Dear fellow activists and friends
I want to let you know that I have been working for over a year on getting a bill introduced in the general assembly to protect workers from workplace bullying. Senator Jamie Raskin has introduced this bill, SB 600, which makes systematic patterns of abusive conduct against workers who are not in one of the federally protected classes (which is most of us) illegal and provides legal remedies against employers who tolerate bullying and bullies. What makes bullying different and this bill enforceable as law is the fact that the abuse is a verifiable systematic pattern. Conversely, this bill gives protections against liability for employers who create and implement specific policies against bullying. The bill will also provide monetary remedies in civil court for those of us who are bullied, complain about it and are fired or quit because of the physical and mental duress resulting from bullying. People have committed suicide after being bullied at work and many targets of bullying suffer extreme mental and physical impairment for years after enduring bullying at work. The
Here is the link to the bill. It’s short and to the point. http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/bills/sb/sb0600f.pdf. This is a labor issue and it’s a healthcare issue.
This bill is being heard in the Finance Committee on March 3 at 1pm. I and supporters of the bill who have been bullied at work will testify. Others who are still in their abusive workplaces will not testify for fear of retaliation, but they will be there to support us and advocate for a favorable report out of committee.
This is a public health issue and it is becoming an epidemic. While many of you may not be aware that bullying in the workplace is such a terrible and increasing problem, I want to assure you that once you have been bullied at work, the experience changes your life. While we all have had, at some point in our lives, lousy jobs, people we have issues with, bullying is very different from those “normal” job-related issues. I had never been bullied in all my years of working and the experience spurred me to work to make it illegal. Most people who are bullied and seek help are shocked, as I was, to find it is not illegal and that there is nothing – at least now – that we can do about it.
When I filed my EEOC complaint (due to a specific component of what happened to me), I was told that even though workplace bullying complaints were increasing at an alarming and surprising rate, it was not yet illegal. I was also told that the EEOC was studying workplace bullying. It doesn’t take much thought to understand that schoolyard bullies often grow up to be workplace bullies. Workplace bullies have peoples’ lives, health and livelihoods in their hands and it is past time for us to be protected from them.