Working Notes: Publications update

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Dear readers, this blog serves as a more informal medium for my commentary on workplace bullying, employee relations, workers’ rights, and the like. As I periodically mention here, most of my in-depth, scholarly writings on these topics are in the form of law review and journal articles.

Fortunately, most of these longer writings are freely accessible via my Social Science Research Network (SSRN) page, where you can read short abstracts of my scholarly articles and download full pdf texts of each. I’m happy to invite you to take a look at them, as I strive to write academic pieces that can be read and understood by those who are not necessarily trained in law. To date I have posted 19 articles to my SSRN page, including:

  • The first U.S. law review article to comprehensively assess the legal and policy implications of workplace bullying (“The Phenomenon of ‘Workplace Bullying’ and the Need for Status-Blind Hostile Work Environment Protection,” Georgetown Law Journal, 2000);
  • A more recent piece on legal developments concerning workplace bullying that contains the full text of the current template version of the Healthy Workplace Bill and an explanation of its major provisions (“Emerging American Legal Responses to Workplace Bullying,” Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review, 2013);
  • A theoretical and public policy exploration of how U.S. employment law can better affirm and protect human dignity at work (“Human Dignity and American Employment Law,” University of Richmond Law Review, 2009);
  • One of the first law review articles to examine legal issues relevant to the intern economy, which, in turn, helped to inform eventual litigation challenges to the widespread practice of unpaid internships (“The Employment Law Rights of Student Interns,” Connecticut Law Review, 2002);
  • An article that posits how therapeutic jurisprudence both exemplifies good legal scholarship and inspires a healthier culture of scholarly activity (“Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Practice of Legal Scholarship,” University of Memphis Law Review, 2010); and,
  • The closest thing I have to an academic and social activist autobiography, a piece exploring how we can use  legal scholarship to inform and inspire law reform initiatives that advance the public interest, drawing heavily on my involvement in the workplace anti-bullying movement and the intern rights movement, as well as interdisciplinary initiatives committed to advancing human dignity (“Intellectual Activism and the Practice of Public Interest Law,” Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice, forthcoming).

To access these articles, it may be necessary to complete a free registration, but there’s a big advantage to doing so. SSRN is one of the world’s largest repositories of research and scholarship, containing over a half million freely downloadable papers and articles, including many on legal and employee relations topics. It’s a searchable treasure trove of scholarly research and commentary.

Working Notes: Upcoming speaking appearances and a nice kudo

Hello dear readers, I wanted to quickly share a few items about upcoming speaking appearances, as well as a surprise kudo.

The Mara Dolan Show, Monday at 10:30 a.m.

Today (Monday) at around 10:30 a.m. eastern I’ll be making my second appearance this year on the Mara Dolan Show, 980 WCAP radio in Massachusetts. I’ll be giving an update on the status of the Healthy Workplace Bill in the Bay State and talking about therapeutic jurisprudence, the school of legal thought that examines the psychological impacts of law, public policy, and legal systems.

I was a guest on Mara’s show in January, talking about workplace bullying, and I enjoyed our conversation very much. She’s a highly respected, very knowledgeable political commentator with a background in law and social work.

[4/15/15 Editor’s Note: You may listen to the segment, about 12 minutes, here.]

Work, Stress, and Health Conference, Atlanta, May 2015

This is a repeat of an earlier note that I’ll be presenting at one of my favorite events, the biennial “Work, Stress and Health” conference, co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Society for Occupational Health Psychology. This year’s conference will be held on May 6-9 in Atlanta.

I’ll chairing and presenting on two symposium panels, one on the impact of emerging workplace bullying legislation on employee relations stakeholders (with Gary Namie, Ellen Pinkos Cobb, and Maureen Duffy), and another on coaching as an intervention strategy for workplace bullying (with John-Robert Curtin, Ivonne Moreno-Velazquez, and Jessi Eden Brown).

In addition, I just accepted an invitation to moderate a panel on organizational justice featuring Karolus O. Kraan, Bram P. I. Fleuren, and Dr. Peter L. Schnall.

International Congress of Law and Mental Health, Vienna, Austria, July 2015

I’ll be taking a long plane flight to Vienna, Austria, for the 2015 International Congress of Law and Mental Health, a biennial, global gathering of academicians, practitioners, judges, and students hosted by the International Academy of Law and Mental Health on July 12-17. I’ll be on a panel that examines how therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) perspectives can be integrated into law teaching and legal education. My paper will examine how TJ can be included in continuing legal education programs for practicing attorneys.

