Stupid state lawmakers deliberately distort science

July 22nd, 2014

“Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself.”
Mark Twain

I’m starting to sound like my father and can’t believe I question nearly every day “what is this world coming to?” Near the top of my “it’s all going to hell” list is America’s turning its back on science — unabashedly, proudly, defiantly — through legislation.

In the UK, the BBC has banned from their airwaves crackpot guests preaching that climate change is not real. The change is to bolster scientific integrity. Staff will receive training in science and scientific conferences will be attended by staff to stay abreast of developments.

Deniers get equivalence here in the US. One denier with one believer (proxy by Bill Nye, the “Science Guy”). Viewers ignorant of the facts could conclude that climate change is not really something to be concerned about. The fallacy of this false equivalence was never more clear than this demonstration by comedian John Oliver on his HBO show This Week Tonight.

And recently the British government extended its public school ban on teaching pseudoscience, creationism, to cover “academies” and “free schools,” the equivalent of charter schools in the States. The government recognizes the religious bases of the founders of such schools. Thus creationism promotes religion and has no business in the teaching of science.

America is headed in the other direction, driving headfirst into ignorance. Creationists and advocates for “intelligent design” in the US seem to be gaining clout. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) 2014 legislative scorecard identified states that are attempting to make their children science illiterates.

Read the rest of this entry »



Healthy Workplace Bill legislation: A 2014 perspective on distorted amendments

July 14th, 2014

The Healthy Workplace Campaign is WBI’s effort to enact anti-bullying legislation for the American workplace state by state. The model bill is called the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB).

Features of the HWB

• Suffolk University Law Professor David C. Yamada, text author, used federal Title VII Civil Rights laws as basis

• Defines severe abusive conduct — does not use term workplace bullying

• Provides legal redress for anyone subjected to abusive conduct, whether or not the person is a member of a protected status group

• Requires that abusive conduct result in either demonstrable health or economic harm to plaintiff

• Plaintiffs who file lawsuits make public formerly hidden, confidential employer processes that hide and deny bullying

• Prohibits retaliation against any participant in procedures involved in dealing with the abusive conduct complaint

• Requires plaintiffs to hire private attorneys, no fiscal impact on state government

• Provides incentives (affirmative defenses) for employers who implement genuine corrective procedures

• Preserves managerial prerogative to discipline and terminate employees

• Does not interfere with state workers’ compensation laws or union CBAs

We named the HWB in 2002. All other uses of the name HWB are unauthorized by us. California first introduced the HWB in 2003. It has been carried in over half of states and two territories since. The Workplace Bullying Institute trains and provides support to a national network of volunteer Sate Coordinators who lobby their respective state legislators to sponsor the HWB. You can track its status at the HWB website.

Botched Amendments & Unanticipated Consequences

As authors of the HWB, we naturally want the full and original version of the bill enacted into law. And we realize compromises will be made during the process. It is “sausage making,” after all. We just wish all bill sponsors would refuse to allow major revisions that change the spirit of the bill from protecting abused workers to something else. Since the HWB was first introduced, different amendments have been proposed or made.
Often the well-intended sponsor, a pro-worker advocate, agrees to compromise adopting the belief that the law can be built in steps. Let’s get this version passed now and it will be revisited in the coming years and supplemented with the other desired provisions.

Read the rest of this entry »



Workplace Bullying: Support for U.S. Laws

July 14th, 2014


SUPPORT FOR A LAW in 2014

Question: Do you support or oppose enactment of a new law that would protect all workers from repeated abusive mistreatment in addition to protections against illegal discrimination and harassment?

The respondents who answered this question were individuals who were directly bullied, those who had witnessed it, the few who were perpetrators, and those with no personal experience but who believed it happened and those who believed it was exaggerated. Those groups taken together constituted the American public who were “aware” of abusive conduct at work, the 72% (See National Prevalence).

It is clear that those respondents, the American public aware of abusive conduct, want to see worker protections extended beyond the anti-discrimination statutes – 93% support specific anti-bullying legislation.

Furthermore, 50% of Survey respondents self-defined as Conservatives strongly support the Healthy Workplace Bill. With such little opposition from
those expected to oppose the bill, it is a certain conclusion that now is the time for passage of this new law.


