Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill supporters testify before legislative committee

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.

Our witnesses

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.

Kudos

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.

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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.

In fact, it is useful to contact your Representative and Senator even if they are not on the Committee.  For contact info, go here (for House) and here (for Senate).

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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.

5 responses

  1. Debra, thank you. I was just a bit player in this — the folks who shared their personal accounts made all the difference today!

  2. Our Testimony, today, was an important step in advancing all of our interests to get passed the Healthy Workplace Bill. I think we should thank all of the Senators and Representatives on the Joint Committee and the Sponsors of our Bill. And we should ask them to favorably read out our bill from the Joint Committee. The Bill would then go to the Floor of the House of Representatives.
    It took great courage for each of our presentors to speak as they did. This has been a day that has touched many people.

  3. Thank you to all the took part in today’s events towards a healthier workplace. This issue is very near to my heart, however my mind is still having a tremendous time dealing with the experience that I had been exposed to at my previous work environment, my family has asked me to let it go, and my friends have asked me to move on but no one understands that psychologically I have been violated and with no recourse to protect myself I have been left with a open wound which I am not sure when will heal.

    For me it has been just over three years now but it feels as if it were yesterday. Continuous therapy, and trying to keep myself protected from human beings has not been enough to erase the memories, and what this experience has done to me financially as well as emotionally.

    • My heart goes out to you Sincerely. I am living it now and today was so bad at work I just don’t know if I can go back there Monday. It does feel like we are violated. It is unfair, demeaning, soul penetrating grief and a host of other labels.
      Please let your family love you and your friends too. If the current therapy is going on this long and you don’t feel better maybe another, new counselor would help? The first thing I ask is, “Do you believe in work place bullying?” If they him-haw on the answer I will not talk to them.
      I know this is going to effect me for the rest of my life. I hope to regain my outgoing, people loving, personality in which good things come from. Faith and Hope sent to you Sincerely.

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