Special Note from the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates
Graham Redmond is one of the heroes who have worked behind the scenes on the passage of the NYS Healthy Workplace Bill. Over the years, Graham attended numerous legislative meetings, was interviewed by an Australian researcher comparing the laws about workplace bullying between the United States, Canada and Australia and was the source of so much useful information on how to pass a bill in the often contentious world of politics in Albany, NY
Graham passed away in June 2013 after a long and painful ordeal with squamous cell cancer. Those of us who knew Graham were deeply saddened by his passing. We kept in touch with him as he drove trucks, school buses and found odd jobs to make ends meet. Graham’s job was eliminated just months short of being employed for twenty years in the NYS State Senate, thereby significantly affecting his pension.
Working on the passage of the Healthy Workplace Bill meant a lot to Graham. As Graham’s time was coming to a close, he and his wifeCatherine wrote his obituary and included in it, mention of his efforts to pass the Healthy Workplace Bill. The obituary stated that, “He also worked with the NYS anti-bullying in the workplace lobby after his retirement, a cause very close to him.”
The full obituary can be viewed at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timesunion-albany/obituary.aspx?pid=165469085#sthash.0ASYK6Tw.dpuf
In May 2014, we invited Catherine Redmond to speak about Graham’s experience at the Press Conference in Albany, NY.
PLACE VIDEO HERE
We are very proud to have known Graham and thankful such individuals like him come forward to help everyone see the day that abusive work environments will not be tolerated in New York State.
Graham’s Personal Account
I’d been taught at a young age in life that bullying was unacceptable behavior and to report troublesome incidents to the proper authorities or power structure within the school or organization. Those found at fault would be at the very least verbally admonished and corrective behavioral measures would be taken. We’ve been warned in life to also pick your battles carefully. With that in mind…
While at work, I’ve witnessed far too many one-sided, heavy handed conversations having to do with various subjects that showed a pressing lack of integrity and personal bias of a negative nature. I’d been over to the Personnel Office and spoken to the Assistant Director to lodge my protest of such behaviors and the mindset of a fellow employee a little over a year beforehand. Angry remarks, barbed with threatening fist shaking were becoming all too the norm in the office. At least I thought I was on the record as being against this unhealthy work environment. On Sept. 23, 2008 I called for a meeting about the problematic statements and opinions that continued to mount on a daily basis. The bully employee, our supervisor (department head) and I sat down a little after 4 pm that afternoon.
I was looking for some corrective measures to be taken, so as to change what I perceived to be intolerable attitudes and behaviors. Early on in the meeting, I’d established that the fellow employee had lied to me and the supervisor when relating to a phone conversation I’d had with him the previous Friday. Next, I wanted to show my distaste for him using the racially charged “n” word, whether it be talking about sports figures or fellow employees. The fellow employee was up and out of his chair at that moment and said; “Are you calling me a racist?” In a very angry tone I replied; “I do not want to hear that kind of talk or that word again is that clear?” I moved on to my next issue and said; “I do not want to hear anymore remarks about our secretary, especially when she comes to work in the morning and the back of her hair isn’t brushed out.” Fellow employee, angry again, jumps out of his chair and says; “are you calling me a sexist?” I said; “your comments and observations are highly inappropriate and uncalled for.” Supervisor then said that this was, “not what this office was about,” covering for his buddy, the fellow co-worker of mine. The third subject I then brought up was about cheating on time and attendance sheets. I said this does directly affect me at the job, it is unfair and dishonest. I did not want him to put down as being at work when in fact he was not. I thought it to be out and out cheating me, other employees and the employer. He again was angry and got up and out of his chair and said; “are you looking at my time sheets? I replied; “no that’s not how I know that.” The supervisor then chimed in; “you are aware I sign those time sheets aren’t you?” I said; “I sure am.” He said as follow up to me; “your future employment here is in question now and is in serious jeopardy. I suggest we end this meeting.” That was an implied and direct threat because I’d seen enough of the “inner office circle” and how it operated. He got up and opened the door while saying; “Is that all you’ve got?” I said just to let you know there is one more thing that I’ve a problem with. I said to fellow employee; “do you remember saying, I wish my parents were dead so I had their money,” a few months earlier? With that I’d caught him totally off guard by remembering him saying it. Again he jumped out of his chair, shaking his fist in anger, inches from my nose saying, “I’m gonna f**king kill you! I’m gonna f**king kill you!, outside right now, I’m gonna f**king kill you! You’re a dead man!” Instantly the supervisor was out from behind his desk, in between him and me, holding him back. I’d remained seated. Supervisor then said; “Don’t hit him your jobs at stake and he’s not worth it!” and added; “I’d hit him myself but I’m holding you back!” Several people I’m sure heard the excitement and commotion which emerged from that office, including the secretary mentioned earlier. Quite an impressive hole I’d dug for myself! Now I’m truly in fear for my life because I’d tried to address several troublesome issues. I was asked to leave for the last half hour of the day by the supervisor while they remained in his office.
Without getting any sleep that night I called the Director of Personnel the first thing next morning. I gave him a detailed description of just what had transpired. He told me to take some time off and let the situation simmer down. I let 48 hours pass while I awaited an apology from either the fellow employee or supervisor. Unreal expectations I guess. I then went to the nearby New York State Police station office and filed a report. The Trooper who took my statement did a follow-up interview with the fellow employee and sum and substance of the incident were verified. I reported for work the following Monday and went to the upstairs office away from the supervisor and fellow employee. I had some serious trust issues to deal with. The Personnel Director called me over to his office and told me the “unfortunate incident” was not that bad and then called in the fellow employee who grudgingly offered an apology. Nothing was mentioned of the issues I’d raised and they were never addressed. So I reported back to the upstairs office. Shortly thereafter, the supervisor came up and told me to return the downstairs office key your work station is up here now without a window spot, all the while telling me so he couldn’t and wouldn’t look at me. Desk operations computer programs were to be removed from my computer and I was not allowed to pick up the office checks on payday in the future. Nothing was said about the behaviors I’d try to address. Now I’d been marginalized in a very toxic office environment.
I was terminated several months later, the job title was abolished and I was eliminated. The office was 2 people short at that time, so it was no mystery just what really happened. I’d gone from a very good, solid, hard-working, trusted asset of nearly 20 years with this employer and been “kicked to the curb” for not playing the game. The “impaired frontal lobe” of administrative thinking that allowed me to be victimized is warped and just plain wrong. I share this moment from my life at work, not to get even or to seek retribution through the legal system or I would have launched that balloon already. But to let you know this sort of bullying behavior and attitude is alive and well right here under “your roof.” Fellow employee and supervisor still have their jobs and fat salaries. Don’t think for a moment the fellow employee’s anger management issues have ever been addressed. I’ve at least got my integrity and strong moral code, true blessings. They can have their insanity. Bullying isn’t pretty when it’s up close and personal, let’s make it illegal too!