We believe U.S. workers have a right toPsychologically safe workplaceswhere our mental health is a priority.
Our lives depend on it.
We believe all people —
regardless of their gender, race, disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity,
age, income, faith, religion, and political affiliations –
deserve to lead healthy and productive lives
and to work in psychologically safe environments free from abuse and oppression.
Governments regulate the environmental health of the workplace, but who’s making sure the U.S. workplace is psychologically safe?
Governments only hold employers accountable for sexual harassment and discrimination, meaning only those who can prove discriminatory intent have protections.
But what about those who are in a protected class (think sex, race, or age) who can’t prove discriminatory intent? And what about the others who endure the same abuse but are in the same protected class as their abusers?
We shouldn’t have to quit our jobs to stop tolerating abuse at work of any kind.
Women’s suffrage. Civil rights. Gay marriage. Throughout U.S. history, movements have been the tool we’ve used to make social progress.
Our collective power is what will move the needle on creating psychologically safe workplaces. We’re building a movement advocating for psychological safety at work so workers can do the jobs we were hired to do — free from abuse of power.
It’s time to hold employers accountable.
We accept nothing less than basic respect at work.
We won’t stop until we eliminate psychologically abusive behaviors from the American workplace. We strive to protect and promote workers’ right to psychological wellness, critical to physical health, by advocating for the elimination of such abusive behaviors from the American workplace.
We’re organizing and leading a collective movement advocating for psychological safety at work. We lobby for protective legislation and policies, raise public awareness about psychological harm at work, build leaders who campaign for abuse-free workplaces, and collaborate with other organizations advancing workers’ rights. Because bias and prejudice are often an integral part of workplace abuse, we advocate for protections against discrimination.
Take action below to let your state legislators know we deserve better. Don’t wait for others to create change. Let’s change the workplace together.
survivors of workplace abuse
bill of rights
- Workers deserve a workplace free of verbal abuse, threats, sabotage, and abuse of any kind.
- Workers deserve a right to feel like we are included in an organization and part of a team.
PRIORITY WORKERS' RIGHTS ISSUES
PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE (WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING)
Psychological abuse at work ruins lives. It’s a misuse of power and control that violates workers’ right to psychological safety.
Workplace bullying and mobbing are forms of psychological abuse, interpersonal perpetration that violate an employee’s inherent basic human right to dignity: severe or pervasive infliction of hostile and unethical words and/or actions, intentional or unintentional, direct or indirect, or omissions, directed in a targeted and/or systematic manner that creates a toxic work environment that is offensive, and a reasonable person would find unsuitable to perform regular duties and tasks. A single severe incident of such behavior may also constitute psychological abuse.
Workplace psychological abuse is an issue of employee exploitation. Employers are not explicitly liable for the psychological safety of their employees — nor do they want to be. At its root cause is avoidance of employer liability. Employers are negatively incentivized to address it.
Workplace psychological abuse is highly affiliated with physical and/or mental health injuries. It is 4x more prevalent than sexual harassment alone. The phenomenon has been dubbed a silent epidemic and is a public health threat affecting over 60 million employees in the United States in 2017 (the equivalent of the entire population of Italy).
Abuse of power is often a symptom of implicit bias — a problem anti-discrimination law stopped helping since the ‘90s when courts moved from focusing on impact to intent. Intent is a high threshold that makes the law an epic failure when it comes to disrupting hierarchies at work around demographics.
HOW IT WORKS
Workplace bullying typically begins when one employee, who is generally insecure and/or jealous, is threatened by the competence or demeanor of another employee. The bully targets an unsuspecting employee to minimize and/or eliminate the perceived threat the employee poses to them. Bullies use persistent psychological abuse to control the narrative. They try to convince the employee they are incompetent. They try to convince others the employee is incompetent. Common tactics include:
False accusations, including bogus reviews
Ignoring or excluding someone
Career sabotage, including removal of responsibilities
In toxic work environments, when employees report psychologically abusive behavior to proper workplace authorities, those authorities ignore their complaints. Employers are not liable for psychologically abusive behavior, nor do many want to be. In toxic work environments, the employer, its representative employees mislead the unsuspecting employee to believe they have a legitimate complaint process to remedy the problem.
The employer fails to alter the employee’s unsafe work environment. The employer doesn’t remove the stressor. The emboldened bully continues to abuse the target without consequence or deterrent. The complaint process is unnecessarily prolonged.
The unsuspecting employee voluntarily leaves, dies, or is fired, succumbing to the silent killer stress of the work environment. There is significant physical, mental, and emotional injury as well as severe economic harm. Game over. The bully wins. Her perceived competition is gone. The employer wins. Their perceived threat of liability is gone. The unsuspecting employee had done nothing to provoke either.
