TOPEKA, Kan. – You may have been part of some workplace jokes or good-natured ribbing, but sometimes it gets out of hand, turning into bullying. If a bill gets through the Kansas Legislature, however, workplace bullying for Kansas state employees could become a thing of the past.
John Bates works for the state of Kansas, he’s a member of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, or KOSE, an organization pushing for a workplace bullying bill to get a hearing in the Kansas House.
Bates says bullying in the workplace is a daily occurrence at his job.
“It’s one of those things that’s overlooked because everybody thinks that it is a normal workplace problem,” Bates said
Rebecca Proctor, interim director of KOSE, says workplace bullying is a big problem.
“We’re not talking about joking at work, we’re talking about very real impacts,” Proctor said.
Impacts, for example such as workplace reviews that unfairly target an employee, causing he or she to not get a promotion.
Proctor says Kansas already passed an anti-bullying measure for school districts, with House Bill 2261, why not state employees too?
“The legislature has already recognized that workplace bullying is a problem and each agency should be prepared to address that problem,” Proctor said.
House Bill 2720 would ensure every state agency has a policy in place for dealing with workplace bullying, but wouldn’t allow an employee to sue.
Bates says he knows not everyone will be in favor.
“Two words- thick skin. Because that’s what you’re gonna hear. You need to have thick skin,” Bates said.
He hopes, however, to convince opponents that this bill is necessary.
“With this legislation, like I said, we fill a huge gap that has just been ignored for a long time,” Bates said.
A hearing date has not yet been set for the bill.