Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has acknowledged the immediate need to combat sexual abuse and harassment in all branches of the military. This will require major overhauls in how the military approaches sexual misconduct amid allegations that one of the people running a prevention program was guilty of the same abuse. “We have a problem with respect for women that leads to many of the situations that result in sexual assault in our Air Force,” Gen. Mark Welsh told reporters in a lengthy interview in his Pentagon offices [Time Magazine ] The Invisible War, the 2012 chilling Academy Award nominated documentary features haunting testimony from rape victims in the military.
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
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.
Too many victims of bullying and harassment have seen their reputations torn to shreds as they struggle to heal and find new employment. In 2010 Dr. Katherine Murphy lost sexual harassment and retaliation claims against the Aventura City charter school she helped found and Aventura City Manager Eric Soroka. Later an Appeals Court upheld the verdict stating she was unable to prove a hostile work environment and, based on the testimony of co-workers, Soroka did not “single out females as targets for the profanity”:
Murphy testified that she asked Soroka to stop bullying her and that she complained to a former supervisor, Soroka’s assistant, and a city commissioner that Soroka had used “vulgar, inappropriate language,” and engaged in “bullying, yelling, [and] screaming.” Murphy failed to report Soroka’s conduct, formally or informally, to her employer, and Murphy acknowledged that she did not complain to Soroka’s assistant or the city commissioner that Soroka’s conduct was sexually hostile or sexually harassing. The district court correctly entered summary judgment against Murphy’s complaint of retaliation.
Fast forward two years to November 2012. Murphy wins a whopping $155 million for defamation, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Miami Herald reports that: Continue reading
Years ago when I made my first documentary on the topic of workplace bullying & harassment I found th old training film for secretarial schools posted below. In it a young-ish woman is about to take her first clerical position. No one bothered to mention to her that she’d probably be called “girl” “sweetie” “honey” or that her bosses would make rude insinuations she’d have to ignore in order to keep her job. That enlightenment was still decades away. Here’s a link to a great resource with thorough information on sexual harassment laws today. I send a big warm hug to all of the women who worked so hard over the decades to fight for our rights. Continue reading