New York State Senate passes Healthy Workplace Bill; Assembly next

On May 12, the New York State Senate passed the Healthy Workplace Bill by a 45-16 vote.   The next stop for the bill is the State Assembly.

This is the second time this year that the Healthy Workplace Bill has been approved in a state legislative floor vote, the first being a  vote in the Illinois Senate.

Bipartisanship can work!

In a news release, Senator Thomas Morahan (R-Rockland Co.), co-prime sponsor with Senator George Onorato (D-Queens), highlighted the bipartisan cooperation that led to passage in the Senate:

“The social and economic well-being of the State is dependent upon healthy, safe, and productive employees,” said Senator Morahan. “I want to thank all my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, who voted for this legislation today. In particular, Senator George Onorato, Chairman of the Labor Committee, Republican Leader Dean Skelos, Majority Conference Leader John Sampson and Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein for helping secure passage of the legislation”.

“I became aware of the prevalence of abusive environments in the workplace when one of my constituents brought her situation at her place of employment to my attention. It became apparent that legislation was needed to address the problem,” said Morahan.

In view of the gridlock and bitter political infighting that we’re seeing in this country, it is heartening to me that Republican and Democratic legislative leaders can come together to support legislation that will safeguard the health and dignity of all workers.

Thank you, Tom and Mike

Special kudos go to New York Healthy Workplace Advocate State Coordinators Mike Schlicht and Tom Witt, whose tireless efforts on behalf of the legislation have been largely responsible for this development.  Their work has been an excellent example of how steadfast commitment and smart advocacy can make a difference.

Next step: The New York State Assembly

Looking ahead to advocating for the bill in the Assembly, the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates circulated this request to New York supporters of the Healthy Workplace Bill:

***

Dear Healthy Workplace Advocate,

Big news!  The Healthy Workplace Bill was passed in the New York State Senate today!!!  (Now we need the Assembly to do the same!)

If you haven’t already done so, please send us a letter detailing your workplace bullying experience or at the very least, us the template letter below to request our state Assemblymembers to pass the bill in their house.  We need your letter ASAP and by May 17, 2010 to show to the leadership in the New York State Assembly to try to get the Healthy Workplace Bill passed into law by the end of June 2010!

Time is of the essence and you can email your letter to us at info@nyhwa.org as well.

If you can, please also ask a few others to send a letter too!

The letter writing campaign in just a short ten days made a tremendous impact on the New York State Senate, now it is time to show the Assembly these letters and yours to get the Healthy Workplace Bill passed! 

Thanks so much (in advance)!

Please send your typed or hand written letter ASAP to:

Elected Representative of the New York State Legislature

c/o New York Health Workplace Advocates
P.O. Box 43
Amherst, NY 14226
 

or send via email to: info@nyhwa.org

Thank you!
Please use the template below as a guide to write your letter because we received a request to ask you to include the name of your state senator and your state assemblymember at the beginning of your letter.

May 12, 2010

The New York Legislature
c/o New York Healthy Workplace Advocates
PO Box 43
Amherst, NY 14226

Dear Elected Representative:

My state senator is ____________ _ and my state assemblymember is ____________ , and I am appealing to you in your role as an influential member of the  New York State Legislature to advance and enact into law the Healthy Workplace Bill S1823 / A5414 this legislative session.  The bill addresses workplace bullying.

I have witnessed <or experienced> bullying in the workplace <describe the harm it caused to the individual(s) involved and to the employer>.  <Also, please try to keep your letter to one page if possible to make it easier to reproduce>.

Please do everything you can to bring this bill to a vote  this legislative session. 

Thank you.

Sincerely,

<Your Name>
<Home address >
<Telephone number>

9 responses

  1. Great post – tough topic…

    I hope we’ll end up with all states joining and having a law against bullying..

    In the past decade I had to deal with a few workplace bullies, and for me it was always easy to deal with coworker bullies; but was challenging to deal with superiors who were bully types.

    But I got to a point where I couldnt’ take it anyomore…

    I had a superior once – the boss of my boss – who’d come down regularly to visit and he’d scream at everyone like crazy… Then once I got promoted as project manager, I sat down with him and I told him in a very calm tone not to ever come into our office building yelling at my subordinates or at me “I’m not deaf, and if you have something to say, say it nicely – I’ll still get the job done.” This reduced his anger outbursts by about 95% and he never yelled at my subordinates again… a great stress relif 🙂

    Addressing bullies is important! Don’t let anyone bully you; and if you see others being bullied, report them!

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  6. Boss Bullying
    It needs to stop!

    If I had known back then what I know now,
    It would have NEVER happened!

    I’m a female and I work at a major hospital in New York City. I was born and raised in America. When I go to work, I feel like I’m entering a third world county.

    Being raised to go out into the world and make it on my own not knowing that one day down the road someone would be waiting to take it all away from me.

    In all the years I have worked, I never thought that I would end up being supervised by a malicious, vindictive person.

    Sure, no boss is perfect but who expects, especially at the latter stages in your life that you would be coming to work to be talked down to, lied on, insulted, criticized, yelled at, screamed at, degraded, tormented, lunch time being stolen from you, being told how lucky you are that you was transferred because if you had to be interviewed they would have never hired you, making fun of your voice and other employees join in making fun of your voice also, making fun of the way you talk, making fun of your headwear, making you cry while they sit there smirking at you, denying you from making more money but making sure other people get it, making sure that whatever positions you apply for that you will never get it, threatening to suspend or fire you if you don’t go see counselors, talking in front of co-workers and outside people about your personal business, telling you you’re not doing enough no matter how hard you try, ordering you to walk quickly to them as if you’re a little puppy dog, telling you how pretty you are while you’re crying and they’re smiling as if it’s a turn on to them, nitpicking at you from the time you walk through the door, always creating small meetings with their friends and their friends sit there staring at you as if they want to help you but they know they better not because they fear him/her, insulting you because of your height, questioning about your personal life, telling you their personal problems, trying to make you feel sorry for them, telling you how stupid other employees are, talking about you when you’re off, making plans for you, telling you what they feel is good for you and what they don’t feel is good for you and whatever else they can think of to put you down and keep you miserable while on the job and as time goes on you find yourself miserable off the job because you know you have to come back.

