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BULLYING AND THE STATE ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY FOR WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

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					                            OLR RESEARCH REPORT
   November 14, 2008                                                     2008-R-0623


           BULLYING AND THE STATE ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY FOR
                          WORKPLACE VIOLENCE


                              By: John Moran, Principal Analyst

      You asked for a summary of the state’s zero tolerance policy for
    workplace violence and whether it addresses workplace bullying.

    SUMMARY

       In 1999, Executive Order No. 16 outlined a new violence in the
    workplace prevention policy and directed all state agency personnel,
    contractors, and vendors to comply with it. In addition to prohibiting
    violence and the use of weapons, the order prohibits employees from
    threatening harm to any individual in a state worksite.

       It further requires (1) employees who feel subjected to or witness
    violent, threatening, harassing, or intimidating behavior in their
    workplace to immediately report it and (2) managers and supervisors to
    contact their human resources office and take other appropriate steps. If
    an investigation determines there is a violation, the employee in question
    can be disciplined up to and including discharge from state services. It
    appears the policy covers much of what is considered workplace bullying.

        Since the executive order was issued the Statewide Security
    Management Council, which includes representatives of state agencies,
    the governor’s office, and two union representatives, has developed a
    comprehensive Violence in the Workplace Policy and Procedures Manual
    that provides details for (1) preventative actions state agencies must
    take; (2) what constitutes violence or other inappropriate behavior; and
    (3) what steps must be taken to address incidents of violence, threats, or
    harassment.

Mary M. Janicki, Director                                                              Room 5300
Phone (860) 240-8400                                                   Legislative Office Building
FAX (860) 240-8881                  Connecticut General Assembly        Hartford, CT 06106-1591
http://www.cga.ct.gov/olr             Office of Legislative Research               Olr@cga.ct.gov
    Recently, Department of Administrative Services (DAS) legislative
liaison Andrea Keilty indicated that reports of violence, threats, or
harassment have been treated seriously and some investigations resulted
in employees being disciplined and even fired.

OVERVIEW OF STATEWIDE VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE POLICY

   On March 6, 1998, a disgruntled employee, returning to work after a
leave to treat stress, went on a shooting rampage at the Connecticut
Lottery Office and killed four people and then himself.

   In the aftermath, the state announced a comprehensive statewide
security initiative to review security measures at all state buildings and
establish security standards.

   The following year, the legislature enacted PA 99-220. It established
the Statewide Security Management Council, required the Department of
Public Works (DPW) to establish safety standards, and authorized DPW
to conduct security audits of state facilities.

   A few months later, Gov. Rowland issued Executive Order No. 16 (see
attachment 1) that banned state employees from bringing weapons or
dangerous instruments onto any state worksite (unless required to as a
condition of employment). In addition to addressing violence in the
workplace, the order addressed threatening, harassing, or intimidating
behavior and required employees to report such behavior immediately.

    The security council has since issued a detailed Violence in the
Workplace Policy and Procedures Manual, based on the executive order,
for all executive branch agencies to follow.

Statewide Security Management Council

   PA 99-220 included a number of provisions regarding employee
safety. It established DPW as the primary agency responsible for
maintaining security in state buildings and created the security council
to help coordinate security activities in state agencies. By law, the
council consists of:

   1. the commissioners of Public Safety, DAS, mental health and
      addiction services, DPW, and Emergency Management and
      Homeland Security;

   2. the Office of Police and Management secretary,
     November 14, 2008            Page 2 of 4               2008-R-0623
  3. the Legislative Management executive director,

  4. the chief court administrator,

  5. a representative of the Governor,

  6. a representative of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition
     and the president of the Connecticut State Police Union or his
     designee, and

  7. an attorney appointed by DPW commissioner (CGS § 4b-136).

   The DPW commissioner serves as the council chairperson.

Violence in the Workplace Policy and Procedures

   The policy and procedures incorporate Executive Order No. 16 into
the manual and elaborate on it. The manual’s purpose is to provide
direction to human resources personnel in preventing and responding to
violent incidents and perceived threats of violence in the workplace. The
manual outlines the components of the anti-violence effort: policy,
procedures, workplace security assessment, control and prevention,
training, and other support services.

   The goal of the policy and manual is to:

      reduce the probability that employees will engage in verbal threats
       or physical actions that create a security hazard for others in the
       workplace and

      ensure that any complaint of violence or threat of violence is taken
       seriously and is thoroughly and promptly investigated.

   All executive branch agencies were instructed to adopt the manual or
modify their policies to comply with the manual. It also became part of
the DAS training for human resource personnel. DAS has broad
authority to establish and administer personnel policy for state
employees (CGS § 4a-2).

   The manual outlines the role of each agency’s human resources office
including requiring each to (1) respond to and investigate all complaints
and (2) establish a threat assessment team. The teams, which must



       November 14, 2008          Page 3 of 4               2008-R-0623
include a human resources professional and an employee assistance
program (EAP) provider, handle workplace violence complaints, identify
the potential for violence, and work on violence prevention.

   The workplace violence policy addresses much of what is considered
bullying by including the following in the definition of violence:

       intimidating or threatening behaviors,

       verbal abuse,

       offensive comments regarding violent acts or behaviors, and

        any other acts which a reasonable person would consider as
        inappropriate or posing a danger or threat of danger in the
        workplace. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to, oral,
        written, or e-mail statements, gestures, or expressions that
        communicate a direct or indirect threat of physical harm.

   The manual emphasizes that all reports of incidents must be taken
seriously and dealt with thoroughly. All reports are to be immediately
evaluated and investigated and management must take proper action
upon completion of the investigation.

  Violations of the policy can lead to disciplinary action ranging from an
EAP referral or an oral warning to suspension or dismissal from
employment.

JM:ts




      November 14, 2008             Page 4 of 4              2008-R-0623

				
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