Everyone Deserves a Safe and Respectful Workplace

The following testimony was submitted to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development on June 25, 2019.

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Chairwoman Jehlen, Chairman Brodeur, and members of the Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee: 

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I am the chair of the Issues Committee of Progressive Massachusetts. Progressive Massachusetts is a statewide grassroots advocacy organization that fights for social and economic justice. 

Good-paying jobs with fair working conditions are a central part of our organization’s shared prosperity agenda. As such, Progressive Massachusetts would like to go on the record in support of S.1072 (An Act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing and harassment), known as the Healthy Workplace Bill. 

Everyone deserves a safe and respectful workplace, and that means one that is free of inappropriate and harmful behaviors like bullying. 

Massachusetts labor law currently provides no protections against workplace bullying unless such bullying is targeted at an individual because of their race, sex, or other protected identity. This excludes far too many cases, and even when individuals sue because of identity-based harassment and discrimination, courts can choose to deny them redress out of a disagreement on the motivation for the mistreatment, not the existence of the mistreatment itself. 

Better training is good so far as it goes, and that is not far. Accountability is what will change behavior. The Healthy Workplace Act will offer that. 

Countries like Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, and Sweden--as well as various provinces in Canada--have enacted protections against workplace bullying. [1] It’s time for Massaachusetts to join them. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Jonathan Cohn 

Chair, Issues Committee

Progressive Massachusetts 



[1] See Ellen Pinks Cobb, “Workplace Bullying Protections Differ Globally,” SHRM, June 24, 2014, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/global-hr/pages/workplace-bullying-protections-differ-globally.aspx.

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