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We Won A Webby for our Documentary on workplace bullying!

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How To Pass Laws To Stop Workplace Bullying

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…)

Workplace Bullying: WE DON’T DO THAT HERE

Lessons learned at the 2nd Annual Consortium on Abrasive Conduct in Higher Education [CACHE]

My first documentary, Sandra’s Web, the intimate video letter from a homeless mother with AIDS left as a legacy for her daughter, premiered on HBO. A few days after the broadcast the legendary George Stoney, my beloved mentor, looked at me and essentially said, That’s nice. Now the real work begins.  It was a life changing lesson he passed on to so many of us who produce social justice documentaries. So, while I was delighted to win an Honorary Webby this year for my documentary on workplace bullying, What Killed Kevin, it meant even more to me that I was invited back a second year in a row to screen the film at the CACHE colloquium sponsored by Sibson Consulting and the Boss Whispering Institute. Similar to the year before, attendees at the two-day conference held at the University of Denver School of Hospitality Management were made up of “representatives from nearly 20 institutions of higher education including faculty, HR professionals, ombudspeople, labor representatives, administrators, and researchers convened to explore best practices in addressing the problem of workplace bullying in the academy.” (more…)

New Hampshire Legislature Passes Workplace Bullying Law

new hampshire workplace bullying legislationBack in February we highlighted union backed legislation that was pushing through New Hampshire. On June 4 it officially passed through the House and Senate.

Similar to the bill that whizzed through Tennessee, HB 0591  is limited to Public Employees and emphasizes the need to implement policies and training. We would all love to see stand alone legislation with all the protections employees deserve but this growing trend that focuses on finding ways to pass legislation has infused energy and movement into a previously stalled campaign. And, more importantly, workers are beginning to have protection from devastating psychological abuse. Union efforts in California has ensured that other states are not far behind. Hopefully legislators in New York and other states around the country will begin to adopt this winning template to protect their employees. Can private employers be far behind? (more…)

Tennessee Enacts Law to Prevent Workplace Bullying – But…

SB2226: Any person injured by any act in violation of this bill will have a civil cause of action in chancery court or circuit court…When an employer or employee is found to be in violation, the court may enjoin such employer or employee from engaging in the unlawful employment practice and may order any other relief necessary, including, but not limited to, the removal of the offending party from said work environment, medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.  NOT!

Wouldn’t that paragraph have thrilled the hearts of all of us involved in the effort to pass abusive conduct legislation to protect employees? But, that’s not the portion of SB2226 that the Tennessee State Senate approved or the Governor signed. What they did enact “requires the Tennessee advisory commission on intergovernmental relations (TACIR), in consultation with the department of human resources and interested local government organizations, to create a model policy for local governments to prevent abusive conduct in their workplaces workplace. The model policy shall:

(1) Assist employers in recognizing and responding to abusive conduct in the workplace; and
(2) Prevent retaliation against any employee who has reported abusive conduct in the workplace. (more…)

More Employees Cite “Incivility” As Reason For Leaving Jobs

Even though the 2013 report, Civility in America, showed a sharp decline in workplace incivility in the last two years “there has been a 30% increase in Americans reporting they have quit a job because it was an uncivil workplace.”  This increase in job shifts is surprising because a similar decline was found by the Workplace Bullying Institute in relationship to more abusive situations; down from 13% in 2007 to just 7% in 2014. (more…)

New Jersey Experts Offer Multiple Solutions To End Workplace Bullying

My ex-boss was a rainmaker and it wasn’t long before I understood why I was one of a quickly growing list of people to have had that job. I soon found myself undergoing a heart cath procedure because I’d failed multiple tests. It turned out I was actually suffering the side effects of stress and the diagnosis was that I needed to quit my job. I decided to try reasoning with upper management one more time. All I wanted was a transfer back to my old position. I will never forget that day. He readily admitted that I was being horribly abused but then he brought down the hammer. If I thought I had some kind of grounds – I should sue because if I didn’t continue on in that position I was fired. I walked away from that experience keenly aware that fear of litigation on their part may well have protected me.

I’m a filmmaker so I started making short documentaries about victim/targets of workplace bullying. Each video highlighted the impact not just on the target but often for the family. My films allowed me to speak with experts, researchers, legislators, advocates, victims/targets, alleged bullies, business & HR reps, journalists and many others both here in the U.S. and abroad. At the time few people even knew what the term workplace bullying meant. It wasn’t until I made What Killed Kevin (reviewed in the Huffington Post), for which I interviewed the alleged bully boss, that I was able to recognize how subjective and tragic many of these situations can be for everyone involved. (more…)

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