With the growing protest of sexual harassment in Hollywood, a lot of us are left wondering: why are we ignoring that when abuse of power isn’t of a sexual nature, countless competent and ambitious workers like Ann Curry get pushed out of their jobs? Why are only those in protected classes (gender, race/ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, age, sexual orientation, individuals with disabilities, and veteran status) accounted for under law when general workplace bullying is four times more common than sexual harassment? Why should someone choose between their health or a paycheck because their competence — rather than their protected class — threatens the power abuser?
While #metoo exposed that law can’t protect everyone when they’re forced to choose between speaking up or preserving their jobs, sexual harassment law certainly moved the needle on the norms of sexual abuse in the workplace. But when there are no laws to protect those suffering from verbal abuse, threatening, intimidating, or humiliating behaviors, and sabotage, CEOs have no accountability to pay attention to the health of their workplace cultures. So employees believe nothing will be done when they report abusive behavior, and rightfully so.
We all deserve protections from abuse at work, regardless of the form and who we are. “Otherwise, workplaces will continue to be used by narcissistic individuals as personal playgrounds for predatory actions, which can negatively impact individuals, organizations, companies, and societies,” says S. L. Young in his Huffington Post article “Harassment goes beyond sex, women, Hollywood, and politics.”
How do we do more to prevent abuse of power in the workplace? We demand change. The workplace anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill is stuck in the State House, and we need your help to move it forward.