The Final Chapter: Tracey’s Law Against Workplace Bullying

Why Tracey’s Story Is So Important:

To me, Tracey’s story shows how complicated the answer is to the first question that victims are always asked: “if you don’t like it there why don’t you just get another job?”  Personally, I began making films about workplace bullying because I was smack in the middle of my own office drama.  I was attracted to Tracey’s story because she was about to go on a journey that represented my worst fears.   I needed to find bully free work but I was terrified what would happen if I didn’t land one of the 2 open jobs I was qualified for in the Metro NYC area — where my husband is employed, our careers are based, and our friends and family live.   I knew I was extremely lucky to land one.  Part of the short documentary I made about Tracey’s situation included scenes of her daughter, Kali, lobbying for legislation while her mom was traveling around the Carolinas and Georgia looking for a job.  It’s been nearly over 3 years since I filmed that deeply moving scene with Kali yet still no legislation has passed.

Q: Why do you think that the HWB hasn’t passed yet?

Tracey: Why do I think there has not been a HWB passed yet is a tough question to a tougher answer. Personally, I do not like the bill to begin with. I believe it is too corporate friendly in that there is no really big reason for corporates to embrace a law that has very small consequences. Having a cap on the claim a target can obtain is ludicrious. My real belief though is that there continues to be a blindfold on this real issue to our senators and congress men and women.  While some have been very supportive, others don’t.  I find this rather silly when I sit and listen to how the parties behave in the senate and treat each other. They are bullies!  I don’t really know why the bill hasn’t passed but I’d sure like to hear other’s opinions on it.

Q:  Is there anything you would particularly like to add…

Tracey: I want to thank everybody who have worked tirelessly at getting a HWB passed. I know that many of you have suffered personally due to tragedies that happen in the workplace. My heart is with you. I hope that one day I might feel better to re-join you but in the meanwhile, know that my heart is with you all and I am so grateful for all your work.

Tracey’s Law is featured on our “Virtual Town Hall” page or can be accessed for free on both YOUTUBE & Vimeo.

UPDATE! “Tracey’s Law” Against Workplace Bullying Pt. 1 of 3

Q: It’s actually been several years (close to 4?) since I first came up to meet and film with you.  At that time you were moving South to try to find work. People who have seen TRACEY’S LAW have been deeply moved by your story and I was wondering if you could tell us what your situation is now?

Tracey: When I left [upstate NY] 5 years ago for North Carolina to find work, I was very excited about starting a new life in a new area. I had always loved NC and had family living there as well so I had no doubts that everything would work out. I was so wrong. My timing could not have been worse. The economy had just hit its first traces of the recession and jobs in NC were not as plentiful as it had always been. I sent out 100’s of resumes and met with dozens of agencies and was unsuccessful in finding work. I had the skills but there were no jobs.

After six months of seeking employment there, I moved down to the Atlanta, GA area where I had more family. For six months I looked for a job there and it seemed the job market was even worse there than it was in NC. I finally gave up and returned to my own family in [upstate NY], feeling like quite a failure.  My family was very welcoming as I had expected and I immediately picked up some temporary positions that I was overly qualified for but grateful to accept.

Once those dried out I interviewed at a retail chain and have been there for nearly 3 years. It has been an eye opener in the different workplaces I have been in to see that workplace bullying is so common and occurs in so many forms; primarily, however, in the form of psychological bullying which is so hard to prove. Documenting psychological harrasment is difficult because it happens behind closed doors most of the time. People are afraid to speak out because they are afraid for their jobs. I have worked with several people who were currently being psychologically abused in the workplace and they were miserable and afraid – which led to them making silly mistakes in their jobs and giving their bully even more ammunition to use against them.

I, too, took over a temp positon that others in the department called “the dart board”. Wow. So others in executive level positions could see what was happening to the person in this role and they too were silent about it. In this position I was cursed at and yelled at and told I was not good enough for the position as a full time permanent.  At another time, the same person told me I was over-qualified for it.  One thing that did change, however, I didn’t take the abuse sitting down and faced it head on when it happened.  I was in charge of how people were going to talk to me and if they didn’t like it, it was just a temp job anyhow.  Currently working at [name withheld], I see mostly age discrimination.  Being 52 years old, I am supervised by executives more than half my age who know a fourth of what I know about managing people. They call each other and sales floor employees names, but I don’t forget to tell them how unprofessional it is and that seems to be all it takes.  At least it doesn’t happen around me. I continue to be depressed and have times when I feel post traumatically stressed. I have migraines that last for days.

In March of 2011 I was awarded social security disability benefits retroactive two years. I am now on disability but continue to work about 20 hours a week. I went from being a successful single mother who owned my own home and had a career that paid me 56K/yr to a person on disability working [retail], and filing a 2010 income tax of just over 9K! I live with my mother and my daughter.

Since the documentary was made, my mother had an addition added on the house and I have a beautiful bedroom with a private sitting area for my own privacy.  I have been to my State Capitol to testify and lobby for a workplace bullying law, but have decided it stirs up my emotions too much and I feel helpless in getting a bill passed.