Top 30 list

Last week, I was doing some online research on workplace bullying when I found this feature by Dr. Tanja Babic, “The 30 Most Influential Industrial and Organizational Psychologists Alive Today,” on Human Resources MBA, a website and blog for individuals interested in training and degree programs in HR work. I was delighted to see Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute listed at No. 5. Gary’s contributions to our understanding of workplace bullying have been singular and definitive.

I scrolled down the rest of the list and was stunned to find myself at No. 30. Especially given that my formal training is in law and public policy, I am honored to be included on a list of influential people in I/O psychology.

Here’s the January 2015 news release announcing the article and listing.

Working Notes: Talking about workplace bullying and worker dignity

Click the link below to listen!

Click the link below to listen!

Dear Readers, here’s a quick roundup of links to, and information about, some of the work I’ve been doing.

Mara Dolan Show

On Monday morning, I was a guest on the Mara Dolan Show (WCAP AM 980), talking about workplace bullying and prospects for the Healthy Workplace Bill in Massachusetts. Mara is a respected political commentator who has interviewed many “movers and shakers” in the Bay State; it was such a privilege to be on her show! To listen to our interview, go here. (We lost our connection for a few minutes early in the interview, but Mara filled in seamlessly before I dialed back in and we finished the interview.)

Massachusetts Legislative Co-Sponsorship Day for workplace health and safety bills, this Thursday

This Thursday I’ll be joining advocates from across the Commonwealth at the Massachusetts State House for Legislative Co-Sponsorship Day, to generate support for workplace health and safety legislation, including the Healthy Workplace Bill. The event is organized by our friends at the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.

Please join us this Thursday morning if you can!

Blog interview with Fiona McQuarrie

Dr. Fiona McQuarrie, a business school professor at the University of the Fraser Valley (British Columbia, Canada), interviewed me for her popular All About Work blog, in connection with the very serious sexual harassment and assault allegations lodged against Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio host Jian Ghomeshi, a story receiving a lot of attention north of the border. Our focus was on executive responsibility and accountability for the wrongful actions of lower-level employees. You can read the full interview here.

Two panels at the May 2015 “Work, Stress and Health” Conference in Atlanta

In May, I’ll be presenting at one of my favorite events, the biennial “Work, Stress and Health” conference, co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Society for Occupational Health Psychology. This year’s conference will be held on May 6-9 in Atlanta.

A few days ago, I was delighted to receive word that two of my symposium proposals have been accepted, one on the impact of emerging workplace bullying legislation on employee relations stakeholders (with Gary Namie, Ellen Pinkos Cobb, and Maureen Duffy), and another on coaching as an intervention strategy for workplace bullying (with John-Robert Curtin, Ivonne Moreno-Velazquez, and Jessi Eden Brown). I’m really looking forward to both of these programs.

Working Notes: Progress on challenging unpaid internships

During the past year, we have witnessed major breakthroughs for the growing intern rights movement. Here are three items reflective of that progress:

1. NYU career services offices revise internship listings

A campaign initiated by undergraduate Christina Isnardi to press New York University’s career services offices to monitor internship listings posted by employers for possible violations of minimum wage laws has resulted in major changes, as reported by Kara Brandeisky for ProPublica:

The NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development now requires employers indicate that unpaid internships meet Labor Department guidelines [1] before posting them on CareerNet, the school’s online jobs site. The Wasserman Center’s website also offers students [2] a link to the Labor Department’s website ­­­and a guide to help students identify potentially fraudulent job postings. Additionally, the site provides a comprehensive directory of internship coordinators [3] across NYU departments.

…NYU junior Christina Isnardi began pressuring the career center last year with a petition [4] demanding that the center “remove postings of illegal, exploitative unpaid internships.” The political science and film production double major says she was inspired to start the campaign after working a string of exploitative internships – and watching her friends get shut out of unpaid opportunities they couldn’t afford.

Hat’s off to Christina and others for superb in-house advocacy resulting in an approach that may serve as a model for other universities. And kudos to NYU for listening to their messages.

