Bullying takes place at schools, then kids grow up. Not so, according to Representative Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison), who wants to prohibit bullying in the workplace. “No one deserves to be mistreated, harassed, or threatened in their workplace, in a school, or anywhere else.”
The majority of bullies at the workplace — 72 percent — are bosses. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or even a false evaluation that prevents a worker from getting a promotion. Roys says it’s more common than one might think. “And it’s very toxic — not just for the employee that’s bullied, but for everybody else who has to work in that environment, as well.”
Roys says nearly two-thirds of employers ignore the problem and only 3 percent of bullied workers file lawsuits. A pattern of abusive behavior can impair workforce productivity and health.
Roys says the goal of the legislation is not intended to punish bullies; it’s meant to prevent bullying from happening in the first place. Current law offers some protections, but only when the abuse can be shown to be based on discrimination against a member of a protected class, such as race, gender, or religion.
Representative Roys and Senator Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) are circulating the bill that would grant limited legal protections to workers who can prove physical or mental harm from an abusive workplace environment.
October 17-23 is “Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week.” According to the Workplace Bullying Institute‘s website, 21 states have introduced the measure, but none have passed it.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:16