Posts Tagged ‘David Yamada’

Healthy Workplace Bill legislation: A 2014 perspective on distorted amendments

Monday, 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.


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NPR: Workplace bullying and the Healthy Workplace Bill

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

States Consider Bills To Crack Down On Workplace Bullies
By Yuki Noguchi, National Public Radio (NPR), May 27, 2014

Bullying is a behavioral problem often associated with children in grade school, but according to the Workplace Bullying Institute more than a quarter of American workers say they’ve experienced abusive conduct at work.

Now, many states are considering laws that would give workers legal protections against workplace abuse.

Lisa-Marie Mulkern says her boss — the commandant of a retirement home for veterans in New Hampshire — turned on her after she expressed concerns about what she calls wasteful financial management. Mulkern was working as a public-relations manager and fundraiser at the home.

“Even though residents and their families had nothing but praise for my work, and the home’s publicity continued to increase, the commandant started to make my work situation a living hell,” she says.

Mulkern says she was repeatedly excluded from meetings and denied credit for her work and access to critical information. Colleagues took notice but treated her like she was contagious. “And I was told point blank, ‘You’re on your own with that one, Lisa-Marie,’ ” she says.

Mulkern says she lost weight and sleep from the stress.

“I didn’t realize how much of a toll it was taking on me. I was the public face of the home, and I was trying to look the part of the PR person and not let people know that personally, I was being pummeled at work,” she says.

In 2006, after four years working at the retirement home, Mulkern tangled with her boss over a bad evaluation, and lost her job. The current commandant of the home declined to discuss Mulkern’s case, citing state privacy laws. But Mulkern has since testified several times before the New Hampshire legislature, which is one of 15 states, including, and,that are considering bills giving legal protection to workers harmed in abusive work environments.


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Professor David Yamada on Greater Boston

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

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Workforce: Bullying, bigotry and a bill

Monday, 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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Masters & Servants

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

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.

Here’s a link to the very interesting article

David Yamada, employment law, master, Minding the Workplace, servant

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Melrose Free Press: Sen. Clark on the Healthy Workplace Bill

Friday, July 5th, 2013

A Safe and Healthy Workplace For All by Mass State Sen. Katherine Clark, Melrose (MA) Free Press, July 4, 2013

Everyone deserves a safe and healthy workplace. Unfortunately, instances of workplace abuse and harassment are far too common, with both physical and psychological health consequences for employees.

By some estimates, more than a third of workers have experienced this type of mistreatment, and I have heard directly from many constituents about their own experiences.

As a state, our economic wellbeing depends on the success of healthy and productive employees. Workplace harassment can have serious costs for employers, including reduced employee productivity, higher turnover and absenteeism rates, and increases in medical and workers’ compensation claims.

Last week I testified before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development on legislation I have filed to address this challenge: An Act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, without regard to protected class status.

Joining me were state Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, Suffolk University Law Professor David Yamada and several victims and advocates.

In oral and written testimony, workers described repeated and escalating verbal abuse, physical intimidation, retaliation for reporting complaints and harassing behavior designed to compel them to quit.

This bill (HB 1766) does three things. First, it provides legal relief for employees who have been deliberately subjected to abusive work environments. Secondly, it incentivizes employers to prevent and respond to abusive mistreatment of employees by allowing employers to minimize liability. And finally, it includes provisions that discourage weak or frivolous claims.

It is important to understand that this bill is not about everyday disagreements in the office, or someone having a bad day, or a boss providing directives, oversight and feedback. Instead, it seeks to address a regular pattern of health-harming mistreatment at a work environment in the form of verbal abuse, offensive and threatening behavior, or malicious work interference.

Some types of workplace abuse — like sexual harassment — are already illegal with established legal recourse and remedies. But in other cases, employees who have been subjected to abusive treatment cannot establish that the behavior was motivated by race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or age. As a result, they are unlikely to be protected by the law against such mistreatment.

Rep. Story and I have 37 cosponsors on this bill, and we anticipate moving it forward to a vote this session. This bill also has the support of the National Association of Government Employees. Since 2003, variations of this bill have been introduced in 25 states, and a growing number of nations have enacted laws and regulations covering workplace bullying.

The results of this legislation will be direct and indirect. Workers who have been harmed by abusive work environments will have access to legal recourse. And as importantly, it will contribute to a change in workplace culture as employers focus on this challenge, raise awareness and adjust their policies in response.

The change will take time, but this bill moves us forward and establishes Massachusetts as a leader in ensuring healthy and safe workplaces.


