NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Beacon Hill lawmakers want to protect you from being bullied at your job. A joint petition, co-authored by Amherst State Representative Ellen Story, is being introduced in Boston this week.
The proposal aims to provide legal relief for employees who have been harmed by bullying; a problem we've usually seen happen inside schools.
"I teach in a school so I'm familiar, to some extent, to the bullying code as it applies to schools. I think it's a good idea to extend it to the workplace," said Rosemary McNaughton of Florence.
According to the "Healthy Workforce Bill," one in three employees will experience workplace bullying during their working lives. Supporters say an abusive work environment can have serious consequences for employers like reduced productivity, low morale and a high turnover.
"Adults are more reserved and do not want to share experiences with bullying in a workplace. It would be great for them to come forward and use that bill as a protection," said Stephanie Forgette of Easthampton.
Under the bill, abusive conduct would be defined as repeated verbal abuse by your employer or co-worker, the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets. Employees could also seek legal recourse if they're verbally or non-verbally intimidated or their work performance is undermined.
"Some people are really sensitive too. It's tough to tell someone being straight up and the person just not taking it well. I don't know, I don't know how you quantify it," said Gordon Baker of Wilbraham.
A legislative panel will hear testimony on the proposal on Tuesday. Lawmakers also plan to include safeguards to protect employers from false claims.