ON THE MOVE: New Templates For Workplace Bullying Legislation

[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: 

  • the removal of the term, and impossible hurdle, “malice”
  • the requirement of a written policy with clearly defined procedures.

This new language should be required in all anti-bullying legislation out there — and one really has to ask why unions have waited so long to ask for these simple changes.  Would we like to see additional changes? Sure, but it‘s a true Valentine’s Day present to see all our wishes for legislation on the cusp of taking a big, big leap. Thank you SEIU!

Now it’s time for the bill to go back to the House for discussion and a final vote. Good luck New Hampshire! Excerpt from the bill:

I. A clear policy statement that no employer or employee shall subject another to an abusive work environment.

II. A prohibition of retaliation for any claim of abusive conduct.

III. A requirement to distribute the policy to all new and current employees immediately upon adoption, and training for each employee and supervisor upon hiring or promotion and annually thereafter.

IV. A procedure for employees to obtain trained conflict resolution assistance within the workplace.

V. A procedure permitting an employee to bypass his or her supervisor to report concerns of abusive conduct or abusive work environment.

VI. A written procedure for investigating a report of abusive conduct including:
(a) Appointment of an impartial investigator.
(b) A time limit for investigation.
(c) A provision for confidentiality of the investigation.
(d) A procedure for reporting investigation conclusions.
(e) A provision for records retention.

VII. A neutral and timely appeals process to the commissioner of labor or the public employees
labor relations board if the complaint involves the department of labor.

VIII. A requirement for all documentation regarding the initial claim and all follow up investigation to be provided to the commissioner of labor, or the public employees labor relations board as appropriate for appealed cases.

IX. A provision outlining remedies available up to and including termination of the offending party.

X. A provision for annual policy review and provision for change if needed.

The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Carson, stated in her press release:

“State employees deserve a work environment free from abuse and harassment and thankfully we can say that the vast majority of our employees that have that today. However, testimony received during the hearing on HB591 made it clear that there is more we can be doing to provide for the health and safety of our employees. This legislation will address those shortcomings by requiring state agencies to adopt policies to ensure work environments and protecting employees who report such conduct.

“I appreciate the bipartisan support for this legislation as well as the support for the floor amendment which addressed some of the key concerns brought to our attention by some employers and outside business interests,” continued Sen. Carson. “It is my hope that the House will consider these amendments favorably and adopt this legislation with the same high level of support they did last year.”

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