Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia: will you be Healthy first?
As state legislators across the country review their 2019 priorities, it is pleasing to see Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and West Virginia at the forefront of the effort to adopt the Healthy Workplace Bill.
Spearheaded by the grassroots work of law professor David Yamada in 2003, the Healthy Workplace Bill creates a legal claim for bullying targets who can establish that they were subjected to malicious, health-harming behavior. It also provides defenses for employers who act preventively and responsively with regard to bullying and includes provisions to discourage frivolous claims.
In addition to Massachusetts --the leader of the pack -- Pennsylvania is taking a stand this year. On January 14, 2019, the PA Workplace Advocates reported on its Twitter feed (@PAHealthWplace) that Representative Patrick Harkins has renewed his commitment to re-introduce the Act, HB 1687. And in West Virginia, state representative, Barbara Evan Fleischauer re-introduced HB 2062 on January 9, 2019.
Where are the 47 other state representatives at in this effort? In the last 5 years, other states have passed some workplace bullying protections: Utah, California, and Tennessee, however, none of these states have gone as far as to create a fair and equitable course of legal redress.
The cost of workplace bullying is multi-faceted and staggering. According to research done by the Workplace Bullying Institute, it reaches 35% of the U.S. workforce in a myriad of unhealthy ways from stress to suicide. Many other countries have acted to protect and create a civil workplace. Which state will be first to do so in the United States?