Labor and Public Employees Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING STATE EMPLOYEES AND VIOLENCE AND BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE.
Joint Favorable Change of Reference to Government Administration and Elections
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Workplace Bullying Institute
REASONS FOR BILL:
The bill requires the Department of Administrative Services to report the number of complaints of bullying or abusive conduct in the state workforce to the General Assembly.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Department of Administrative Services: Opposed
The department appreciates and shares the committee's desire to prevent workplace violence and bullying in the workplace, but respectfully submits that this bill is unnecessary. The policies and procedures regarding preventing, reporting, evaluating, and investigating complaints of abusive conduct occurring in the workplace have already been established. In 1999, the first Violence in the Workplace Policy and Procedures Manual was created. The current version of the manual can be found under “Human Resources” of the DAS website. DAS is happy to provide the committee with this type of information at any time, and submits that to obtain this data, the committee need only ask for it.
Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities: Supports the concept but has reservations about the definitions in the bill.
CHRO already receives complaints of harassment in the workplace, some of which starts with bullying behavior and escalates to harassment. Bullying unchecked may lead to violence. Bullying must be stopped before it becomes a more serious problem. CHRO receives roughly 200 complaints annually against state agencies. Having an early intervention program to raise these issues with employees and managers at the start may help to reduce the number of employees who have to file harassment complaints with CHRO. By the time an employee feels compelled to come to CHRO, the working relationship is severely strained, productivity, and morale greatly reduced.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Dr. Katherine Hermes, Connecticut Coordinator, Workplace Bullying Institute:
This bill will study the problem of workplace bullying among state employees. Bullying at work reduces productivity, causes employees' health to decline resulting in sick days and personal leave, and disrupts the thing people most want to do: their jobs. Workplace bullying is very much like domestic violence. It is intimate, especially when people work closely with one another and do so for many years. If a bully, whether old or new to the workplace, enters the scene and exploits an issue that is sensitive for the employee, that is one of the most abusive acts that can occur. We ask that the bill be amended to include a statement of purpose that explains the harm workplace bullying or abusive conduct in the workplace is known to cause.
Linda Coollick, Counselor, Technical High School System, Department of Education:
I experienced bullying, threats, and was subject to a hostile work environment at the hands of a new school principal. Once I filed my complaints with the superintendent, his remedy to the bullying was to transfer me to another school. While the transfer was pending, my performance evaluations were changed from “Satisfactory” to “Needs Improvement” or “Unsatisfactory”. In the end, my transfer never occurred and my position was eliminated at the end of the 2007 school year. The union filed a grievance, which was heard and denied in 2008. As a result of the bullying, I still deal with ongoing issues that affect me both emotionally and physically. This bill is needed so that this type of incidents do not happen again.
AFL-CIO: Supports the bill.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Stephen A. Palmer