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The Tennessee "volunteer" approach to a Healthy Workplace



Tennessee is quietly making progress in creating meaningful elective anti-bullying/ healthy workplace legislation for private employers. With very little fanfare, this legislation has made it way out of the House and is now moving through to the state Senate. The legislation encourages private employers to adopt anti-bullying protections and, if they do, two things happen: the targeted/bullied employee receives protections and the employer receives immunity from lawsuit.


It could be that Tennessee Volunteers are leading the way in showing the rest of the country how to both grow awareness and protective legislation around the grossly undermined issue of abusive conduct - the precursor or root reality of so many other bad workplace behavior: sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and more. Notably the proposed Tennessee legislation does not afford a private cause of action for those who are bullied which may be why it seems to be uneventfully sailing through hearings with little discussion. It gives me pause . . . Tennessee may be on to something.

What if this volunteer approach, without the right of a private cause of action is a better course of action than the "Healthy Workplace Bill" fashioned by Professor Yamada in 2003 that has yet to be adopted in any state although it holds promise? There is an awareness issue that may be overlooked and may explain why 15 years have gone by without any state adopting the Healthy Workplace Bill with its private cause of action for targeted employees --yes, an awareness issue even in the #metoo age. Food for thought. #antibullying #shrm #workplace #Tennessee