Workplace bullying an epidemic in Tennessee

Special Reports

When the issue of bullying is discussed, it usually involves students at school or kids on a playground, not adults at work, but it should.    

Workplace bullying is happening every day in every line of work.  

Memphis Democratic state Representative Antonio Parkinson is leading the fight against workplace bullying. 

” I want you to think about this statistic, out of the millions of people that have come to work in our state one-third of them have been victims of workplace bullying in some fashion or form.” 

One-third of all workers will become victims of workplace bullying. That is an epidemic proportion.   

Five years ago, Representative Parkinson took action by sponsoring legislation to combat workplace bullying.  Parkinson is proud to say the healthy workplace act won approval in Tennessee in 2014. 

“We are the first state in the nation to pass a workplace bullying law.” 

While voluntary, the healthy workplace act encourages public sector employers to take steps to prevent abusive conduct in the workplace.  Democrats embraced the new act and Representative Parkinson says so did the Republican leader in Tennessee. 

“Our former governor Bill Haslam he immediately, almost immediately rather, adopted healthy workplace for all of the executive branch of state government, he was a supporter, he was a supporter and we are talking about 58,000 employees.” 

The healthy workplace act covers only the public sector and government jobs. This year, Representative Parkinson is sponsoring legislation to cover private industry jobs with the hope it too will be embraced.  

“Think about the amount of time or the amount of production dollars to the amount of investment in your human capitol that you lose because you have a toxic work environment.” 

Representative Parkinson says he was bullied in the workplace and has heard from many other victims. 

 “I received more calls from this legislation, in regard to this legislation than any other piece of legislation I’ve ever filed.” 

Other victims, he say,s have chosen to remain silent afraid for their jobs.   

“Think about it, you are talking about their livelihoods. People were afraid of retribution.” 

Parkinson says he’s heard from some who are even afraid for their health, physically and mentally affected by workplace bullying. 

 “Those calls came with tears, emotional pleas, stories, horror stories, and I realized then it was pervasive.” 

Tennessee workers are all vulnerable to becoming part of the 33 percent who will become victims of workplace bullying.  

Representative Parkinson believes his legislation to protect private industry workers will gain support ,” I am pretty confident.”

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