Monday, October 20, 2014

Freedom Week: A Call to Stop Workplace Bullying, Oct. 19-25, 2014

Freedom Week: A Call to Stop Workplace Bullying

(Hartford, CT)  Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, October 19-25, 2014 is a national awareness-raising event sponsored by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI). “Freedom Week is the chance to break through the shame and silence surrounding workplace bullying,” says Dr. Gary Namie, WBI co-founder and co-author of The Bully-FreeWorkplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes From Killing Your Organization (Wiley, 2011).

WBI defines Workplace Bullying as abusive conduct committed by one or more perpetrators. According to the latest scientific WBI national survey, over one-quarter of adult Americans, 27%, have been the target of workplace bullying. A startling 65 million Americans are negatively affected by abusive conduct at work. Damages include harm to employee health and job loss; employers suffer lost productivity and lawsuits.

It’s an epidemic but fear of losing one’s job in these tough economic times leads to underreporting. It’s a silent epidemic.

“I lost a close friend who committed suicide in 2005,” remembers Dr. Katherine Hermes, a history professor at Central Connecticut State University. “When she tried to report the abusive conduct, it was called a personality conflict. We didn’t know what to call what happened to her until finding the Workplace Bullying Institute, which explained the phenomenon. Now I understand it is like domestic violence. It does the same thing to a person, inducing shame, pain and health problems from stress, including PTSD.” Both men and women can experience workplace bullying.

“I want to make sure every workplace is free from bullying, so that is why I formed Connecticut HealthyWorkplace Advocates,” Hermes says. “We spread information through social media like Twitter and Facebook, and we advocate for legislation. Conscientious managers and employers can learn to stop it.”

In years past, several cities and counties across the country have proclaimed “Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week,” including New London, Newtown, Torrington, and New Milford.  This year the town of Chaplin and the city of Groton have issued proclamations. CentralConnecticut State University President Jack Miller has proclaimed Freedom Week on his campus for the last several years and has done so again in 2014. It is a time for bullied individuals and their families to plan ways to leave damaging jobs. Unions should awake to bullying within their ranks. Employers should commit to stop the preventable losses. Lawmakers can introduce a state bill to curb bullying in the workplace called the Healthy Workplace Bill.

The first Connecticut state version of the Healthy Workplace Bill, SB 371, was introduced in the General Assembly by Sen. Thomas Colapietro in 2007. It was heard in the Labor and Public Employees Committee chaired by Sen. Edith Prague, who also introduced it the next year. In 2009, 2010 and 2012, various bills concerning workplace bullying using some language from the Healthy Workplace Bill have been introduced. Current Labor and Public Employees Committee co-chair Sen. GaryHolder-Winfield has introduced and supported bills on workplace bullying in the past. Puerto Rico’s legislature passed the Healthy Workplace Bill in 2014, but the governor vetoed it.

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

Gary Namie, Director, WBI, 360-656-6630

WBI is the first and only research and education U.S. organization dedicated to the eradication of abusive conduct in the workplace.

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