“Jodie’s Law” needs “Teeth” to fight workplace bullying

In 2010 I posted my short documentary “Jodie’s Law” about a young woman who her family alleges committed suicide due to workplace bullying.  This is an update from her Aunt:

We have received tremendous response from your documentary both Nationally and around the world.

We/My family always felt if sharing the heartbreak of our family would help save one life, our efforts and Jodie’s death would not have been in vain. Having taken that step forward, has brought many to us who have told us they were prepared to take their life when they saw your documentary or read our stories, and they pulled back from the brink, saving their loved ones the pain they endured. Normally those accounts have also been accompanied with statements of renewed courage to face their situation, their bully, or find a different job.

There have also been e-mails asking to speak with me directly as they were contemplating taking their lives. With my heart in my throat, I felt I could not dial their phone numbers quickly enough. But through the mercy of God, I reached each caller, listening to the pain of their experiences and the dire choices they believed were in front of them. These callers repeatedly expressed their gratitude; but I too felt grateful, as helping is part of healing ones broken heart. Though there are times I still hold my breath when we interact, most have found their footing and belief in themselves. This does not mean there was a rosy job in front, just waiting for them. The struggles have been long and hard; but joyfully many have gone on to find new and fulfilling careers. For those who continue to struggle, I remind them they are the heros, for they are survivors; as well as hold them in my heart and prayers.

Add “Teeth”to Pending Legislation:

Passage of Healthy Workplace Legislation seems to drag on. Perhaps this is the way it goes when trying to pass a law. I admit I am still a novice to the roll of Citizen Lobbyist. The political outlook in Wisconsin has been very dire. Yet, State Representative Kelda Roys, and Senator Jon Erpenbach, sponsors of the Wisconsin bill, assure me that Jodie’s Law (as we like to call it) has not been lost on them; they are simply waiting for a more favorable political climate.

We, as a family find it discouraging that many working on the legislation insist on calling it a Healthy Workplace Bill as opposed to an Anti-Bullying bill. We think there has been so much news in the media about bullying, that it should no longer be considered an aggressive term when working for a law against it in the workplace. There are few people who are not familiar with the term Bullying when it comes to schools and young people, as the numerous pieces of legislation indicate. Also the idea that the law would have to prove malice seems unacceptable. It is not required in other protected status laws, so it does not seem wise to set a precedent now.

Also, we would like to see a tougher stance to adding some financial teeth if employer negligence is found. I/we have not given up on these bills. We write, call, sign petitions, and anything else we can feasibly do to help them along. I try to keep up with all that is posted on Facebook, writing responses, opinions, bringing up Jodie’s story, etc. and always including the link to your documentary. We are in the process of having a brochure of Jodie’s story printed so we may easily hand it out when people ask about our button that we still wear with Jodie’s picture & caption Workplace Bullying Breaks Hearts

I am chagrined there are times it all gets to be too much for me and my spirit sags and I find myself on the verge of days of depression. Jodie’s Mom encourages me to take a break from it all for now, or maybe for always, as she says Jodie would be proud of what I have accomplished and she would not want to see me ruin my health or lose the joy of life. So I have been giving myself permission to do just that.

Expanding Advocacy Efforts:

We sisters have talked some about focusing our work towards the children and teens anti-bullying issues. Perhaps developing a program geared towards talking with children and teens, as well as parents, teachers, administrative leaders, as well as school boards and city/county board members. Jodie was a leading member of DECA in her high school and we feel the DECA program would be a good place to start. This is all in the talking stages for us, put we do feel at times our efforts would be better spent in that direction. Many States have passed Anti Bullying laws for children and schools, so we may have a better foot in the door. Growing our citizens of tomorrow with an understanding of the damage caused bullying and the benefits of tolerance, may in the end bring the best results. Hopefully their parents would be learning right along with the kids, and then start to stand up for their own rights in the workplace as well.

We have been appalled at the number of suicides among young peopled. In Wisconsin a teen attempted set himself on fire, and in Minnesota two middle-school girls made a suicide pact and hung themselves, all due to bullying. Jodie’s daughter is now 10 years old. These stories have scared me to death! Over dinner I spoke with our little girl about what they are taught in school about bullying. It seems it is discussed frequently, as she had a lot to tell me. I also gave her a book about bullying published by the American Doll company. Because she has a very active 6 year old brother, we never got a chance to get back to the book or the subject, but at least it is a start.  We have not yet broached the subject of suicide. It seems like such a cruel topic to confront and we have not had the right moment to talk with her Daddy about it and what and when he thinks the subject should come up. It is still all very heartbreaking but everyone is heroically carrying on and doing what each of us can to help the other along.

Family Life:

Jodie’s husband is doing a great job in raising the children, though he seems to steer pretty carefully away from any serious discussions with us about Jodie, and all that has occurred, yet relations between all of us are becoming more comfortable. He brought the kids to Florida for the first time since Jodie’s passing. We all went to Disney World & then spent Thanksgiving at Grandma Jean (Jodie’s Mom).

