Senate Passes Landmark Legislation to Halt Bullying and Abuse in the Workplace

by Jul 18, 2012

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities today secured Senate passage of his landmark legislation (S.1823-B) which establishes a civil cause of action for employees who are subjected to an abusive work environment.

Specifically, this legislation provides legal redress for employees who have been harmed psychologically, physically or economically by being deliberately subjected to abusive work environments; and it provides legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to mistreatment of employees at work.

Surveys and studies demonstrate that 16 to 21 percent of employees experience health-endangering workplace bullying, abuse and harassment, and that this behavior is 4 times more prevalent then sexual harassment. These studies have also documented the serious effects on these targeted employees. They include: shame, humiliation, stress, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, reduced immunity to infection, gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension and pathophysiologic changes that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“The social and economic well-being of the State is dependent upon healthy, safe, and productive employees,” said Senator Morahan. “I want to thank all my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, who voted for this legislation today. In particular, Senator George Onorato, Chairman of the Labor Committee, Republican Leader Dean Skelos, Majority Conference Leader John Sampson and Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein for helping secure passage of the legislation”.

“I became aware of the prevalence of abusive environments in the workplace when one of my constituents brought her situation at her place of employment to my attention. It became apparent that legislation was needed to address the problem,” said Morahan.

“Workplace bullying, abuse and harassment bring with them a variety of very serious human and economic costs,” said Senator George Onorato, Chairman of the Labor Committee and co-prime sponsor of the legislation. “Abusive behavior can cause grievous harm to employees who are the victims of it, leading to all manner of health problems and, often, forcing them to leave their jobs to escape it. In addition, it costs employers in terms of lost employee productivity, and other workplace problems. By taking aim at abusive work environments, this legislation will protect employees from inappropriate behavior and help our businesses to become more productive and successful.”

“Mistreatment of employees in the workplace is a serious issue, but too often, workers have no recourse when they are subject to an abusive work environment,” said Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos. “Senator Morahan’s legislation will help employees who have been harmed, physically, mentally or financially, and will encourage employers to do more to prevent and respond to this problem.”

“We are truly appreciative of Senator Morahan’s efforts which have culminated in the passage of vital legislation today in the New York State Senate,” said New York Healthy Workplace Advocate State Coordinators Mike Schlicht and Tom Witt.

“On behalf of the workforce of our State, I call on my Legislative colleagues in the Assembly to pass this bill in their house,” said Senator Morahan.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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