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.” Continue reading
Smart advocates seek multiple solutions to a problem. Advocates for U.S. workplace bullying legislation often point out that the U.S. is far behind other countries in addressing abusive work environments. But, these countries have a variety of approaches and don’t adhere to endorsing only one approach with one template. Canada’s Bill 168 broadens OHSA (our OSHA) legislation to include bullying. Here in the U.S, Maryland is currently debating Workplace Violence – a golden opportunity to include bullying. Why isn’t SEIU, cited in the article below, stepping up to include bullying (worker on worker violence) in Maryland’s proposed legislation? SEIU has been both the best and worst advocate against bullying. While they should be applauded for being the first to include bullying in contracts with employers, it’s important to understand the problems they face as leading the charge. SEIU successfully defended and reinstated employee who had been removed for alleged abuse to co-workers. Will union leaders develop a broader more inventive approach to fighting employers who bully their employees? Here’s an article on the push for Maryland’s workplace violence legislation: Continue reading
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
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