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About Workplace Bullying
OSHA & Other Regulatory Options
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1. OSHA's Employee Policies
2. Ventura County uses workplace violence policies to stop bullying
3. Sample Policy
4. Sioux City School Employee Policy
5. Office of Personnel Management - Workplace Violence guide
On page 10-1 of
OSHA's Field Safety & Health Manual
Their definition clearly includes bullying and is actually far stronger and employee friendly than proposed bullying legislation, the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB). It actually defines "Intimidating Behavior" as
Threats or other conduct that in
any way create a hostile environment.
The HWB requires workers to prove severe health harm, malice, and puts a cap of $25K on mental duress. Some advocates are arguing that the bill be amended to make it stronger.
Section IV of OSHA's policy talks about the responsibility of workers to act appropriately, also lists bullying. Built into the act that OSHA oversees is whistleblower protection that protects workers from retaliation.
A. Assault. To attack someone physically or verbally, causing bodily or emotional injury, pain, and/or distress. This might involve the use of a weapon, and includes actions such as hitting, punching, pushing, poking, or kicking.
B. Intimidating Behavior. Threats or other conduct that in any way create a hostile environment, impair Agency operations, or frighten, alarm, or inhibit others. Verbal intimidation may include making false statements that are malicious, disparaging, derogatory, disrespectful, abusive, or rude.
C. Threat. Any oral or written expression or gesture that could be interpreted by a reasonable person as conveying intent to cause physical harm to persons or property.
D. Workplace Violence. An action, whether verbal, written, or physical aggression, that is intended to control, cause, or is capable of causing injury to oneself or other, emotional harm, or damage to property.
Employees will treat all other employees, as well as customers, with dignity and respect. Management will provide a working environment as safe as possible by having preventative measures in place and by dealing immediately with threatening or potentially violent situations. No employee will engage in threats, violent outbursts, intimidation, bullying, harassment, or other abusive or disruptive behaviors.
2. VENTURA COUNTY Uses Workplace Violence Policies to Stop Bullying
(reprinted from OurBullyPulpit.com
May 2011 the Ventura County Grand Jury (CA) submitted their “
Final Report on Bullying in the Workplace
.” Free of divisive and accusatory rhetoric it neatly outlines the need and procedures necessary to start correcting the situation. Included in the report is a link to an online
Sample Workplace Bullying Policy
. The report includes discussion of overlaps with existing discrimination and workplace bullying policies:
“FI-02. Processes in place to report workplace behavior problems are not trusted by employees because the agency with the alleged bullying issue is allowed to investigate complaints using personnel within its own organization. This system risks the exposure of a complainant’s identity and reinforces employee perception that the investigation would not be conducted fairly. (FA-05, FA-06, FA-12).”
“The Grand Jury recommends that the Ventura County Board of Supervisors (BOS) issue a policy against bullying and collect data to identify the existence and extent of bullying in branches of County government. The CEO-HR should establish an independent process to report cases of bullying. This process should include a separate bullying hotline staffed by non-County personnel for documenting complaints. Investigations into bullying complaints should be coordinated by the CEO-HR. This should include direct oversight of all investigators and enforcement of restrictions that preclude investigators from handling complaints within their own departments”
Ventura Board Response and Changes Made To Existing Policies:
Equally fascinating is the
[September 2011]. NB: While some have said there’s no “bite” in the Grand Jury’s ability to implement changes, this approach should mesh well with the goal of many advocates for anti-bullying legislation who claim they are against large settlements and are really fighting to put policies and procedures in place. The actions of the Board shows how quickly and cost effectively many of our workplaces can comply with needed changes. SEIU did a
that found widespread bullying. Although it should be noted that their definition very broad. Here are some “highlights:
3. SAMPLE POLICY: Linked above and available online
[YOUR COMPANY] ANTI-BULLYING POLICY
[YOUR COMPANY] is committed to providing all employees a healthy and safe work environment. [YOUR COMPANY] will ensure that procedures exist to allow complaints of bullying to be dealt with and resolved within [YOUR COMPANY], without limiting any person’s entitlement to pursue resolution of their complaint with the relevant statutory authority. [YOUR COMPANY] is committed to the elimination of all forms of bullying. This policy applies to all employees of [YOUR COMPANY]. It applies during normal working hours, at work related or sponsored functions, and while traveling on work related business. There will be no recriminations for anyone who in good faith alleges bullying.
Bullying is unwelcome or unreasonable behavior that demeans, intimidates or humiliates people either as individuals or as a group. Bullying behavior is often persistent and part of a pattern, but it can also occur as a single incident. It is usually carried out by an individual but can also be an aspect of group behavior (see “mobbing” below). Some examples of bullying behavior are:
Abusive and offensive language
Spreading rumor and innuendo
Trivializing of work and achievements
Manipulating the work environment
Isolating people from normal work interaction
Setting impossible deadlines
Unfairly blaming for mistakes
Setting people up for failure
Belittling or disregarding opinions or suggestions
Criticizing in public
Context is important in understanding bullying, particularly verbal communication. There is a difference between friendly insults exchanged by long-time work colleagues and comments that are meant to be, or are taken as, demeaning. While care should be exercised, particularly if a person is reporting alleged bullying as a witness, it is better to be genuinely mistaken than to let actual bullying go unreported.
Mobbing is a particular type of bullying behavior carried out by a group rather than by an individual. Mobbing is the bullying or social isolation of a person through collective unjustified accusations, humiliation, general harassment or emotional abuse. Although it is group behavior, specific incidents such as an insult or a practical joke may be carried out by an individual as part of mobbing behavior.
