Workplace Bullying Bill Set To Go To Tennessee Lawmakers

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(Memphis) "You can't just walk on your job because you don't know how your boss is gonna react to you that day," Helen Collins said as she described the stress of a job that literally knocked her off her feet.

She suffered a stroke four years ago at the school where she worked as a cafeteria monitor.

She says it was a job that didn't have to be stressful, but turned out to be that and more.

"At points I felt worthless, felt degraded, that I wasn't good enough," said Collins.

"It could be someone that is simply sabotaging your work. It could be someone starts rumors about you, creating lies," said Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson of Memphis.

Those type of complaints caused him to draft a workplace bullying bill that he started pushing in the Tennessee Legislature this week.

"Our numbers indicate that nearly 33 percent of Tennesseeans have been the victims of work place abuse or will see work place abuse in the work place at some point," said Parkinson.

He says bullying is happening in the workplace more often.

While his bill can't force private companies to address the issue, it can encourage them and put in place policies to make sure the often silent issue is given more attention.

He says where lawmakers can mandate even more change is in the government sector.

"That would be your city and county governments to make sure that this act is enacted within these public work places and for public employees," said Parkinson.

When the bill is introduced to lawmakers, Collins plans to be right there as an example of the toll bullying can take and why it has to end.

"You should be able to go to work and be happy at work," said Collins.

If passed, the Healthy Work Place Bill will take effect July 1, 2014 and require employers to have written policies in place to report and investigate work place bullying cases.

The bill will also address handling frivolous bullying complaints so employers can be protected.