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.