Utah’s unique approach to workplace bullying legislation worth a second look

Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

Utah’s HB 196, Abusive Workplace Policies Act, was defeated last spring but it had some unique and refreshing aspects.  Despite placing the ill-conceived hurdle of “malice” in the path of victim/targets — something even Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) advocates are finally acknowledging needs to be retired — HB 196 would have required Utah’s state agencies to create policies and conduct management trainings to protect their public employees. Most experts agree that the key to stopping and preventing workplace bullying rests in the hands of the employer. And, in this case state agencies could have simply expanded harassment, discrimination, or workplace violence training already in place — similar to municipalities like Ventura County, California have done recently. [see our article on Ventura].  This bill was supported by the Utah Public Employees Association.   UPEA also supported HB 251: Utah Personnel Management Act Amendments saying, “as a result of a 2010 legislative audit noting that only 8% of state managers have any management training, UPEA asked Rep. Brad Daw to sponsor this bill, which requires DHRM to develop a manager and supervisor training.” Looks like those legislative audits come in handy after all.

Must Read Book About Workplace Bullying Legislation

Legislators, journalists, advocates and targets will find this book by Patricia G. Barnes a much needed resource with tons of information about workplace bullying and a special focus on current and possible legislation.  Barnes offers honest critique of the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill and brings a fresh perspective and much needed voice to this effort.  You can, like me,  send a “gift” copy to your state legislator to use as a reference that outlines a variety of approaches to prevent bullying. Barnes is an appellate and trial court judge, a licensed attorney and an author of legal books, magazine articles and newspaper op-ed columns. She became interested in workplace abuse and bullying issues Continue reading

Newly Released Documentary Takes On Workplace Bullying — with a twist!

sneak peek kevin

Ted Genoways Documentary StillWithin weeks of Kevin Morrissey’s suicide, advocates and journalists quickly pinned the “bully” label on his boss, Ted Genoways.  The story went viral and turned workplace bullying into a hot topic with Kevin the “poster child” for the Workplace Bullying Institute’s legislation. But, was Ted really a bully?  And, who should decide?  This provocative film, What Killed Kevin?, challenges common misconceptions and forces the viewer to decide for themselves. Featured are Ted Genoways, Kevin’s co-worker Waldo Jaquith, Kevin’s sister Maria, journalist Dave McNair and advocates for the Healthy Workplace Bill.  What Killed Kevin? is currently available for purchase by public and university libraries for educational use.  Here’s more information:

Continue reading

$1.46 Million Workplace Bullying Win in Canada Overshadows U.S. Struggle For A Law

For years advocates for the Healthy Workplace Bill have remained loyal to their legislative template and argued that options like Ontario’s Bill 168 aren’t adequate to address workplace bullying.  They also prefer an approach that discourages large lawsuits.  Looks like it’s time for legislators to take another look at alternative approaches — enforcement of Bill 168 may have fallen short — but large lawsuits equal change: Continue reading

Australia Told To Enact Law Requiring Workplace Bullying Policies: U.S. Still Falls Far Behind

Other industrialized countries have enacted workplace anti-bullying protections – some decades ago.  Australia now takes the lead as it conducts an impressive inquiry into workplace bullying.  Early testimony released by Australia says national legislation requiring employers to implement strong, clear policies is needed.

U.S. Falls Farther Behind

The following text is from the organization lobbying State by State for passage of their anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill:

…it doesn’t mandate the state to do anything and it has no fiscal impact, nor does it make employers do anything. If they want to be abusive then they operate under the threat of litigation. Which should scare them but truth be told it doesn’t scare them too much… Continue reading

University Workers Complain Workplace Bullying Policies Fall Short

When Policies Don’t Work

I would give anything to have the U.S. replicate the broad national investigation of abuse in our work cultures that Australia is currently undergoing.  [sign our petition] At least we can watch from halfway around the world and learn from information being presented.  Because, one of the issues being discussed is that policies in the workplace need certain components if they are going to be effective.   Unfortunately, here in America the most popular template for legislation, the Healthy Workplace Bill, doesn’t even require employers to put policies in place much less dictate that the point person for employees to complain to should be separate from HR.  Hopefully that will change and the bill will be amended by some smart legislator before it passes. Continue reading