Workplace Bullying on Your Legal Rights, KALW

February 24th, 2014

On Wed. Feb. 12, host Chuck Finney, San Mateo Deputy District Attorney (Ret.), of the show Your Legal Rights on San Francisco’s KALW, invited Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Director and Orange County plaintiff’s attorney and co-founder of CELA (California Employment Lawyers Association), William Crosby, to discuss the challenges of Workplace Bullying.

Listen to the 27 min. broadcast.

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Tennessee becomes 26th state to introduce anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bills

February 6th, 2014

In the Tennessee House, Rep. Antonio Parkinson introduced HB 1981, the Healthy Workplace Bill to combat workplace bullying. Sen. Jim Kyle simultaneously introduced the companion bill, SB 2226.

Both bills mark the introduction of Tennessee to the legislative fight against workplace bullying. It is the 26th state to have taken this step since we began the campaign in 2003 in California.

Visit the Healthy Workplace Campaign website for details and specifically the Tennessee State Page for new bill details.

NH HB 591 Passes Senate

January 31st, 2014

SEIU Local 1984, representing New Hampshire State workers, has engineered passage of HB 591 (a unionized version of the full Healthy Workplace Bill) in both the House and Senate. Senate passage by voice vote was recorded on Jan. 30, 2014. The bill returns to the House to reconcile differences in amendments.

Visit the NH State Page to thank all bill sponsors, especially Rep. Diane Schuett.

Professor David Yamada on Greater Boston

January 30th, 2014

Dayton Daily News: Laws lacking in workplace bullying

January 20th, 2014

By Cornelius Frolik, Dayton Daily News, Jan.

Workplaces have bullies just like schoolyards, but bullied workers generally have fewer legal protections than school children. State and federal laws do not prohibit bullying in the workplace, as long as it does not constitute discrimination or certain types of harassment.

But calls for legislation outlawing the activity have grown louder since last fall when the topic grabbed national headlines after an NFL lineman accused a teammate of hazing and bullying.

Advocates said more than one-third of U.S. workers experience bullying, and the public is finally beginning to understand its prevalence and harm.

“It’s very serious because it destroys people’s health, jobs and careers,” said Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, an educational and research nonprofit in Bellingham, Wash. “It’s a major, major problem, but it’s not illegal, so employers don’t have to deal with it.”

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Workforce: Bullying, bigotry and a bill

January 6th, 2014

Bullying, Bigotry and a Bill to Prevent Picking on All Personnel
by Frank Kalman, Workforce, Jan. 5, 2014

Unless bullying involves discrimination, it’s mostly legal to be a jerk at work. Some are trying to change that.

Culture is a powerful force, especially in the workplace.

In the right setting, high-stress, high-profile workplaces such as hospitals, law enforcement offices and professional sports teams can promote a culture of camaraderie and teamwork while producing positive results. However, big egos also can quickly reign supreme, leaving an environment ripe for intimidation and bullying. With no laws specifically preventing workplace bullying — unless the conduct involves discrimination — it’s legal to be a jerk at work, experts say.

Workplace culture likely played a role in a recent high-profile bullying case that became national news with the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins. In midseason, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin unexpectedly left the Dolphins saying he was being harassed by teammates, including fellow lineman Richie Incognito.

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Support the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill

December 12th, 2013

A wonderful video produced by the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates, affiliates of ours working hard to make the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill state law there.

Please share this video on your social media pages!! Spread the word.

The Buffalo News: Another Voice featuring NYHWA’s Mike Schlicht

December 5th, 2013

By Mike Schlicht – The Buffalo News – Opinion – 12/3/13

Workplace Bullying Imposes on High Costs in New York

This past October, 32 villages, towns, cities and counties across New York State issued proclamations recognizing “Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week” and acknowledging that protection from abusive work environments should apply to every worker and not be limited to legally protected class status based only on race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability.

Workplace bullying is four times more prevalent than sexual harassment and employees have no recourse in law but to quit their jobs. In today’s jobless recovery, that is not possible. Employees will stay as long as they can in abusive work environments, incurring mental and physical health ailments to provide for their families until they become disabled, take their own lives or strike out in acts of workplace violence. Targets of workplace bullying can incur severe depression, anxiety, increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, and symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Employers also incur costs from workplace bullying. Studies continually show that workplace bullying reduces productivity, incurs higher sick leave and health insurance costs, turnover and talent flight. Sadly, most employers do not understand these costs. Even if they wanted to reprimand, transfer or fire a bully for these specific actions, they face a wrongful termination suit.

Employees often seek out the services of human resources, believing that this department will help them address workplace bullying only to find that in most cases it does nothing or makes the situation worse. A recent survey found that 31 percent of human resources personnel are also bullied in the workplace. If they can’t help themselves, it is assured nothing can be done about it in current law.