He has his hands full keeping the kids clothes clean, as well as the house, seeing their home work is done, fixing their meals, getting them to school and to bed, girl-scouts, religion classes, swimming, soccer, T-ball, and even coaching their teams. He loves the children very much. I think I can safely say they are his world, and the kids feel the same. Jodie’s daughter is very protective of her brother and watches over him and her Daddy like she is a little mother – sometimes more than either male of the house appreciates.

Grandma Jean (my sister & Jodie’s Mom)  & I had a wonderful but short visit with them in August. We spent two nights at their place, where among other things we played salon and Jodie’s daughter gave us facials and did my hair (!) and her brother painted my fingernails and make-up. I only regret we did not take pictures of the end results! We …spent lots of time with their Auntie Lisa (Jodie’s sister in your video) and a lot of time in the swimming pool. It is always hard to say goodbye.

It is important to note that no single factor leads to suicide and Jodie’s employer did not respond to an offer to participate in the documentary.

4 thoughts on ““Jodie’s Law” needs “Teeth” to fight workplace bullying

  1. Pingback: Is There a Bully in Your Workplace? | CallCenterBestPractices.com

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  3. Pingback: No Job Is Worth Losing The Precious Gift of Life

  4. I jus watched your video, I feel your pain. God Bless you! No one should have to go through that. I am a vicitm of workplace bullying myslef. I work at a casino in NY state and I am going through a lot these days there. I am a pit clerk, I work in the table games area. Eventhouth, I work close to table games, I am considered under the cahier’s cage. That is who I answer to. I have been there nine years and have been a victm of bullying for four years. The person that caused this hostility, is a pit clerk supervisor that works on the night shift. I work w/her for three hours because, we have scattering shifts. She is a trouble maker, causes trouble everywhere she goes. She is always bad mouthing us to other employees in other departments especially, table games. Which, is the cause of the problems I’m having w/two female managers in table games. I will catch them looking at me at and laughing at me, and they will get others to do the same. They will throw paper work at me, that needs to be enter in the computer. Or, they will snatch it out of my hand. One of them embarrassed me in front of customers last month. It was so bad, I had to write an incident report on her. She accused me of taking too long w/printing a players card for a customer in front of him. He, even got nasty w/me too. She caused a scene. I was busy w/more important work which, is why It took awhile. Infact, instead of causing a scene, she could have a called a host, that is what they are there for. I didn’t hear anyting after the incident report. I have been to hr several times and, got no where. I even had another co worker complain to hr too and, still got no results. They told us they don’t know how to handle it. The pit clerk supvisor was causing problems too. She kept taking me to our manager, accusing me of giving me atttutude and our manager woudl believe every word that came out of her mouth. She is a liar and a manipulator. Our, manager has stepped down from her position becasue she was stressed from having to managing the cage cashiers besides us. I am glad because I lost count of how many times I was dragged to the office. Also, one of the bullies would lie to my supervisor all the tiem, to try to get me in trouble for somethig stupid. Most of the time it worked. The last time I was dragged to the office, was in Feb 2011. I mentioned lawayer and that was the last tim. Someone from table games wrote a letter to my manager accusing me of slander. This person said I was talking about my trouble making supervisor on facebook. Of course, it wasn’t true. I never would do that. My manager believed them. I figured it out, it was a table games supervisor and my supervisor that did it. This table games supervisor is freinds w/the two famale bullies. She was mad at me because I defended my co workers over an incident that involved one of the bullies and herself. I was on facebook one night and she was sending me nasty messages, accusing me of talking about her. It is so ridiculous. HR woudn’t even look into it enventhough it states in the employee handbook that no employee shoud make accusations at another employee. While, I was in the office again because of this, my manager was accusing me of having rage in me and she suggested cousnleing through EAP in front of my supervisor. She didn’t have the decetcy to wait until my supervisor left the office. I was so upset, I didn’t say anything to her about doing that. I did complain to hr but, not sure if they said anything to her about it. My manager is aware of the problems I was having w/two women. She kept telling me to ignore them. Again, I am glad she stepped down. I don’t see her because, she works the grave shift. She lost her senority for stepping down from her postition. So, in that meeting, I was told, I need to watch what I say on any social network, including facebook. I continued to claim my innocence but, still got anywhere with it. Luckily, I didn’t have any action taken against me because, I kept stating that I didn’t say anything about anyone from work on facebook. I even said, that I don’t have time to spend on there because, my boys take a lot of my time which, is true. I was so humitated after that, when I got home from work, I balled my eyes out. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. My two young boys wittnessed it too. I couldn’t help it, I just lost it. My husband is so good to me, he just held me and let me cry into his shoulder and, then tried making me laugh. I am currently on antidepressant but, I don’t want to increse it because, I don’t want to me a zombie. I was going to counsleing a few years ago but, I stopped because my counselor left. I felt I was strong enough to stop. Plus, I can’t afford the co pays anymore. Money is an issue for us right now because of the economy. That is why I just didn’t quit my job because, I don’t want to get behind on bills or loose our home. It is very aggrivating, I wish NY state got some thing passed too.

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