Massachusetts supporters of the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (House No. 2310 & Senate No. 916) testified in support of the legislation before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development this morning.
About the HWB
The Healthy Workplace Bill, which I drafted as a template for law reform efforts, creates a legal claim for targets of severe workplace bullying to seek damages and relief against their employers and offending supervisors and co-workers. It also includes provisions that permit employers to avoid liability if they can establish that they acted preventively and responsively toward workplace bullying behaviors.
Among those who testified was Deb Caldieri, the South Hadley schoolteacher who was bullied from her job and career after speaking out in the aftermath of the suicide of Phoebe Prince, the teenage girl who took her own life after being relentlessly bullied by her schoolmates. (For that story, see previous blog post here.)
For privacy reasons I won’t list the names of the other individuals who testified today, but let me say that they were heroic. They shared painful, difficult stories of being bullied at work with eloquence and courage. Senator Dan Wolf, the committee co-chair, made a point to thank all of our witnesses for their testimony after the group concluded.
My brief statement described the background and basic provisions of the Healthy Workplace Bill. (Deb Falzoi of Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates captured the moment in the photo above, showing my best side with Sen. Wolf listening attentively.)
Our legislative sponsors
We were followed by a group of legislators who voiced support for the Healthy Workplace Bill, including our lead sponsors, Rep. Ellen Story and Sen. Katherine Clark.
Thank you to Greg Sorozan, Lisa Smith, and Jim Redmond of SEIU/NAGE for assembling, advising, and publicizing the panel, to Deb Falzoi for her ongoing assistance as our communications coordinator, and to everyone who took the time to submit written testimony and to attend the hearing as a show of solidarity.
This was an important step forward for the Healthy Workplace Bill in Massachusetts, and I was grateful to be among such wonderful people who were there to support it.
To support the HWB in Massachusetts
If you’d like to support the Healthy Workplace Bill in Massachusetts, please go to this page to contact members of Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and urge them to support House No. 2310 and Senate No. 916. This is especially critical if your Representative or Senator is a member of the Committee.
Disclosure note: I am the author of the Healthy Workplace Bill, variations of which are being considered by state legislatures across the country. The HWB provides targets of severe workplace bullying with a legal claim for damages and creates legal incentives for employers to act preventively and responsively toward bullying behaviors. For more information, go to the Healthy Workplace Bill website.