Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ridiculous rationales against the Healthy Workplace Bill

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
and Susan Corcoran at to let them know what you think about SHRM’s position and the ethicality of their lobbying work.

G. Namie


  1. Please check into nurse-to-nurse's rampant & is rarely addressed because it's accepted as "normal." Would you want a recently ridiculed/humiliated nurse working on you, giving you meds? It's crazy...please help asap!

  2. Recently, after being a 13 year veteran and finally a new manager. I became a victim of workplace mobbing in a police setting. I did not have a clue it had a name. This was so devastating to my career it obviously spilled into my personal life and left me with symptoms and fears that can ONLY be described as PTSD.

    The betrayal, deceit, lies and humiliation have been unbearable. Suicide was certainly a thought for me. Missed days of work, anxiety attacks, depression, drinking, and insomnia. Now I am determined NOT stand by and do nothing here! People need to know what this is, and how to help hold people responsible. I felt emotional and spiritually raped. That sounds drastic I know but I have no other words to describe the whole ordeal. My therapist had not even heard of it. Pay attention! This behavior kills spirits, goals, reputation and eventually...people.

  3. I have been at my job for 18yrs, and have dealt with this for most of my career.

    What I find so profound with this behavior is the constant need to continue in the act, and the ability to sign new employees up in participatiing in the behavior. I have had new employees try tactics with me, even though they have not passed probation.

    This has impacted every aspect of my life, from family, friends, and even the ability to have a healthy relationship. The health issues that I have dealt with now are out of control, the fact that I have had nightmares and find myself screaming out at night made it real to me that I was at war at work and was now suffering from PTSD.

    CNN in the past weeks has been covering stories of how kids are killing themselves due to harassement and bullying for various reasons, mainly being gay at school. As a adult I find this unbelievable that our government will not take in consideration the same concerns for job site bullying.

    Bullying/Harassement at the job needs to be brought out in a more public way; this is the only way to call the bullying tactics out, and the individuals that participate with it.

  4. After almost 30 years was laid off because I was a whistle blower on a supervisor who threatened my job... This needs to be stopped and those people need to be fired yet I was the one let go.

  5. I have never really had a need to fight for a cause...until this happened to me. I guess that's the way it always seems to work out. I had to work with a woman (61 year old co-worker) who bullied me out of my job. I don't know why she was so jealous. I just wanted to do my work and go home. I am past the career climbing. When I was hired on she was bullying another woman and then resorted to me and recruited the rest of the office! Everyone is so afraid of her I don't think they saw a choice. I've never been hated by anyone so I guess I didn't see it coming and I thought I was losing my mind due to the gaslighting and degredation. For 20 years I used to handcuff people and put them in jail for small crimes (shoplifting)I am a strong individual, mentally and physically but this woman broke me!!! I don't mean to be dramatic, but she not only took my livelihood, she ruined my life (luckily my husband and friends are supportive). Even worse, the supervisor is her best friend. So when I complained nothing was done. When I took a medical leave for two weeks because of the stress - which was explained to the supervisor for the third time, I was terminated 3 weeks after I returned. I was working for a group of doctors who work off-site at a hospital. The supervisor said all of the doctors decided to terminate me. When I called the doctors no one knew I had been terminated. I am in litigation. I hope I will see some closure, but I will never stop fighting to get this law enacted. Hopefully now that people are paying attention to kids killing themselves they will realize this goes on so much in the workplace and you don't have to be gay! But if you are the only person in an office being kind to people...look out!!!