Read the rest of this entry »



HR Exec: Taking Aim at Workplace Bullies

July 10th, 2014

By David Shadovitz | Human Resource Executive, July 10, 2014

Anti-bullying legislation continues to gain momentum in state legislatures, with Tennessee becoming the first state to pass anti-bullying legislation.

On June 17, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law the Healthy Workplace Act, a law that affects the practices of state and local government agencies. Private employers are not affected.

The law defines “harassment, intimidation or bullying” as any act that “substantially interferes with a person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment,” and instructs the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernment Relations to create a model policy by next March. Employers have the option to adopt the TACIR policy or not. Those deciding to enact it would be immune from claims arriving from bullying behavior.

Proponents of anti-bullying legislation and experts believe other states could soon follow in the Volunteer State’s footsteps, with some pointing to New York and Massachusetts as the most likely to pass anti-bullying laws that would also include private-sector employers.

So far, 28 states have introduced anti-bullying legislation this year, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash.

In June, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla vetoed legislation that would have held both public- and private-sector employers in that territory accountable for workplace bullying. In doing so, Padilla pointed to the Department of Justice’s view that the definition of “workplace harassment” is too vague and the fact that victims of workplace bullying can still seek protection under the territory’s Constitution.

Gary Namie, national director of the Workplace Bullying Institute and a chief architect of the Healthy Workplace Act, says his reaction to the Tennessee law is generally positive. Any legislation that focuses on abusive conduct in the workplace breaks the silence, he says. “You’re going to have all of the institutions talking about it now.”

But while he considers the Tennessee law a good first step, Namie adds that he’s disappointed by the legislation’s limited scope and authority, describing it as a “gutted” version of the Healthy Workplaces Act.

Namie notes that it’s also unfortunate that under the act “all of the processes still happen in-house under a shroud of secrecy . . . . “Everything remains internal.”

Recent studies confirm that bullying continues to be a widespread and troubling issue in workplaces.



Reporter dubs Healthy Workplace Bill “Happy”

July 10th, 2014

Lazy reporting pairs with stupid in a single jumbled mess of incorrect attribution and mistakes by writer Susmita Baral at the online site — Wall Street Cheat Sheet.

In one amazing paragraph, Baral wrote:

A recently published VitalSmarts report found some surprising and unsettling findings — a whopping 96 percent of respondents surveyed are reporting that they have experienced workplace bullying. Workplace bullying — which has been dubbed the “silent epidemic” by Psychology Today — has become such a prevalent concern that twenty-six states have introduced Happy Workplace bills to combat the trend.

The Happy (sic) Workplace bills. Really?

Happy instead of Healthy is not just a typo, it’s a glossing over of this serious problem in the workplace. It’s the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB), stupid.

Baral sets the low threshold by which internet writers can now be judged. It’s mostly happy talk and mindless drivel to drive advertising dollars to web sites. Monetization is ubiquitous. Baral can be forgiven because before her mindless bullying article, she wrote these enticing pieces: “Americans consume 23 sticks of butter a year: Is the habit healthy?” Facial cleansing 101: How to properly clean your face.”

The Problem With Stupidity

Calling HWB “Happy” diminishes the seriousness of the impact abusive interpersonal conduct has on abused workers. It conveys the erroneous message that if you are experiencing clinical depression as a result of your work environment and the abusive people responsible for its toxicity, there must be something wrong with you. If you are not “happy,” it’s your fault. Happy workplaces are employers’ goals. Yeah, right.

Healthy, in terms of safety from health-harming intimidation, domination and verbal abuse, is positive enough. We — WBI — named it the Healthy Workplace Bill to deliberately challenge lawmakers who oppose the bill to say they see nothing wrong with abusive conduct. Of course, every opposing lawmaker remarks publicly in committee hearings, “Now I’m not in favor of abuse, but …” then they rally to vote to support abusive employers.

Happy is a frivolous goal. Healthy connotes overcoming stress-induced health problems.

A longer version of this piece can be found at the WBI Blog.



Untrustworthy stupid headlines about workplace bullying

July 10th, 2014

Upon return from a short break, we found a jaw-dropping headline that cannot be believed.

96% of Workers are Bullied at Work!

