Workplace Bullying/Racism at Connecticut Valley Hospital

From the archives…

Connecticut Valley Hospital Bullying Survey Results

July 13, 2012 at 11:17pm

  • “Highlights” from the survey…

“I have encountered bullying situations at work.”  70.6% of CVH workers “strongly agree”. 20.7 % “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH manager / supervisor.” 59.9%  “strongly agree”. 16.5% “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH manager / supervisor in my unit / program.” 54.0 % “strongly agree”. 16.2 % “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH co-worker.”  39.6% “strongly agree”. 20.2 % “agree”.

“I have felt bullied when interacting with a CVH co-worker in my unit / program.”  37.5 %  “strongly agree”. 20.8 % “agree”.

“I feel that bullying is an accepted part of the culture at CVH.” 54.1 % “strongly agree.” 25.7% “agree”.

“I reported bullying and there was a positive resolution of my concerns.” 61.6%  “strongly disagree”. 24.5% “disagree”.

“I fear retaliation for reporting bullying or other hostile behavior.”  66.6% “strongly agree”. 17.1 % “agree”.

CVH attempted to suppress the results of this survey. They did not release the numbers until CVH employee John Hollis, an AFSCME union steward, made a written request on behalf of CVH employees who expressed their desire to see the results. After we made the numbers public by sharing them in the Hartford News and on social media, CVH finally posted the results on their intranet. These numbers, coupled with data obtained from CVH and the Dept. of Children and Families through FOI requests which show racist patterns in hiring, employment, firings and wages, are proof of structural racism at state agencies. Despite this overwhelming proof, CVH and DCF management continue to deny that they are engaging in bullying, racist behavior. The Connecticut General Assembly must intervene and pass strong workplace bullying legislation which will begin the process of providing viable legal options to currently powerless workers.

