Workplace Bullying? #StopThatNow

To kick off “October is Bullying Awareness Month,” the National Workplace Bullying Coalition launched their #StopThatNow sign the pledge campaign asking everyone in the workplace to remember that bullying isn’t just in the schoolyard anymore. Millions of American workers, reportedly 1 in 4, suffer from workplace bullying, an epidemic form of abuse that is directly linked to severe anxiety, depression, debilitating physical harm and even suicide. The vast majority of these targets are unprotected and have no legal recourse. For many, the only hope is to quit and face chronic unemployment. How can we stop this?

“Everyone needs to show support for their co-workers or employees and signing the online pledge to be Bully-Free is an excellent place to start,” says Catherine Mattice, NWBC Board Officer, author and founder of Civility Partners, LLC. “Our Pledge is part of the Coalition’s mission to bring together legislators, legal experts for both business interests and employees, labor leaders, business consultants and other interested parties to develop solutions.”  Continue reading

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: Continue reading

Healthy Workplace Bill Vetoed in New Hampshire

Reprint from New Hampshire Public Radio July 28, 2014

Governor Maggie Hassan has vetoed a bill she called “well-intentioned” aimed at protecting public employees from bullying in the workplace.

Under the so-called “Healthy Workplace Bill,” things like an “unreasonable” workload or “constant and unreasonable criticism” would have been cause for action.  Although the bill only covered public employees, Adrienne Rupp of theBusiness and Industry Association says the group lobbied Hassan for a veto.

“It kind of opens the door.  You know, the language in the bill was very vague and subjective in our opinion,” she says.  “And I think, had a bill like this passed and become law, I think the next logical step would have been to look at the private sector.”

The State Employees Association was one of the bill’s strongest supporters.

But in her statement Hassan said the bill was too broad and subjective.  She also said it would have upended the state’s system already in place to deal with harassment complaints, and that creating a new system amounted to an unfunded mandate.

Listen to the radio program here [link]

Broward County Crime Commission Addresses Workplace Bullying

Broward County Crime Commission’s all-day conference, Adult & Workplace Bullying, on July 24th

I’m proud to be representing the National Workplace Bullying Coalition as one of the panelists at this conference next month. I’ll also be screening one of my early films on the topic, “Jodie’s Law: no job Is worth losing the precious gift of life.” Jodie’s Mom and Aunt Joie will be there to speak about “The Human Cost of Adult Bullying.”  The roster of speakers and scope of the agenda is truly impressive so if you’re in the area you should definitely check out the flyer below and go to the Eventbrite link for more information and to sign up. Continue reading

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.” Continue reading

CIA Cracks Down On Bullying & Harassment

An internal CIA document obtained by the Associated Press shows that the agency is disciplining abusive managers: 

“…These days, the CIA says it has a zero tolerance policy toward workplace harassment. And an agency document obtained by The Associated Press said 15 CIA employees were disciplined for committing sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year. That included a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in “bullying, hostile behavior,” and an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues, said the document, an internal message to the agency’s workforce.

The examples cited in the message, sent several weeks ago in an email by the director of the agency’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, were meant to show how the CIA is enforcing its strict policy. Continue reading