2. Intern Labor Rights issues 2013 report

If you have any doubts that 2013 was a breakthrough year for the intern rights movement, then you must read this excellent report by Intern Labor Rights, documenting the many positive developments, initiatives, and media stories:

The past year has proved to be a milestone for intern rights, with significant accomplishments in the fight to have interns recognized as employees, with rights to both pay and workplace protections. Substantial decisions in courts, local governments and corporations around the country have brought unfair internships to the fore, prompting many employers to change their practices for the better. Multiple media conglomerates have changed their hiring policies—from terminating their exploitative internship programs to paying their interns. Significant information was released that began to fill in the data gap of unpaid work across the nation. Unpaid and underpaid interns are filing lawsuits against their employees for illegal wage theft. Students are starting to taking matters into their own hands, from demanding that their universities stop posting illegal internships on their job boards to writing substantial theses on the detrimental effect of unpaid internships and free labor.

3. WBUR spotlights unpaid internships

Recently I discussed “The Rise and Fall of the Unpaid Intern” on “Radio Boston,” a daily news program on WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station:

The college internship is a time-honored way to try to get a foot in the door to the professional world and build a career. But the unpaid internship has been taking a hit recently, with a raft of lawsuits against companies such as Fox Searchlight Pictures and publishing house Conde Nast.

It’s about a 15-minute interview segment featuring me and an administrator from Northeastern University.

Working Notes: Healthy Workplace Bill video and WBI fundraising campaign for workplace bullying survey

Hello dear readers! I wanted to share a couple of important items concerning workplace bullying:

Healthy Workplace Bill video (6 mins)

If you’re wondering why we need the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, take a look at this short, snappy, informative video by Deb Falzoi of Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates.

WBI crowdfunding campaign for new national survey

In 2007 and 2010, the Workplace Bullying Institute teamed with Zogby International pollsters to conduct national prevalence surveys about workplace bullying. These surveys have been cited extensively by scholars, advocates, and the media.

Now, WBI is raising $6,000 through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to conduct a third national survey. Thanks to its ongoing association with Zogby, the survey will be done at a fraction of the cost normally associated with such an extensive effort. With less than two weeks to go, the campaign has raised over 2/3 of the required funds. Please consider contributing to support the latest scientific research on workplace bullying, resulting in a study that will be accessible to the public. The campaign includes donor incentives, including buttons, books, and DVDs.

Working Notes: 2 important new books on workplace bullying & mobbing

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As the calendar year comes to a close, two important new books have arrived to enlighten our understanding of, and shape our responses to, workplace bullying and mobbing.

Maureen Duffy & Len Sperry, Overcoming Mobbing

Drs. Maureen Duffy (therapist and consultant) and Len Sperry (faculty, Florida Atlantic University and the Medical College of Wisconsin) have co-authored Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying (Oxford University Press, 2013). Earlier this year, I was asked to provide an endorsement for the book. After spending a good chunk of time with the manuscript, I wrote up this statement, which appears on the back cover:

This is a very important and useful contribution to the literature on mobbing, bullying, and emotional abuse at work. Employee relations and mental health practitioners, mobbing targets and their families, scholars, and advocates alike will benefit from its command of the relevant research, on-the-ground understanding of the workplace, and practical application. I will be adding it with enthusiasm to my short list of recommended books on this topic.

I meant every word. And at a list price of $21.95 — very reasonable for a university press hardcover title — it is within the budgets of most who will gain from its insights. Kudos to Maureen and Len for writing this excellent book.

Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Adult Bullying

Over the past decade, Dr. Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik (North Dakota State University) has emerged as a leading scholar on workplace bullying and related topics, authoring and co-authoring a variety of peer-reviewed studies and commentaries through the lens of communications. Now, in Adult Bullying: A Nasty Piece of Work (ORCM Academic Press, 2013), she has gathered these works into a single volume. In addition to serving the needs of scholars in this field, Pam has written the book for those dealing with bullying-related “grievances, complaints, or concerns with upper-level management and HR professionals.”

Several of her co-authors will be very familiar to those steeped in the literature on workplace bullying, including Jess K. Alberts, Gary Namie, and Sarah J. Tracy. Other co-authors include Elizabeth Dickinson, Lisa Farwell, Courtney Vail Fletcher, Karen A. Foss, Jacqueline Hood, and Virginia McDermott.

This book also is priced very affordably, listing at $13.61 for the softcover edition and $9.99 for the Kindle edition. It’s a handy way to obtain the writings of a leading expert in the field.

