Bullying is no longer reserved for the playground. According to a VitalSmarts report released in June 2014, 96% of their respondents (2,283 people) experienced workplace bullying (Kasperkevic, 2014). So what is workplace bullying? It comes in many shapes and forms - from verbal abuse, inappropriate language, rude comments, to the silent treatment. And that is not all. The list goes on – constant criticism, impossible expectations that sets a person up for failure and let us not forget, bullying through technology using social media tools (Hannon, 2013). Workplace bullying is becoming more and more prevalent, so much so that many states have introduced Happy Workplace bills to address these issues. .
In Massachusetts, the Healthy Workplace Bill, (HB 1766) was introduced on February 13, 2013, and the prime sponsors of the bill were House Representative Ellen Story and Senator Katherine Clark. This history of HB 1766 is as follows: the bill passed the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development on March 27, 2014; it was slated for a House floor vote, but the Speaker never called the vote, thus the process starts all over again in January for the 2015-2016 session. There are 37 co-sponsors from the House and Senate. Additionally, two labor organizations support the workplace bullying legislation, The National Association of Government Employees and the SEIU Massachusetts State Council.
A Closer Look.
Currently in Massachusetts, employees who fall under a protected class have legal avenues to pursue when they feel they have been harassed or abused in the workplace. For example if an employee experience a hostile work environment that is tied to sexual harassment or if the behavior is driven by race, color, age, sexual orientation or national origin – they can file a complaint/grievance on those grounds. However, like many states, Massachusetts does not have a law to protect individuals in the workplace outside of those reasons.