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.
As a member of the coalition, I recently met with Congressman Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, to explore ways we might work together to conquer the issue. In the past 10 years, NWBC’s core group, many with ties to New Jersey, have written, organized forums, represented clients, videotaped stories and lobbied legislators on the issue. We believe the time is ripe to bring all affected parties in New Jersey together to address the issue and find a legislative solution.
NWBC proposes a convention, similar to a constitutional convention, to detail the nature of workplace bullying, the negative consequences to both employers and employees, how today’s business leaders address the issue and what remains to be accomplished. Let us thereafter work together to implement a law against workplace bullying.
Many developed countries around the world already have legislation in place to address workplace bullying. However, in America, stand-alone legislation, such as the Healthy Workplace bill, has been proposed in more than 20 states, including New Jersey, but none of the bills have passed.
We must now take action in New Jersey by exploring other possibilities, such as modifying the workers’ compensation law or the NJ Law Against Discrimination to prohibit workplace bullying. Let us in New Jersey, including employees, employers, interested parties and lawmakers, join forces to organize this convention and take action against workplace bullying. Life thereafter could be happier for all.
We look forward to readers’ response via firstname.lastname@example.org
. More information can be found on workplacebullyingcoalition.org.
Sue Pai Yang
National Workplace Bullying Coalition