Since 2007, I’ve been traveling around the country interviewing experts, researchers, legislators, advocates, victims/targets, alleged bullies, business & HR reps, journalists and many others about workplace bullying. I’ve also had the honor of screening my work and taking part in panels that seek solutions to workplace bullying. Scroll down for articles that highlight alternative approaches to legislation, coping, and solutions. Click here for documentaries, and check the menu above for links to resources. Feel free to share your story!
The shutdown is looming and hanging over us with a deadline that’s just a few hours away — this HUFFINGTON POST article has important information for those of you filing discrimination claims with the EEOC. The impact on OSHA puts workplace safety in jeopardy.
It’s hard for targets of workplace bullying to prove their hostile work environment is a clear case of discrimination — bullying by definition falls outside of the protections of Title VII — but some plaintiffs still managed to win by proving they were fired or demoted in retaliation for filing a claim. Today’s Supreme Court decision just made that harder and a second “get out of jail free” card was awarded to businesses when SCOTUS narrowed the definition of whether that jerk harassing you is “technically” your supervisor. In what the Huffington Post called a “rare move,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the court: “Both decisions dilute the strength of Title VII in ways Congress could not have intended,” said Ginsburg, who then called on Congress to change the law to overturn the court.” In Vance v Ball Ginsburg wrote:
Video of Mike Rice screaming at, pushing, and throwing basketballs at student players has gone viral. How did the video become public? NBC reports: “Because whatever spat that Rice got into with former staff member Eric Murdock couldn’t be resolved cordially. Murdock did not have his contract renewed by the university, so he blew the whistle. He went to Rice’s boss and tried to get him fired. When that didn’t work, he went to Outside The Lines and made sure that the world saw the video, because if the world didn’t see the video, Rutgers was going to do nothing more than smack Rice on the wrist and sweep this under the rug.”
Earlier this week Connecticut State Representative Brenda Kupchick introduced Bill 5236, AN ACT CREATING AN EMPLOYERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS. It consists of 3 very cryptic – yet easily decoded – sentences.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
That the general statutes be amended to require the Labor Department to develop and promulgate an Employers’ Bill of Rights.
Statement of Purpose:
What is an Employers’ Bill of Rights?
Last Fall Fox Business featured a story about a union rally that wanted a second bill of rights to protect workers. One of their reporters, Kennedy, was filmed undercover petitioning for an Employers Bill of Rights. “The right to hire and fire. The right to relocate my business from anywhere to anywhere The right to determine wage levels…”
…more than one in four American adults has a diagnosable mental health disorder, and one in seventeen has a serious disorder such as schizophrenia orbipolar disorder, but chances are co-workers or managers don’t know who they are… [Psychology Today]
Skyworks Charitable Foundation uses documentary film to bring this issue forward in their social change intiative, Working Life. The online web videos provide heartwarming and insightful portraits of “four adults who grew up in families struggling with mental health difficulties. They reflect on some of the challenges facing their parents, both as parents and as breadwinners, and how their experiences shaped their own goals and expectations.”
Woo Hoo! Who cares what google search page we show up on? You should because we are fighting to highlight and promote diverse voices and alternative approaches to prevent workplace bullying and make your life safer. And, we did this without funding, advertising, or revenues. Word of mouth still rules! If you keep seeking us out on Google we’ll be there for you:
“OSHA’s existing regulatory scheme should incorporate workplace bullying because OSHA is a singularly appropriate vehicle for such efforts and because prevention of workplace bullying through an existing scheme complements efforts to enact new legislation specifically addressing the problem.” [Susan Harthill]
Several years ago Susan Harthill presented her findings at the 2010 International Conference on Workplace Bullying & Harassment to leading advocates, researchers, and practitioners within the global workplace bullying movement. Besides Harthill, keynote speakers included Professor David Yamada, author of the Healthy Workplace Bill, and Dr Gary Namie, founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute. Rather than incorporating Harthill’s ideas as a quiver in the U.S. battle against office abuse, advocates for the WBI’s Healthy Workplace Bill chose to advocate only for their legislation. That is, of course, their prerogative. But, imagine how much further things may have advanced if it were a multi-pronged effort dedicated to protecting workers through a variety of approaches. Several members of the broader effort to stop workplace bullying have embraced a national petition bearing nearly 8,000 heartbreaking signatures asking the Obama Administration to explore options to protect U.S. workers from bullyng.
We’re in a university setting here, so let me give you a university hypo. There’s a professor, and the professor has a secretary. And the professor subjects that secretary to living hell, complete hostile work environment on the basis of sex, all right? But the professor has absolutely no authority to fire the secretary. What would the Seventh Circuit say about that situation? [Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan]
Would the Professor be considered the Secretary‘s supervisor in an harassment case — making the employer liable for his actions? I’ll give you the short answer offered up by the Obama Administration’s Deputy Solictor General Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan – NO. Today’s Supreme Court hearing on Vance v. Ball State featured intense questioning from the justices. Vance’s attorney, Daniel Ortiz, argued “as Justice Kagan’s question revealed, it produces truly perverse results. Someone who can tell you what to do in your job day-to-day, manage you during the whole job period, what kind of tasks you have to do, was not necessarily considered a supervisor, while the person upstairs in human resources that you may never see or even know would be considered your supervisor.”
Workplace Relation’s Minister Bill Shorten was interviewed on ABC TV about the results of Australia’s exhaustive parliamentary inquiry into workplace bullying Calling it a scourge that runs into billions of dollars and more importantly takes a human toll, Shorten called for “zero tolerance.” An article in News.com.au says the inquiries report, “Workplace Bullying: We Just Want It To Stop,” recommends “strengthening existing laws and clearly definingwhat workplace bullying is.” America, are you listening?
Maetta Vance was working at Ball State University when she was harassed by another employee who Vance alleged had the authority to tell her what to do and how to clock her hours. After filing repeated complaints, Vance sued the university for violating Title VII. The university argued that it could not be held liable because Vance’s harasser did not have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline her. Lower courts agreed. Vance appealed to the Supreme Court. [ Announcement of Friend of Court Brief filed by National Partnership For Women & Families ]
So, the question before the Supreme Court this Monday is whether or not the definition of supervisor in harassment cases should be limited to only those managers with the authority to hire and fire or discipline an employee. According to Sarah Crawford, the director of Workplace Fairness, “the Court’s decision will have important ramifications for the ability of victims of supervisor harassment to hold their employers accountable…The case is a chance for the Court to affirm a standard that furthers the purposes of Title VII – to root out harassment and make clear that employers will be held accountable when supervisors violate the law. A contrary ruling will have grave consequences for victims of harassment and the rights guaranteed by our nation’s equal employment opportunity laws. ”
Walmart CEO Michael Duke’s $35 million annual salary constitutes an hourly wage equal to the annual salary of the average Walmart employee. — Jonathon Turley
Walmart tops the “leading retailer by employment chart” with over 2 million employees — next on the list is Target with only 365,000. Today Walmart workers will go on strike to demand fair wages among other issues. A study by Demos reports that “Retail jobs are a crucial source of income for the families of workers in the sector, yet currently more than 1 million retail workers and their family members live in or near poverty.3 More than 95 percent of year-round
One of the problems with subtler claims of workplace bullying is the difficulty in determining who did what to whom, why and what to do about it. Here’s an article out of Australia that highlights just how complicated perception can be:
An underperforming Canberra public servant was “bullied” by having her work problems addressed in private meetings with her superior, a Commonwealth tribunal has found.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal says that the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) was “insensitive” to the worker’s issues and “humiliated” her by holding one-on-one meetings to talk about her poor performance.