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article imageSevere Workplace Bullying Targeted by Massachusetts Bill

By Carol Forsloff     May 10, 2009 in Lifestyle
Setting new precedent, Massachusetts attempted to become the first to enact a Healthy Workplace Bill this year. It targets severe workplace bullying. Those who bully in the workplace may receive legal sanctions.
Senate Bill No. 699 was introduced by State Senator and Assistant Majority Leader Joan Menard (D-1st Bristol & Plymouth). The Bill is entitled “An Act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, without regard to protected class status. It allows targets of bullying to file legal claims against their tormentors if they can establish they were hurt by health-harming behavior. It also helps employers act with preventive measures against bullying.
Workplace bullying has become enough of a problem for employers and their workers that there is a Workplace Bullying Institute. It gives a variety of information on what to do if you are a victim of bullying or if your organization is having difficulty with bullies. It describes itself as “ the sole United States organization dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying through public education, help for individuals, employer solutions and legislative advocacy.”
Workplace bullying is a problem in the United States, but what about other countries? Six years ago bullying had reached a crisis in Japan. An economic slump had created bullies out of mid-management bosses in Japan, to the extent that there were significant relationship problems. It so concerned some people that one woman set up a hotline for people to call in and report their problems.
The Canadian Safety Council recognizes that workplace bullying is an issue. They have instituted concentrated efforts to stop it, providing employers with information about how to deal with it in the workplace and information to victims as well. This is what is said on the Canadian website about this issue: " A 1999 International Labour Organization (ILO) report on workplace violence emphasized that physical and emotional violence is one of the most serious problems facing the workplace in the new millennium. " They see the problem as just as bad or worse than sexual harassment.
Emotional bullying can have serious emotional consequences. It is a particular form of workplace violence that over time can be quite harmful. It is defined as an action where someone tries to get control by making others afraid or angry and involves verbal abuse including sarcasm, teasing, putting down, or belittling and social abuse such as exclusion from a group. It’s a difficult type of problem to either prove or put up with over time, as found in a University of South Australia study that found for both men and women frequent peer victimization can result in poor mental or physical health.
Workplace bullying has been seen as a significant issue with one state taking action against it. Given the economic conditions and stress, will other states follow suit?
More about Workplace, Bullying, Violence workplace
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