Trauma upon trauma. When the employee realizes the institutional duplicity and complicity of tampering with their health and livelihood, forcing them off the payroll to avoid liability, trauma upon trauma occurs.
Upon trauma. The employee further realizes there is no legal recourse for any of it.
Who’s picking up the tab for the long-term health care of millions of unemployed citizens and basic needs costs? You are: the taxpayer. And you have been for decades.
Psychological distress (anxiety, depression, burnout)
Physiological outcome (heart disease, obesity, sleep problems, cancer, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, suicide)
Job and/or career loss and other financial harm
Higher absenteeism, turnover, training costs, and employee benefits costs
Lower task performance, productivity, and morale
"to end sexual harassment on the job, end workplace bullying."
workplace abuse and #metoo
word's getting out.
workplace psychological abuse in the media
ALL WORKERS' RIGHTS ISSUES WE SUPPORT
In their next job search, workers might encounter employers asking them to waive their rights to basic protections. The abusive waivers bill would void provisions in contracts waiving rights or remedies relating to claims of discrimination, nonpayment of wages or benefits, retaliation, or harassment in employment.
Employees are at the will of their employers aside from difficult-to-prove discrimination. Once employers push these workers out, workers have no rights. The at-will employment bill prohibiting constructive discharge and wrongful termination would address this rampant issue. Montana is the only state to ban at-will employment.
Employers shouldn’t use credit reports or ask candidates to disclose their credit worthiness, standing, or capacity as criteria for employment.
MEDICARE FOR ALL
This safety net will make it easier for workers to leave toxic workplaces, removing the link between work and healthcare and helping those who work for themselves. Guaranteed equitable health care access for all through a single payer health care system will ensure healthcare without regard to financial or employment status, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, previous health problems, or geographic location. The act will provide access to continuous healthcare services without the current need for repeated re-enrollments or changes when employers choose new plans and workers change jobs. Coverage will be comprehensive and affordable, with no co-insurance, co-payments, or deductibles.
Workers shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs to pay for basic living expenses. This bill would raise the minimum wage over several years to $15 per hour (lower in some states).
When employers make settlements with their presumed guilt and/or money savings, they often add gag clauses to protect their reputations. Yet those gag clauses silence targets and embolden serial abusers. The Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) bill would ban NDAs.
Louisiana (public employees only)
ONE FAIR WAGE FOR
Tipped workers (restaurant workers, drivers, and grocery pickers and deliverers) don’t make enough money to qualify for unemployment insurance in ways that non-tipped workers do. The One Fair Wage bill phases out the discriminatory subminimum wage for tipped workers that disproportionately affects women, making it gradually match the regular minimum wage.
PAID FAMILY AND
MEDICAL LEAVE AND
PAID SICK LEAVE
We all do better when we have safety nets. We have the resources to provide a high quality of life for all as long as we have the political will. Support paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave.
Rhode Island (extend time only)
When workers disclose their pay history, employers can continue past discriminatory practices. This bill would ban employers from asking about pay history so workers in certain demographics can make salaries equitable to workers in more privileged demographics. Some of these bills allow employees to talk about their pay with co-workers — a way to expose the pay discrimination in the first place.
(WORKPLACE BULLYING AND MOBBING)
Psychological abuse at work ruins lives. It’s a misuse of power and control that violates workers’ right to psychological safety. Workplace psychological abuse is an issue of employee exploitation. Employers are not explicitly liable for the psychological harm of their employees — nor do they want to be. At its root cause is avoidance of employer liability. Employers are negatively incentivized to address. The Workplace Psychological Safety Act would hold employers accountable for psychologically safe work environments.
Pregnant employees deserve rights. Variations of this bill require that employers provide reasonable accommodations for employees related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the employer.
This bill requires compensation for police officers, correction officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel diagnosed with PTSD for their mental health injuries on the job. Passage of this bill would say psychological injury on the job deserves compensation.
RIGHT TO STRIKE FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
Withholding labor for stronger rights should be a fundamental human right. Strikes and the threat of them are a part of the collective bargaining process, especially for teachers. This bill calls for a repeal of a state law that bans public sector workers from going on strike.
Hourly workers deserve respect for their time and their ability to pay basic living expenses. The Fair Scheduling/Fair Workweek bill provides workers the right to:
- 14 days advance notice of hours
- Request specific hours without retaliation from the employer
- Rest for 11 hours between shifts
- The offering of additional available hours before an employer can hire a new employee to fill them
- Collect unemployment benefits when an employer’s failure to comply with Fair Scheduling practices is the worker’s reason for leaving a job.
