Thursday, April 28, 2011

New York Healthy Workplace Advocates Press Release: Press Conf. and Town Meeting May 2, 2011


Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Steve Englebright
New York State Nurses Association,
NY Healthy Workplace Advocates, Maria Morrissey, and Kathy Hermes,
and others to speak at Workplace Bullying Press Conference

S4289 / A4258 Healthy Workplace Bill

Monday, May 2, 2011
12:00pm at the LCA Room
Legislative Office Building

Interactive Presentation & Discussion
Beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Room 711A , Legislative Office Building
Open to the General Public

Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Steve Englebright will discuss New York State's workplace bullying legislation A4258 / S4289.  Maria Morrissey, the sister of workplace bullying target, Kevin Morrissey, will speak about the importance of such legislation.  Kathy Hermes, the friend of bullying target, Marlene Braun, will also speak about the need for the legislation.
Marlene Braun, d. May 2, 2005

In 2010, Maria Morrissey lost her brother Kevin Morrissey, managing editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, published by the University of Virginia, to suicide, due to workplace bullying. In spite of numerous well documented attempts over several years by Kevin Morrissey to seek help from his employer, little was done to address the situation before he took his life. 

Kathy Hermes lost her friend, Marlene Braun, to suicide in California in 2005 because of workplace bullying, with Marlene having been denied transfer requests that would have allowed her to instead work in a healthier environment.

Maria Morrissey and Kathy Hermes are traveling to New York to express the need for a law that will address workplace bullying and will participate in a grassroots lobbying effort on May 2 & 3, 2011.

The current Assembly Bill has over 60 sponsors while the companion bill passed in the Senate last year with a vote of 45 in favor as S1823.  Several major unions have issued a Memorandum of Support for the bill, including: AFL-CIO, NYSUT, AFT, DC37, PEF, and the New York State Nurses Association.

As a follow up to the midday Press Conference, a Town Hall Meeting that is open to the general public will be held in Room 711A of the Legislative Office Building beginning at 5:30 p.m. to allow for a more in depth presentation by the afternoon press conference participants and an interactive question and answer period.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Please contact your legislators today, April 21.

Please contact your legislators. HB 5464 AN ACT CONCERNING STATE EMPLOYEES AND VIOLENCE AND BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE has been reported out of committee and is calendared. We still need to make sure it actually comes up for a vote and gets support!

Thank you for all your help in fighting to end Abusive Conduct at work. This is just a first step!

To be involved, please join up at one of our organization's update centers. If you use facebook, look for a group Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates. If you use, we also have a non-profit by that name. 

The legislative session is almost over, but we will be planning events and strategies to get a full Healthy Workplace Bill in place next year.

Katherine A. Hermes, J.D., Ph.D.
Volunteer Coordinator
Connecticut Healthy Workplace Advocates

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Workplace bullying a serious problem

