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.
With only eight months left in the two-year legislative session and more retailers and business organizations opposing the workplace anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, Senate Bill 1013 (an act against workplace bullying and mobbing), we need to act quickly.
Your action is vital to progress the bill. Here’s how it works: Legislators want to act based on what their own constituents want so they can get re-elected and keep working for you. Telling them what you want and their taking action matters for both your empowerment and your future vote. And the more of us who contact our legislators asking them to write to Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Paul Brodeur, the more urgency the committee will feel to move the bill to the Senate. We need as many people as possible to make this urgency happen.
We thank those who’ve setup meetings with your state legislators to tell them your personal stories and ask them to ask Rep. Paul Brodeur to move the bill out of committee. (If you haven’t yet, you can do so by calling your State Rep and State Senator. Bring your story with you on one page — see guidance below.) It’s by far the most effective way to push the bill forward. If you can’t meet with your legislators, you can still help.
Another way you can help
What legislators need is our stories and to write letters to Rep. Paul Brodeur to ask him to move the bill to the Senate with your stories attached. If you absolutely cannot meet with your legislators, even in local office hours, we ask you to write to them and followup call (you can use this template to bring your story with you to their office hours and email to your legislator beforehand, too):
- Draft your story. Stick to the facts and keep it brief. Write up a one-page summary of what happened to you or someone you know:
- In one sentence, open with who you are, where you worked, and what you did for work.
- In one paragraph, paint a picture of your experience using facts (briefly describing how you felt as professionally as possible while still using emotional detail).
- In one paragraph, describe how your employer reacted (or didn’t react). Did they ignore you? Retaliate?
- In one paragraph, describe the toll your experience took on you, especially your physical and financial health. Did you experience anxiety, loss of sleep, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder? How much did you lose in therapy costs, medication costs? Did your experience cost you a marriage, a home loss, high medical expenses, legal expenses?
- In one paragraph, describe how the experience left an impact on the organization. Roughly how many sick days did you need to take? Emphasize that costs are also associated with hiring and training a replacement employee.
- Email your legislators. Use this easy tool to send your letter. Follow the instructions and copy and paste it into the fourth tab.
- Call your legislator’s office to make sure they received your email. This step is important. Legislators receive so many emails, and many get buried in their email boxes. Call to make sure they received it and ask them again to ask the legislator that you request he or she write a letter to Rep. Paul Brodeur asking for Senate Bill 1013 to move forward.
- Repeat the process for the second legislator.
You may also use the first tab of the easy tool to draft your story and send it off. (We ask you to still followup call.)
We thank you again for your work on making employee rights a priority in Massachusetts. Please forward this message to others who may have experienced workplace bullying.
The Healthy Workplace Bill has moved onto a Second Reading in the House. Your emails, phone calls, and meetings with your reps made a huge impact in moving this bill forward.
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