    The weird part is that they will always tell you that you are a very good person, how kind you are, caring, smart, a very good worker and then turn around and start tearing you down again. Every time you think it might get better, it gets worse.

    You try to transfer from their department and they stop it. You go to a different department and they stop that also. You know there’s higher paying positions coming up and before you even apply for them, you’re being told that you’re not getting it anyway and not to bother putting in for it. The people that are suppose to help you ends up leaving you to fend for yourself.

    They’re always comparing you with other co-workers saying how you should be like them.

    Over a period of time you start to wonder if it’s personal or is it an obsession. You begin to feel as if you’re in a world of your own. It can become very scary when they start telling you things like they’re never going to let you go, they have to keep you there, then they raise their voice at you saying that they’re trying their best to make you a better person than what you are and while saying these things their expression changes as if they’re getting annoyed with you because you’re not living up to their standards.

    How do we expect our children to tell when they’re being bullied if adults are afraid to tell when they’re being bullied and keeping quiet for fear of losing their jobs.

    It’s time for us to stand up for what we believe and stop being
    BULLIED!

  7. this law is a distaster for employment in NYS. As an employer, I don’t want any toxic employees including managers in my firm but this will open the way for all kinds of frivolous lawsuits from people who were hired just looking for the opportunity to file a “i lost sleep over such and such” lawsuit. Don’t give me the, “well if you can document that nothing wrong occurred you’ll be fine” crap, For a small business, defending a meritless lawsuit will cost upwards of 20 – 30 grand minimum, with no recourse for collection for these costs. If we change software platforms and someone can’t keep up with the change, feels stress over it, is given a poor performance review and loses sleep the firm is now liable! This will turn out to be about the symptoms suffered by the ‘victim’ not the actions of the employer. How can employers screen for the mentally weak or scammers? Do i even want to? I will lose sensitive people who othewise would bring great traits to the firm, but aren’t hired due to fear of exacerbating the way that individual experiences stress. Should we subject all potential new hires to a mental health evaluation before they join? Is this possible? reliable? legal? What about employees who perform well but contribute to a toxic environment with passive/aggressive behavior: one wants to get rid of them, but it’s almost impossible because they ‘perform’ well. Employers have learned from experience: no good deed goes unpunished. and yet still i have the attitude that i won’t hire unless i can afford to pay a real living wage, ragrdless of the simplicity of the function, i want to share the profits of the endeavor with those who labor for it etc… most independently owned businesses are run by folks who do care about their staff and community but it gets harder & harder as we small businesses become marks for scammers and employee rights lawyers.

    • Ruth, thank you for giving a different perspective to this issue.

      While I think your concerns are valid, they may be based on incomplete knowledge about the proposed legislation. For example, the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) requires plaintiffs to establish that actions were motivated by malice, i.e., a desire to harm someone. Under the law, that’s about as tough a standard as you can get for proving intent. Also, the HWB exempts actions such as employee performance evaluations as being grounds for a lawsuit. Furthermore, the HWB will provide cover for an employer who wants to fire the employee who performs well but abuses others in the process.

      You also suggest that it’s the “mentally weak” who will be bringing these lawsuits. Well, after 10 years of working on these issues, including exchanges with hundreds of workers who have told me about their situations, I can tell you that severe, malicious bullying is not limited to the most psychologically vulnerable targets. Far from it. Many a business that thinks it can screen out “sensitive people” through various types of (often unreliable and some downright bizarre) personality tests will be stunned to find out that bullying also can be directed at those who are quite resilient. In some of those cases, the tormenters will work even harder to break them, and sometimes succeed.

      It’s unfortunate that good employers have to share the burdens of employment regulations because of the bad ones, but it’s also the case that there are a TON of employers out there (6 of 10, according to one national survey) who ignore complaints about bullying or make the situation worse for an employee after she’s made a report. The trail of destroyed careers and damaged psyches is too devastating for us to ignore, and employers have done so for too long.

  8. Great discussion!

    Yes, you are right, there will be some “opportunity seekers” who will try to litigate for “losing sleep over some poor performance review,” but that will be only a minuscule fraction of what benefits such a law could bring to businesses – to your family and friends… and perhaps even you, if you ever get to work again for someone.

    It is unfortunate that there are still managers out there who believe that you have to put fear in people in order to respect you. They believe that yelling and keeping people on their toes with a constantly abrasive behavior is the way to manage a business. Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! This management type, just like dinasours, has to die out…

    Of course, bullying is more than just screaming and name calling. Some bullying is subtle, such as giving someone wronginformation or withold information so they’ll screw up; or give someone tasks that are way below their competence level or well beyond their competence level…

    As civilized individuals we should respect each other – we should respect our subordinates and coworkers and none of us should fear to go to work. The sad reality is that there are many people who are afraid to go to work, not because they are mentally weak, but because a boss or a coworker takes some pervert pleasure in making someone’s life mizerable.

    We have soooo many seemingly redundant laws in this country – this is one that I believe is well overdue. Bullying must be stopped!

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