Disappointing but not surprising: The Society for Human Resource Management, the nation’s largest association for human resources professionals, has come out against the Healthy Workplace Bill. As reported on the Workplace Bullying Institute’s website:
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 law firm of Jackson Lewis
Susan Corcoran, mentioned in the excerpt above, is an attorney and partner at Jackson Lewis, a management-side labor law firm well known for its aggressive anti-union tactics and strategies. As described by American Rights at Work:
Jackson Lewis presents itself as a reputable “national workplace law firm,” yet under its polished veneer lies a for-profit unionbuster. In fact, Jackson Lewis is one of the oldest and largest union avoidance law firms in the nation. Jackson Lewis counsels businesses on labor relations strategies that prevent unions from entering the workplace. By operating in the shadows of corporate unionbusting campaigns, the firm remains virtually unknown to the general public.
HR and workplace bullying
It’s a shame that the nation’s leading association for HR professionals opposes legal protections for workers who have been subjected to malicious psychological abuse at work. Then again, perhaps that says something about the overall state of the HR profession right now.
As I pointed out in one of this blog’s most popular posts, “HR was useless”, in workplaces where the leadership is insular, insecure, exclusionary, and secretive, it is more likely that the HR office is there to cover for and protect the top leaders from hassles, scrutiny, and accountability. Unfortunately, these are the kinds of places where bullying — especially of the top-down variety — is likely to thrive.
Indeed, it remains telling that out of the scores of severely bullied workers who have shared their stories with me, not one has said anything like, as horrible as this was, at least HR was there for me. Think of how many HR professionals at lousy organizations have been complicit in the destruction of careers, livelihoods, and human psyches.
Read why the Healthy Workplace Bill actually is “HR friendly” in this post here.
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People don’t realize how devastating an abusive workplace can be, until it happens to them. It’s not a weakness on the employee’s part, either.
We had an abusive supervisor transfered into our department. For a year, a manager was in place who buffered the impact of this man, but then that manager was seconded to another project and replaced by a novice manager. Within four months, three staff members suffered complete breakdowns and went onto workplace medical compensation — one was able to retire, the other two took seven years to recover. One of them collapsed, semiconscious, right at my feet, and was never able to return to the workplace.
I wasn’t one of them, but I left soon after, taking a drastic financial hit since I was in my late forties. This was ten years ago and I am still angry at the managers who watched this happen, who were approached by the affected staff and myself for weeks before the final meltdown, but who did nothing except make excuses for the offender.
This disaster must have cost the company and the health system a mint, but the costs were just rolled into our health program and the event was never acknowledged as the psychological disaster it was.
As I said, you have to see it happen to know the damage that can be done and how quickly it can progress. I recently bought this book “Handling Bullying” and I think there are tips I have been searching for:
Noni, thank you. That phrase — “psychological disaster” — for some reason strongly resonated with me as I read it. It captures so many of these situations.
I’m late in finding this website and in reading this article, but I cannot agree more. I’m an HR Professional with 30 years of experience (not at the management level). I have often said that the B. S. in HR Management that I hold doesn’t stand ONLY for Bachelor of Science. I have been bullied in two jobs. Both of the perpetrators were Directors of HR. I know that you don’t have any way of knowing this, but I’m actually a good employee, very knowledgeable and have had no bad performance reviews. Bullying was employed in one job because my boss wanted to hire one of her friends to take my place. In the other position my boss, knowing my integrity and excellent work history, allowed herself to be manipulated into eliminating my position because another person was jealous of my good working relationships with our employees.
Yet — the companies still employ them and I have been without a job since April 2009.
Worse than my specific circumstance, however, is the disappointment I feel that HR is failing in its basic goal of advocacy for employees as well as The Company. If employees don’t have a “safe” HR department they can go to, they have nothing.
From personal experience, though, I have found that the Company really does care more about the extreme bonuses due their Executive Group than they ever cared for the lowly workers who actually keep the company going.
SHRM doesn’t surprise me. I’ve written several posts that don’t ever get published, although plenty do who agree with them.
Mary, unfortunately the landscape of work is littered with folks who have been bullied and otherwise cuffed around by HR directors. They do not represent the entirety of the profession, but the bad ones sure do give it a bad name.