Working Notes: Workplace bullying by taser, interns & sexual harassment, and more

Hello, dear readers! Here are several items of possible interest:

Alternet on alleged workplace bullying by taser in Texas

A claim of workplace bullying by taser is a first in my recollection, but here goes. Rod Bastanmehr reports for Alternet on a Texas man who has filed a lawsuit claiming he was repeatedly abused at work:

Bradley Jones, a 45-year-old Texas man is suing Republican state lawmaker Patricia Harless and her husband over what he cites as months of attacks and abuse while working for them. The couple owns Fred Finger Motors, which Jones has worked at since 2009, and are now facing assault and battery charges, as well as failure to provide a safe workplace.

. . . Jones’s suit argues that Sam Harless provided other employees with a taser, and that Harless would often film them sneaking up and using it on him. The series of incidents lasted over a period of nine months, with many of the videos posted online (though they have since been taken down).

MainStreet on workplace bullying

Susan Kreimer serves up a terrific overview of workplace bullying for MainStreet. Gary Namie (Workplace Bullying Institute), Pam Lutgen-Sandvik (North Dakota St U), and I were interviewed for it. Here’s a piece of my advice for bullying targets:

Because bullying situations and work environments vary, so do the strategies for self-defense. Employees who feel targeted “should read up on workplace bullying, try to understand what’s happening to them, avoid making rash decisions or engaging in reckless responses that may backfire, and instead attempt to assess their options carefully after doing their homework,” Yamada says.

NPR on how power can short circuit empathy

Here’s a piece that’s relevant to bullying bosses and nasty CEOs. Chris Benderev reports for National Public Radio on a new study by Canadian researchers showing how power changes brain responses:

Even the smallest dose of power can change a person. You’ve probably seen it. Someone gets a promotion or a bit of fame and then, suddenly, they’re a little less friendly to the people beneath them.

So here’s a question that may seem too simple: Why?

…[I]f you ask Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, he might give you another explanation: Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.

Obhi and his colleagues, Jeremy Hogeveen and Michael Inzlicht, have a new study showing evidence to support that claim.

ProPublica on unpaid interns & sexual harassment protections

Blair Hickman and Christie Thompson write for ProPublica (here, via Salon magazine) on how unpaid interns are unprotected by federal discrimination and sexual harassment laws. They interviewed me for the piece:

In 1994, Bridget O’Connor began an internship at Rockland Psychiatric Center, where one of the doctors allegedly began to refer to her as Miss Sexual Harassment, told her that she should participate in an orgy, and suggested that she remove her clothing before meeting with him. Other women in the office made similar claims.

Yet when O’Connor filed a lawsuit, her sexual harassment claims were dismissed because she was an unpaid intern. A federal appeals court affirmed the decision to throw out the claim.

Unpaid interns miss out on wages and employment benefits, but they can also find themselves in “legal limbo” when it comes to civil rights, according to law professor and intern labor rights advocate David Yamada. The O’Connor decision (the leading ruling on the matter, according to Yamada) held that because they don’t get a paycheck, unpaid interns are not “employees” under the Civil Rights Act – and thus, they’re not protected.

So here’s the twist that I explain in greater detail in my 2002 law review article on the rights of interns: Employers who violate minimum wage laws by failing to compensate their interns can then turn around and claim insulation from  sexual harassment claims by saying that because the interns aren’t paid, they have no standing to sue under the federal employment discrimination laws!

TMZ Sports on an all-star lawsuit

TMZ Sports reports on a lawsuit brought against Major League Baseball for failure to pay some 2,000 people who :

Major League Baseball put roughly 2,000 people to work during  All-Star weekend in NYC last month and illegally paid them with giveaway items  like shirts and hats INSTEAD of cash, so says a new lawsuit.

. . . In the suit, John Chen says he worked  17 hours in 4 days at the All-Star Weekend festival — doing everything from  stamping wrists to stuffing flyers into bags and even filing paperwork … all  assignments that would otherwise have to be done by paid employees.

. . . Basically, Chen believes the concept of a  “volunteer” workforce violates federal and state labor laws — and the  “volunteers” should be paid at least minimum wage … which, in NY, is $7.25 per  hour.

This is a spin on the unpaid intern issue, but it carries slightly different implications. Surely Major League Baseball can afford to pay these people the minimum wage for their work on this lucrative, marquee event. In addition, it also says something troubling about the willingness of people to provide free labor to a wealthy, profit-making organization. Is it the appeal of basking in the reflected glow of athletic and celebrity glory?

