Anti-Bullying Legislation Introduced
No state has yet passed legislation against bullying, but it appears to be only a matter of time before that occurs. New Jersey recently reintroduced an anti-bullying bill, and 21 other states have also proposed anti-bullying laws. Meanwhile, companies would be wise to start providing anti-bullying training for their employees.
In New Jersey, the “Healthy Workplace Act,” reintroduced in September 2012, would make bullying, abuse and harassment illegal, including harassment that is unrelated to protected classes such as gender and race. Penalties could be as high as $25,000.
The bill would make “it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to subject an employee to abusive conduct or to permit an abusive work environment.” The bill defines “abusive conduct” as “the malicious conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive or unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interest” and includes severe or repeated behaviors such as insulting remarks, humiliating or threatening conduct, and sabotaging work performance.
The problem is widespread. According to legislative findings incorporated into the Healthy Workplace Act, studies and surveys show that between 16 and 21 percent of all employees in the U.S. have been the victims of workplace bullying, abuse and harassment, and these behaviors are four times more common than sexual harassment alone.
Abusive work environments can cause serious psychological and physical health problems and can impair employee productivity and morale, increase turnover and absenteeism, and significantly increase medical and workers’ compensation claims.
WeComply’s 30-minute online training course in workplace bullying explains to employees how to avoid and respond to workplace bullying. The course covers the different forms of bullying, the psychological causes, anti-bullying law and company policy, and enforcement.Categories: Workplace Compliance
Tags: Workplace Bullying