Safe Work Environment Act Update

Sen. Gary Winfield’s workplace bullying bill will include the Community Party’s Safe Work Environment Act advisory board amendment. …
Check out this link for details on our bill language.

Workplace bullying is a serious labor issue. A study found that 15% of total adult suicides in the U.S. are related to abusive workplace conduct, which the Department of Health and Human Services says is the equivalent of domestic violence. Separate Freedom of Information Act requests by the Community Party to Connecticut Valley Hospital and by Cornell Lewis to the Department of Children and Families revealed racist disparities in suspensions, terminations, promotions and wages. Adam Osmond analyzed the data provided by CVH and DCF.

The data also showed that Blacks and Latinos at CVH and DCF are steered into more dangerous positions, while being disproportionately excluded from clinical, supervisory and administrative posts. The Safe Work Environment Act would provide workers with more protection than the Healthy Workplace Bill (also introduced during the 2015 legislative session), while eliminating legal barriers that people currently face when they file a lawsuit against their employer. Our bill eliminates the HWB requirement that an employee must prove malice and intent by an employer, which is basically impossible. Our language would also remove the HWB stipulation that an employee must provide proof of damage to their physical/psychological health.

The federal employment discrimination law does not include either of the HWB provisions, which provide massive loopholes for abusive employers. We have included language from a Nevada workplace bullying bill, which eliminates the burden of having to prove workplace bullying based on race or gender discrimination. Employers currently use the so-called ‘jerk boss defense’ to get around discrimination lawsuits, claiming that a boss treats all workers poorly. The Nevada bill makes workplace bullying race/gender neutral. Employees will only have to prove that they are being subjected to a hostile work environment. We also want lawmakers to create a workplace bullying advisory board, which would solicit and implement input from public employees when they recommend future legislation. One bill will not stop workplace bullying, which is a constantly evolving issue. Legislation must evolve with it! The creation of a workplace bullying advisory board will ensure that this issue remains active at the State Capitol EVERY YEAR. Stay tuned!

David Samuels
Community Party


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