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MA Bullies Don’t Just Target Schoolyards

January 23, 2012

BOSTON - The problem of bullies in the schoolyard has gotten a lot of attention in the Bay State in recent years, but being bullied at work can be just as serious. A measure before state lawmakers is designed to help stop it. The Healthy Workplace Bill would create a legal claim for targets of bullying who can establish that they were subjected to malicious, health-harming behavior.

Shauna Lee Manning, president of the Classified Staff Union at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, says it's in everyone's best interest to stop bullying.

"Bullying acts decrease productivity in the workplace and create a really hostile environment."

She says the measure would also provide defenses for employers who act preventively and responsively with regard to bullying, and it includes provisions to discourage frivolous claims. The bill is making its way through various committees.

Manning adds the measure should be welcome news for employers, too, because it gives them protections when trying to remove bullies from the workplace.

"Having a law, like you have a law to protect against sexual harassment, would really give the employer something to hang their hat on as far as addressing the issue."

Supporters of the proposal say it's really about human dignity at work and about the right to be left alone to do your job and earn a living - without being bullied or mistreated.

More information on House Bill 2310 and Senate Bill 916 is available at www.healthyworkplacebill.org.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - MA