…It is the purpose of this act to insure that every state agency has a policy in place to address and correct workplace bullying…
Kansas has joined the growing number of States seeking out new legislative solutions to ensure dignity in our workplaces. The Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) is pushing to get House Bill 2720, through their State Legislature to protect public workers from psychological abuse. Click on this link to watch the Fox News report featuring KOSE speaker, John Bates. Excerpts from the bill featured below call on the state to adopt and enforce comprehensive workplace bullying policies. Kudos to KOSE! We need this protection in the private sector too.Continue reading
[New Hampshire] SEIU’s member-driven workplace bullying legislation to protect public employees, HB 591, passed last month’s Senate vote. Rather than a “stand alone bill” it’s smartly tagged as part of the Whistle Blower’s Protection Act.
Included in the welcome changes to the bill’s language that the Senate approved are:Continue reading
Fortune/CNN Money’s article by Jonathon A. Segal, “Hard to Define: Even Harder To Ban,” clearly recognizes the severity and devastating impact of workplace bullying on the American worker and their employers. It’s been over ten years and 25 states since the first version of the Healthy Workplace Bill was introduced and still no takers. Segal sees a message in this #fail.Continue reading
Op-ed re-printed from Courier News – CentralJersey.com (Gannett), November 21, 2013
Workplace bullying is an important 21st century issue widely covered in the media and the internet. It is estimated to affect one-half of American workers, either as a victim or an observer of workplace bullying.
Columnist Jay Jefferson Cooke’s Nov. 10 article on bullying between football players prompted me to write this letter. Having tried workplace bullying cases in the NJ Workers’ Compensation Court before my retirement, I know that severe psychiatric injuries can result from workplace bullying; especially, when others gang up on the victim or condone the actions of the perpetrators by their silence. Employers also suffer negative consequences such as reduced productivity of its employees and increased medical expenditures.
Recently, a group of individuals from academia, law and the public with personal interest in the topic formed the National Workplace Bullying Coalition (NWBC), formerly known as the NJ Workplace Bullying Coalition, to take action on the issue.Continue reading
New Hampshire’s 2013 version of the Healthy Workplace Bill HB 591 has been tabled for this year and a rewrite is in the works. Fingers crossed that legislators have recognized the need to remove “malice” from the text because it creates a virtually impossible hurdle for targets of abuse to overcome in order to actually use this law to protect themselves. We’ve written about this before and below is the SEIU article about New Hampshire. We applaud SEA for getting this legislation started and hope they use this opportunity to bring in new voices as several other states have begun to do in order to craft a target centric approach that’s also fair to businesses (instead of the other way around). 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
Journalists often cite that 20 states have introduced the Healthy Workplace Bill but what goes unreported is that quite a few of these bills are radically different from the “model template” described in the press. For instance, New Jersey, the only HWB bill currently active, proposes that a regulatory agency impose a fine of not more than $25,000 on abusive employers. Despite this, and the lack of a private right of action, NJ receives strong support from the HWB campaign as the 10th state to introduce the HWB. The HWB from Nevada proposed expanding discrimination law already in place. The official HWB website clearly labels Nevada AB 90 one of their 20 HWB’s and voices support on their site: “… we thank Mr. Segerblom and wish him luck. Nevadans need to contact him to ask how to help.” Patricia G. Barnes is a judge, licensed attorney, and legal writer who is a recognized expert on workplace abuse and bullying. She describes the Nevada bill and a variety of other possible approaches in her new book, “Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplacewhich is a must read for lobbyists, journalists, and legislators involved in this issue. Here’s an excerpt:Continue reading
English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“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.Continue reading
Here’s an article from the Canadian Workplace Legal Post which is a reminder to everyone involved in the U.S. workplace bullying movement that a variety of solutions can, and should, be embraced and supported. Canada has been strengthening their Workers Comp and OSHA regulations to be effective tools that can protect their workers:
Big Jury Award Arising from Workplace Bullying
Appropriate conduct in the workplace is ever changing. The most recent shift concerns bullying in the workplace, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the stern, often aggressive management styles of yesteryear may no longer be appropriate in the Canadian workplace. In light of this change in attitudes, employers must take note or suffer what may be very serious consequences, which are perhaps no better evidenced than the recent jury ruling by the Ontario High Court of Justice, which awarded 1.46 million dollars to an employee who claimed her manager bullied her.Continue reading
Utah’s HB 196, Abusive Workplace Policies Act, was defeated last spring but it had some unique and refreshing aspects. Despite placing the ill-conceived hurdle of “malice” in the path of victim/targets — something even Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) advocates are finally acknowledging needs to be retired — HB 196 would have required Utah’s state agencies to create policies and conduct management trainings to protect their public employees. Most experts agree that the key to stopping and preventing workplace bullying rests in the hands of the employer. And, in this case state agencies could have simply expanded harassment, discrimination, or workplace violence training already in place — similar to municipalities like Ventura County, California have done recently. [see our article on Ventura]. This bill was supported by the Utah Public Employees Association. UPEA also supported HB 251: Utah Personnel Management Act Amendments saying, “as a result of a 2010 legislative audit noting that only 8% of state managers have any management training, UPEA asked Rep. Brad Daw to sponsor this bill, which requires DHRM to develop a manager and supervisor training.” Looks like those legislative audits come in handy after all.
Legislators, journalists, advocates and targets will find this book by Patricia G. Barnes a much needed resource with tons of information about workplace bullying and a special focus on current and possible legislation. Barnes offers honest critique of the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill and brings a fresh perspective and much needed voice to this effort. You can, like me, send a “gift” copy to your state legislator to use as a reference that outlines a variety of approaches to prevent bullying. Barnes is an appellate and trial court judge, a licensed attorney and an author of legal books, magazine articles and newspaper op-ed columns. She became interested in workplace abuse and bullying issuesContinue reading
Within weeks of Kevin Morrissey’s suicide, advocates and journalists quickly pinned the “bully” label on his boss, Ted Genoways. The story went viral and turned workplace bullying into a hot topic with Kevin the “poster child” for the Workplace Bullying Institute’s legislation. But, was Ted really a bully? And, who should decide? This provocative film, What Killed Kevin?, challenges common misconceptions and forces the viewer to decide for themselves. Featured are Ted Genoways, Kevin’s co-worker Waldo Jaquith, Kevin’s sister Maria, journalist Dave McNair and advocates for the Healthy Workplace Bill. What Killed Kevin? is currently available for purchase by public and university libraries for educational use. Here’s more information:
For years advocates for the Healthy Workplace Bill have remained loyal to their legislative template and argued that options like Ontario’s Bill 168 aren’t adequate to address workplace bullying. They also prefer an approach that discourages large lawsuits. Looks like it’s time for legislators to take another look at alternative approaches — enforcement of Bill 168 may have fallen short — but large lawsuits equal change:Continue reading
Other industrialized countries have enacted workplace anti-bullying protections – some decades ago. Australia now takes the lead as it conducts an impressive inquiry into workplace bullying. Early testimony released by Australia says national legislation requiring employers to implement strong, clear policies is needed.
U.S. Falls Farther Behind
The following text is from the organization lobbying State by State for passage of their anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill:
…it doesn’t mandate the state to do anything and it has no fiscal impact, nor does it make employers do anything. If they want to be abusive then they operate under the threat of litigation. Which should scare them but truth be told it doesn’t scare them too much…Continue reading