Connecticut Valley Hospital Racism

This column appears in the January 2 -9 edition of the Hartford News… Connecticut Valley Hospital management’s response to the Community Party’s December 19 report on the racist disparities in terminations and wages at CVH (data analysis by Adam Osmond) was to send out mass emails to employees, in which they continue to talk vaguely about “changing the culture” at the hospital. CVH started their “Achieving Excellence Together” campaign in response to the introduction of workplace bullying legislation at the State Capitol. The Department of Administrative Services, which oversees state facilities like CVH, has testified against strengthening the currently toothless employment laws, which would provide viable legal options to bullied employees. DAS claims that they already have mechanisms in place to address racism and bullying, but DAS is the violator. It is preposterous to leave it up to the violator to police the problem that they created; that’s the ultimate conflict of interest (fox guarding the henhouse, etc.). The statistics at CVH and the Department of Children and Families are overwhelming evidence that DAS isn’t doing squat; they’re only interested in limiting state employers’ exposure to legal liability.
The Department of Health and Human Services states that workplace bullying is the equivalent of domestic violence. CVH’s self-serving campaign is akin to a physically abusive husband bringing his wife flowers and candy, promising her that the beatings will stop and he will change. CVH’s own workplace bullying survey results (which they tried to suppress) show that over 80% of employees view CVH management as retaliatory bullies who perpetuate a culture of abusive workplace conduct. CVH fires Black employees at a rate of 70% compared to just 22% of whites. 70% of the employees who earn $120,000 or more per year are white, compared to a mere 3% of Black workers. Blacks are 30% of CVH hires yet they are disciplined at a rate of 39%, which is 10% more often than all other employees. White CVH employees are promoted at a rate of 56%, dwarfing the numbers for Blacks (30%) and Latinos (8%) combined. This structurally racist pattern was also discovered at DCF by Adam and Cornell Lewis. The data is available at Cornell’s DCF Plantation blog.  CVH management is talking out of both sides of their mouths. They claim to want to “change the culture” at the hospital, while they simultaneously pay their team of attorneys to defend them against legal complaints by workers regarding their racist, bullying behavior. None of the CVH management emails to employees have addressed the racial disparities that we have discovered.
 “Changing the culture” at CVH means acknowledging and remedying the egregious racial disparities in terminations, disciplinary actions, wages,  promotions, hiring and employment in addition to ending the cowardly, despicable management practice of manipulating policy and procedure to target workers, especially Black males. Promising to be kinder, gentler plantation owners isn’t good enough. The internal CVH emails that my co-worker John Hollis and I obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show what CVH executives and managers say when they think that no one is looking. Rosa Badillo and Carlos Vargas, who complained about racism against Latinos by their bosses in a column I wrote about CVH last year, were mentioned in an email exchange between a CVH executive and a manager. The executive forwarded the column to the head of Rosa and Carlos’ department and gave that manager permission to forward the piece to Rosa and Carlos’ other bosses. Rosa and Carlos have both experienced retaliation from CVH since the column was published. This is an ongoing pattern.
As I reported in my last column, the CVH manager who said in an email exchange that “something must be done soon” about me in response to a grievance that I filed called the CVH police on me in retaliation for my activism. This manager made the ridiculous claim that I threatened her in a 2012 column on workplace bullying at CVH, where I made a reference to the spree killing by James Holmes at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Here is the exact quote from that column. “Last week a Connecticut Valley Hospital manager called a staff meeting which appeared to be a veiled attempt to respond to the Community Party’s release of the CVH workplace bullying survey results and our July 19th Hartford News column on abusive workplace conduct at CVH (“Connecticut Valley Hospital: Poster Child for Workplace Bullying”). She spoke at length about CVH “owning” internal emails and “partisan political activity” being unacceptable. I will address that individual in this forum. Workplace bullying isn’t a partisan political issue, it’s a public safety threat. The mass shooting which took place on July 20th in Aurora, Colorado underscores how vulnerable we all are to violence in public places. There is clearly a structured effort among CVH management and selected employees to intimidate individuals who speak out against abusive conduct at the facility.”
After the column was published, a CVH police officer visited my office and questioned me. He offered to take me to a private area but I insisted that our conversation take place in full view of my co-workers. The officer immediately said that the CVH police had reviewed my column and did not find my commentary to be threatening in any way. When I asked why then was I being questioned if I wasn’t suspected of intending to commit workplace violence the officer said, “I’m just doing my job.” This manager’s actions demonstrates the pathology of those who engage in abusive workplace conduct. She knows that I live in Hartford yet she did not call the Hartford police, which would have been the logical move if she honestly thought that I had threatened her life. If I was actually a threat, it would have been imperative that she act quickly to ensure that I did not arrive on the CVH campus and inflict harm on her or others. She instead waited until I came to work and then contacted the CVH police, who she knew she could manipulate with the backing of CVH management.
This individual’s compulsion to show employees who’s the boss resulted in a childish, ineffective attempt to embarrass and intimidate me in front of my co-workers. CVH emails show that she has continued to target me since that pathetic display, and that the executives who are claiming to want to change the hospital’s bullying culture are collaborating with her. It’s not hard to see why 85% of CVH workers fear retaliation from CVH management if they report that they have been bullied. This manager is desperately trying to maintain the status quo. She is the best example of why legislators must act in 2014 to begin the process of empowering employees who are subjected to abusive workplace conduct. CVH’s sham morale campaign will not help anyone but the megalomaniacs who are currently operating with impunity. Over 200 people in the United States committed suicide as a result of workplace bullying in 2008, the highest total since these deaths have been tracked. The changes which are desperately needed at CVH, DCF and the rest of the state employers must be implemented by the Connecticut General Assembly.
We’ll present more information on structural racism at CVH in the coming weeks, as we’re in the process of analyzing data regarding hiring and employment at the facility. State Representative Matt Ritter will host a workplace bullying town hall on Monday, January 27, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the Albany Branch library, 1250 Albany Avenue in Hartford. If you’re being bullied at work by co-workers and/or your employer, this is an opportunity to tell your story and be a part of a discussion about solutions. Check out the Albany Branch website for directions.
Stay tuned for updates on the Safe Work Environment Act and the Trayvon Martin Act, which we’ll introduce during the 2014 legislative session (starts February 5th). Check out CP’s Stop Racial Profiling – Obey the Law! Facebook page for more info on the Trayvon Act.   Follow CP on on Twitter for state, national and global headlines. Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. Contact us at 860-206-8879 or Happy New Year!
Freedom of Information Act website:
Workplace Violence News, featuring resources for preventing workplace violence and bullying:
Twitter page for John McPhilbin, a workplace bullying activist in Australia:
David Samuels
Community Party

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