Corporate interests attack Healthy Workplace Bill in Massachusetts

Minding the Workplace

Powerful, well-funded corporate and business interests are contacting Massachusetts state legislators and generating letter-writing campaigns to voice their opposition to the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (filed as House No. 2310 in the 2011-12 session).

In some ways, this is a good sign. It means that the HWB is being taken seriously.

Nevertheless, as author of the underlying language of the HWB, I’ve examined their claims and found them wanting. Here are my responses:

1. Claim: Existing harassment law is sufficient to protect bullying targets.

Reality: This is untrue.  Harassment law protects only those individuals who can prove that the mistreatment is due to their protected class membership, such as sex, race, or age.

The HWB protects all employees from abusive mistreatment on an equal opportunity basis, filling a huge gap in the law.

2. Claim:Existing tort (personal injury) law is sufficient to protect bullying targets.

Reality: This is untrue. …

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One comment

  1. justicepending

    As a dedicated employee of the agency I currently work for during the past eleven years, I have been a target of vicious workplace bullying for the past six plus years. I have, also, been one of the more vocal employees by identifying the mistreatment, attempting to seek help for it, and finding that after years of effort doing so, my efforts to seek help, fall on deaf ears, so to speak.

    Even though more and more corporations are coming forward in opposition to this new bill, presenting the rationale that the current laws and policies are sufficient, that rationale is simply not true.

    When I started going through the appropriate channels requesting appropriate support with the issues that I had, which were well-documented through inappropriate e-mails sent to me, unprofessional and verbally aggressive behavior directed at me in front of other employees, as well as the executive director, I did not receive the help I needed. Instead, the bullying became even more fierce and unrelenting.

    I still work in the same toxic environment simply because I need my job. I have a teenage daughter at home and she needs stability. Out employment sector is so unstable, at this time.

    However, without the passage of this bill countless employees will continue to be exposed to bullying’s harmful effects. I notice that my attendance suffers, as I take off more days than I need to due to the stressful side effects on my well-being. My daughter takes off more days from school then she would otherwise need to because her mother comes home so stressed, at times, that she is not able to be present for her daughter’s needs.

    My daughter and I have talked about this issue in therapy, I have contacted a couple of attorneys, as well. At this point in time, there is not a concrete specific solution to this situation.

    I truly do believe that school yard bullies grow up to be workplace bullies unless there is a change of heart and/or a protocol set up to monitor the issues. My direct supervisor, the bully, has had innumerable opportunities to correct herself, and her supervisor the executive director, has had innumerable opportunities to require that she be exposed to the training needed to correct her unprofessional, shaming, overtly caustic targeting of certain employees to inaccurate statements about their job performances and character.

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