Update on the Healthy Workplace Bill, December 2011

It has been a while since I posted a general update on the status of the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB), model anti-bullying legislation I drafted that has been the basis of bills introduced across the country.

The HWB provides severely bullied employees with a legal claim for damages, creates legal incentives for employers to act preventively and responsively with regard to bullying behaviors, and protects those who have made complaints or filed suit about workplace bullying from retaliation.

Nationally

As 2011 draws to a close, versions of the Healthy Workplace Bill have been filed in the current legislative sessions of a dozen states: Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

To view the history of the Healthy Workplace Bill, go here, and if you would like to become active in the growing national campaign to enact the HWB, go here.

About the Healthy Workplace Bill…and why we need it

In the meantime, we continue to sharpen our public message and engage in more outreach and education:

Namie article

Last month, Dr. Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute posted this article, “Why the U.S. needs, and we are advocates for, the Healthy Workplace Bill.” Here’s a snippet of Gary’s extensive explanation:

A good, non-abusive, employer need not fear the HWB becoming law. However, if abuse is routine practice in an organization’s work environment, that employer requires prodding to stop. WBI surveys show that employers do nothing 44% of the time when bullying is reported….

It is obvious without the threat of litigation, employers can continue to ignore bullying. Plugging the gap in the law does that. More important is the use of the HWB to dangle the incentive for employers to do what they should be doing voluntarily.

HWB educational slideshow

If you prefer a more visual explanation of the HWB, Deb Falzoi of the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates has prepared this excellent slideshow.

My articles

For researchers who want to learn more about the HWB, I’ve written a number of law review articles that go into detail about workplace bullying and related topics. Go here for free, downloadable pdf files of those pieces.

News features

We continue to attract attention — mostly positive or at least evenhanded — from the media. The news feature by WCBS-TV in New York above, featuring Mike Schlicht, co-coordinator of the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates, is a good example.

Erika Collins, a partner at a major corporate law firm, recently penned a guest column for the New York Law Journal that placed the HWB in the context of international legal developments concerning workplace bullying:

Currently, there is no state or federal law to fill this gap in coverage. The first anti-bullying piece of legislation, the “Healthy Workplace Bill” (HWB), was introduced in California in 2003. Since then, 21 other states, including New York, have proposed bills based on the HWB, though none have yet been enacted.

. . . Other countries have been more proactive in combating workplace bullying. In particular, Sweden, the United Kingdom, France and Japan have introduced new legislation or have interpreted existing legislation to address bullying in the workplace.

Esque Walker, our Texas coordinator, was featured in this Dallas Voice piece that recounts her tireless efforts to find a sponsor for the bill in the Lonestar State:

She has been working diligently for the passage of the Texas Healthy Workplace Bill…. It’s hard going, as you can imagine.

So far, Dr. Walker has been unable to even get a meeting with Gov. Rick Perry. Perhaps he is too busy campaigning. More likely, if his many aides have put her name and credentials before him, he has retreated into his good-hairyness.

…But the governor is not the only impediment to getting this bill in place. So far, Dr. Walker and her associates have spoken with a great many Texas state senators and representatives. Not one has agreed to sponsor the bill.

Massachusetts

For Bay State supporters of the HWB, our bill — filed for the 2011-12 session — is pending in the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

Please stay tuned for announcements on our advocacy efforts for early 2012! To ensure you receive updates, sign up at the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates site (here) and/or join our Facebook page (here). For details on how to become more active in our advocacy efforts, go here.

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