Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill garners support at State House hearing

Photo: Deb Falzoi, MA Healthy Workplace Advocates

Photo: Deb Falzoi, MA Healthy Workplace Advocates

In recent years, I’ve participated in four Massachusetts legislative hearings on workplace anti-bullying legislation, the last three times on behalf of the Healthy Workplace Bill. If yesterday’s hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is any indication, support for the Healthy Workplace Bill in the Bay State is reaching a tipping point.

The Healthy Workplace Bill (House No. 1766 in the current MA session) was among the bills heard by the committee on Tuesday, and the growing support was evident. Here’s a quick summary of who supported the bill:

  • The Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates panel testifying in support included co-coordinator Greg Sorozan (President of NAGE Local 282), a former bullying target, and me.
  • Lead sponsors Rep. Ellen Story and Sen. Katherine Clark and co-sponsor Rep. Frank Smizik were among the legislators who testified in support of the HWB.
  • Approximately 12 citizens shared individual stories of experiencing bullying at work and why passage of the HWB is necessary to safeguard workers.
  • Many others who appeared before the Committee to endorse other legislation added remarks supporting the HWB.

The only voiced opposition came from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a powerful corporate trade association. In addition, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette ran an editorial opposing the HWB, claiming that existing laws are more than adequate to address bullying-type behaviors.

I’m hardly a disinterested party, but I was struck by how frequently this bill was mentioned during the hearing. Ten years ago, such an event simply was not imaginable. Yesterday, however, workplace bullying was among the dominant topics at a legislative hearing in which many worthy bills were being considered.

***

Thanks to Deb Falzoi, Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates, for some of the information above.

5 responses

  1. I am really happy for your efforts. In my situation I worked for the Town of Brookline. Silently and unaware of the bullying I was going through, as it felt much like home as a teased child. I just did what I was asked, and went above and beyond in my part time job, that led to full time hours, because of my love of the town, school, and the job. Used as a fall guy for mismanagement I have learned a lot. Having a student in the school at the time, I continued to ask for help with her and her education, and was continued to be treated disrespectfully by all involved including Dean’s, headmaster’s, Superintendent, and I now await response from the School Committee. It is imperative to me that I clear my name for the things I would not do, even if I had the computer access to do them. I am relieved at the progress you are making. Will help anyway I can. It seems funny to force someone to resign in lieu of criminal prosecution for misuse of an email system, that states, if I am not using it correctly my 2 bosses would be in trouble, as they were to be monitoring it. Let alone, give me unemployment when I resign. As a single mother who asked my Union Attorney Howard Lenow if I not sign, take time to look at the policy, he told me it was now or never…. I felt backed into a corner. Who would take care of my then 16 year old, and my 81 year old father. I had no choice. Thank you for your efforts. I do a online newsletter that goes out to 2300 parents and membership. I have put it on hold as I have had nothing good to share this is good news all should know. Thank you very much…

  2. I was at the hearing yesterday. Thank you for your work. I was one of the last to testify so you missed the raised eyebrows when I relayed my son’s experience being told by the Boy Scouts of America that it wasn’t bullying because:

    “Massachusetts bullying law only applies to schools and I have listed the link below for your review.
    http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/source/mass/cmr/cmrtext/603CMR49.pdf

    (from their email response to me on behalf of my teenage son-two years ago):

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