Tina Susman of the Los Angeles Times leads her excellent piece on workplace bullying and the Healthy Workplace Bill (link here) with the story of Kathie Gant, who worked as an administrative assistant for an attorney who treated her abusively. The lawyer yelled at her, threw things at her, and once even locked her in a storage closet.
From target to advocate
Gant sought counseling and eventually brought herself to testify recently on behalf of the Healthy Workplace Bill before a Maryland state legislative committee:
After months of taunts and needling by her boss, Gant said she ended up on a psychiatrist’s couch and nearly in a psych ward.
With a quavering voice and tearful demeanor, Gant testified about her job situation during a legislative hearing this month at the state Capitol as Maryland became one of the latest states to consider legislation against workplace bullying.
It’s obvious in reading objections to creating legal protections against workplace bullying — both in Susman’s article itself and posted comments — that there remains a wide chasm between those who have experienced, witnessed, or otherwise come to understand workplace bullying and those who have not.
Too many believe that workplace bullying is about managerial style. Nothing could be further from the truth, unless you consider routinely screaming at people, becoming physically threatening, or deliberately setting up someone for failure to be valid management techniques. Workplace bullying is about abuse, not legitimate management practice.
Still, others are either uninformed about the limitations of current employment protections or deliberately trying to confuse people into believing that workplace bullying is adequately covered by existing laws. I drafted the Healthy Workplace Bill only after my exhaustive assessment of existing employment laws led to the inescapable conclusion that too many targets of severe workplace bullying had little or no recourse under the law.