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Letter: A win for bullies

The vetoing of the Healthy Workplace Bill by Gov. Maggie Hassan is a disappointing turn of events in what could have been a landmark example of a governing leader declaring that bullying in the workplace is simply unacceptable.

A 2014 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute estimates that 27 percent of Americans have been a target of workplace bullying. However, only 16 percent of organizations will take action to stop reported bullying. Most will deny it’s happening. Some will even defend it. In 82 percent of cases, the organization will either take the side of the bully or do nothing to help the target.

The law supports this behavior – without legislation like this bill, 80 percent of workplace bullying is completely legal.

The governor contends that the “bill attempts to legislate politeness, manners and the interpersonal relationships.”

Let’s apply this logic to a group of “mean girls” in high school that spreads gossip and lies about the unpopular girl, causing her to be the target of ongoing torment. By the governor’s reasoning, these incidents are purely subjective and would be too much of a bother for the school to intervene.

This response is unacceptable when it comes to children and should be just as unacceptable when it comes to adults. The system that’s in place for dealing with this problem is broken, and one in four people are bearing the consequences of it. The governor missed an opportunity to be on the right side of history on this issue.



Legacy Comments3

Bullying in the workplace. I have been a victim of that from both women and lesbians back in the 1980's. No one cared then. They berated many men, scheduled them on shifts that took them away from their families, gave them bad reviews and even tried to get them fired. They showed preference in hiring women and other lesbians. We had no recourse, it was a time when EEOC trumped any rights of the men who worked there. In retrospect I understand that they felt as it they had to try harder, prove themselves, make up for what they perceived was a hurdle for acceptance. However, the workplace bully (and it can be a man or woman) generally experiences "what goes around comes around". Both of them paid a price for their behavior. A couple of us who were treated poorly wound up stopping one of the women from working for a company several years later. Today, they are dinosaurs in the industry in which I work, the culture today will not allow that kind of behavior. Bullies come in all stripes, all genders, all persuasions and they act that way due to their own insecurities, masking their inadequacies. Life is unfair and the bully seldom is successful in the end. However, to deal with all kinds of people in the workplace I have found the best reference guide. It covers the boss, co-workers and subordinates in the workplace, defining their behavior, explaining what they are thinking and how you should respond and react. From back biters, to bullies to climbers and self promoters, the suggestions work. Working with Difficult People by Muriel Solomon. But we should not try to legislate workplace behavior. It starts with leadership, leadership mature enough to do the right things for the right reasons and if leadership within the state ranks is nepotistic or unable to stop bullying, we need to replace those leaders.

The Gov. is right in this case. There is a wide gap between hurting someone's feelings and bullying. Just where does the line get drawn, there have been school yard bullies, since there have been schoolyards. There are obnoxious co-workers, juvenile co-workers, in other words there are numerous personality types. Just like school there are many things in life that are not fair and many people that are unpleasant to be around, that is life. To attempt to translate this into black and white laws is about as sensible as having your child play on a sports team where the score doesn't matter. The score does matter, there are winners and then there are those that don't, that is out society. All men are created equal, but it's what you do with it that dictates your position. This law was just another vague headache. Life's unfair, adapt to it and move on. I once joked with a co-worker that I worked in a chromosome challenged environment, I was one of 6 men with 32 women, I got written up for "fostering a hostile environment". We're turning into a nation of sissies whose feelings get hurt at the drop of a hat.

Great points. Everyone assumes that it is men bullying women or the strong bullying the weak but that could not be further from the truth. It is about those with power bullying those without power. I understand and sympathize with you being written up for "fostering a hostile environment", my guess is that one of those chromosomal folks wrote you up. People today are so "offended" by anything and everything, well I am offended that they are offended and by the offensive feelings. Sissy? Spot on GCarson, we have found our common ground.

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