New Initiative Stares Down Workplace Bullying

Our Bully Pulpit
 combines the power of original documentary film and the reach of multiple media platforms to spark a movement that exposes the devastating effects of workplace bullying. Accurate information, reliable sources, new voices and new ideas are all housed within the new interactive home at

Catherine Mattice, president of Civility Partners, LLC, a consulting firm focused on eradicating bullying and other negative behaviors, says, “There are a lot of consultants, therapists, professionals and targets with a point of view and lessons learned to share. Our Bully Pulpit provides a means for them to be heard and to learn from each other. Bullying can only be eradicated if we all work together.”

Real People/Reel Stories of Workplace Bullying

No longer a silent epidemic in the U.S., the workplace bullying issue is increasingly being exposed as a devastating mental, emotional and financial burden for both employees and employers.  Founded by documentary filmmaker Beverly Peterson, Our Bully Pulpit provides a forum for informed discussion, will tackle misconceptions about workplace harassment, and will provide tools for legislative and institutional change. Opportunities for experts and the general public—including those most directly affected—to join the dialogue, are the cornerstone of Our Bully Pulpit’s mission to encourage trans-media conversation and action.  Last year Ms. Peterson presented portions of this project at the prestigious 2010 7th International Conference on Workplace Bullying & Harassment in Cardiff, Wales.

“For over four years I’ve been using my skills as a filmmaker to tell powerful and emotional stories of victims of workplace bullying,” says Ms. Peterson. “I’m deeply moved by the conversations that the films have inspired and am expanding my efforts to illuminate more aspects of this damaging issue while at the same time providing a portal for journalists, legislators, practitioners, researchers and targets of workplace abuse to come together.”

Documentary Footage, Resources and a Cross-Media Digital Platform

Currently, the first of nine web installments of Ms. Peterson’s original documentary, “What Really Killed Kevin Morrissey?” is accessible on, and the remaining installments will be rolled out on the web over the next several months. The documentary footage examines the controversial story that made headlines one year ago: the suicide of Kevin Morrissey of literary journal Virginia Quarterly Review and allegations that his boss and editor, Ted Genoways, had bullied him. The first installment’s launch was featured in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education written by, Robin Wilson, the first journalist to report about Kevin’s suicide.  “What Really Killed Kevin Morrissey?” illuminates and sparks debate on the complicating factors woven into the fabric of workplace bullying, turning the conventional conversation around bullying and harassment on its head.

“It’s a ‘transmedia’ approach. By utilizing every available platform to us, including film, the Internet and digital tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipages, we can dig a little deeper and make real progress in a shorter amount of time,” added Ms. Peterson.

Tell Your Story!


Workplace Bullying is not a “silent epidemic” anymore…

I began working on a documentary about workplace bullying in 2007. At that time it was next to impossible to “pitch” my project because no one had a clue what I was talking about.  Since then things have definitely changed.  A simple google search of “workplace bullying” will bring up tons of hits.  Add to that “psychological harassment” “toxic workplace” “hostile workplace” and it’s obvious that we’ve finally made it to water cooler conversations.  The downside is that most of the coverage is shallow and simplistic and doesn’t really dig deeply into what we need to understand to really combat this issue proactively in our offices.   I’m currently developing a new website that will go beyond my current work at    Feel free to leave a message here, on our Facebook group site, or shoot me an email if you have suggestions for what you’d like to see.  Lots more discussion about this to come…  []

A plea to fellow fighters of Workplace Bullying

I became a co-founder of the fledgling cyber-group called the International Educational Coalition on Workplace Bullying. I’m excited that the Coalition allows me to join so many others in freely promoting critical discussion, context and analysis of all the research taking place and how it impacts the overall understanding and  prevention of hostile work environments.  Everyone visiting our Facebook Page is encouraged to add their own opinion and approach.  Do I personally agree with everyone who posts on the site? No, and I’m proud to say that even the three of us who originally founded the IECWB don’t agree on all aspects of the issue and encourage everyone visiting the site to have that same healthy discourse. Our International focus has allowed different perspectives, coupled with personal experiences, to come together on one page.  It’s been eye opening to see how even countries with Workplace Bullying legislation in place are still struggling to define the best resolutions.

We bring together psychologists, lawyers, researchers, business & Human Resource representatives, advocates and victims to create a forum for all our voices.  And, there are so many things to discuss, below is just a sampling:

Support of strong Workplace Violence legislation that includes Workplace Bullying (Type 3 Workplace Violence) and making the link to Type 4 which includes Domestic Violence in the workplace as well as specific issue Workplace Bullying bills

Strengthening OSHA health harming protections

Strengthening Workers Compensation and how it can help targets currently suffering

Exploring Arbitration, ADR & Mediation as a way for targets to find relief

Putting aside the demonization of HR and Business owners and creating a true dialogue with those that want to support us

Discussing the types of policies and approaches that are actually effective and encourage a healthy workplace that discourages bullying behavior.

Staying current with evolving research in PTSD, Stress, Anxiety Disorders

Please take a moment to visit the IECWB site to find information, share information, and join the global discussion.

Here’s a link to our Press Release if you are interested in learning more about the IECWB.