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State Workers: We Need Workplace Bullying Protections In New Bill

KOSE Asks Legislature To End Abusive Work Enviroments

The Kansas Organization of State of Employees (KOSE) and American Federation of Teachers-Kansas (AFT - Kansas) today are pleased to see the anti-workplace-bullying bill, HB 2720, introduced in the Kansas legislature.  HB 2720 is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Henry (D-Atchison) at the request of KOSE and AFT-Kansas and extends to state workers  the same legal protections against workplace bullying the legislature afforded to students, teachers, and school workers just last year.   

You can read HB 2720 here.

Around our country, from school lunchrooms to professional football locker rooms, the problem of bullying has increasingly come to light.  Kansas is no different, and state workers are asking their legislators to require all state agencies acknowledge and address this important issue. 

What is workplace bullying? It includes:

  • Verbal abuse and humiliation, including shouting, name calling, insults, and sarcasm.
  • Threats and intimidation, physical or verbal.
  • Gossiping and teasing about a target.
  • Overwork — including impossible, unmanageable workloads and deadlines.
  • Isolating, ignoring, or excluding certain workers.
  • Setting a worker up to fail, allocating  meaningless tasks, or repeated reminders of past mistakes.
  • Cyberbullying, through e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, mobile phones, pagers, online games and websites.

Sadly, workplace bullying has become a serious problem in state agencies and worksites. In fact, a recent KOSE survey of hundreds of Kansas state employees reveals that 69 percent have been bullied at work in the past two years, and 78 percent have witnessed bullying in the workplace in recent months.

Many states are now beginning to realize what a problem bullying is. Twenty-six states have already introduced anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bills.[1]

“At least a third of all employees will directly experience health endangering workplace bullying, abuse, and harassment,” said Rebecca Proctor, Executive Director of KOSE, a union representing over 9000 Kansas state employees. “Last session, the legislature passed a measure requiring all school boards to adopt policies against bullying, not only bullying against students, but bullying against teachers and school staff.  All public employees deserve these same protections.”   

HB 2720 would require all state agencies to adopt a policy prohibiting workplace bullying.  Such policies would include a mechanism to allow for reporting bullying, protections for bullying whistleblowers, specified discipline for violators, and annual public reporting of the levels of reported bullying within state agencies.

It’s time to stop the bullies who make it tougher for workers to do their jobs, drive talented people away from public service, and cost our state money. That’s why KOSE and AFT-Kansas have asked for and are supporting this new bill in our state legislature.


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