New Hampshire’s 2013 version of the Healthy Workplace Bill HB 591 has been tabled for this year and a rewrite is in the works. Fingers crossed that legislators have recognized the need to remove “malice” from the text because it creates a virtually impossible hurdle for targets of abuse to overcome in order to actually use this law to protect themselves. We’ve written about this before and below is the SEIU article about New Hampshire. We applaud SEA for getting this legislation started and hope they use this opportunity to bring in new voices as several other states have begun to do in order to craft a target centric approach that’s also fair to businesses (instead of the other way around). 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.
1. NO HARM, NO FOUL: Continue reading
For years the model template for workplace bullying legislation – the Healthy Workplace Bill – contained the word “malice” and a $25,000 cap. Legal scholars and critics questioned why the bill’s author, Law Professor David Yamada, and the leader of the lobbying effort, Dr. Gary Namie of the the Workplace Bullying Institute, insisted on including this extraordinarily high hurdle. If you believe the whacky spin that critics of the language are trying to take over the movement then listen for yourself to a clip from What Killed Kevin that reveals what Dr. Namie has to say about his own bill and how difficult it is to prove “malice”:
‘That is the lawsuit killer right there people… the phrase, acting with malice is what the employers should read as, “Wow! We’re off the hook.” Because, you know, rarely can that be proven.” Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Continue reading
Unenforced and inadequate laws allow a surprising number of employers to regularly steal billions of dollars from their workers by paying below the minimum wage and ignoring their responsibility to pay for overtime hours. Probably the most famous example is the $352 million settlement Walmart paid in 2008. Four years later the Department of Labor forced Walmart to cough up an additional $5 million for misrepresenting 4,500 workers as exempt from overtime pay.
It’s a cautionary tale for those of us who want to enact legislation to prevent workplace bullying. ProgressiveStates.org analyzed the hodge podge of laws and regulations to protect workers from “Wage Theft” already in place and ranked these polices on a state by state basis. New York & Massachusetts ranked in the Top 2 – with the rest of the states receiving barely passing or failing grades. The analysis shows that: “until the odds of being penalized are increased and the consequences of violations become substantially greater than the financial rewards of wage theft, there will be little reason for dishonest employers to change their behavior. Combined with the meager capacity for agency-based enforcement documented in other reports, weak laws virtually guarantee impunity for unethical employers.” Trying to ‘prod’ employers into doing the right thing by providing a “carrot on a stick” clearly isn’t working and it can easily be surmised that the same will be true if templates to protect workers from abusive work environments aren’t given real teeth. Typically minimum wage workers have few resources to hire and attorney so without an agency in place to enforce regulations employers continue to cut corners by shortchanging their employees. Continue reading
The Community Party in Connecticut wants to meet with State Senator Cathy Osten, the Labor and Public Employees Committee Chair, to discuss their proposed amendments to the 2013 Healthy Workplace Bill. The Community Party says that: Continue reading