Increasing awareness of the problem of workplace bullying is reflected in the adoption of anti-bully laws to protect workers in two cities, Yonkers, N.Y. and Ridgeview, N.J.
Yonkers City Council unanimously approved legislation last month that established a “zero-tolerance policy” for bullying among city employees.
At a news conference last week to mark implementation of the law, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said that “there is no excuse for the mistreatment and bullying of others — whether it’s in schools or the workplace.”
Michael Sabatino, an openly gay city council member who lobbied for the bill, expressed hope that Yonkers’ example will inspire New York state to adopt a statewide workplace anti-bully law.
“Everyone is affected by bullying — the person subjected to bullying, those who witness it as well as the person who bullies … It creates a toxic and hostile work environment. We all should feel comfortable and safe in our work environment, so what better place to start than our city offices?” said Sabatino.
The Yonkers’ bill calls for the Human Rights Commission to work with the Human Resources Department to create appropriate training materials to instruct City of Yonkers employees on how to best identify potential signs of bullying. Additionally, the City of Yonkers Corporation Counsel will define the classifications of bullying in the workplace and will require workplace bullying to be integrated into the ethics training. The new law has no jurisdiction over the city’s private sector.
In January, the Borough Council of Ridgefield, NJ, approved an ordinance to prohibit bullying by employees, in municipal facilities, and in borough recreation programs. The measure, which is the first of its kind in the state, calls for the formation of a committee to receive bullying complaints, investigate them, and recommend remedial action.
The Ridgefield ordinance states that “a safe and civil environment is required and appropriate in order that borough officers and employees be able to properly perform their job functions and duties, and so that borough residents may optimally participate in or receive borough services or programs. Bullying is conduct that disrupts both the borough workplace and the delivery of borough services and enjoyment of borough programs.”
The ordinance passed 5-0, with Republican Councilman Angus Todd abstaining. Todd said laws already in place are meant to curb bullying and harassment.