The purpose of my documentary research into the topic of workplace bullying has been to ask several questions – chief among them is:
Can workplace bullying be defined? If so, how and who decides? How do we avoid – and recognize – false accusations?
Below are some popular ways of defining workplace bullying that may be doing more harm than good. This article recognizes the work of those who have gone before and is respectfully intended to break down silos and build bridges that encourage broader more inclusive discussion as we move closer to a legislative solution.
1. NO HARM, NO FOUL: Continue reading
For years the model template for workplace bullying legislation – the Healthy Workplace Bill – contained the word “malice” and a $25,000 cap. Legal scholars and critics questioned why the bill’s author, Law Professor David Yamada, and the leader of the lobbying effort, Dr. Gary Namie of the the Workplace Bullying Institute, insisted on including this extraordinarily high hurdle. If you believe the whacky spin that critics of the language are trying to take over the movement then listen for yourself to a clip from What Killed Kevin that reveals what Dr. Namie has to say about his own bill and how difficult it is to prove “malice”:
‘That is the lawsuit killer right there people… the phrase, acting with malice is what the employers should read as, “Wow! We’re off the hook.” Because, you know, rarely can that be proven.” Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Continue reading
English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“OSHA’s existing regulatory scheme should incorporate workplace bullying because OSHA is a singularly appropriate vehicle for such efforts and because prevention of workplace bullying through an existing scheme complements efforts to enact new legislation specifically addressing the problem.” [Susan Harthill]
Several years ago Susan Harthill presented her findings at the 2010 International Conference on Workplace Bullying & Harassment to leading advocates, researchers, and practitioners within the global workplace bullying movement. Besides Harthill, keynote speakers included Professor David Yamada, author of the Healthy Workplace Bill, and Dr Gary Namie, founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute. Rather than incorporating Harthill’s ideas as a quiver in the U.S. battle against office abuse, advocates for the WBI’s Healthy Workplace Bill chose to advocate only for their legislation. That is, of course, their prerogative. But, imagine how much further things may have advanced if it were a multi-pronged effort dedicated to protecting workers through a variety of approaches. Several members of the broader effort to stop workplace bullying have embraced a national petition bearing nearly 8,000 heartbreaking signatures asking the Obama Administration to explore options to protect U.S. workers from bullyng. Continue reading