BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Massachusetts is a national leader when it comes to anti-bullying in our schools, but advocates say our work isnâ€™t done, and the state needs to address bullying in the workplace.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, nearly one third of workers will be victims of bullying in their careers. During an anti-bullying talk at Suffolk University Law School, advocates said it can appear in obvious and not so obvious ways.
â€śThe types of behaviors weâ€™re looking at are not only the so-called yelling a screaming boss who repeatedly gets in someoneâ€™s face over and over again, but weâ€™re also looking at some of the covert sabotaging, undermining that occurs at very malicious levels at times to literally try to rub someone out of the workplace,â€ť said Suffolk University Law Professor David Yamada.
Lawmakers are working with Yamada to pass a bill that makes workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts. Though the bill failed to be passed by the Legislature this session, Yamada is looking forward to bringing up the bill again in the next legislative session that begins in January.
â€śOur hope is that this piece of legislation, when enacted, will not only encourage employers to act preventively when it comes to workplace bullying, but also will give those individuals who have been severely bullied a claim for damages and compensation that the law just doesnâ€™t provide to them right now,â€ť said Prof. Yamada.
Advocates say itâ€™ll be difficult to change the culture of workplace bullying as itâ€™s often the bullying victim who is seen as the problem. If you canâ€™t appeal to the hearts of employers, advocates say you should appeal to their wallets. They estimate workplace bullying can cut productivity in half and cost companies thousands, even millions of dollars.
â€śItâ€™s to the benefit of their bottom line in terms of holding on to qualified employees, reducing workers compensation costs and reducing liability costs,â€ť said Massachusetts General Hospital Law & Psychiatry Service Director Dr. Ronald Schouten. â€śI mean one argument is that in workplace bullying if thereâ€™s an act of intentional infliction of emotional distress, someone could file a lawsuit against the organization and the individuals involved.â€ť
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