Several years ago Connecticut State Senator Edith Prague wanted to pass workplace bullying legislation for public employees. The opposition argued that it was already covered under workplace violence policies and a study was requested to determine if it was indeed included. I was filming Prague’s support of the Healthy Workplace Bill at the time and remember well that she was passionate about the topic and surprised to learn that the handbook policies put in place after a tragic workplace 1998 shooting nearly 10 years earlier actually did address bullying behavior. The 2008 report concluded that:Continue reading
The purpose of my documentary research into the topic of workplace bullying has been to ask several questions – chief among them is:
Can workplace bullying be defined? If so, how and who decides? How do we avoid – and recognize – false accusations?
Below are some popular ways of defining workplace bullying that may be doing more harm than good. This article recognizes the work of those who have gone before and is respectfully intended to break down silos and build bridges that encourage broader more inclusive discussion as we move closer to a legislative solution.
It’s barely two years since Massachusetts enacted the Harassment Prevention Order. Recently an attempt to hold Kingston Town Administrator Jim Thomas accountable for alleged abusive conduct fell short. But, Kingston Police Sgt Susan Munford, who made the charges, told the Kingston Reporter: “I’m glad I was heard, I’m glad the restraining order is behind me, and I’m glad he was advised to not have any further incidents with me,” she said. “That gives me peace of mind.” Employment Defense Attorney Denise Murphy advises employers to take precautions because this HPO may well be used in cases of workplace bullying. Here’s a reprint of her 2010 article on the topic: Continue reading
Journalists often cite that 20 states have introduced the Healthy Workplace Bill but what goes unreported is that quite a few of these bills are radically different from the “model template” described in the press. For instance, New Jersey, the only HWB bill currently active, proposes that a regulatory agency impose a fine of not more than $25,000 on abusive employers. Despite this, and the lack of a private right of action, NJ receives strong support from the HWB campaign as the 10th state to introduce the HWB. The HWB from Nevada proposed expanding discrimination law already in place. The official HWB website clearly labels Nevada AB 90 one of their 20 HWB’s and voices support on their site: “… we thank Mr. Segerblom and wish him luck. Nevadans need to contact him to ask how to help.” Patricia G. Barnes is a judge, licensed attorney, and legal writer who is a recognized expert on workplace abuse and bullying. She describes the Nevada bill and a variety of other possible approaches in her new book, “Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplacewhich is a must read for lobbyists, journalists, and legislators involved in this issue. Here’s an excerpt:Continue reading
Within weeks of Kevin Morrissey’s suicide, advocates and journalists quickly pinned the “bully” label on his boss, Ted Genoways. The story went viral and turned workplace bullying into a hot topic with Kevin the “poster child” for the Workplace Bullying Institute’s legislation. But, was Ted really a bully? And, who should decide? This provocative film, What Killed Kevin?, challenges common misconceptions and forces the viewer to decide for themselves. Featured are Ted Genoways, Kevin’s co-worker Waldo Jaquith, Kevin’s sister Maria, journalist Dave McNair and advocates for the Healthy Workplace Bill. What Killed Kevin? is currently available for purchase by public and university libraries for educational use. Here’s more information: