Monday, October 18, 2010
Bullying Institute, authors of The Bully At Work (Sourcebooks, 2009), and recognized American
pioneers who have helped thousands of individuals since 1997 since launching the U.S. movement from Benicia, will speak at the Radisson Hotel, (500 Leisure Lane) Sacramento. Doors
open at 6 pm. There is a $25 fee; no pre-registration required.
WBI conducted the only scientific U.S. national surveys of workplace bullying’s prevalence first
in 2007 and again in 2010 (with help from Zogby). In 2010, 35% of adult Americans are, or have
been, bullied at work. Most targets are women, and when the bully is a woman, the target is a
woman in 80% of cases.
Their appearance is timely given the flurry of recent suicides from bullying, including the suicide
of Kevin Morrissey, manager of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia. They will discuss how circumstances could lead an adult to suicide and what to do to prevent a toxic workplace from affecting employees.
Also, the Namies will explain why bullying in schools cannot be stopped until the bullying of
adults working there stops. They will describe their innovative Workplace Bullying in Schools
project launched by WBI in 2009 in Sioux City (Iowa) and the Desert Sands (La Quinta, CA)
In addition, Gary is national director of the Healthy Workplace Campaign, the grassroots network of citizen lobbyists working to enact the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill in state legislatures. California introduced the first bill in 2003. Representatives from the California Healthy Workplace Advocates will describe local activities planned for the 2011 legislative session.
WBI is the only organization in the U.S. dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying that
combines help for individuals, research, public education, consulting for employers, and legislative advocacy. As thought leaders on the topic, the couple has appeared in 900+ media interviews.
Gary Namie 360.220.5158 / 360.656.6630 firstname.lastname@example.org
Director, Workplace Bullying Institute, workplacebullying.org
Director, Healthy Workplace Campaign, healthyworkplacebill.org
Michelle Smith email@example.com
California Healthy Workplace Advocates, bullyfreeworkplace.org
Saturday, October 16, 2010
October 23rd 2010
Freedom Week proclaimed & more
• OCT. 19. Thanks to the Texas Healthy Workplace Advocates, El Paso Mayor John Cook and the City Council will proclaim on October 19, Freedom from Bullies at Work Week! If you live in Texas, thank the Mayor. If you want to help Texas enact the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, contact the TX State Coordinator.
• OCT. 19, 5 pm (central time) on Pattie Porter’s Texas Conflict Coach radio show, the story of Kevin Morrissey’s suicide in response to his prolonged mistreatment at the Univ. of Virginia. Thank you, Pattie!
• OCT. 19 Wisconsin State Rep. Kelda Roys (sponsor of the state’s first bill, AB 894 in 2010) will be interviewed by Madison NBC-TV 15 news anchor Carleen Wild about her work in support of the legislation and 2011 plans. Air time is not yet set. Track the Wisconsin Healthy Workplace Advocates group for the schedule. If you live in Wisconsin, contact the WI State Coordinator to volunteer to help.
• OCT. 19 & OCT. 20 The California Healthy Workplace Advocates host Workplace Bullying Institute founders giving a public seminar, doors open at 6 pm, talk is 7 to 9 pm. Oct. 19 they will be in South San Francisco. Oct. 20 they will be in Sacramento. Come meet the Namies and CHWA volunteers to learn about legislative plans for 2011. If you live in California, contact the CA State Coordinator to volunteer to help.
• OCT. 23-24 BPW Saskatoon, Saskatchewan hosts a special conference for the community, “Powerless to Powerful.” Several workshops and presenters are scheduled. Topics include workplace bullying, the Ruth and Gary Namie will present, too.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Please join the California Healthy Workplace Advocates for
this Informative, Provocative Presentation(s)...the perfect event for
FREEDOM FROM WORKPLACE BULLYING WEEK, Oct. 17th-23rd!
We WELCOME THEM AND YOU! Register NOW!
An Evening with Drs. Ruth and Gary Namie!
New Science and Future Directions For The Workplace Bullying Movement and the Law
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A Week for Support, Inspiration, Peace & Health
Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week is a chance to break through the shame and silence surrounding bullying. It is a week to be daring and bold. Here are different ways to celebrate Freedom Week.
Make this the time to break your silence. Tell co-workers, friends, and family. Ask for help. Put your health first. Read the voluminous research on health harm related to unremitting exposure to stress from bullying. Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional who understands bullying (see our Selection Guide). Talk to an attorney for one hour to see if you have any legal recourse. Refuse to believe the lies told about you and the shameful way you have been abandoned. It is not about you; it's the perpetrator's need to control others. Commit to either finding a new job or planning a fight-back strategy (involving co-workers, unions, the more rationale executives) to reclaim your dignity. Everyone should be entitled to being allowed to work without interference and assaults to her or his integrity. If the bullying is old and you are mad as hell, call your state senator and state representative to ask her or him to sponsor the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill.
Spouses, Partners, & Friends
Give unconditional positive support to the targets. Believe them. Tolerate dinners disturbed by their obsessing about the never-ending problem at work. Understand the exhaustion and withdrawal. Encourage them to get psychological and medical help. Validate that they are tough, but because they are human they cannot endure prolonged exposure to extreme stress without it impairing their health -- no one can. Provide needed respite from the toxic, stressful world of work targets endure. Distract them with pleasurable activities. Remind them of who they were before bullying injured them. Remember, you will be the last ones standing when all others have abandoned them. Don't ask them to do more than they are capable of doing. Don't ask why they did not do more to fight back. Support them now; you can ask for repayment of the credit you advanced to them later. Bullying tests the love between partners and friends. Pass the test for the sake of your loved one.
Our many years of immersion in workplace bullying convince us that co-worker witnesses have the best opportunity to stop bullying, second only to employers. During Freedom Week, don't give in to the "F" factor. Stop the fear -- of being the only one who comes to your bullied colleague's assistance, of daring to provoke the bully with an indignant stand, of being the next target, of being called insubordinate if you talk or work with the target person, of losing your job. Go ahead and feel guilty for not helping someone who clearly needs your help and may have asked for it. Why do you worry about the bully's impression of you? Think more about your personal integrity. Your bullied friend may be too ashamed to ask for help. So, offer it without having to be asked. If all co-workers stood together and immediately confronted the bully AS A GROUP about interfering with work of the target, he or she would most likely back down, if only temporarily. Bullies are liars and cowards. It gives the target much-deserved safety. Unfortunately, the reputation of co-workers is well known. They cower in fear, doing nothing, or worse, siding with the bully. That's why some people call bullying "mobbing." It becomes many against one. Co-workers do the bullies' dirty work for them. By working together and showing the bully a united front, chances of being divided as a group are less likely. And if you stick together, you can't all be fired (thus overcoming the greatest fear of all). The very least you can do as a group is to comfort the target by sharing your experiences as a former (and probably future) target of the same bully. At least provide emotional support if tactical support sounds too scary. In the beginning of the bullying, targets believe they are alone and this never happened to anyone before (because co-workers are silent and do not share experiences). Reinforce the target's humanity. While being bullied, targets come to believe the bully's lies. The group can counter the lies. Be there for your friend. It's the social compact among human beings. Honor humanity; dare the bully to act humanely toward all of you. Read more about why groups do what they do in The Bully At Work. Make Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week the excuse to try something different. The results will please you. It will be something you can be proud of. And your targeted colleague will thank you.
Learn how bullying is an unsustainable cost. Look beyond personalities as causes to see how the workplace culture and environment make your organization prone to bullying. Commit to correcting and preventing it. Adopt the WBI/Work Doctor Blueprint to Prevent Workplace Bullying. Employers define all conditions of work. Leadership sets the rules and establishes the culture. Bullying could not exist without either the explicit or tacit approval from employers. You own the place and are responsible for the problems that exist within.
If you have ever been asked to intervene in an abusive situation by a bullied target and did not help, why? Have you ever supported a bullying boss because of HR's management support role? Have you ever coached a rookie supervisor to start documenting, surveilling, and tormenting the worker known by everyone (including you) to be the most technically qualified? Have you aided and abetted a bully? Have you prepared termination documents for workers who originally came to you seeking relief from a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction? Seek atonement. For Freedom Week, make a personal pledge to never again stand idly by while people are harmed, or better still, find a moral and principled purpose to which your HR department can commit.
Mental Health Professionals
Don't say "let's change your behaviors that provoke the bully." Trust what abuse victims tell you. Believe that there are people as evil as have been described to you. Stop holding targeted clients responsible for the unsolicited psychological violence they endure. Understand how work environments, not personal flaws, explain health-harming mistreatment. Stop committing the fundamental attribution error. Be careful to not misdiagnose as borderline or adjustment disorder. Minimize psychological testing during acute phases of abuse so as to not skew results. Try EMDR. Suggest the client attend a trauma support group. Learn the consequences for the client of FMLA, Workers Comp, and Disability (short- and long-term). Learn more about workplace bullying at WBI University so you can specialize. Study the science behind bullying and stress-related diseases.
Help bullied members. Stop defending abusive members. Representation need not be a defense. Adopt the prevention of workplace bullying as an organizing tool. Schedule training for members to become internal experts in bullying so they can help member-coworkers. Make a bullying-free, safe workplace a goal for members. Adopt bullying as a strategic goal. Bargain tirelessly to include an anti-bullying provision in the CBA. Endorse the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill in your state and join the advocacy now. WBI and unions are natural partners in the fight for workers' rights and human rights. Dignity at work is deserved by all.
Learn about the WBI Workplace Bullying in Schools project, begun in Iowa, to address bullying among adult employees -- teachers and staff. Complement your student bullying with the program that reduces your risk exposure while creating a healthy work environment to optimize student success.
Sponsor the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill in your state. 200 state lawmakers already have already done so in 17 states. Listen to your constituents' tales of workplace abuse. Add this bill to your populist - for the people - agenda.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Smets: Military workplace bullying: can a law help?
- By Janice Smets
- Ventura County Star
- Posted August 11, 2010 at 7 p.m.
I personally saw the agency’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) written settlement for another civil servant in the same office, which stated she could be transferred to a civil servant supervisor from her present military reservist supervisor (i.e., the bully) if she signed on the bottom legal line to retire — otherwise, if she doesn’t retire, the complainant remains working for the military direct supervisor (i.e., the bully).
Once a civil servant at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) contracting division files a harassment claim against the U.S. Navy under Equal Employment Opportunity laws, the base commander has the right to make a determination to prevent further bullying and make changes. To date, no changes have been made.
It is guaranteed: The civil servant will not prevail in these cases against NAVAIR. A decade of history will support this view with a voluminous paper trail.
My EEO filing is now part of the unresolved cases regarding bullying at NAVAIR Pt. Mugu/China Lake. No civil servant is able to remain strong enough — emotionally, physically and financially — to get to an EEO hearing; the bullying becomes too great. However, the military reservists are promoted during or subsequent to their bullying behavior.
An article in The Star’s July 18 Parade magazine (http://www.parade.com) entitled “Workplace Bullying: Do We Need a Law?” brings hope. The Workplace Bullying Institute understands the humiliation and intimidation experienced by the bully’s victim.
A law would apply to all government employees of all ranks — laws have no prejudice. We need these laws to protect and serve the recipients of bullying.
Taxpayers deserve productive and hard-working employees. Employees deserve to work in a safe environment. Laws are needed that apply to public and private employers.
Thank you, Workplace Bullying Institute, for giving hope.
— Janice Smets lives in Oak Park.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
A Celebration of Women’s Suffrage and a Protest of Meg Whitman Whose Voting Record Dishonors that Tradition Thursday, August 26, 2010 B Sacramento, California
Join our special celebration of Women’s Right to Vote and protest billionaire CEO Meg Whitman’s record of rarely voting for nearly three decades — except now that she is on the ballot.
“I was not as engaged in the political process [voting] as I should have been. I was doing lots of other things...building companies [and laying off workers].”
— Meg Whitman, March 15, 2010
Join Us — Thursday, August 26, Sacramento
Hop on board to join us for a very special celebration of the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment legalizing the right of women to vote in the U.S. Thousands of women, and men, fought for decades to secure this basic democratic right. On August 26, we will honor the achievements of the suffrage movement, and the women who were imprisoned and abused in the fight.
We will also continue our protest of Meg Whitman, who has disgraced the suffragists’ legacy, and now thinks she is entitled to be governor because of her wealth and privilege as a billionaire corporate CEO.
Thursday, August 26, 2010 We’ll meet at the Denny’s Restaurant on J St. at 2pm, then
Gather for March 3:00 pm Convention Center, Sacramento; March and Rally 4:00 – 6:00 pm Capitol West Steps, Sacramento.
Join us for this special occasion. Hosted by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United with California Healthy Workplace Advocates and other community and labor organizations. You’re encouraged to wear historic clothing of the era or black and white attire (or your "Bullying Breaks Hearts" Tee Shirts). Friends and family are invited to join the march and rally. Celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment...see you there!
Friday, July 30, 2010
Workplace bullying is rampant in American labor. If you haven't yet done so, check out the WBI-Zogby data at the Workplace Bullying Institute, http://www.bullyinginstitute.org/ 2.
For both public and private sector employers, bullies are too expensive to ignore and to keep. Too often, employers don't know what to do about them, as there is yet no law against work abuse. Bullies can damage, if not destroy, an organization. The State of Illinois is a prime example of this, as we are still very much on the mend from our recent horrifying and embarrassing bullying experience from the top.
Opponents argue that passage of this legislation will create lawsuits. Those lawsuits are already occurring. They are poorly filed as discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, workers comp claims, etc. Severely damaged targets logically seek whatever avenue for justice they can find. This litigation is often weak and can last years, be quite expensive for both sides, and is often dismissed on slight technicalities. Settlements are usually accompanied by "hush clauses," even when the "fine for immoral behavior" is coming from public funds.
Our true mission is to "recognize and prevent" work abuse before it gets to litigation. Without the threat of litigation, about 10% of the perpetrators won't knock it off, behave themselves, and follow the Golden Rule like the rest of us usually do.
Keep in mind that the burden of proof is on the target. The standard of proof is quite high and subject to expert witnessing. The bill is easy to understand. It's written by Professor David Yamada, a Suffolk University labor law professor with a top national reputation.
Opposition is based on fear and is very shortsighted. It's like putting a blue tarp over a leaky roof instead of finding the leak and fixing the hole that causes it. Illinois needs to find that leak. The research that's already been done by the Drs. Ruth and Gary Namie of the WBI and a cadre of global experts is readily available.
Healthy Workplace Advocates will get this bill passed in at least one state very soon. Social evolution is slow, but certain. Illinois can be first, but it will not be the last. This movement will sweep our nation state by state. By being first, Illinois can bring moral capital back that we recently lost, much to our shame and embarrassment. Standing up to the bullies is deeply embedded in our State's history. I think Abe would be proud if we led the way out of this form of oppression. Don't you? For more information about what happened on the Citizen Lobby Day and how we can plan one for California, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
It's time to compel employers to put policies and procedures in place to correct and prevent workplace bullying. In most cases, once reported, if the bully is told to "knock it off", they will reign themselves in. If the bully refuses to stop their behavior, they will become responsible for their actions, not the employer.
Without being compelled by law, employers have no legal recourse to stop the bully. Employers need this law as much as the employees do. Without a law to prevent it, the HR Dept. can easily become complicit in the bullying, with or without their intention to do so. It's time...time to do the right thing. We're never too old to apply the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"...remember that one? I think we learned it in Kindergarten. It's time to apply what we learned in school to the workplace. After all, without intervention, where do we think schoolyard bullies go when they grow up?
Monday, July 26, 2010
New York Times article:
Read my blog, Minding the Workplace, at:
Think of workplace bullying as the underlying foundation of all the other behaviors we discourage at work...sexual harassment, verbal abuse, physical abuse, prejudice...it's all about one person or group exercising unreasonable power over another. We've created laws to deal with the symptoms...now it's time to address the core issue, workplace bullying.
It's time to compel employers to put policies and procedures in place to correct and prevent workplace bullying. In most cases, once reported, if the bully is told to "knock it off", they will reign themselves in. If the bully refuses to stop their behavior, they will become responsible for their actions, not the employer.
Without being compelled by law, employers have no legal recourse to stop the bully. Employers need this law as much as the employees do. Without a law to prevent it, the HR Dept. can easily become complicit in the bullying, with or without their intention to do so. It's time...time to do the right thing. We're never too old to apply the Golden Rule...do unto others as you would have them do unto you...remember that one? I think we learned it in Kindergarten...time to apply what we learned in school to the workplace. After all, without intervention, where do we think schoolyard bullies go when they grow up?
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Healthy Workplace/Bullying Law Passed By State Senate Continues To Garner Support From Organized Labor While Being Attacked By The Buffalo-Niagara Partnership as “Harmful To New York’s Private Sector”
(BUFFALO) – While the effort to have a Healthy Workplace/Workplace Bullying Law passed in New York is continuing to move forward – albeit slowly – the potential new state legislation is continuing to garner additional support from Organized Labor, but is also being attacked by the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership, which calls the measure “anti-business” and “harmful to the private sector.”
New York Healthy Workplace Advocates (NYHWA) State Coordinator Michael Schlicht tells WNYLaborToday.com the bill was recently passed by the Senate. However, the bill was tabled by the Assembly in June, and because of the state’s budget problems, Schlicht now says “the bill will be re-introduced in January.” For the bill to become law, the State Assembly must also pass it, and Schlicht is now calling on those who support the proposed law to personally contact their Assembly representatives and ask they support it.
According to the NYHWA - 1.4 million workers employed across the state continue to try to deal with on-the-job intimidation, mostly from bosses and others in authority.
Workplace Bullying is described by NYHWA officials as inter-personal mistreatment, harassment and/or psychological violence and directly affects - unbelievably, they say - 1 in 6 American workers. Approximately two-thirds of all harassment is "status-blind" and legal, and it poses an occupational health hazard. In addition, too few targeted individuals complain.
New York's Healthy Workplace/Workplace Bullying Bill, meanwhile, substitutes health-impairment for discrimination, and extends protection to all employees, working for either public or private employers, regardless of protected group status, who seek redress for being subjected to an abusive work environment, Schlicht tells WNYLaborToday.com.
Once law, it will be unlawful to subject another employee whose malicious conduct sabotages or undermines the targeted person's work performance, and will punish retaliation of the complainant or anyone who helps the complainant.
“We’re working on several issues within the bill,” said Schlicht of the slow process and taking time to point a finger at the private business lobby in New York State that “doesn’t want it.”
In Western New York, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership – a pro-business group that says it represents nearly 2,500 employers – is dead set against the Healthy Workplace Bill.
In a recent e-mail to its membership, the Partnership – which describes itself as an advocate in Western New York, Albany and Washington for “policies and resources to increase private sector investment and jobs and business success” – listed the Healthy Workplace/Workplace Bullying Bill as an “anti-business initiative” that’s “harmful to private sector investment and job creation throughout the state, and particularly in Upstate New York.”
However, that hasn’t stopped Organized Labor from continuing to step up and support the bill.
Labor Unions have been a solid supporter of the bill, Schlicht said, singling out the New York State AFL-CIO, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the United Transportation Union, to name but a few. In addition, the NAACP has also issued a resolution at the National level seeking to make Workplace Bullying illegal.
And just recently, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) voiced its support for the bill, Schlicht said, as well as DC 37/AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees) – which is described as New York City’s Largest Public Employee Union that represents 125,000 members.
In a released statement from DC 37/AFSCME’s Political Action & Legislation Director Wanda Williams, the Union said:
“This bill, if enacted, would afford workers subjected to workplace abuse the ability to establish a civil cause of action against employers that have done nothing to prevent it. This legislation would prompt employers to take more seriously the negative and potentially harmful effects of bullying in the workplace. District Council 37 supports this legislation. Workplace bullying encompasses extreme verbal abuse, hostile actions, and, in some cases, physical violence. Almost 54 % of the time, the employer did nothing – the bully experienced no consequences. Additionally, in 37% of cases reported, the target of the bullying was retaliated against for complaining. Those who have reported are often isolated by fellow employees, experience increased bullying, have been suspended from work, or in some cases, are demoted, transferred, or terminated. An abusive work environment is not conducive to any employer. The Healthy Workplace Bill provides both legal redress to employees suffering from workplace abuse and legal incentives for employers to work towards bullying prevention methods. The enactment of such legislation will help to increase workplace productivity, overall employee morale, and the amount of employers taking steps towards safer work environments. In addition, and as a result, various Health Care costs associated with the treatment of bullied employees will decrease providing for a more competitive state marketplace. On behalf of our 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees, District Council 37 supports this legislation and urges its passage.”
NYHWA's Schlicht said the original Healthy Workplace Bill (A5414/S1823) had been amended as A5414A/S1823A to accommodate a change for Labor Unions, which would allow Union Members to utilize their contract provisions against workplace harassment in those instances where the negotiated collective bargaining language is stronger than the Healthy Workplace Bill. In cases where the negotiated contract language and the Healthy Workplace Bill are equal, a Union Member would have a choice of which option to use, a change NYHWA fully supported.
According to the NYHWA, serious psychological violence, in sub-lethal and non-physical forms, is said to create an abusive workplace and affects the targeted person's health. Demonstrable physical or mental health harm can include shame, humiliation, stress, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, reduced immunity to infection, gastrointestinal disorders and hypertension - which increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The bill would require documentation of such impairment by a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist or by competent expert evidence at trial. Currently, the NYHWA says individual plaintiffs must rely solely on private attorneys as New York State has no enforcement role.
The bullied employee is directly liable for the unlawful employment practice, the NYHWA says. He or she is the first one to sue. The employer may be vicariously liable. However, the bill provides ample opportunities for employers to not be held liable when it exercises reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the abusive conduct, and when negative employment decisions are consistent with legitimate business interests, or the employee's poor performance, illegal or unethical activity. The bill also seeks to compel employer prevention through internal policies and enforcement. No new employer regulations are created, the NYHWA adds. In addition, bullied individuals may accept workers' compensation benefits in lieu of bringing action under this bill.
"When we talked to our elected officials individually, they initially didn't believe us when we told these stories to them and presented them with our information. This has been a multi-year process to get the bill where it is and we have received a lot of Union support. We’re proud of what we've accomplished so far," the NYHWA's Schlicht said.
The 43-year-old Schlicht, meanwhile, painfully knows the repercussions of Workplace Bullying himself and is currently on a second leave of absence from his employer.
"I was bullied on the job and gone on medical leave," Schlicht, who declined to speak in specifics on the advice of his legal counsel, told WNYLaborToday.com a few months back. "I worked for a public employer and suffered psychological harm, including extreme stress, headaches and anxiety. Unless you are physically assaulted, there's really no legal recourse at this time. If I had been hit or punched (by this individual), I would be in a better position that I am in today."
(Editor's Note: For more information on the NYHWA, visit www.nyhwa.org or contact NYHWA State Coordinator Michael Schlicht directly at 716-316-4388)
Saturday, June 19, 2010
SHRM opposes anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill
The advocacy group for Human Resources (HR) issued an alert for SHRM members in June 2010 to oppose the NY versions of the HWB. In brief, Bob Carragher, SHRM’s manager of government relations (chief national lobbyist) and Susan Corcoran, NY state legislative director (state lobbyist) claim our legislation is “bad for business and bad for New York.” The two issued a “Talking Points” memo related to the bills that fell into our hands. Here is the text verbatim with WBI counterpoint in italics:
Human resource professionals, by the very nature of their positions, are dedicated to advocating for the interests of all employees in their organizations.
[Not true. HR is a management support function and acts accordingly. HR is not in the employee advocacy business, only unions are. To say otherwise is disingenuous.]
One of the many daily tasks of an effective HR practitioner is ensuring a positive work environment for all. Recognizing that an abusive work environment can have a serious effect on both the morale and health of their employees, while also seriously impacting the image and profitability of an organization, most employers (through their HR departments) have conducted extensive educational/awareness programs on the negative impact “bullying” can have in the workplace.
[Ensuring a positive environment for all? Give me a break! By allowing health-harming bullying to continue unabated as HR departments do, HR sustains an employee health and safety risk for those not fortunate enough to be considered credible to disbelieving HR types. In 2007, our national survey found that 44% of employers did nothing about bullying and 18% actually worsened situations for bullied individuals. So, where are the "extensive" awareness programs about bullying? And if they even exist, as run by HR, why are they so ineffective as to not put a dent into bullying's prevalence. Perhaps because Bob and Susan (above) can't bring themselves to take bullying seriously. That's why they put it in quotes -- "bullying." Similarly, HR workers like to define themselves as HR "professionals."]
A. 05414B, as currently drafted, could have serious ramifications for employers doing business in New York State. In short, the bill could:
- Strain the day-to-day employer/employee relations in workplaces throughout the Empire State. Many employers make great efforts to provide a positive work environment, backing these efforts with formal dispute resolution processes, written codes of conduct and open door policies.
[Great efforts to create safe work environments would produce results and eliminate bullying. The very existence of bullying is testimony that either the efforts are not great or HR is completely ineffective. Ironic that the lobbyists use the term "strain" which has meaning in the occupational health literature. Job strain refers to increasing task demand while simultaneously depriving a worker control over her or his taskload. Dispute resolution refers to forcing mediation down the throats of the already compromised targeted person, codes of conduct are as empty as flowery mission, vision, values statements that ring hollow, and open doors (?) are useless if nothing results from meetings in the rooms with open or closed doors. Open doors implies that management will listen. Not if their favorite bully "Bob" is being exposed. Bob can never do wrong. This is all drivel.]
- Undermine good faith efforts by employers to establish positive work environments. In addition, this legislation would significantly increase litigation and employers’ exposure to liability for lost wages, medical expenses, emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
[Bob and Susan can't read and Susan works at JacksonLewis, dragonslayers for corporate masters. According to the bill itself, employers who take care to prevent and correct abusive conduct will be rewarded with escape from (affirmative defenses for) vicarious liability. The bill when it becomes law will reward good employers. The careful reference to good faith rather than actual employer efforts that result in a policy and faithful enforcement of it is not an accident. Shrmy wants credit for trying even if they fall short.]
- Create an incentive for certain individuals to “game the system” in an effort to seek monetary gain. With the possibility of reaping a windfall from civil awards of compensatory and punitive damages, unscrupulous individuals could be tempted to claim physical or psychological harm due to an abusive work environment, requiring their employer to incur legal fees and lost work time defending themselves against such charges.
[Here Bob and Susan are branding the majority of employees, the non-supervisory ones, as fraudulent, unscrupulous schemers. How did these people get hired? Who did the screening? Oops, that was HR. What about ethics training? Again, HR. And if a person makes a claim of psychological harm, shouldn't HR care about that. After all, Bob and Susan stated above that HR cares about "the interests of all employees. Balderdash. This bulleted point shows the actual contempt HR and corp defense attorneys have for employees who dare sue. Oh, by the way, again the illiterate (or lazy) Bob and Susan did not read the bill. It is not sufficient that the misconduct be abusive and health-harming, it must also be repeated and malicious.]
- Prove as a deterrent to drawing businesses to locate in New York State. Given that New York would be the first state in the country to provide such a right, this legislation could have a chilling effect on the business climate of our state.
[This is the Bloomberg/Chamber of Commerce Big Lie. Where will they go? If they want the talent that NY state residents bring, the biz stays in the state. Otherwise, if they are big enough, they go offshore to China. If that happens, they won't take HR with them. We say that if you have to abusive to run a state or municipal agency or a company in NY State, then you should lose your charter to do so. Will it take the Foxconn rash of worker suicides to get American employers to stop the abuse?]
End of SHRM Talking Points
There you have it. HR, the folks with “human” in their job title choose to lobby against the humans working for them in favor of obscure, inanimate needs of an impersonal corporate entity. Little wonder they have little credibility in the C-suite. Though this lapdog, ingratiating fealty to corporate masters is designed to make them appear allies to the CEO, the toadying up, they still won’t gain the respect HR craves.
The dramatic opposition to working people captured in this lobbying document by HR cements the already negative societal impression. It should remove any lingering doubt by the most optimistic and uncritical soul that HR is not your friend or advocate. HR does not deserve workers’ trust, ever!
If HR opposes stopping abuse in the American workplace, then it necessarily seeks to promote it. Based on HR’s unconscionable reaction to bullying when it is currently reported, that is clearly the case.
Please write directly to Bob Carragher at Robert.Carragher@shrm.org
and Susan Corcoran at email@example.com to let them know what you think about SHRM’s position and the ethicality of their lobbying work.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Mr. President: How About a Little of that Change We Can Believe in?
June 10, 2010 posted by Eric L. Wattree
As a professional and former insider with a through understanding of the inner workings of the postal service, the doctor’s assessment of the working environment within the agency is so chilling that one can’t help but wonder how such corruption, employee abuse, and adminsitrative indifference have been allowed to exist in a United States government agency. Thus, I’m going to devote this week’s column to an excerpt of the doctor’s professional assessment, a man who is uniquely qualified to speak to what he calls the “toxic environment ” that postal workers are forced to endure on a daily basis.
At 600,000 strong, plus family, friends, and neighbors - and in an election year where incumbents are hanging on by their fingernails – postal employees are in the driver’s seat of a tank. Yet, they’re allowing themselves, and their families, to be robbed by a guy with a butter knife – and not just once outside a liquor store, but repeatedly in what is supposed to be the sanctity of their workplace. This has got to come to an end.
Why are so many union officials missing in action? Where are your congressional representatives? And President Obama, where are you?!!
On the morning of June 2, 2009, a city letter carrier went to work and reportedly fatally shot himself in the head in the locker room at a postal facility in Gastonia, North Carolina. The Gaston Gazette online news report stated that the “Gastonia Police are investigating an apparent suicide this morning at the post office. . . . One of the employees is inside dead from a gunshot wound.”
Prior to my retirement from the USPS, at a former district I worked for, there were three suicides within a two year period that I concluded were contributed to in significant part by how these employees were treated in the workplace. The third employee, a city letter carrier, fatally shot himself in a postal jeep and left a letter stating that he could no longer take the job. The night before he committed suicide he told his wife he did not know if he would be able to handle his job anymore. How do I know? His wife told me this one day after his suicide. He was one of the best employees in the office. The District Manager and I interviewed his coworkers after his death, and they stated he would urinate in a bottle while on delivery route for fear he would not meet an artificial deadline set by postal management. During the interviews, one of the postal supervisors told the District Manager and me that the day before the suicide she gave a letter to all the city letter carriers in the station, noting that any future over time used for their routes would be considered unacceptable performance. The suicide at the Gastonia postal facility was the second since December 2005.
Many people have asked: Why is there so much stress and workplace tragedies in the U.S. Postal Service? The answer to these questions is because the postal culture embraces and reflects core values that center on achieving bottom-line results with little or no regard for employee participation, respect, dignity, or fairness. Additionally, there is little or no accountability for the actions of top management in the Postal Service. Many postal facilities consequently have toxic work environments, and they can be a catalyst or trigger for serious acts of workplace violence, including homicide and suicide. The associated rewards system for behavior consistent with the postal culture core values, moreover, enables systemic organizational and individual bullying of employees at all levels of the organization.
I define a toxic workplace environment as a workplace where there is a high incidence of stress-related illnesses. These stress-related illnesses are manifested by psychological and physical deterioration. In other words, these types of environments seriously erode employees’ health and well-being. The primary factors contributing to a toxic workplace environment are high job demands, low job control, and low social support. Low social support generally entails a lack of respect and validation of employees’ dignity by their “superiors”. It also oftentimes includes organizational practices and methods that encourage the bullying of employees to meet corporate goals.
The name of the city letter carrier who committed suicide in Gastonia, NC on June 2, 2009 is Steven Spencer age 60. According to his obituary, Steven was married and leaves two daughters and three grandchildren. He was a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers/ and state representative for Muscular Dystrophy Association. He was the founder of the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive for Gaston County. He was very active in Scouting, attaining the highest rank of Eagle Scout. He also was a member of the Order of the Arrow. Steven was a veteran of the Vietnam War serving his country proudly in the US Navy.
I find it highly improbable that an employee will kill himself or herself in a postal facility or while on a postal route unless it is to send a clear message that a toxic workplace exists and the person can’t handle it anymore. Sadly, it also may be a tragic attempt to better the lot of one’s fellow coworkers by drawing attention to the tragic event itself.
Prior to Steven’s suicide, I was contacted by a relative of an employee at the Gastonia post office in April of this year. She was concerned because of what she reported as a toxic workplace environment at the Gastonia post office, lack of accountability to address employees’ concerns, and that the situation may lead to another workplace tragedy. Unfortunately, her worst concern became a reality on June 2, 2009. She further indicated several employees have resigned their positions at the office because of the toxic workplace environment and others were suffering from negative psychological and physical effects because of this environment.
I was told employees’ attempts, mostly city letter carriers, to have their concerns addressed over a two-year period included: filing of discrimination complaints and grievances, unprofessional workplace assessments, town hall meetings, contacts to congressional representatives both locally and nationally, contacts to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and petitions to Charlotte postal District officials as well as to national representatives of the Postal Service and the NALC. She further indicated that none of these measures contributed to fully addressing the workplace environment or alleviating its negative impact for the employees at the Gastonia Post Office.
In order for the U.S Postal Service to become a safe and healthy organization and thereby prevent future workplace tragedies, which have been at an epidemic level over the past three decades, there is an urgent need for congressional intervention and legislation to address its toxic postal culture. Dr. Gary Namie and his wife, Dr. Ruth Namie, along with their colleague Dr. David Yamada, have for years pushed for such legislation at the state and federal level. In order for national legislation for the prevention of workplace bullying to have the intended impact, it would require sanctions to employers or their representatives who are in violation of a new workplace statute that defines workplace bullying as a harmful and illegal activity.
The Postmaster General, and Inspector General, must go!
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Chairman Edolphus Towns
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It’s not that I hate everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like me – it’s just that God does.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Make a Phone Call for A5414A, the Healthy Workplace Bill
June 8, 2010 · Leave a Comment
I’ve just heard that A5414A, the Healthy Workplace Bill, is scheduled to be voted on in the Labor Committee. According to newspaper reports, Committee Chair Susan John is opposed to this bill. Please contact the Assembly Labor Committee members if you can, urging them to send the bill to the Assembly floor. Barbara Lifton is one of the multi-sponsors of this bill. Thank you again, Barbara!
Since I first started researching workplace bullying and speaking about the Workers’ Center commitment to addressing this largely unacknowledged problem, I have heard many stories about targeted workers suffering severe health problems. It is not uncommon for targets to end up in mental health units of hospitals; heart attacks and stomach and digestive complications have also been reported to me. This is a serious problem that we must take seriously.
Don’t let this bill die in the Labor Committee!
Update: I’ve just learned from Megan at Barbara Lifton’s Albany office that A5414 was returned to Committee for further consideration. This means that the Assembly bill was not defeated but not sent to the Assembly for vote yet either. Megan said that this bill will be voted on by the Labor Committee before Session which starts June 21st.
This means that we do have time to call the Labor Committee, particularly Susan John, the Committee Chair, to urge the legislators to send this bill to the Assembly this summer. Please try to make that call or email.