By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – In a quest to raise awareness about workplace bullying, Shrewsbury residents Robbin Miller and Deb Falzoi joined 12 others in putting their faces on display via gigantic photographs for an exhibit at the Massachusetts State House April 14-22. They allowed their personal stories to be plastered up for public view as part of the Inside Out Project, a photo exhibit dubbed “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying.”
“Advocates like myself are trying to spread awareness and education about how workplace bullying is toxic to employees affected by it,” Miller said.
The Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying artistic photo display is guided by Torii Bottomley, an educator who personally experienced workplace bullying and decided to launch a project to combat its incidence. The project’s aim is not only to heighten public knowledge about workplace bullying, but to voice support for the Healthy Workplace Bill (House No. 1771) currently before the Mass. legislature.
Falzoi has her own aim in being part of the exhibit.
“I am hoping to bring even one person out of isolation and feel validated and even empowered once they understand that workplace bullying is what’s happening to them, that it’s not their fault, and they can seek support and a way out of the abuse,” she said.
Miller, Falzoi and other project participants are working to get their exhibit on tour locally and throughout the commonwealth.
They encouraged “any town or city halls or museums or public gathering spots” who are interested in displaying this project, to visit the website: MAHealthlyWorkplace.com.
The website has in-depth information about the Healthy Workplace Bill, legal and mental health referral links, along with other resources. It posts a long list of bill supporters, among who are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1067, state and community colleges in Massachusetts, the Educational Association of Worcester, the Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and more.
The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) is another broad source of information on the topic with a wide range of resource offerings. WBI has branded their own definition of workplace bulling as follows: “Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or verbal abuse.”
On their website, www.workplacebullyinig.org, WBI outlines warning signs of workplace bullying, its impact, solutions, and research results.
Miller is a mental health counselor and educator with a long history of advocacy on behalf of a range of groups. She hosted a show for 15 years on the local Shrewsbury cable channel aimed at informing the public on issues affecting people with disabilities. She was aware that putting her own face on display as survivor of workplace bullying could have personal ramifications, but she decided to step out and broadcast her message regardless.
“I knew the risks of telling my story publicly for business sense, but I felt it was important to increase awareness and education on this topic,” she said.
Those interested in hosting the exhibit at a specific public site can do so via an email to email@example.com.