CONSEQUENCES OF BULLYING
Bullying is unacceptable behavior because it breaches principles of equality and fairness, and it frequently represents an abuse of power and authority. It also has potential consequences for everyone involved.
For those being bullied
People who have been bullied often suffer from a range of stress-related illness. They can lose confidence and withdraw from contact with people outside the workplace as well as at work. Their work performance can suffer, and they are at increased risk of workplace injury.
For the employer
Besides potential legal liabilities, the employer can also suffer because bullying can lead to:
Deterioration in the quality of work
Lack of communication and teamwork
Lack of confidence in the employer leading to lack of commitment to the job
For others at the workplace
People who witness bullying behaviors can also have their attitudes and work performance affected. They can suffer from feelings of guilt that they did nothing to stop the bullying, and they can become intimidated and perform less efficiently fearing that they may be the next to be bullied.
Managers and supervisors
Ensure that all employees are aware of the anti-bullying policy and procedures
Ensure that any incident of bullying is dealt with regardless of whether a complaint of bullying has been received
Provide leadership and role-modeling in appropriate professional behavior
Respond promptly, sensitively and confidentially to all situations where bullying behavior is observed or alleged to have occurred
Be familiar with and behave according to this policy
If you are a witness to bullying, report incidents to your supervisor, President or Human Resources Director as appropriate
Where appropriate, speak to the alleged bully(ies) to object to the behavior
IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN BULLIED
Any employee who feels he or she has been victimized by bullying is encouraged to report the matter to his or her supervisor, or with Human Resources.
Where appropriate, an investigation will be undertaken and disciplinary measures will be taken as necessary.
4. Sioux City School Employee Policy
(Note: The amended part of this document includes the phrase "This policy supplements but does not replace the District’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy (Board Policy 504.4)" which is similar to the action that Ventura County used to comply with Grand Jury instructions.
Sioux City Community Schools, 627 4th Street Sioux City, Iowa 51101 712-279-6643
Board Policy Document
First Adoption: March 9, 2009
Policy Title: Workplace Bullying
Code Number: 403.5
The purpose of this policy is to promote a healthy, positive workplace climate so that every individual is able to contribute fully to our educational community. Every person has the right to dignity at work. The rights and responsibilities described in this policy apply to all employees, parents, and all who utilize or visit District facilities.
Bullying is defined as conduct that a reasonable person would find hostile, intimidating, offensive, humiliating or an abuse of authority. It may be verbal, nonverbal, public or private. It is typically behavior repeated across multiple incidents; a single incident is rarely a violation. It may originate from any employee or from any individual to another. It is also bullying to continue policy-violating conduct when the targeted individual requests that it cease.
Illustrative examples of bullying include, but are not limited to:
1. Provocative or dehumanizing name calling
2. Belittling the person
3. Exclusion from requisite training
4. Physical isolation
5. Rumors (or failing to stop them) & gossip about a person or school’s reputation
6. Discounting or humiliating people at meetings
7. Deliberate exclusion from job-critical decision-making opportunities
8. Preventing the person from self-expression, being yelled at, being threatened, the prohibition of speaking to others
9. Intentional deception about the true purpose of an investigatory or disciplinary meeting
10. Preventing an employee from meeting students’ academic potential
11. Moving or hiding items required for productive work
Sioux City Community Schools
627 4th Street Sioux City, Iowa 51101 712-279-6643
Board Policy Document
First Adoption: March 9, 2009
Legal Reference: 2
For an individual to allege a policy violation, to call it bullying according to this policy’s standard, the targeted individual must be able to demonstrate that due to the alleged bullying activity that he/she has experienced negative consequences which are affecting their ability to perform his/her job. It is the intent of this policy that such issues are identified early by the targeted individual, a co-worker or colleague, and the issue is resolved at the earliest possible stage.
This policy supplements but does not replace the District’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy (Board Policy 504.4). Bullying must not be confused with the non-abusive exercise of management rights to assign tasks, coach, and reprimand or take disciplinary actions against employees. Any administrator, supervisor or individual in a position of leadership to whom a complaint is reported (verbally or in writing) must take appropriate action according to internal procedures. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action.
Freedom from retaliation is protected under this policy. Retaliation is a separate offense from the original claim of bullying. Protected individuals include complainants, or any one who testifies, assists, or participates in any manner in an investigation or proceeding, internal or external, pertaining to the allegation of bullying.
Misuse of the policy is a violation of the policy itself.
5) United States Office of Personnel Management/ office of workforce management february 1998
Of particular note for this OUR BULLY PULPIT resource are Case Studies 12 - 16 starting on page 63. Case 16 is concerned with "disruptive behavior" which appears covers assertiveness training and resolution options.
In the forward the authors of the handbook address the media concern due to the phenomena of workers "going postal:"
Preventing workplace violence is a growing concern in the United States. Public interest and media attention have focused primarily on dramatic but very rare types of violence such as shootings by disgruntled employees in office buildings. Planners of workplace violence programs face the dual challenge of reducing employees’ anxiety about very rare risk factors while focusing their attention on more likely sources of danger. Undue anxiety about the “office gunman” can stand in the way of identifying more significant, but less dramatic, risk factors such as poorly lighted parking lots or gaps in employee training programs.
This anxiety can also make it more difficult to cope with one of the most common workplace violence problems — the employee whose language or behavior frightens coworkers.
Below are screen grabs from the handbook
retrieved October 2011.
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