Anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill reintroduced for 2021-22 session of Massachusetts Legislature

Here in the Bay State, State Senator Paul Feeney (D-Bristol & Norfolk) has just reintroduced workplace anti-bullying legislation known as the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) for the 2021-22 session of the Massachusetts Legislature (link here). The HWB permits targets of severe workplace bullying to seek damages in court and creates liability-reducing incentives for employers to act preventively and responsively towards bullying behaviors at work. The bill is currently designated as Senate docket no. 2426; a bill number will be assigned later.

The HWB has been steadily gaining support in the Massachusetts Legislature. During the 2019-20 session, over half of the elected state senators and representatives signed on as co-sponsors. Although the coronavirus pandemic put the HWB on hold for much of the remainder of that session, the strong support for the bill within the State House anticipates the day that this bill will eventually become law.

As the author of the core language of this legislation, I can attest that it fills a large gap in our current employment protections, while treating employers fairly. The bill filed by Senator Feeney is the latest full version of the HWB, which adds an express statement that online workplace abuse is covered — making explicit what was previously implicit in previous filings.

If you’re a Massachusetts resident and would like to see the HWB enacted into law, please contact your state senator and state representative and ask them to sign on as co-sponsors. You may go here for contact information.

5 responses

  1. I have just completed letters to Senator Brownsberger and Representative Owens. Thank you for working on this legislation and for your outreach.

  2. Hi David,

    A quick question for you.

    The WBI 2021 research found that lot of people have been bullied via Zoom this past year. Now some states have laws that say that a communication can be recorded if only one party consents, making it possible for a bullied individual to record all Zoom calls, and ultimately use these as proof of the bullying. In other states, however, both parties must consent to the recording of communications, making this impossible. In those states, would it be legal – without the bully being aware – to: 1. Have someone sittinh off-camera as a witness; 2. Have someone off-camera witnessing and taking notes, or 3. Have a professional – i.e someone proficient in shorthand or with court reporter equipment, taking notes verbatim of all exchanges?

    I’m not asking for myself or for anyone in particular. I’m just asking because I’m trying to think of ways that people who are being bullied by Zoom could use this to their advantage.

    Thanks so much!

    Dorothy Bassett, Ph.D.

    On Sun, Feb 21, 2021, 10:40 PM Minding the Workplace wrote:

    > David Yamada posted: ” Here in the Bay State, State Senator Paul Feeney > (D-Bristol & Norfolk) has just reintroduced workplace anti-bullying > legislation known as the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) for the 2021-22 > session of the Massachusetts Legislature (link here). The HWB ” >

    • Hi Dorothy, thanks for your inquiry, but I wish it was truly a “quick question”! It wouldn’t be responsible of me to guesstimate answers to your questions about two-party recording states, given that I haven’t researched the individual state laws. Individual state variations matter, so I would caution against painting with a broad brush.

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