New York workplace bullying legislation is in the news

In the aftermath of the New York State Senate approving the Healthy Workplace Bill with strong bipartisan support, opponents of workplace bullying protections have been denouncing the legislation in hopes of derailing it in the State Assembly.  

I’m shamelessly linking to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s excellent post collecting these pieces, with a request that if you support the Healthy Workplace Bill, please consider posting your online responses.

Signs

It’s no fun to read blatant distortions and inaccurate summaries of the Healthy Workplace Bill served up by opponents. There are legitimate concerns whenever new protective legislation is being proposed, but what we’re seeing here is a lot of noise designed to cloud the real question: Isn’t it time for American employment law to protect workers from malicious, health-harming abuse, which is exactly what the HWB covers?

Last week I responded to the standard-brand claim that the HWB is a “job-killer,” positing that if anything, the bill is an equal opportunity people saver.  That said, there are at least two good signs emerging from this flurry of opposition:

1.  We’re being taken seriously — It wasn’t long ago that potential opponents of protections against abuse at work didn’t take us seriously. The fact that they are firing out against the HWB is a significant sign that they understand what this movement is capable of doing.

2.  Opponents are showing where their hearts are — If you read statements and quotes in opposition to the HWB, you will struggle to find much acknowledgement about the devastating harm that workplace bullying can do to individuals.  Why?  Because it’s awfully hard to make a moral, ethical argument that malicious behaviors capable of causing depression, heart disease, anxiety attacks, PTSD symptoms, and even suicide should not be grounds for legal protections.

Instead, it’s easier to talk about litigation costs, “oversensitive” workers, and the divine right of employers to treat their workers as they wish.

***

I’m writing this from London, en route to the 7th International Conference on Bullying and Harassment at Work in Cardiff, Wales.  Gary Namie and I are among the keynote speakers, and we will be delighted to share with conference delegates the emerging progress on the HWB in the U.S. Equally important, we will bring back fresh insights and information on work being done to prevent and respond to workplace bullying around the world.

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