HB591 (2013) Detail

Relative to an abusive work environment and the health and safety of public employees.


20Mar2013… 0761h





AN ACT relative to an abusive work environment and the health and safety of public employees.

SPONSORS: Rep. Schuett, Merr 20; Rep. J. Schmidt, Hills 28; Rep. Davis, Merr 20; Rep.?Turcotte, Merr 22; Rep. Emerson, Ches 11; Rep. Irwin, Sull 6; Rep. Gale, Hills 28; Rep. Alicea, Merr 8

COMMITTEE: Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services


This bill prohibits abusive work environments for public employees.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

20Mar2013… 0761h




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen

AN ACT relative to an abusive work environment and the health and safety of public employees.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Abusive Work Environment; Purpose Statement. The state of New Hampshire is committed to providing a positive work environment for state employees free from intimidation, ridicule, and harassment. The abuse of employees in the workplace is declared to be against public policy. Such harassment can inflict serious harm upon targeted employees such as increased stress and anxiety, concentration problems, loss of self-confidence and reduced performance, reduced quality of family life, depression, or a sense of isolation, and in extreme cases, risk of suicide. Abusive work environments can have serious consequences for employers including reduced employee productivity and morale, higher turnover and absenteeism rates, unsafe work environment, and increases in medical and worker compensation claims. If mistreated employees who have been subjected to abusive treatment at work cannot establish that the behavior was motivated by race, creed, color, age, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, or national origin, they are unlikely to be protected by the law against such treatment. Protection from abusive work environments should not be limited to behavior grounded in protected class status as that provided by employment discrimination statutes, and there does not exist in New Hampshire law appropriate pathways to provide adequate relief to employees who have been harmed by abusive environments. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent and respond to abusive mistreatment of state employees at work.

2 Abusive Work Environments. Amend the chapter heading of RSA 275-E to read as follows:



3 New Subdivision; Abusive Work Environment. Amend RSA 275-E by inserting after section 9 the following new subdivision:

Abusive Work Environment

275-E:10 Definitions. In this subdivision:

I. “Abusive conduct” means an ongoing pattern of unreasonable actions of an employee or a group of employees directed towards an employee or group of employees which intimidate, degrade, or humiliate the victim. Such actions may be overt or covert behavior, or both. A single event may qualify as abusive conduct if it is particularly egregious.

II. “Abusive work environment” means an employment condition where any employee or group of employees subjects another employee or a group of employees to abusive conduct so severe that it causes tangible harm.

III. “Employee” shall mean any full or part-time, classified or unclassified officer or employee of any branch, department, commission, bureau, institution, or agency of the state government including employees of the general court, the retirement system, the judicial system, the community college system, and the state college and university system of New Hampshire.

IV. “Employer” shall mean any branch, department, commission, bureau, agency, or agent of the state of New Hampshire, but shall not mean any political subdivisions of the state.

275-E:11 Written Policy. Each employer shall within 6 months after the effective date of this subdivision adopt and communicate to all employees a written policy prohibiting abusive conduct and an abusive work environment. This policy shall include at minimum:

I. A clear policy statement that no employer or employee shall subject another to an abusive work environment.

II. A prohibition of retaliation for any claim of abusive conduct.

III. A requirement to distribute the policy to all new and current employees immediately upon adoption, and training for each employee and supervisor upon hiring or promotion and annually thereafter.

IV. A procedure for employees to obtain trained conflict resolution assistance within the workplace.

V. A procedure permitting an employee to bypass his or her supervisor to report concerns of abusive conduct or abusive work environment.

VI. A written procedure for investigating a report of abusive conduct including:

(a) Appointment of an impartial investigator.

(b) A time limit for investigation.

(c) A provision for confidentiality of the investigation.

(d) A procedure for reporting investigation conclusions.

(e) A provision for records retention.

VII. A neutral and timely appeals process to the commissioner of labor or the public employees labor relations board if the complaint involves the department of labor.

VIII. A requirement for all documentation regarding the initial claim and all follow up investigation to be provided to the commissioner of labor, or the public employees labor relations board as appropriate for appealed cases.

IX. A provision outlining remedies available up to and including termination of the offending party.

X. A provision for annual policy review and provision for change if needed.

4 New Paragraph; Powers and Duties of Commissioners. Amend RSA 21-G:9 by inserting after paragraph VI the following new paragraph:

VII. The commissioner shall comply with all requirements of RSA 275-E:11.

5 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.