Georgia’s Fulton County draws from Healthy Workplace Bill in adopting anti-bullying policy

The Commissioners of Fulton County, Georgia, by a 7 to 0 vote, have adopted a workplace anti-bullying policy that covers county employees. Under the policy, suspension and termination are possible sanctions for those who engage in severe bullying behaviors.

The Fulton County measure draws its definition of bullying from the Healthy Workplace Bill, model legislation I drafted that is serving as the template for bills introduced across the country. The policy prohibits abusive conduct such as repeated derogatory insults and epithets; conduct of a threatening or intimidating nature; and the deliberate sabotage of someone’s work.

The policy initiative was spearheaded by County Commissioner William Edwards. Fulton County is a major governmental entity; it encompasses most of metropolitan Atlanta.

Significance

This is yet another sign of growing receptivity to legal protections against workplace bullying in the U.S., and it serves as a tacit endorsement of how the Healthy Workplace Bill has defined workplace bullying. It also helps to validate our strategy of building support for workplace bullying laws by using the states and local governments as laboratories for legal reform.

This approach, in turn, is helping us to build national visibility for our movement. This was exemplified last month by a successful news conference about the Healthy Workplace Bill at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., hosted by the Workplace Bullying Institute and featuring speaking appearances by national labor and civil rights leaders.

The Fulton County measure follows a string of successes by healthy workplace advocates during last month’s Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week. Not only did the week include the aforementioned Washington news conference and a successful program in Boston, but also it resulted in some 100 proclamations of support from county and municipal governments across the nation.

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For more on the Fulton County policy, go to Dr. Gary Namie’s blog commentary here. For the full resolution and policy, go here.

5 responses

  1. I am very impressed and thankful for any county government that acknowledges just how severe this is and how it will impact the worker’s life and infest a family with negativity and depression. The children suffer and the family’s time and love together is diminished and lessened in how wonderful it could be. Negativity replaces laughter and doom and a feeling of injustice replaces optimism and happiness.

    I still yet am waiting for all National/Federal Government and workers rights organizations to clearly understand this and face the reality of it’s presence and harm to workers. I am waiting for them to speak up and out and implement laws that make it illegal. It must be understood that companies do indeed and in fact know the damage that this does. Often it is diminished no matter how heinous the incidents and covered over. Ingratiation prevails and good workers are retaliated against and face economic devastation.

    I’d like it stressed that COMPANIES KNOW. They are just not held to do the right thing and thus they do not.

    • I agree. On the basis of experience. Ignorance is understandable, but it is much more difficult to accept that large numbers of people will stand idly by, fully aware of others’ suffering. Sad but true. We must encourage and empower bystanders to ACT through every available means.

  2. This type of news is a true inspiration to those of us who continue to deal with inappropriate workplace behavior. I commend this county’s courage in stepping forth and taking measures to support its employees.

    From my own experience it has been more effective to continue to speak out about the abusive behavior than to submit to it, even though the journey has been a long and arduous one wrought with episodes of fierce and unrelenting retaliation attempts due to my being vocal. For me, it has been an eight year-long journey in my efforts to stand up for my inherent human right to be treated with dignity and respect.

    Having said that and even though the bullying has significantly lessened – or perhaps it is in a dormant stage – I am ever vigilant to there being an attack at any time, calumniating in my being fired, as I am well aware that my work is being closely watched for any mistake that I may make that can even remotely justify severe punishment or termination.

    In spite of the potential consequences of my self-advocacy, I hold my head high and with dignity, as I continue to embark upon this journey towards wholeness, as my family and I have been profoundly impacted by the severity of the abuse I have endured over the years.

    My gratitude and support extends to those who continue this advocacy work, for in the absence of the commitment to stand up for the humane treatment of one another, our own species is at acute risk of contributing to increased chaos in a world so burdened with violence.

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