Workplace bullying is defined as repeated, health-harming mistreatment in the form of verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation and work sabotage that undermines business and services. Targets of workplace bullying are employees who are bullied because they bring positive attributes to their employer and work environment. They are employees who are productive, talented, educated and team players. Workplace bullies are threatened by these traits so they make the workplace environment abusive and toxic in hope that the person will leave. When this doesn’t happen, the stakes rise and more egregious and aggressive tactics are used to impair the employee’s effectiveness that will assure the employee develops health issues.

For the lucky ones, an early retirement may be a way out, but at substantial cost. The unlucky may become partially or permanently disabled, under-employed or unemployable due to health impairments. Thirty-two communities have spoken. It is time to be free from workplace bullies.

Mike Schlicht is state coordinator for New York Healthy Workplace Advocates.

a 4965, buffalo news, Healthy Workplace Bill, Mike Schlicht, New York, NYHWA, s 3863, workplace bullying

Tulsa World: Bullying at work should not be ignored

November 29th, 2013

By Linda K. Greaves, Tulsa World Business Viewpoint, November 28, 2013

In a time when senseless and random acts of physical violence are occurring in our schools, the workplace, our shopping malls, airports and other public places, a more insidious and pervasive intentional violence is coming to the forefront — bullying.

In recent days, the NFL has been in the spotlight because of workplace bullying. Richie Incognito, a nine-year veteran of the Miami Dolphins was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team” in a flurry of accusations that he bullied teammate Jonathan Martin, using racial slurs and making threats of violence against him. Martin left the team, seeking medical relief from the alleged bullying.

Bullying is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as repeated and unwanted actions by an individual or group intending to intimidate, harass, degrade or offend. It is also an abuse or misuse of power. Bullying is psychological violence.

Legal remedies for bullying in the workplace are limited. If bullying is predicated on a protected class such as Race/Color, Religion, Sex (Gender, Pregnancy, and Sexual) National Origin/Ethnicity, Equal Pay/Compensation, Genetic information, Disability and/or Age, as defined by Title VII and the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act, the victim may have a cause of action against the bully or against the employer who knowingly allows or perpetuates bullying. Other torts such as Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress may be available to the victim, as well.

Twenty-five states, including Oklahoma, have attempted to pass some version of the model Healthy Workplace Bill since 2003, but to date, none have passed. This year, 11 states are actively considering enacting the bill, with 16 bills pending in 2013. Depending on each state’s proposed version, it generally gives a cause of action to an individual whose health is harmed by “health-harming cruelty” at work against the individual bully and/or the employer.

Bullying in the workplace not only has the potential for affecting a business through litigation, but it most certainly affects the productivity and bottom lines of companies on a daily basis. Employees who are bullied report stress, lower self-esteem, depression, anxiety, digestive upsets, high blood pressure, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result of these physical and psychological symptoms, absenteeism goes up; some employees cut back on work; some consider quitting; some take it out on innocent bystanders; others will steal from the job, sabotage work, damage equipment, damage the personal property of the bully or even contemplate or carry out a violent act.

Employers should be proactive. There are preventive measures that an employer can take. The employer should (1) immediately adopt and enforce a zero tolerance policy, (2) address the bullying behavior ASAP, (3) hold an awareness campaign, (4) stop and seek help if you are the bully, (5) model effective professional behavior, and (6) use facilitation, mediation or design a group for intervention/team building.


Linda K. Greaves serves as of counsel for the Tulsa office of Crowe & Dunlevy in the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group.

Follow the full NFL story in the Category list in the sidebar: NFL: Jonathan Martin

Healthy Workplace Bill, legislation, workplace bullying

Why Does It Take a Richie Incognito for Us to Start Talking About Bullying?

November 25th, 2013

By Kerri L. Stone, Associate Professor of Law, Florida International University, Huffington Post, Nov. 16, 2013

In the wake of the Richie Incognito suspension, a big question that we need to ask is…why? With bullying so rampant in society, why has this story captivated the public imagination? And why did the Dolphins decide to suspend him that Sunday afternoon after initially defending him in a statement released just that morning?

The first question is easy. Bullying is linked in the public imagination to juvenile, perhaps inconsequential schoolyard behavior that “strong” adults should be able to tolerate, especially when they are large, famous professional football players. No one has cared much about workplace bullying among adults, and this has been a mistake. Until now. In the NFL.

The harm that workplace bullying does to organizations’ morale, productivity, and efficiency is well-documented. It erodes employees’ feelings of wellbeing and dignity in the workplace. Each day in this country, untold numbers of people falter and/or leave their employment because of corrosive workplace bullying. But until a famous football player took a stand and walked away from fame and success, no headlines screamed to us about this phenomenon.

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