2013-2014 Legislative Session
S3863/A4965 – The NYS Healthy Workplace Bill
S3863 - Thirteen Senate Sponsors!
Call your State Senator and help us get 21!
A4965 – Seventy-Seven Assembly Sponsors!
Call your Assemblymember and help us get 100!
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The New York Healthy Workplace Advocates is a grassroots organization of citizen lobbyists that seeks to introduce, support and pass legislation via the Healthy Workplace Bill that adequately addresses workplace bullying and psychological violence in the workplace as well as to educate employers and employees on the costs of harboring a workplace bully to create a “win-win” environment where the employer and employee can work together to meet organizational goals.
The Rich Picture
At present time, it is currently legal in the United States for an individual (usually a person in a supervisory role) to impair and/or destroy the physical and psychological well-being of an employee, their social support network and career using an employer’s resources when a person is not a member of a protected status group. Current State and Federal laws only recognize an unlawful employment practice when a person is a member of a “protected status” group such as race, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex age or sexual orientation and the employer or any person acting directly or indirectly as an agent of the employer harasses an employee. Why isn’t workplace bullying covered under current State of Federal law? Because the bully and the target are both members of a protected class, therefore the existing harassment laws are negated and the bully is free to impair the health of another person without ramifications. NYHWA and via the Healthy Workplace Bill seeks to expand current harassment law to make it an unlawful employment practice to subject an employee to an abusive workplace environment regardless of protected status membership or better defined as a “status-blind” harassment protection .
The Workplace Bullying Institute’s Definition of the Phenomenon
...The repeated mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse or, threatening, humiliating or offensive behavior/actions (verbal and nonverbal forms) or, work interference -- sabotage -- which prevents work from getting done that is so severe that the mistreatment harms the health of the targeted person -- stress-related physical consequences or psychological/emotional injury -- or leads to economic harm through termination, demotion or denied promotions.
(A) Is driven by perpetrators' need to control the targeted individual(s)
(B) Is initiated by bullies who choose targets, timing, place and methods
(C) Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily through coercion, and it
(D) Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies' personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
Bullying, general workplace harassment is more prevalent than it’s more famous and illegal special varieties--sexual harassment and racial discrimination. A recent reliable study estimates that approximately 1 in 6 U.S. workers have directly experienced destructive bullying in the past year. According to a year 2000 scientific sample of State of Michigan residents, Bullying transcends gender. Half of all bullies (58%) are women. Half of all bullying is woman-on-woman. Women comprise 80% of targets. The vast majority of bullies (71%) are bosses.
Bullies bully because they can; they do so with impunity. The complex answer to why bullies bully can be reduced to 3 factors:
(A) Some workplaces pit worker against worker in zero-sum (cutthroat) competitive work arrangements
(B) Machiavellian types (who live to manipulate others to accomplish their own goals) see the opportunities
(C) In bullying-prone workplaces, employers reward the aggression with promotions and rewards.
Bullies are rarely psychopathic, but are always narcissistic and Machiavellian.
Targethood hinges on two characteristics: a desire to cooperate and a non-confrontive interpersonal style. Bullying poses a serious health hazard to Targets by compromising their psychological and physical health, disassembling their social network and risking economic devastation through the loss of their jobs because "employment at will" encourages the bully's whimsical misuse of power. Targets who are most surprised by the baseless cruelty inflicted on them suffer the most severe effects (PTSD) and take the longest time to heal afterwards. Silent, frozen co-workers worsen the problem often by choosing to cut off support, to tacitly or directly join the bully's personal vendetta against the Target. Eventually, the workplace is paralyzed by fear, incapable of productive work, and susceptible to costly downtime with an unhealthy workforce and an increased liability for destructive employment practices.
Unlike cases involving violations of federally protected Civil Rights, bullied individuals in the U.S. and Canada today have few, mostly unsuccessful, avenues for legal redress. Beginning in 2003 in California, the Workplace Bullying Institute-driven Healthy Workplace Bill has been introduced in several states. It has not yet become a law.