Justice Ginsburg Stands Up For Abused Employees

English: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justic...

It’s hard for targets of workplace bullying to prove their hostile work environment is a clear case of discrimination — bullying by definition falls outside of the protections of Title VII — but some plaintiffs still managed to win by proving they were fired or demoted in retaliation for filing a claim. Today’s Supreme Court decision just made that harder and a second “get out of jail free” card was awarded to businesses when SCOTUS narrowed the definition of whether that jerk harassing you is “technically” your supervisor. In what the Huffington Post called a “rare move,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the court: “Both decisions dilute the strength of Title VII in ways Congress could not have intended,” said Ginsburg, who then called on Congress to change the law to overturn the court.” In Vance v Ball Ginsburg wrote: Continue reading

Are Companies Liable When Supervisors Harass Employees? Ask the Supreme Court

Maetta Vance was working at Ball State University when she was harassed by another employee who Vance alleged had the authority to tell her what to do and how to clock her hours. After filing repeated complaints, Vance sued the university for violating Title VII. The university argued that it could not be held liable because Vance’s harasser did not have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline her. Lower courts agreed. Vance appealed to the Supreme Court. [ Announcement of Friend of Court Brief filed by National Partnership For Women & Families ]

So, the question before the Supreme Court this Monday is whether or not the definition of supervisor in harassment cases should be limited to only those managers with the authority to hire and fire or discipline an employee.  According to Sarah Crawford, the director of Workplace Fairness, “the Court’s decision will have important ramifications for the ability of victims of supervisor harassment to hold their employers accountable…The case is a chance for the Court to affirm a standard that furthers the purposes of Title VII – to root out harassment and make clear that employers will be held accountable when supervisors violate the law. A contrary ruling will have grave consequences for victims of harassment and the rights guaranteed by our nation’s equal employment opportunity laws. ” Continue reading

When Bosses Are Bullied

We all know it exists.  The co-worker that just makes their boss’ life miserable and meetings are power struggles that hinge on games meant to humiliate the manager and make them look foolish.  Or the employee refuses to provide important information or perform a task on time in order to sabotage their Boss and make them look inept to their superiors.   Maybe the employee’s ideas weren’t implemented or they don’t like the performance review they received.  Maybe they don’t like authority.   Groundbreaking research in this area shows that the impact is the same.  The study below found that: “Over half of the interviewees (including most of the managers who experienced an experience of upwards bullying) reported an increase in stress, along with anxiety symptoms such as shaking and sleeplessness. Interviewees also reported experiencing anxiety attacks and clinical depression.” Continue reading

University Workers Complain Workplace Bullying Policies Fall Short

When Policies Don’t Work

I would give anything to have the U.S. replicate the broad national investigation of abuse in our work cultures that Australia is currently undergoing.  [sign our petition] At least we can watch from halfway around the world and learn from information being presented.  Because, one of the issues being discussed is that policies in the workplace need certain components if they are going to be effective.   Unfortunately, here in America the most popular template for legislation, the Healthy Workplace Bill, doesn’t even require employers to put policies in place much less dictate that the point person for employees to complain to should be separate from HR.  Hopefully that will change and the bill will be amended by some smart legislator before it passes. Continue reading