I. Current Workplace Violence Legislation
II. OSHA
III. Courts and Tort

I. Current Workplace Violence Legislation

Connecticut
has tried several times to pass workplace bullying legislation. State Senator Edith Prague introduced a version of the Workplace Bullying Institute's Healthy Workplace Bill written by David Yamada in 2008. Connecticut does not allow the $25K cap on emotional distress but Prague said she wouldn't have wanted that anyways. Besides serious opposition from the business lobbyists at CBIA and Metro Hartford Alliance, Prague came up against another issue. The state argued that there was already protection through Connecticut's Workplace Violence legislation:


OLR Research Report
OLR Research Report






November 14, 2008

2008-R-0623
BULLYING AND THE STATE ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY FOR WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

By: John Moran, Principal Analyst
You asked for a summary of the state's zero tolerance policy for workplace violence and whether it addresses workplace bullying.

SUMMARY
In 1999, Executive Order No. 16 outlined a new violence in the workplace prevention policy and directed all state agency personnel, contractors, and vendors to comply with it. In addition to prohibiting violence and the use of weapons, the order prohibits employees from threatening harm to any individual in a state worksite.

It further requires (1) employees who feel subjected to or witness violent, threatening, harassing, or intimidating behavior in their workplace to immediately report it and (2) managers and supervisors to contact their human resources office and take other appropriate steps. If an investigation determines there is a violation, the employee in question can be disciplined up to and including discharge from state services. It appears the policy covers much of what is considered workplace bullying.
Since the executive order was issued the Statewide Security Management Council, which includes representatives of state agencies, the governor's office, and two union representatives, has developed a comprehensive Violence in the Workplace Policy and Procedures Manual that provides details for (1) preventative actions state agencies must take; (2) what constitutes violence or other inappropriate behavior; and (3) what steps must be taken to address incidents of violence, threats, or harassment.
Recently, Department of Administrative Services (DAS) legislative liaison Andrea Keilty indicated that reports of violence, threats, or harassment have been treated seriously and some investigations resulted in employees being disciplined and even fired.

OVERVIEW OF STATEWIDE VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE POLICY

On March 6, 1998, a disgruntled employee, returning to work after a leave to treat stress, went on a shooting rampage at the Connecticut Lottery Office and killed four people and then himself.
In the aftermath, the state announced a comprehensive statewide security initiative to review security measures at all state buildings and establish security standards.
The following year, the legislature enacted PA 99-220. It established the Statewide Security Management Council, required the Department of Public Works (DPW) to establish safety standards, and authorized DPW to conduct security audits of state facilities.

A few months later, Gov. Rowland issued Executive Order No. 16 (see attachment 1) that banned state employees from bringing weapons or dangerous instruments onto any state worksite (unless required to as a condition of employment). In addition to addressing violence in the workplace, the order addressed threatening, harassing, or intimidating behavior and required employees to report such behavior immediately.

The security council has since issued a detailed Violence in the Workplace Policy and Procedures Manual, based on the executive order, for all executive branch agencies to follow.

Statewide Security Management Council
PA 99-220 included a number of provisions regarding employee safety. It established DPW as the primary agency responsible for maintaining security in state buildings and created the security council to help coordinate security activities in state agencies. By law, the council consists of:

1. the commissioners of Public Safety, DAS, mental health and addiction services, DPW, and Emergency Management and Homeland Security;
2. the Office of Police and Management secretary,
3. the Legislative Management executive director,
4. the chief court administrator,
5. a representative of the Governor,
6. a representative of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition and the president of the Connecticut State Police Union or his designee, and
7. an attorney appointed by DPW commissioner (CGS § 4b-136).
The DPW commissioner serves as the council chairperson.

Violence in the Workplace Policy and Procedures
The policy and procedures incorporate Executive Order No. 16 into the manual and elaborate on it. The manual's purpose is to provide direction to human resources personnel in preventing and responding to violent incidents and perceived threats of violence in the workplace. The manual outlines the components of the anti-violence effort: policy, procedures, workplace security assessment, control and prevention, training, and other support services.
The goal of the policy and manual is to:

● reduce the probability that employees will engage in verbal threats or physical actions that create a security hazard for others in the workplace and
● ensure that any complaint of violence or threat of violence is taken seriously and is thoroughly and promptly investigated.
All executive branch agencies were instructed to adopt the manual or modify their policies to comply with the manual. It also became part of the DAS training for human resource personnel. DAS has broad authority to establish and administer personnel policy for state employees (CGS § 4a-2).
The manual outlines the role of each agency's human resources office including requiring each to (1) respond to and investigate all complaints and (2) establish a threat assessment team. The teams, which must
include a human resources professional and an employee assistance program (EAP) provider, handle workplace violence complaints, identify the potential for violence, and work on violence prevention.
The workplace violence policy addresses much of what is considered bullying by including the following in the definition of violence:
● intimidating or threatening behaviors,
● verbal abuse,
● offensive comments regarding violent acts or behaviors, and
● any other acts which a reasonable person would consider as inappropriate or posing a danger or threat of danger in the workplace. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to, oral, written, or e-mail statements, gestures, or expressions that communicate a direct or indirect threat of physical harm.

