ACCEPT NOTHING LESS THAN A HEALTHY AND SAFE WORKPLACE
CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS
Advocates nationwide call for a law addressing workplace abuse. Since it’s a new issue, advocates look to make severe workplace abuse illegal to increase the likelihood of making change and improving work cultures — and address this issue on the state level.
The Healthy Workplace Bill creates a legal claim for abused targets who can prove they were subjected to severe malicious, health-harming behavior and provides defenses for employers who act preventively and responsively to discourage frivolous claims.
Here’s why we need it:
- Workplace abuse isn’t covered by existing law. It’s not a form of illegal harassment unless targets are members of a protected class as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (sex, race, age, etc.) and can prove the abuse is from their protected class membership. So workplace abuse is referred to as “non-discriminatory harassment” or “status-blind harassment.” Employers often use the loophole in the law as an excuse and even legal protection for not addressing workplace abuse. They might say “we’re not required to step in because verbal abuse doesn’t qualify as harassment under the law,” or “it’s clear your colleague doesn’t like you, but we can’t do anything to stop it.” The bill will fill that gap in the law. It will protect all employees from all types of severe harassment in both public and private sector workplaces.
- In-house “zero-tolerance policies” aren’t often enforced (except with targets). Often, employers do nothing with reports of abuse or retaliate against the target when the abuser provokes the target to react. When the employer disregards the context of the reaction, they punish the target (“blame the victim”) as though the target is equally responsible. Abuse generally ends when the target leaves or gets fired — not the abuser. Under “at-will employment,” employers aren’t required to follow their own policies, so a law requiring employers to create anti-bullying policies and training doesn’t actually protect targets (Yamada, “Workplace Bullying and the Law: U.S. Legislative Developments 2013-15.”).
- Tort law regarding the Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) is rarely applicable to instances of workplace abuse because a claim of IIED must prove that the abuse was “extreme or outrageous,” and that it caused “severe” emotional distress beyond what a “reasonable person” would be able to endure. These thresholds are too high (and too nebulous) to apply to most cases of workplace bullying (Yamada, “Emerging American Legal Responses to Workplace Bullying.”).
Asking your state legislators for change is simple:
- Find your state legislators.
- Call and ask them to sign onto the bill. Legislators care most about what their own constituents want so they can get re-elected. So if you live in the district of the legislator you’re calling, let whoever answers the phone know that upfront. Tell whoever answers the phone “Hi! My name is (YOUR NAME). I live in (NAME OF YOUR TOWN). I’m calling to ask (NAME OF THE LEGISLATOR) to sign onto (BILL NUMBER — SEE ABOVE), an act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, without regard to protected class status.” They may ask you your address.
- Ask others to do the same.
SPREAD THE WORD
SEND THIS LETTER TO FRIENDS
Help get the word out. Fill in the blanks below and then email this letter to friends.
Dear (INSERT NAME),
I ask you to contact your state representatives and senators today to urge them to co-sponsor the Healthy Workplace Bill (INSERT BILL NUMBER).
The Healthy Workplace Bill is about human dignity at work. It’s about the right to be left alone to do your job and earn a living — without being abused or mistreated.
Workplace abuse is a serious national problem. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, it’s four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination on the job, and more than a third of workers — 60.4 million — will likely experience or witness abuse during their working lives. But when employees complain about abusive behaviors, most employers either ignore the problem or make it worse. Many targets suffer severe anxiety, clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and other conditions.
We can’t tolerate abuse that endangers the health of workers. It shouldn’t be legal for a supervisor or co-worker to severely abuse you at work. And it shouldn’t be legal for your employer to simply ignore the problem. The Healthy Workplace Bill would hold employers accountable. It would give workers a legal right to seek damages for severe malicious, abusive behavior that inflicts physical or psychological harm.
I support the Healthy Workplace Bill because no one should have to choose between providing for themselves or leaving an abusive work environment.
Will you contact your state legislators today and ask them to co-sponsor the Healthy Workplace Bill (INSERT BILL NUMBER)? http://www.openstates.org
You can go to http://www.endworkplaceabuse.com for more information or to sign up for updates.