***

New essay

I recently posted a draft of a new essay, “If It Matters, Write About It: Using Legal Scholarship to Effect Social Change,” which will be published in a new student periodical at Suffolk University Law School to which I’m serving as faculty advisor. Here’s the abstract, and go here to download the essay:

Abstract: 
This essay centers on the concept of “intellectual activism,” discussing how legal scholarship can be used as the foundation for social change work. It recounts and reflects upon the author’s ongoing work in advancing issues such as workplace bullying and the rights of student interns. It concludes with advice on how to be effective in an intellectual activist mode. The essay will be published in the inaugural issue of Bearing Witness: A Journal of Law and Social Responsibility, a new student-run periodical at Suffolk University Law School.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 9

Working notes: On screening out sociopaths, the anti-worker Supreme Court, heroic flight attendants, and much more

I’ve got lots of good stuff to share with you today. Here are seven items that may be of interest:

Forbes on Employee Screening for Sociopaths

Rob Asghar writes for Forbes magazine on “How To Screen Out The Sociopath Job Candidate.” His piece features psychiatrist Martha Stout, author of the compelling and chilling The Sociopath Next Door (2005):

I asked psychiatrist Martha Stout . . . how hiring managers and corporate boards can avoid unwittingly unleashing a sociopath within their organizations—especially at the senior levels.

“More and more businesspeople people are asking me about this,” she says.  “After all, having a sociopath can be expensive.” Indeed, they often aren’t extracted from an organization until they’ve caused permanent injury.

Dr. Stout offers four pieces of advice. Check out the full article if you’d like to read more. (You’ll probably have to click through a subscription invitation pop up first.)

I’m glad to see this topic getting mainstream media attention. While some “jerks” and abrasive bosses can be coached and counseled to interact with others more appropriately, those who behave abusively are in a different category. Among the latter include those with sociopathic and psychopathic traits, many of whom perpetrate or orchestrate the most damaging instances of workplace bullying and abuse.

Hat tip to eBossWatch

LA Times on Supreme Court Employment Law Decisions

Alana Semuels reports for the Los Angeles Times on employment cases decided during the recently concluded term of the Supreme Court, which includes a quote from me, among many others:

“You can see this common thread of making it more difficult to have your day in court,” said David Yamada, a professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. “The legal climate for employees is a tough one.”

The current incarnation of the U.S. Supreme Court continues to interpret federal employment and labor laws in ways that make it increasingly difficult for workers pursuing legal claims. It is fair to say that this is the most anti-worker Supreme Court of the modern, post-World War II era.

USA Today on the Heroic Flight Attendants of Asiana Flight 214

Ben Mutzabaugh from USA Today reports that last weekend’s crash landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport could’ve been much worse had it not been for the calm, brave responses of the flight attendants. Here’s his lede:

Asiana Airlines attendants are being lauded as heroes for their role in helping passengers to safety after the crash-landing of Flight 214 at San Francisco on Saturday.

Lee Yoon-hye, described by The Associated Press as the “cabin manager” who was “apparently the last person to leave the burning plane,” was among those being called out for her efforts to lead fliers to safety.

The heroic, life-saving work of the flight attendants is becoming one of the important backstories of this event. Read Mutzabaugh’s article for more details.

Next Avenue on Back to School at Midlife

Nancy Collamer, blogging for Next Avenue, offers some advice for workers who are considering degree and certificate programs to enhance their employability:

I suspect many Americans in their 50s and 60s are considering going back to school to improve their career prospects.

…But college isn’t cheap and there’s no guarantee that further schooling will lead to a new job or fatten your paycheck.

So when does it pay to go back to school after age 50 or so?

It’s a good piece if you’re thinking about a return to school. The Next Avenue site has become one of my favorites. Take a look and click around!

Dean & Provost on Being Thrown Under the Bus

J. Dirk Nelson, writing for Dean & Provost, a publication for academic administrators, addresses a situation that occurs all too often in academe — and elsewhere: That of being “thrown under the bus,” i.e., being scapegoated or wrongfully blamed. Here’s a snippet:

Political forces in colleges are never an easy ride, and unfortunately many careers have been shattered or significantly altered by the seemingly petty, arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory and often childish politically driven actions of others.