The non-discerning press copied the press release from a consulting firm named Vital Smarts who have never been players in the workplace bullying arena. [See the US Academy roster to see who is doing credible and important work in America.]

Why do we at WBI say this company’s finding is not believable? Because they do not provide a definition nor describe their research methodology. We at WBI get a 97% bullied rate when we ask those who complete our online surveys. Of course we do. Who comes to this website seeking solutions to their personal problem and may also complete a survey? Bullied targets and witnesses. Our respondents are a “self-selected,” non-random sample. Our research reports clearly state when studies rely on bullied targets’ opinions only.

Read the rest of this entry »



Wall Street Journal: First State Workplace Bullying Law Has Few Fans

June 20th, 2014

By Adam Rubenfire – The Wall Street Journal – June 20, 2014

Last month, after a decade of stalled progress in 26 states, advocates of workplace bullying legislation scored their first victory. But they’re not entirely pleased.

Tennessee approved the Healthy Workplace Act on May 22, a law designed to curb verbal abuse at work by making public-sector employers immune to bullying-related lawsuits if they adopt a policy that complies with the law.

Though federal laws outlaw workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and other protected statuses, advocates like Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, are lobbying for laws that recognize the verbal abuse of coworkers regardless of whether they fall under a protected class.

Dr. Namie, a social psychologist, said the Tennessee law doesn’t go far enough. The bill his staff drafted for the legislature would have allowed both public and private employers to be held liable in civil lawsuits regarding incidents of alleged workplace bullying if they failed to enforce policies that recognize and protect workers who claim physical or mental harm as a result of bullying.

However, the signed law applies only to public-sector employers, and administrators aren’t required to follow guidelines that the law ordered a state commission to draft by March 2015. Instead, they’re incentivized to do so in exchange for immunity from potential lawsuits.

Under the new law, individual employees may still be held personally liable for abusive conduct.

Read the rest of this entry »



Utah committee briefed on Abusive Workplace Conduct

June 16th, 2014

On June 18, 2014, 9 am, Room 20 House Building, the Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee will hear testimony from Rep. Kevin J. Stratton and Utah State Coordinator Denise Halverson, PhD.

The committee will discuss: Abusive workplace conduct defined as malicious, repeated, health-harming mistreatment: verbal abuse, threats, humiliation, intimidation, work sabotage, exploitation of a known vulnerability, or retaliation for ethical conduct. An abusive work environment exists when an employer or one or more of its employees, acting with intent to cause pain or distress to an employee, subjects that employee to abusive workplace conduct that causes physical harm, psychological harm, or both. The committee will hear a presentation on the prevalence and effect of abusive work environments and discuss future legislative options.

Visit the Utah State Page to volunteer to get involved in this campaign to enact the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill next year.



Puerto Rico acts on the Healthy Workplace Bill

June 6th, 2014

If you are new to being bullied at work, you necessarily are consumed by righting the wrong and healing from the self-blame and shame that accompanies it. If you are reading this, you have discovered the WBI website that confirms you did nothing wrong, nor did you deserve the denigration, humiliation or ostracism.

You might have missed the fact that since 2001 we have spearheaded the effort in states to pass a law that would have given you a chance to threaten your employer with a lawsuit. Without the threat of a law, US employers are letting the perpetrators run with impunity. And that doesn’t even count bullying done on behalf of executives and senior managers.

The name of our legislation is the Healthy Workplace Bill. Volunteer Coordinators in 36 states have managed to get the bill introduced in 26 states and in 2 territories — the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The process is just beginning in the USVI, but progress is significant in PR.

Senator Rosanna Lopez Leon was the prime sponsor of S 501. The bill passed all committees, and both Camara (House) and Senado (Senate) floor votes. Reconciliation of the different versions was completed on June 3.

The bill awaits Gov. Padilla’s signature.

Read the rest of this entry »



US Virgin Islands Senator introduces anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill

June 4th, 2014

Sen. Clarence Payne, Chair of the Health, Hospitals, Human Services & Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has introduced our anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill in the U.S. Virgin Islands legislature. On June 6, in St. Croix, a public hearing for the bill will be heard.

Please visit the USVI Page at the HWB website and use the E-Z letter writer to show your support to committee members.