State Sen. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, represents the 5th Middlesex District.

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WBUR: David Yamada on the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

From Radio Boston, WBUR, July 2, 2013

Suffolk University Law Professor David Yamada on HB 1766 in Massachusetts, the Healthy Workplace Bill.

Listen at the WBUR Audio Archives

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HWB Legislative Campaign is focus of Associated Press story

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Growing Push to Halt Workplace Bullying
by Sam Hananel, Associated Press, March 1, 2013

Article excerpts …

On-the-job bullying can take many forms, from a supervisor’s verbal abuse and threats to cruel comments or relentless teasing by a co-worker. And it could become the next major battleground in employment law as a growing number of states consider legislation that would let workers sue for harassment that causes physical or emotional harm.

“I believe this is the new claim that employers will deal with. This will replace sexual harassment,” said Sharon Parella, a management-side employment lawyer in New York. “People who oppose it say these laws will force people to be polite at work. But you can no longer go to work and act like a beast and get away with it.”

Some employers have put into place anti-bullying policies, but advocacy groups want to go even further. They have been urging states to give legal rights to workers who do not already fit into a protected class based on race, gender or national origin.

More than a dozen states — including New York and Massachusetts — have considered anti-bullying laws in the past year that would allow litigants to pursue lost wages, benefits and medical expenses and compel employers to prevent an “abusive work environment.”

Gary Namie, a social psychologist who co-founded the Bellingham, Wash.-based Workplace Bullying Institute in 1997, is among those leading the charge, along with labor unions and civil rights groups. He says the economic downturn has made bullying even worse and argues that passage of the laws would give employers more incentive to crack down on bad behavior in the workplace.

“People are trapped; they don’t have the same alternative jobs to jump to,” Namie said. “They are staying longer in these pressured, stress-filled, toxic work environments.”

Business groups have strongly opposed the measures, arguing they would open the floodgates to frivolous lawsuits.

“We would look at a bill like this as overreaching,” said Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He said the bill would punish an employer for acts of its employees that it may not be able to anticipate.

But Parella, the employment lawyer, thinks it’s only a matter of time before states begin passing these laws and bullying issues become a major factor in workplace litigation.

“Once it passes in a few states, there will be a chain reaction,” she said, noting that other countries such as England, Ireland and Sweden already have laws addressing workplace harassment.

In Massachusetts, the National Association of Government Employees Local 282 has been one the first unions in the country to include an anti-bullying clause in collective bargaining agreements.

“From a labor perspective, we want there to be remedies in place for corrections to be made, not to yell, scream, threaten or treat the person basically like a slave,” said Greg Sorozan, president of NAGE, which represents about 12,000 public employees.


See an original posting of the full story with pictures and a graph.


The anti-bullying legislation mentioned in the article is called the Healthy Workplace Bill. You can help enact it in your state by helping our State Coordinators. At this national campaign website, click on your state and see what is happening this legislative session or in years before.

Greg Sorozan is also HWB State Coordinator in Massachusetts. See videos of him and Suffolk Law Professor David Yamada, the bill’s author, describing the legislation on the MA State Page at this website.

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Suffolk Law Prof. David Yamada – MA Healthy Workplace Bill

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Another video produced by the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates. Suffolk Law Prof. David Yamada, author of the HWB as introduced in all states, describes the movement to pass the bill (in 2012, the bills are H 2310 and S 916) into law. The legislative session ends in July. Visit the MA State page at the national website to write letters to House and Senate members imploring them to pass the bill on the House and Senate floors.

Prof. Yamada’s affiliation with WBI began shortly after the birth of the movement. In 2000, he published the seminal legal article defining workplace bullying for the legal profession (Georgetown Law Journal). In 2001, he wrote the first version of the Healthy Workplace Bill that we then convinced lawmakers in California to introduce in 2003, the first of 21 states.

Since then, Prof Yamada has written extensively about the necessity of creating laws that benefit humans. He is part of the movement within the legal education community called “therapeutic jurisprudence.” A listing of his published papers available for free download from the SSRN website can be found here. He also writes a marvelous blog titled “Minding the Workplace.”

Website: MA Healthy Workplace Advocates

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Bills to Address Bullying by Bosses | Valley Post

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

by Eesha Williams, Valley Post

Bullying by bosses leads some workers to commit acts of violence, and causes stress-related health problems in many more workers. Massachusetts is poised to become the first state in the nation to pass a law against workplace bullying. Vermont is likely to pass similar legislation next year. Legislation in New Hampshire is stalled.


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