Boston – The Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates announced March 5 that the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill – Senate Bill 916 and House Bill 2310 – has progressed from the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and is due to go next to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Co-sponsored by Senator Katherine Clark of Melrose and Representative Ellen Story of Amherst, the bill provides workers with a legal right to seek damages for severe bullying behaviors that have caused physical or psychological harm. Employers who engage in preventive and responsive measures toward workplace bullying can eliminate or reduce their liability exposure.
“The progression of The Healthy Workplace Bill is a significant step forward for victims of workplace bullying,” said Senator Clark. “Although 16 states have fought to pass similar proposals, we hope that Massachusetts will become the first state to create a law that encourages employers to prevent bullying from occurring.”
“I am delighted by this favorable action,” said Representative Story. “Our biggest obstacle to passage of the bill is a lack of awareness that workplace bullying is a problem. I am hopeful that this progress will help publicize the widespread and damaging challenges presented by workplace bullying, and that the House will hear our call to act on this issue soon.”
According to a 2007 national survey by Zogby International and the Workplace Bullying Institute, 37 percent of workers have experienced some form of workplace bullying. This includes defamation, false accusations, yelling, insults and physical assaults, among other forms of harassment and abuse.
“Too many abused workers have no legal recourse, and too many employers treat complaints about workplace bullying dismissively or even side with the aggressor,” said David Yamada, Suffolk University Law Professor and author of the bill language. “Passing the Healthy Workplace Bill will protect workers against severe bullying at work and encourage employers to prevent behaviors that devastate productivity and morale.”
The Healthy Workplace Bill is supported by Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates, a grassroots organization of concerned citizens seeking to protect Massachusetts workers from targeted psychological abuse at work.