This past Monday I had the privilege of traveling to the State Capitol in New York to advocate for a new bill that would help to eliminate bullying in the workplace. I, along with several individuals representing the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates, spent all day meeting with senators and assembly members regarding this bill. Many of the advocates also spent Tuesday and Wednesday advocating for the Healthy Workplace bill. We presented our case for why this bill is important and asked these individuals to support this bill. We were encouraged as many of the senators and assembly members recognized the need for such a bill and said that they would support it. Of course, we have a lot of work to do and will be traveling to Albany in February to present our case again. As I went from office to office presenting our case, I was reminded of what can happen when a few people have a common vision and begin to work towards making that vision a reality. If it were not for a few individuals years ago, we would not have anti-discrimination laws and other laws which protect employees.
I truly see the movement towards creating a healthier workplace, as a civil and human rights movement for employees. It is a logical progression of the current New York State Human Rights Law. The time has come to make bullying in the workplace illegal. A state law needs to be passed to protect employees and to save lives. As it stands today, individuals are literally being harmed or are dying as a result of workplace bullying.
Currently in New York State, an employee who is being bullied does not have any recourse because there isn't a law specifically related to bullying in the workplace. If after an employee has exhausted all avenues within his/her organization and decides to go the legal route, he/she will have difficulty convincing a judge to decide in his/her favor even when substantial evidence is presented. The reason being that the judge does not have a legal basis from which to render a decision in favor of the bullied person. If the bullied employee can prove that he/she has been discriminated against because of race, religion, gender and etc, then the judge would render a decision in his/her favor based on one of these issues, however, to solely present a case on bullying would not be sufficient. Based on the evidence provided, the judge may acknowledge that the person had been mistreated, however, because his/her decision must be based on a law, the judge would have to dismiss the case. The reason being, there aren't any anti-bullying laws on the books. The bullied person is left feeling violated and helpless because there isn't a law to protect him/her, which only exacerbates his/her situation.This feeling of helplessness is often what causes some employees to commit suicide. The Healthy Workplace bill would prevent this situation from occurring as bullied employees would have a legal platform to stand on when presenting their bullying cases. Their cases would not be dismissed because of a lack of legal justification.
I encourage you to take the time to contact your state senators and assembly members about the Healthy Workplace bill and to garner their support. This bill will protect you and someone you know. Passing this bill could literally save lives and begin to restore hope for individuals who are currently being bullied or have been bullied in the workplace in New York state.
When contacting your New York State senators please refer to bill S8793 and S2715 which were introduced in 2007 and 2008. When contacting your New York State assembly members refer to bill A2247 for 2009. A10291 and A4921 were introduced in 2007 and 2008.
Together we can make a difference in our workplaces and save a few lives along the way. Please do your part to ensure that this bill is passed. Please send this information to your family, friends, neighbors and etc. Begin making a difference today.