…(T)here certainly exist unsavory political forces on campuses, and consequently, a colleague (or you) may be “thrown under the bus” i.e., made the scapegoat or blamed for something that wasn’t his responsibility in the first place.

. . . The appropriate responses to being thrown under the bus — while possibly difficult in practice — are simple and sound in theory: Have a positive attitude, vent, behave with professionalism, and learn.

Do you agree or disagree? Nelson gets into a lot more detail in the full article, exploring a topic that will resonate with many people who are familiar with workplace bullying. Wrongful blame for mistakes made by others is high on the list of common bullying tactics.

Hat tip to Mike Schlicht, New York Healthy Workplace Advocates

Followup to Blog Post on the Stages of Dealing with Workplace Bullying

Earlier this month, I wrote a piece on what I characterized as the four stages of dealing with workplace bullying: Recognition, response, recovery, and renewal. Since then, thoughtful readers have shared their own stories of being bullied and the aftermaths.

For some honest, raw, courageous testimony about the toll that this form of abuse can exact, scroll down to the several dozen comments following my blog post, here.

Unpaid Internship Ruling Spurs Media Coverage

A federal court decision in June holding that unpaid interns working on the Fox Searchlight Pictures production of “Black Swan” were entitled to back pay under federal and state minimum wage laws has resulted in an abundance of media coverage. Here are three recent articles for which I was interviewed:

Bloomberg.com, Jim Snyder & Christie Smythe, June 27

“This question of whether private-sector internships violate the minimum wage laws has been sort of a sleeping-giant issue for many years,” said David Yamada, director of the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. “The absence of payment is done with a wink and a nod. Interns know they better not make any trouble about this.”

Boston Globe, Taryn Luna, June 26

The majority of students who accept unpaid internships can only do so on their parents’ dime. This creates both a class issue, where more students from affluent families get a foot in the door, and a situation where employers limit their applicant pool, Yamada says.

In These Times, Michelle Chen, June 24

David Yamada, a labor law specialist at Suffolk University Law School, comments via email, “We’ll probably never know how many people from modest backgrounds don’t even bother applying for unpaid internships because they know they can’t afford it. But there surely is a strong element of economic class bias in this practice.”

. . . Yamada says that since it was filed in 2011, the Fox lawsuit has “led to the creation of informal networks of former interns and lawyers weighing the possibility of bringing lawsuits to challenge unpaid internships,” and has since developed intern networks that “are coalescing via social media and face-to-face gatherings. This is becoming a genuine social and legal movement.”

Working Notes: Upcoming speaking appearances, Summer 2013

I’m looking at a busy summer speaking schedule, mostly on the topic of workplace bullying. Although the travel can be wearying at times, I’m grateful for opportunities to share ideas and information with others. Here goes:

Labor and Employment Relations Association, Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO (June 5-9, 2013) — LERA is a non-partisan, multidisciplinary association for practitioners and scholars in labor & employment relations. I’ll be presenting two talks: (1) “Intellectual Activism: How Scholarship Can Inform Employment Law and Policy (and Vice Versa)”; and (2) “As Workplace Bullying Enters the Mainstream of American Employment Relations, Will Law and Public Policy Follow?”

National Employment Lawyers Association, Annual Convention, Denver, CO (June 26-29, 2013) — NELA is a national bar association for attorneys who specialize in representing workers, and many of the leading plaintiffs’ employment lawyers are active members. On June 28 I’ll be on a panel titled “Preventing Workplace Bullying & Harassment.”

International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Biennial Congress, Amsterdam, Netherlands (July 14-19, 2013) — This is a huge international gathering, with dozens of programs daily. I’ll be speaking on two panels, with talks titled “Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Intellectual Activism” and “Can Therapeutic Jurisprudence Inspire and Inform a Healthier Culture of Legal Scholarship?”

Association of Labor Relations Agencies, Annual Conference, Washington, D.C. (July 21-24, 2013) — I’ll be giving a speech on workplace bullying and labor relations. This invitation is evidence of the growing impact of the workplace anti-bullying movement: ALRA members are employment relations “neutrals” from government labor relations agencies across North America, and this will provide us with great visibility among an important group.

