Can a Code of Conduct protect employees from bullying behavior? A few months back we published a blog post about just that. The ruling in Mark A. Kuzma (Plaintiff) v. MBNA Institutional PA Services, LLC (Defendant) upheld MBNA’s right to terminate an employee for repeated breeches of professional conduct. The fact that the NFL has chosen recognizable and trusted representatives to outline what types of behavior will or won’t be tolerated shows that they understand the core of the problem they face. Hopefully, other employers will follow their example.
Can the Federal Government protect their employees from bullying? At least one agency can –here’s the workplace bullying policy posted on the NIH website. Warm thoughts to all who have been furloughed during the shutdown:
The Department of Health and Human Services is committed to providing a safe and positive work environment for all employees. Recently, press coverage and technology use has shed light on the issue of bullying, bringing real time images of inappropriate behavior to our homes and workplace. Bullying occurs when people use their power, via verbal, physical or other means to control or harm others. Often, the victims have a hard time defending themselves. It usually involves repeated negative behavior.
- SEIU Uses Workplace Violence Policy To Stop Bullying (bullyinworkplace.com)
- Worksafe B.C. to target workplace bullying with new policies beginning November (theprovince.com)
Public Employees: Connecticut
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 NEA (National Education Association) published this article showing how union contracts can protect employees from bullying. Most interesting is the section on Massachusetts and the fact that Workplace Violence laws currently in place arguably offer protection from bullying: Continue reading
“…Managers must foster an environment of integrity, honesty and respect. This includes creating a work environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying of any kind. This type of behavior will not be tolerated and is inconsistent with our values and the Code of Conduct…” BNY MBNA Code of Conduct
Corporate Codes of Conduct
While the U.S. may not have a law in place yet to protect workers from the devastating impact of workplace bullying — or even an agreed upon definition — there are major corporations that recognize the vital role of mutual respect and professionalism. The recent decision of Mark A. Kuzma (Plaintiff) v. MBNA Institutional PA Services, LLC (Defendant) brings home just how powerful these corporate “Codes Of Conduct” can be. According to court papers, Kuzma was terminated by MBNA for repeated breeches of professional conduct as outlined in this 2007 memo Kuzma received putting him on notice:
Last week Pima County, Arizona implemented policy D.23.1 Preventing, Identifying and Addressing Workplace Bullying for their County employees. [D23-1 ] New rule: witnesses along with anyone who was made aware of behavior that may satisfy the definition of workplace bullying must now report the incident/s.
Many of us who have suffered the damage of working for an abusive boss have dreamed of the day that our co-workers would step in to help. However, this policy is missing the necessary contextual discussion that helps employees understand the important distinction between conflict and bullying. Only two of the 27 examples of bullying included in the policy reference the fact that bullying must be repeated and none recognize that bullying takes place over time. These actions need to be part of a pattern of abuse. Continue reading
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
A recent NLRB decision may help protect that venting you’ve been doing about your job on Facebook – so long as it falls under very specific criteria. But, it also shows how an employer can try to flip that “zero tolerance” “bullying & harassment policy” against employees. Slate summed it up this way: “The case—Hispanics United of Buffalo—started one Saturday morning in 2010. That was when domestic violence advocate Mariana Cole-Rivera took to Facebook to complain that one of her co-workers was unfairly accusing fellow employees of laziness. Several other staffers at Hispanics United of Buffalo chimed in to say they worked plenty hard already. Soon after Cole-Rivera and her co-workers returned to work, HUB fired five of them, arguing that their off-the-clock comments had violated the nonprofit’s anti-harassment policy.” The NLRB decision ruled against HUB’s use of the bullying policy for the terminations: Continue reading
Below is the part of the Postal Service‘s “Stand up talks: respect in the workplace” campaign they provide for their employees that specifically addresses workplace bullying. Although gossiping is often considered bullying behavior, it is addressed as a separate topic. It will be interesting to see what type of impact this awareness raising effort has: Continue reading
Below is a great article from Patricia Barnes, author of SURVIVING BULLIES, QUEEN BEES AND PSYCHOPATHS IN THE WORKPLACE. She is also one of the people who created the Care2 petition asking for a national answers — please help bring attention to this petition! Sign it and pass it on http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/protect-us-workers/ :
Federal Agencies Urged to Address Workplace Bullying
When an incident of assault, harassment, intimidation, or bullying occurs in a federal workplace, it is usually caused by an employee rather than a customer, criminal, or someone who has a personal relationship with the victim. Continue reading