By Torii Bottomley, Cambridge (MA) Chronicle, Nov. 19, 2013
Workplace bullying has become rampant because it is driven by a buyer’s market in jobs.
In my professional practice of teaching English as a Second Language in a public school, not only was I bullied and removed from my position in front of my hysterical students without reason, but I am increasingly experiencing highly qualified colleagues and students who talk about bullying scenarios. When I ask whether they are referring to sexual harassment, age discrimination or cause-based performance issues, they more frequently refer to being abused by not having access to shared information, harassment, intimidation and threats of poor evaluations and isolation.
I have highly performing colleagues who have lost their jobs or have been forced to quit due to a narcissistic manager who has enjoyed virtually unrestricted rein in threatening job loss or career damage.
By Jim Smith, WCBS-AM 880, New York City, Nov. 10, 2013
Bill Would Give Workplace Victims Legal Recourse
In the wake of the alleged harassment on the Miami Dolphins football team, the spotlight has returned to workplace bullying.
As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, an effort has been under way for years to pass legislation on the subject in Albany.
“It’s verbal abuse, work sabotage, and work interference, so it can be one or any combination of the three,” Schlicht said.
Schlicht said he was a victim personally, and said the effort was also designed to have companies put forth clear policies to prevent bullying.
“We don’t need to tolerate this environment, and certainly there’s no good reason for it,” Schlict said. “There’s better ways to manage and allow people to do their job.”
Schlicht said half the New York State Assembly is onboard with the bill, but more votes are needed in the state Senate.
Suffolk University law professor David Yamada first drafted the bill in 2001. A similar bill was advanced in California the following year, and New York organized next.
The bill has since been introduced in more than half the U.S. states, according to a news release. Healthy Workplace bills have already passed committee votes in New York, as well as Connecticut, Illinois and Washington, and has passed the House in New York for a study-only bill, the release said.
Healthy Workplace Bill, Jonathan Martin, Mike Schlicht, New York Healthy workplace Advoactes
WBI’s good friend, Professor David Yamada of Suffolk University and author of the Healthy Workplace Bill, just published a great piece about the roots of American employment law.
David Yamada, employment law, master, Minding the Workplace, servant
In a nutshell
Under current law, worker’s compensation is generally the only avenue available to an employee who has been injured at work.
This bill (SB233, AB245) allows an employee who claims to have been injured by being subjected to an abusive work environment to file a civil lawsuit against an employer or employee who allegedly engaged in the unlawful practice.
A lawsuit must be filed within one year of the last act constituting the alleged abuse, which can include: repeated verbal abuse such as derogatory remarks and insults; verbal or physical conduct that is threatening, intimidating or humiliating; sabotage or undermining of an employee’s work performance; or exploitation of an employee’s known psychological or physical vulnerability.
If a court finds an employer or employee has engaged in an unlawful practice, the court can order the practice be stopped. It also can grant other relief, including reinstatement of the aggrieved employee, removal of the person who engaged in the abusive conduct from the aggrieved employee’s work area, medical expenses, back pay, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, attorney fees and other costs.
If the court orders any monetary payment because of an unlawful practice by an employee, the employer is liable for that payment. If an employer is found to have engaged in an unlawful practice that did not result in an adverse employment action against the aggrieved employee — such as dismissal or suspension , demotion, denial of a promotion, unfavorable transfer or reassignment, reduction in compensation or denial of increased compensation — the employer’s liability for compensation for emotional distress cannot exceed $10,000 and the employer is not liable for punitive damages.
The case for it
“Workplace bullying happens,” said Eric Peterson, chief of staff for Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, who introduced the Senate bill.
“There is damage that can be proven,” Peterson said, adding derogatory comments or other actions against employees by their employers or coworkers can result in mental and physical health problems, including depression. “Anyone who’s ever been bullied can tell you how it affects them.”
The case against it
“Our state has robust protections, both internally at workplaces and at the Department of Workplace Development, to handle discrimination and bullying in the workplace,” said Chris Reader, director of health and human resources policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. “As we work to continue growing jobs and fix our job creation climate, we don’t need lawmakers adding additional layers of costly litigation and regulations.”
To get involved