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Minnesota bill aims to combat workplace bullying

At one point or another in most people's careers, they've dealt with coworkers-not to mention management-that were difficult to get along with. Personalities can clash, egos can compete, and insecurities can contribute to a working environment that is less than hospitable. What happens, though, when icy attitudes and professional snobbery turn into something malicious? Unfortunately for thousands of employees throughout the state of Minnesota, and all across the country, that can be a difficult question to answer. While many workers can identify and address forms of job discrimination involving factors like gender and race, different types of bullying may be condoned or go unreported in the workplace.

Bullying is such a problem in working environments that it is estimated that one in three employees have experienced it firsthand, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. The issue has become so prevalent, in fact, that Minnesota is the 21st state to introduce a bill to address workplace bullying head on. Written in conjunction with similar healthy workplace bills in other states, the piece of new legislation proposed in Minnesota defines what constitutes on-the-job bullying and outlines how to handle it appropriately.

In addition to illegal forms of discrimination, other forms of bullying might be humiliation, physical intimidation, and offensive jokes and language. Proving that bullying has taken place can be difficult since it comes in many harmful yet subtle forms. It must also be a repeated offense in order to be labeled as bullying.

Given that reporting bullying at work can actually make the situation worse for many victims, new legislation may be the key to battling the issue. Victims need protection under the law so that they have the resources and recourse necessary to work in a productive and safe environment.

Source: Echo Press, "When health affects wealth: Bullying in the workplace," Crystal Dey, Feb. 20, 2013

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