Working Notes: Moyers on wealth inequality, EHS on workplace bullying, adjunct profs organize, and more

Several interesting items worthy of attention:

Moyers on American wealth inequality

Bill Moyers presents an excellent video essay on America’s out-of-control wealth inequality. Click above to watch, or go here for a preview:

The unprecedented level of economic inequality in America is undeniable. In an extended essay, Bill shares examples of the striking extremes of wealth and poverty across the country, including a video report on California’s Silicon Valley. There, Facebook, Google, and Apple are minting millionaires, while the area’s homeless — who’ve grown 20 percent in the last two years — are living in tent cities at their virtual doorsteps.

“A petty, narcissistic, pridefully ignorant politics has come to dominate and paralyze our government,” says Bill, “while millions of people keep falling through the gaping hole that has turned us into the United States of Inequality.”

EHS on Workplace Bullying

Laura Walter, in a lengthy, substantive piece for EHS Today (a periodical for environmental, health, and safety professionals), writes about the effects of workplace bullying. Here’s her lede:

A few years ago, Maria had never even heard the term “workplace bullying.” But by the time she shared with EHS Today the path her professional life has taken in recent years, she used words like “traumatized,” “powerless,”  “hostility,”  “retaliation,”  “mafia” and “war zone.” All this from a self-described happy, optimistic person who loved her job as a nurse and who never expected to become the target of bullying at work.

Dr. Gary Namie and the work of the Workplace Bullying Institute are featured prominently in this article.

Adjunct Professors Organizing

SEIU, America’s largest service workers union, is organizing part-time faculty in colleges and universities. Overall, adjunct professors comprise one of the most exploited groups in higher education, receiving paltry salaries and minimal, if any, benefits in return for heavy-duty teaching responsibilities. Peter Schmidt reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A national labor union that has made strides in organizing adjunct instructors in Washington, D.C., and its Maryland suburbs is starting a similar regional campaign in Boston and is planning one in Los Angeles, too.

Service Employees International Union developed its “metropolitan” organizing strategy out of a belief that, by unionizing adjuncts at enough colleges in a large, urban labor market, it can put other colleges in that area under competitive pressure to improve their own adjunct instructors’ pay and working conditions.

As the article points out, Boston is among the cities selected for organizing efforts. On Saturday, Massachusetts Adjunct Action held a symposium at the Kennedy Library, drawing participants from some 20 area schools. Go here for social media commentary on the event.

Unpaid Internships Across the Pond

Peter Walker reports for The Guardian that the British government will investigate 100 firms for potential violations of wage laws stemming from their use of unpaid interns:

The government has referred 100 companies for investigation by HM Revenue and Customs after a campaign group told ministers they might be breaking the law through their use of unpaid interns.

The firms, which have not been identified publicly but are understood to include a number of household names, were referred by Jo Swinson, the junior employment minister, after a meeting she had with Intern Aware, which campaigns against the abuse of the internship process.

I hope this will inspire unpaid intern activists and the U.S. Department of Labor toward similar initiatives!

Hat tip to “Interns ≠ Free Labor” Facebook group

Fidelity exec on U.S. retirement savings

Fidelity’s head of asset management told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that America faces a crisis in terms of retirement readiness. Beth Healy reports for the Boston Globe:

Fidelity Investments’ president of asset management, Ronald O’Hanley, issued a stern warning Wednesday before a gathering of the US Chamber of Commerce that Americans are not saving enough for retirement and are in danger of living their later years in poverty.

O’Hanley told attendees at the chamber’s capital markets summit that the country needs to “act now to avert the looming catastrophe America faces if we don’t get serious about addressing the inadequacy of our retirement savings system.”

Already, nearly four in 10 retiree households do not have enough income to cover their monthly expenses, according to the Boston mutual fund giant’s research. And well over half of Americans have less than $25,000 in total savings, not counting their homes or pension plans, O’Hanley said.

It’s a message we cannot repeat too often.

The Future of Social Security

Of course, if we’re talking about retirement readiness, then the health of the Social Security program must be considered as well. The topic is all over the news right now because the folks in Washington D.C. are taking hard looks at how to shore up the Social Security retirement and disability funds. On the always interesting Next Avenue site, Richard Eisenberg has a good overview piece that examines the possible policy options:

You’ve probably heard a lot lately about President Barack Obama’s Chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) budget proposal, which would cut future Social Security annual cost of living increases, as I’ll explain shortly. But I’d like to tell you about other ways Social Security may be changing to remain solvent — and the one strategy for claiming benefits you might want to take advantage of before it disappears.

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