Massachusetts has joined the race to become the first state in the union to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill, legislation that provides targets of severe workplace bullying with a legal cause of action.
State Senator and Assistant Majority Leader Joan Menard (D-1st Bristol & Plymouth) has filed the Healthy Workplace Bill, titled “An Act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, without regard to protected class status,” and designated as Senate Bill No. 699.
In a nutshell, the bill creates a legal claim for bullying targets who can establish that they were subjected to malicious, health-harming behavior. It also provides defenses for employers who act preventively and responsively with regard to bullying and includes provisions to discourage frivolous claims.
The Massachusetts 2009/10 session bills have just been posted to the Legislature’s website. A pdf file containing Senate No. 699 can be downloaded from: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/senate/186/st00/st00699.htm.
SEIU/NAGE Local 282 president Gregory Sorozan and lobbyist Ray McGrath played key roles in bringing this bill to the attention of the Legislature.
I drafted the first version of the Healthy Workplace Bill some seven years ago. California was the first state to consider it in 2003, and since then variations have been filed in a dozen more states. For an update on advocacy campaigns around the nation, go to: http://healthyworkplacebill.org/.