California (San Francisco only)
Illinois (Chicago only)
New York (New York City only)
Pennsylvania (Philadelphia only)
Washington (Seattle only)
WAGE DATA REPORTING
De-identified wage and salary data public reporting of the gender and racial makeup of workforces is crucial for employer accountability for bias. While the data may reveal equity, in many cases it could reveal disparities that employers could voluntarily remedy or allow workers to file suit. If this data were made public, it would allow plaintiffs and attorneys an opportunity to assess the likelihood that illegal discrimination plays a role in the reward structures of employers. California has already passed the Fair Pay Act that protects the rights of workers to ask about the compensation of coworkers in similar jobs.
This bill would hold lead contractors accountable for the wage theft violations of their subcontractors as long as there’s a significant connection to their business activities. It would also protect workers from wage theft violations such as failure to make wage payments, failure to abide by minimum wage, prevailing wage and overtime laws, and independent contractor misclassification — and strengthen workers’ protection against retaliation. Ultimately, it would promote fair competition by ensuring that all businesses, including lead contractors, play by the rules and give their workers an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.
It’s one thing to make it it illegal to ask about salary history, understanding the discriminatory impact of the question with accumulative differences among demographics. But employers can still ask for desired salary ranges, having the same effect. This bill provides even more protections for impacted workers by calling for employers to provide the pay scale for a particular employment position in the job posting, which also benefits employers.
Be part of history.
take action in your state.
Take it to the next level.
Take action on the federal level
We’re often asked why these bills aren’t introduced on the federal level. If we look at the history of passing federal legislation, that legislation started with state action. Women’s suffrage, interracial marriage, and gay marriage all started with state passage that reached a tipping point over time, leading to federal passage. Jennifer Lawrence explains this idea well.
But there are a few workers’ rights bills we have our eyes on, and you can take action on them by contacting your legislators on the federal level to encourage them to not just support the bills but make them priorities:
BE HEARD Act (Bringing An End To Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace) (HR 2148)
Current law doesn’t do enough to stop discrimination, particularly for the most vulnerable workers. The BE HEARD Act strengthens and broadens discrimination laws, removes barriers for targeted and victimized employees, and helps employers create incentives and accountability for safe workplaces, including psychological safety:
- It extends protections to all. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act doesn’t address workers in small businesses. This law would cover all employees regardless of business size plus independent contractors, volunteers, interns, fellows, and trainees — and add LGBTQ workers as a protected class.
- It gives targeted employees a fair chance in court. Case law requires that harassment be “severe or pervasive” to win in court, often unattainable and that groping may not even fall under. The bill outlines what conduct is and is not unlawful to give guidance to the courts who’ve historically excused psychologically abusive conduct, blocking justice, and preventing others from speaking up.
- It promotes transparency. Acts of discrimination are most often kept private, furthered with agreements that mandate arbitration rather than lawsuits upon starting jobs. The bill would ban mandatory arbitration and non-disclosure agreements upon accepting a job.
- It restores protections for workers harassed by supervisors. The bill would make holding employers liable for supervisor harassment easier.
- It assists employers in creating harassment-free workplaces. The bill authorizes research and data collection and gives employers template policies, trainings, and surveys plus best practices.
FAIR (Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal) Act (HR 963)
The FAIR Act defines aims to end predispute arbitration agreements. Arbitration agreements do not favor employees because they deprive them of their rights to the civil justice system.
Paycheck Fairness Act (HR 7)
An effort to address the gender pay gap, the Paycheck Fairness Act holds employers accountable for retaliating against workers who share wage information and places the burden on employers to justify pay gaps. Workers can then sue for wage discrimination.
PRO Act (HR 2474)
The PRO Act will empower workers to negotiate better wages, benefits, and working conditions while preventing employers from interfering in union elections and other workers’ rights violations through penalties. It will also override “right-to-work” laws that prevent unions from collecting dues from the workers they represent. (Unions drive gender equality, higher wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces, but union membership is only 10 percent of the country’s workforce.)
Workplace Violence (HR 1195)
Since the House has passed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR 1195), workplace violence has only increased according to the American Nurses Association (ANA)’s surveys. It’s now the Senate’s turn to help end the violence now.
Overall, the likelihood of health care workers being exposed to violence is higher than prison guards or police officers – with 1 in 4 nurses having been assaulted at work. And health care settings have only become riskier and more intense from the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot address workforce shortages without addressing working conditions. They go hand-in-hand.
For years, ANA has been leading the charge to address workplace violence through its #EndNurseAbuse campaign, raising awareness about this issue and pushing for regulatory and legislative solutions. If passed, the bill would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop and enforce specific standards for health care and social service employers to hold them accountable for protecting their employees.