unpaid research assistants.”
It’s clear in the conversation that follows that the Director of Medicine (Dr. James) has no clue that what she’s accused of doing is over the line or that her behavior is perceived as abusive or overbearing — in fact she quickly turns the conversation around to try to show to everyone that she’s the real victim. Dr. James also knows perfectly well that anonymous is Dawn. “I can’t even look at you,” Dawn tells her. “Because, if I look at you either I’m going to feel bad about myself again. I am allergic to you. You have psychologically overwhelmed me. I am physically ill. I am nauseous all the time. I don’t want to do your research I just want you to leave me alone so I can do my job.” Dawn leaves and Patsy tries to speak up for her as the room goes silent.
It’ll be interesting to see where Executive Producers, Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer take the story line. Fingers crossed they don’t go off course, our nurses could use a little TLC.
City of Tuscaloosa adopts policy against workplace bullying
Reprinted from FOX 6, Oct 15, 2014 3:34 PM EDT
The Tuscaloosa City Council has approved a new policy against workplace bullying which applies to all City of Tuscaloosa employees.
The City’s legal department says the policy covers things that were not already clearly covered by the city’s anti-harassment policy.
Senior Associate Attorney Jimbo Woodson says the policy identifies bullying as intentional, hostile, abusive behavior that makes an employee no longer want their job.
“It wasn’t that many years ago that employers were adopting for the first time sexual harassment policies, then that became anti-harassment policies, and I think this is a natural extension to bullying, to essentially catch all of the inappropriate workplace behavior,” Woodson said.
Woodson also says the policy applies to a number of different scenarios.
“Not only does it direct co-workers, a co-worker who is bullying another co-worker, or a supervisor who is bullying someone they supervise, but it actually could be a group of workers who bully their supervisor,” he said. [full article]
October is a special month for workplace bullying advocates for several reasons. (1) it’s National Bullying Prevention Month and (2) it includes Mental Health Day. Sadly, international research has linked the impact of workplace bullying to severe anxiety, depression, and even suicide. You can take action by signing the National Workplace Bullying Coalition’s #StopThatNow pledge to support your co-workers and make your workplace bully-free.
“Everyone needs to show support for their co-workers or employees and signing the online pledge to be Bully-Free is an excellent place to start,” says Catherine Mattice, NWBC Board Officer, author and founder of Civility Partners, LLC. “Our Pledge is part of the Coalition’s mission to bring together legislators, legal experts for both business interests and employees, labor leaders, business consultants and other interested parties to develop solutions.” (more…)
For over a decade the Workplace Bullying Institute and their volunteer advocacy arm, the Healthy Workplace Campaign, have been lobbying state legislators to pass their Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) as written. None have passed. Criticism of the language or limitations of the HWB has always been met by supporters with resistance and the argument that the (copyrighted) HWB was meant as a foot in the door and a way to “prod” employers to do the right thing; the proverbial carrot on a stick. What to do? Research repeatedly shows that it’s not uncommon for grassroots efforts to change leadership or shift and embrace new approaches in order to evolve with the times and ensure success. True to form, a new leaderless grassroots movement has come up that embraces a variety of legislative approaches to preventing workplace bullying. Pima County in Arizona and Hennepin in Minnesota passed laws to protect their public employees from abuse. Ridgefield, NJ declared their whole town Bully Free with NJ’s first public ordinance against workplace bullying. Finally a sleeping giant has woken up and followed suit. This year Unions successfully pushed three bills onto the Governors’ desks of Tennessee, New Hampshire and California. Two have been signed into law and only one was vetoed. So, while these new laws that are being enacted may not do all that you wish, they sure have been successful and are definitely opening the door and prodding employers. Why are they successful? Most of these new bills focus on something that the HWB doesn’t include; required policies and trainings. On September 9th Governor Jerry Brown signed law that broadens existing Sexual Harassment regulations requiring any employer with 50 or more employees to include “abusive conduct” in their training. As part of the National Workplace Bullying Coalition (NWBC), we helped support Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in her now successful effort. Shouldn’t every state have that? It’s time for all of us working to prevent abrasive workplaces to respect our differences and come together to support change. Here’s what the latest law says: (more…)
Reprint from New Hampshire Public Radio July 28, 2014
Governor Maggie Hassan has vetoed a bill she called “well-intentioned” aimed at protecting public employees from bullying in the workplace.
Under the so-called “Healthy Workplace Bill,” things like an “unreasonable” workload or “constant and unreasonable criticism” would have been cause for action. Although the bill only covered public employees, Adrienne Rupp of theBusiness and Industry Association says the group lobbied Hassan for a veto.
“It kind of opens the door. You know, the language in the bill was very vague and subjective in our opinion,” she says. “And I think, had a bill like this passed and become law, I think the next logical step would have been to look at the private sector.”
The State Employees Association was one of the bill’s strongest supporters.
But in her statement Hassan said the bill was too broad and subjective. She also said it would have upended the state’s system already in place to deal with harassment complaints, and that creating a new system amounted to an unfunded mandate.
Listen to the radio program here [link]