After more than three years in the making, Minnesota is rolling out new rules to help prevent bullying on the job for the state's nearly 40,000 employees.
The Respectful Workplace Policy was created by Minnesota Management and Budget with input from such groups as the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. Kathy Fodness, a business agent for MAPE, said the policy acknowledges that a problem exists and spells out steps that state workers can take to have any concerns addressed.
"We're excited about this," she said, "because we, for the first time, feel like there is a partnership between the state of Minnesota and the public sector unions, both in recognizing this and eradicating it."
The Respectful Workplace Policy includes a section that specifically prohibits any form of retaliation on the job, and also outlines procedures for informal resolution or filing a formal complaint.
Among those who served on MAPE's workplace bullying task force is psychologist Randy Wills, who says he experienced a hostile work environment at the CARE St. Peter chemical dependency program.
"It greatly affected productivity, staff morale, absenteeism - and then, you know, ultimately that doesn't channel into the best quality of care for the clients," he said. "And so hopefully, this is going to lead to a better workforce and just better employees."
While Fodness called it a major step in the right direction, she noted that MAPE will continue to press to ensure that Minnesota's state workplaces are professional and respectful.
"We have uncovered some pretty egregious situations, and we need to make sure that our members are treated justly and fairly, even under this new policy," she said. "So, we're going to be even more involved in making sure that work environments do become and remain healthy."
According to a 2014 survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute, more than one in four workers in the United States reports being bullied by a coworker or boss.
The policy is online at mn.gov. The workplace bullying survey is at workplacebullying.org.