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.
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.