Healthy Workplace Bill advances in Massachusetts legislature

Prospects for enacting the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill in Massachusetts took a big turn for the better when the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development favorably reported the bill, thus moving it to the next step of deliberations. The HWB now will be considered by the legislature’s Ways and Means Committee.

News release

Here is the news release from the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates:

The Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates announced March 5 that the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill – Senate Bill 916 and House Bill 2310 – has progressed from the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and is due to go next to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Co-sponsored by Senator Katherine Clark of Melrose and Representative Ellen Story of Amherst, the bill provides workers with a legal right to seek damages for severe bullying behaviors that have caused physical or psychological harm. Employers who engage in preventive and responsive measures toward workplace bullying can eliminate or reduce their liability exposure.

“The progression of The Healthy Workplace Bill is a significant step forward for victims of workplace bullying,” said Senator Clark. “Although 16 states have fought to pass similar proposals, we hope that Massachusetts will become the first state to create a law that encourages employers to prevent bullying from occurring.”

“I am delighted by this favorable action,” said Representative Story. “Our biggest obstacle to passage of the bill is a lack of awareness that workplace bullying is a problem. I am hopeful that this progress will help publicize the widespread and damaging challenges presented by workplace bullying, and that the House will hear our call to act on this issue soon.”

According to a 2007 national survey by Zogby International and the Workplace Bullying Institute, 37 percent of workers have experienced some form of workplace bullying. This includes defamation, false accusations, yelling, insults and physical assaults, among other forms of harassment and abuse.

“Too many abused workers have no legal recourse, and too many employers treat complaints about workplace bullying dismissively or even side with the aggressor,” said David Yamada, Suffolk University Law Professor and author of the bill language. “Passing the Healthy Workplace Bill will protect workers against severe bullying at work and encourage employers to prevent behaviors that devastate productivity and morale.”

The Healthy Workplace Bill is supported by Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates, a grassroots organization of concerned citizens seeking to protect Massachusetts workers from targeted psychological abuse at work.

What you can do

Please contact your Massachusetts state senator and state representative and urge them to support the Healthy Workplace Bill (Senate Bill 916 and House Bill 2310). In addition, you can sign up to receive regular updates on the progress of the legislation at the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates website.


Disclosure note: I am the author of the template language of the Healthy Workplace Bill, which has been the basis of legislation introduced in over 20 states in recent years.

7 responses

  1. Very good news for Massachusetts. If passed, I wonder if people bullied years ago (but still feeling the effects of that bullying) will have legal recourse. Nice work!

  2. Good for Massachusetts I hope this bill is passed, only us that have lived through it know how much it is needed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I swear now, I am looking to re-locate upon completing a current degree in progress and just near completion. I am watching closely as I consider where I’d like to set down new roots for my family. Crime and employment are atop of my list of criteria to consider. With my PTSD, I am also looking for decent climate with sunny days to help relieve me of my sadness and constant re-living or flashbacks.

    When I mention considering -employment- when selecting a state, I mean to say worker friendly and fair states. I want not only to be safer within my community and neighborhood, but also AT WORK. I am afraid to risk that another place of employment can be rife with predatory, bullying, mobbing and harassing folks shrouded in secrecy until your in. I know too well how these corporations will intentionally shroud and cover the rampant behavior and then attempt to oust a very productive and decent employee with a solid character and recognition for such (…..until coming forward with heinous bullying and indecent harassment conditions).

    I don’t want to feel like a sitting duck as I trench the toxicity daily with bystanders cowering in silence as people are demeaned. I don’t ever want to lose my self-control and strike back. I want to be where there is a law so that the unethical despicable company cant respond with HR telling you that “it’s just co-workers being mean” when you detail the horrific nightmare of bullying, threats of violence, personal invasions and more that made you a target. This environment breeds the protected harassment of sexual predators and racial and all other discrimination. You get a pot of dysfunction shrouded and covered by companies saying “aw it’s just this or that”. By covering the severe conduct of bullying and mobbing, with strict laws you leave no excuses.

    There can only be decency as there is nothing to hide behind if you allow it within your organization. My PTSD is serious, and I need to rid my life of any association with the company where I was harassed in order to live and free my mind that is locked within this memory and knowledge of blatant disregard and exploitation. I want to leave the entire state. My experience was outrageous and if a state has the guts and morality to stand up for productive workers and level the playing field for ethical decent citizens…. I will move there and contribute to that states pot of “good people”. MA, do it and good people will come and will contribute to your workforce. Not lazy predatory folk resting on a culture of ingratiation and stomping out the dedicated straight arrow employees.

  4. Congratulations! Every inch forward is a victory worth celebrating. Every heart and mind touched by the voices of reason and humanity contributes to the larger effort.

  5. This bill can’t come soon enough, I would like to give more details about my situation but can not at this time. Will continue watch this bill closely and someday hope to be involved in helping others to have a better and safer place to work.

  6. Dr. Yamada, thank you for providing your legal expertise and writing the template language for this and other bills.

    Let’s hope this bill gets passed quickly and that other states get moving on passing similar legislation.

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