Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates testify in support of workplace bullying legislation

Last week, members of the Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates provided testimony to the Labor and Public Employees Committee of the Connecticut legislature in support of legislation that would require the state’s Department of Administrative Services to “report the number of complaints of bullying or abusive conduct to the General Assembly.”

If passed by the legislature and signed into law, this bill would help to generate raw data that would support the enactment of more comprehensive protections against workplace bullying, such as the Healthy Workplace Bill.

Friend’s suicide spurs commitment and action

Personal experiences, not political ideology or work obligations, tend to be what draws people to support legal protections against workplace bullying. A prime example is Katherine Hermes, a college professor and volunteer coordinator of the Connecticut effort to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill.

Katherine became active in the anti-bullying movement after a close friend, Marlene Braun, committed suicide because she could no longer tolerate her abusive work situation. Here’s the opening of Katherine’s testimony (link here):

In 2005, one of my dearest friends whom I had known for 33 years, Marlene Braun, committed suicide. In her suicide note, she explained that her boss had made her life “utterly unbearable.” Marlene was a 13-year federal employee with the Bureau of Land Management, had advanced degrees in soil science and bio-geochemistry, and was a veteran of the United States army. And she shot herself in the head because she could no longer endure the torment and abuse heaped upon her by her boss.

Read the rest

Despite the difficulties in getting bullying targets to share their concerns with their elected officials, the Connecticut group did a fine job of generating support for the bill. For example, the Connecticut AFL-CIO is among the organizations and individuals who submitted written testimony endorsing the bill. Go here for links to other statements.

5 responses

  1. Hi David,

    I have been reading your blog and find it very interesting. Since you write about bullying I thought of seeking your advise on an issue. I would really appreciate your opinion on the same.

    Here is the problem:

    X group of problem employees use a blogger A to stalk Y. Blogger A has been given a story that some organization wishes to do it, and senior managers have approved it. Now blogger A does not have any reason to doubt the statement since the blogger is interacting with some senior people.
    However, the blogger is being misused unknown to him/her. The X group of employees are problem employees and they have ganged up against Y. They are using the company resources, and are lying to the CXOs about what they are doing. They basically are misleading the person whose name is being used and the blogger. They are also threatening Y to disclose confidential details of fraud investigations since they will be able to blackmail the CXOs

    My advise to the blogger would be to contact the real seniors and find out the true story before committing something unethical and unlawful. Specially is very senior CXOs name is being misused.

    According to you what should the involved people do?

    Kind regards,

    Sonia

    • Sonia, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I cannot provide feedback on specific employment situations, as it necessarily involves my legal judgment and thus would not be appropriate for me to dispense advice to someone who is not my client. (It would be akin to a doctor giving online diagnoses to people who aren’t his patients.)

      Thanks for understanding. I’m sorry I can’t help you on this one, but I do recommend that you consult with an employment attorney if you seek advice on what legal and ethical risks are involved.

  2. David,

    Thanks for replying to my comment and I do apologise for discussing an unrelated post.

    Actually the situation is somewhat complex. In this case, the blogger may not have received the information from the right sources. For example, the person of group X may have used fake email ids to contact and to show their seriousness given their groups impersonators name for a senior manager to talk to the person on phone.

    I do understand that as an attorney you would be unable to give me online advise. If you do come across a similar case, please let me know.

    Kind regards,

    Sonia

  3. Interesting to see this issue taken on outside of the “school” environment and into the workplace arena. Thank you for bringing light to such an important issue.

  4. what laws have been enacted to help victims of work-place bullying?
    My understanding is that there is no law against a miserable work atmosphere unless it is biased by race, religion or gender. Would lack of financial status (poor) be a bases for bias?
    A bully uses intimidation to cause abuse to a person they want to invoke fear from the person to create a sense of achievement and power. If a boss and employee are of the same gender and the boss is using their position of authority to make an employee feel intimidated, harassed and bullied, are there legal resources for the employee to turn to?
    in attempting the “nice” way to handle a situation by filing a “formal” “written” complaint…is only flipped to lack of performance which is due to the boss/bully changing directives creating an impossible situation for success in reaching goals set.

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