National Coalition Forming To Combat Workplace Bullying

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. Continue reading

SEIU’s Workplace Bullying Legislation Stalled

New Hampshire’s 2013 version of the Healthy Workplace Bill HB 591 has been tabled for this year and a rewrite is in the works. Fingers crossed that legislators have recognized the need to remove “malice” from the text because it creates a virtually impossible hurdle for targets of abuse to overcome in order to actually use this law to protect themselves. We’ve written about this before and below is the SEIU article about New Hampshire.  We applaud SEA for getting this legislation started and hope they use this opportunity to bring in new voices as several other states have begun to do in order to craft a target centric approach that’s also fair to businesses (instead of the other way around).  Continue reading

MASSACHUSETTS: Using Anti-Harassment Laws For Workplace Bullying

revellilaw.com

It’s barely two years since Massachusetts enacted the Harassment Prevention Order. Recently an attempt to hold Kingston Town Administrator Jim Thomas accountable for alleged abusive conduct fell short. But, Kingston Police Sgt Susan Munford, who made the charges, told the Kingston Reporter: “I’m glad I was heard, I’m glad the restraining order is behind me, and I’m glad he was advised to not have any further incidents with me,” she said. “That gives me peace of mind.” Employment Defense Attorney Denise Murphy advises employers to take precautions because this HPO may well be used in cases of workplace bullying. Here’s a reprint of her 2010 article on the topic:  Continue reading

Can Nevada Expand Discrimination Law To Fight Workplace Bullying?

Journalists often cite that 20 states have introduced the Healthy Workplace Bill but what goes unreported is that quite a few of these bills are radically different from the “model template” described in the press.  For instance, New Jersey, the only HWB bill currently active,  proposes that a regulatory agency impose a fine of not more than $25,000 on abusive employers. Despite this, and the lack of a private right of action, NJ receives strong support from the HWB campaign as the 10th state to introduce the HWB. The HWB from Nevada proposed expanding discrimination law already in place. The official HWB website clearly labels Nevada AB 90 one of their 20 HWB’s and voices support on their site: “… we thank Mr. Segerblom and wish him luck. Nevadans need to contact him to ask how to help.” Patricia G. Barnes is a judge, licensed attorney, and legal writer who is a recognized expert on workplace abuse and bullying. She describes the Nevada bill and a variety of other possible approaches in her new book, “Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplace which is a must read for lobbyists, journalists, and legislators involved in this issue.  Here’s an excerpt: Continue reading

Adding OSHA to the arsenal against workplace bullying – it’s about time!

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

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

Canada, Workplace Bullies, and The Law

Wal Mart Canada CorpHere’s an article from the Canadian Workplace Legal Post which is a reminder to everyone involved in the U.S. workplace bullying movement that a variety of solutions can, and should, be embraced and supported. Canada has been  strengthening their Workers Comp and OSHA regulations to be effective tools that can protect their workers:

Big Jury Award Arising from Workplace Bullying

Appropriate conduct in the workplace is ever changing. The most recent shift concerns bullying in the workplace, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the stern, often aggressive management styles of yesteryear may no longer be appropriate in the Canadian workplace. In light of this change in attitudes, employers must take note or suffer what may be very serious consequences, which are perhaps no better evidenced than the recent jury ruling by the Ontario High Court of Justice, which awarded 1.46 million dollars to an employee who claimed her manager bullied her. Continue reading