The Tuscaloosa City Council has approved a new policy against workplace bullying which applies to all City of Tuscaloosa employees.
The City’s legal department says the policy covers things that were not already clearly covered by the city’s anti-harassment policy.
Senior Associate Attorney Jimbo Woodson says the policy identifies bullying as intentional, hostile, abusive behavior that makes an employee no longer want their job.
“It wasn’t that many years ago that employers were adopting for the first time sexual harassment policies, then that became anti-harassment policies, and I think this is a natural extension to bullying, to essentially catch all of the inappropriate workplace behavior,” Woodson said.
Woodson also says the policy applies to a number of different scenarios.
“Not only does it direct co-workers, a co-worker who is bullying another co-worker, or a supervisor who is bullying someone they supervise, but it actually could be a group of workers who bully their supervisor,” he said. [full article]
For over a decade the Workplace Bullying Institute and their volunteer advocacy arm, the Healthy Workplace Campaign, have been lobbying state legislators to pass their Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) as written. None have passed. Criticism of the language or limitations of the HWB has always been met by supporters with resistance and the argument that the (copyrighted) HWB was meant as a foot in the door and a way to “prod” employers to do the right thing; the proverbial carrot on a stick. What to do? Research repeatedly shows that it’s not uncommon for grassroots efforts to change leadership or shift and embrace new approaches in order to evolve with the times and ensure success. True to form, a new leaderless grassroots movement has come up that embraces a variety of legislative approaches to preventing workplace bullying. Pima County in Arizona and Hennepin in Minnesota passed laws to protect their public employees from abuse. Ridgefield, NJ declared their whole town Bully Free with NJ’s first public ordinance against workplace bullying. Finally a sleeping giant has woken up and followed suit. This year Unions successfully pushed three bills onto the Governors’ desks of Tennessee, New Hampshire and California. Two have been signed into law and only one was vetoed. So, while these new laws that are being enacted may not do all that you wish, they sure have been successful and are definitely opening the door and prodding employers. Why are they successful? Most of these new bills focus on something that the HWB doesn’t include; required policies and trainings. On September 9th Governor Jerry Brown signed law that broadens existing Sexual Harassment regulations requiring any employer with 50 or more employees to include “abusive conduct” in their training. As part of the National Workplace Bullying Coalition (NWBC), we helped support Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in her now successful effort. Shouldn’t every state have that? It’s time for all of us working to prevent abrasive workplaces to respect our differences and come together to support change. Here’s what the latest law says: Continue reading →
Reprint from New Hampshire Public Radio July 28, 2014
Governor Maggie Hassan has vetoed a bill she called “well-intentioned” aimed at protecting public employees from bullying in the workplace.
Under the so-called “Healthy Workplace Bill,” things like an “unreasonable” workload or “constant and unreasonable criticism” would have been cause for action. Although the bill only covered public employees, Adrienne Rupp of theBusiness and Industry Association says the group lobbied Hassan for a veto.
“It kind of opens the door. You know, the language in the bill was very vague and subjective in our opinion,” she says. “And I think, had a bill like this passed and become law, I think the next logical step would have been to look at the private sector.”
But in her statement Hassan said the bill was too broad and subjective. She also said it would have upended the state’s system already in place to deal with harassment complaints, and that creating a new system amounted to an unfunded mandate.
Back in February we highlighted union backed legislation that was pushing through New Hampshire. On June 4 it officially passed through the House and Senate.
Similar to the bill that whizzed through Tennessee, HB 0591 is limited to Public Employees and emphasizes the need to implement policies and training. We would all love to see stand alone legislation with all the protections employees deserve but this growing trend that focuses on finding ways to pass legislation has infused energy and movement into a previously stalled campaign. And, more importantly, workers are beginning to have protection from devastating psychological abuse. Union efforts in California has ensured that other states are not far behind. Hopefully legislators in New York and other states around the country will begin to adopt this winning template to protect their employees. Can private employers be far behind? Continue reading →
SB2226: Any person injured by any act in violation of this bill will have a civil cause of action in chancery court or circuit court…When an employer or employee is found to be in violation, the court may enjoin such employer or employee from engaging in the unlawful employment practice and may order any other relief necessary, including, but not limited to, the removal of the offending party from said work environment, medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. NOT!
Wouldn’t that paragraph have thrilled the hearts of all of us involved in the effort to pass abusive conduct legislation to protect employees? But, that’s not the portion of SB2226 that the Tennessee State Senate approved or the Governor signed. What they did enact “requires the Tennessee advisory commission on intergovernmental relations (TACIR), in consultation with the department of human resources and interested local government organizations, to create a model policy for local governments to prevent abusive conduct in their workplaces workplace. The model policy shall:
(1) Assist employers in recognizing and responding to abusive conduct in the workplace; and
(2) Prevent retaliation against any employee who has reported abusive conduct in the workplace. Continue reading →