Esque Walker 

Monday, April 11, 2011 
It was a remarkable day for the Texas Healthy Workplace Advocates in
On March 24, in the wee hours of the morning, eight women from the
grass roots organization Texas Healthy Workplace Advocates gathered on
the north steps of the state capitol in Austin waiting for the doors
to open. 
The women arrived armed and ready to meet with lawmakers in several
political districts across the state of Texas. The women had traveled
from Alvarado, Corsicana, Dallas, Fort Worth, Graham, and Houston to
speak to lawmakers about the prevalence and the devastating
consequences of workplace bullying. The group was there to shop a bill
for the next legislative session the Healthy Workplace Bill; we need
this bill in Texas. The group presented accounts of their bullying
experiences to lawmakers. 
There has been an increase in the number of complaints of workplace
bullying in Abilene, El Paso, Houston, and in Dallas and Tarrant
Counties. People in Texas are suffering because of abusive work
environments. Until there are laws we will continue to be plagued with
this problem. 
One member in the group stated, “I don’t want to die! But I can no
longer afford to live because of workplace bullying.” The stories
shared with representatives were powerful, touching, and captured the
essence of the problem. We just went in and did what needed to be
done; we told the truth about what has happened to us and other
members of the group. Please do not be fooled by the appearance and
the size of the group, there are a number of men in the group that are
targets of workplace bullying and there are a number of members
throughout the state of Texas. 
Overall there is disbelief that this is happening in Texas, shock
about the number of targets in Texas, and this behavior is not within
the legal statutes. In one of the representative’s office, they
couldn’t believe that workplace bullying is happening in Abilene. “It
is a Christian community” is the belief there — I explained to the
aide there is nothing Christian about workplace bullying. I felt sorry
for the guy. He said he had grown up in Abilene and he couldn’t
believe that a “Christian community” such as Abilene would allow this
to happen; he was devastated. 
I presented a profile of the Texas cities by ZIP code that have the
highest concentrations of targets; the list showed only 171 targets in
the cities of Abilene, Austin, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El
Paso, Fort Worth, Garland, Houston, Irving, Killeen, Midland, Round
Rock, San Antonio, Temple and Waco. 
Texas lawmakers have been slow to focus on workplace bullying and the
devastation it is causing, however, I believe a small victory was won
last October when Mayor John Cook and the city council in El Paso took
an initiative to recognize bullying as an adult issue by issuing a
proclamation declaring the third week of October “Freedom from Bullies
week” in El Paso. This is the first official elected to an office to
show interest in the well-being of the people he serves. 
Workplace bullying is defined as repeated, health-harming mistreatment
of one or more people by one or more perpetrators that takes one or
more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors
which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating and work
interference sabotage. 
Additionally, workplace bullying is violence — it is emotional and
psychological destruction of an individual for the satisfaction of
This issue needs immediate attention. Not only does the behavior
impact the targets, their families, and the organizations; society as
a whole is impacted through social welfare programs that targets
forced from the workplace must depend on for survival. 
If bullying could be stopped and money once used to support targets on
social welfare programs, Texas politicians would be able to balance
the budget and have money left over for other things. 
Esque Walker is the Texas Coordinator for Texas Healthy Workplace

Friday, April 8, 2011

Walmart Can Fire Employee Who Screamed at Another Employee: Store enforced policy

Appeals court: Wal-mart can fire worker for telling co-worker lesbians go to hell

BY JAMES SCALZITTI Staff Apr 7, 2011 2:09AM

Wal-Mart was within its rights to fire a Joliet store employee who told a lesbian co-worker she would go to hell because God does not accept gays, and the dismissal was not religious discrimination, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Tanisha Matthews began working as an overnight stocker at the Joliet Wal-Mart in 1996, according to court documents. In September 2005, during a break in her shift, Matthews took part in a conversation about God and homosexuality.

The next day, an employee informed a manager that Matthews had made inappropriate comments about gays to a lesbian employee named Amy. Over the next three months, Wal-Mart interviewed employees who were present.

In her statement, Amy reported that Matthews was “screaming over her” that God does not accept gays; they should not “be on earth”; and they will “go to hell” because they are not “right in the head,” according to the appeals court ruling. Five other employees confirmed that Matthews had said gays are sinners who are going to hell, the ruling said.

Wal-Mart fired Matthews after concluding she had engaged in behavior that violated the company’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. The policy, which the court said Matthews was aware of at the time of the incident, prohibits employees from engaging in conduct that could reasonably be interpreted as harassment based on an individual’s status, including sexual orientation, and says they can be fired for such conduct.

Matthews, an Apostolic Christian, sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for race and religious discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming she was fired because of her religious beliefs and not for violating company policy.

She voluntarily dismissed the race discrimination claim, and the U.S. District Court in Chicago granted summary judgment to Wal-Mart on her religious-discrimination claim.

In her suit, Matthews claimed Wal-Mart engaged in religious discrimination by firing her for expressing religious beliefs. “But if Matthews is arguing that Wal-Mart must permit her to admonish gays at work to accommodate her religion, the claim fails,” the Appeals Court stated in its decision. 

Walmart enforced its policy, but what if it had not? Would the employee who was harassed have been able to mount a successful complaint? There needs to be a law, the Healthy Workplace Bill, because it's the person who is bullied who needs protection when employers don't follow through and fire the bully, or when employers do follow the law, produce the policy, but the bully continues in spite of it or more clandestinely.

 The decision also shows that a store like Walmart, which really does cater to a kind of "middle American," recognized in 2005 that this kind of behavior toward a lesbian employee was wrong and needed to be stopped.

Search This Blog