CA Bill To Stop Bullying
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Call to Action! 

(February 2003)

The Healthy Workplace Bill: Ending Abusive Work Environments, sponsored by the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, is now before the California State Legislature. Visit the Institute's Web Site today in order to help fight for the passage of this bill!

An Invitation to Endorse the following landmark legislation

The Healthy Workplace Bill:  Ending Abusive Work Environments

California Assembly AB 1582, Authors: Koretz [916-319-2042] & McLeod [916-319-2061]

      Workplace bullying -- interpersonal mistreatment, harassment, psychological violence -- directly affects 1 in 6 American workers. It poses an occupational health hazard. Few of the targeted individuals complain. Existing laws require harassment to be discriminatory. Either race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation is required to be illegal. Approximately two-thirds of all harassment is 'status-blind' and legal. In 1998, the Washington Post editorialized "what bothers people about abusive workplace conduct, after all, is not the fact that it may be discriminatory but that it is abusive in the first place."

      This bill substitutes health-impairment for discrimination, and extends protection to all employees, public and private sector, regardless of protected group status, who seek redress for being subjected to an abusive work environment. It becomes unlawful to be subjected to another employee who, with malice, repeatedly inflicts verbal abuse, engages in verbal or physical behaviors that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or performs gratuitous sabotage or undermining of the targeted person's work performance through acts of commission or omission. Furthermore, the bill punishes retaliation for making a charge, testifying, assisting or participating in the investigation of a charge.

      Serious psychological violence, in sub-lethal and non-physical forms, creates an abusive workplace and affects the targeted person's health. Demonstrable physical or mental health harm includes a host of stress-related diseases. The bill requires documentation of such impairment by a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist or by competent expert evidence at trial.

      Remedies by the court may include, but not be limited to, reinstatement, removal of the offending party from the complainant's work environment, back pay, front pay, medical expenses, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. Individual plaintiffs must rely solely on private attorneys. The State has no enforcement role. Individuals may accept workers' compensation benefits in lieu of bringing action under this bill.

      The bill makes an employer vicariously liable for unlawful employment practices committed by its employees. However, the bill provides two employer affirmative defense opportunities: (1) when it exercises reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the abusive conduct, and (2) when negative employment decisions are consistent with legitimate business interests, or the employee's poor performance, illegal or unethical activity. The bill also caps the employer's liability for emotional distress at $25,000 without punitive damages if the employer does not terminate, constructively discharge, demote, use unfavorable reassignment, refuse to promote, or start disciplinary action against the employee (all are negative employment decisions). The bill seeks to compel employer prevention through internal policies and enforcement. No new employer regulations are created.

This is the first North American legislation to match legal progress in the industrialized world!

Workplace Bullying & Trauma Institute   

Gary Namie, Ph.D.   360-656-6630



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Page established: 02/24/03
Last revised: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 09:26:36 PM