The manual emphasizes that all reports of incidents must be taken seriously and dealt with thoroughly. All reports are to be immediately evaluated and investigated and management must take proper action upon completion of the investigation.
Violations of the policy can lead to disciplinary action ranging from an EAP referral or an oral warning to suspension or dismissal from employment.

JM: ts


Here's Connecticut's Workplace Violence Policy they are referring to: Download .pdf


NEW YORK

Here's the 2010 report about poor compliance to the 2006 New York Workplace Violence legislation.




II. OSHA:
Several countries use government agencies similar to OSHA in the United States to regulate bullying in the workplace. In 2010, Susan Harthill published a scholarly argument that the United States could do the same and discusses the need to strengthen current enforcement procedures and options open to this agency.


Available online


Workplace Bullying as an Occupational Safety and Health Matter: A Comparative Analysis

Susan Harthill, Florida Coastal School of Law[1]

ABSTRACT:

Workers who are bullied at work suffer physically and mentally, and can even be driven to suicide. There ought to be a law against workplace bullying, and in some countries, there is. Despite a growing body of interdisciplinary work highlighting the prevalence and costs of workplace bullying in the United States, there are currently no U.S. state or federal laws expressly addressing the issue, despite the ground breaking work and legislative efforts of workplace bullying pioneers, David Yamada and Drs.Ruth and Gary Namie. The dismal fact for American workers is that the United States lags behind many other countries when it comes to addressing workplace bullying, both in terms of regulatory reform and self-governance initiatives. This is despite the fact that several studies in the United States have shown that workplace bullying causes ill-health for targets. Workplace bullying has been identified as a major cause of much workrelated stress, and stress in turn is linked to many physical and psychological symptoms. For this reason, the prevention of workplace bullying should be viewed as an occupational safety and health concern.

Several countries have already taken this important step, by recognizing workplace bullying as an occupational safety and health hazard, and initiating preventative and restorative efforts as a result of new regulatory agendas addressing the problem. This Article reviews some of these overseas developments and attempts to draw some preliminary lessons from abroad, with the goal of forwarding the dialogue on whether advocates in the United States should reframe the issue of workplace bullying as an occupational safety and health matter. This Article builds on the author’s prior work, by combining a proposal for regulatory recognition of workplace bullying as an occupational safety and health concern, with a comparative law approach. This is achieved through review and analysis of the safety and health regulatory and self governance initiatives in other countries, in order to assess whether advocates in the United States could also re-conceptualize the problem as an occupational safety and health matter.

III. Courts And Tort

HELP IS ON THE WAY: A RECENT CASE SHEDS LIGHT ON WORKPLACE BULLYING
Houston Law Review, March 2010


This article discusses the imminent changes caused by the RAESS case in Indiana and the door it opens towards a possible solution for workplace bullying through the courts:

"...Meanwhile, in the United States, many view such legislation as overly paternalistic.11 Some critics of workplace bullying legislation believe statutory and common law causes of action already in place, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), are sufficient protection for workers.12 However, in recent years, scholars and commentators have been pushing for new causes of action and legislation. Professor David Yamada, the leading expert on legal responses to bullying in the United States, proposed a Healthy Workplace Bill designed to punish workplace bullies and the employers who tolerate or encourage them.13 So far this bill has been considered in thirteen states, all of which have rejected it.14 Nevertheless, some companies have recognized the problem and developed their own policies against workplace bullying.15

Despite the lack of a workplace bullying tort in the United States, the Indiana Supreme Court recently allowed testimony on workplace bullying in Raess v. Doescher.16 This marks the first time a U.S. court has made significant mention of workplace bullying, and the court suggested in dicta that bullying could be a part of IIED.17 This Comment examines Raess in the context of workplace bullying and current U.S. law and proposes using the tort of civil assault as a means of combating bullying. Part II focuses on defining and describing workplace bullying. Parts III and IV examine foreign and U.S. anti-bullying law, respectively. Part V analyzes the possible effects of Raess on U.S. law, and compares it to a British case that led to the passage of the Protection from Harassment Act..."

"...
recognized in every jurisdiction.148 Although proponents of anti-bullying legislation paint a bleak picture about the state of U.S. law,149 there are signs the law is changing.150 Workplace bullying has been depicted in popular culture, most notably in the movie theater.151 Newspaper articles have highlighted the problems of bullying and attempts to combat it.152 Thirteen states have proposed anti-bullying laws, mostly based on Professor Yamadaís Healthy Workplace Bill.153 Finally, some employers have implemented their own anti-bullying policies.154 Anti-bullying law in the United States is not as advanced as in Europe, but at least some workers can find support and help...."

In his conclusion, Kaplan suggests using current Tort law while waiting for a bill to pass://

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  1. ^ //
    Susan Harthill. 2010. "Workplace Bullying as an Occupational Safety and Health Matter: A Comparative Analysis" ExpressO
    Available at: http://works.bepress.com/susan_harthill/3