HB738 (2020) Detail

Relative to protection from an abusive work environment for state employees.










AN ACT relative to protection from an abusive work environment for state employees.


SPONSORS: Rep. Schuett, Merr. 20; Rep. J. Schmidt, Hills. 28; Rep. Fellows, Graf. 8; Rep. Turcotte, Merr. 22; Rep. Ellison, Merr. 27; Rep. Mombourquette, Hills. 5; Rep. Schultz, Merr. 18


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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.






In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen


AN ACT relative to protection from an abusive work environment for state 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 a pattern of incidents involving written, verbal, or electronic communications, or physical acts or gestures, or any combination thereof, directed at another employee or group of employees which intimidates, degrades, or humiliates the target.  Such incidents may be overt or covert behavior, or both.  Abusive conduct includes, but is not limited to:

(a)  Constant and harsh displays of disrespect.

(b)  Behavior or language that frightens, degrades, or criticizes the employee alone or in public.

(c)  Encouraging others to turn against the targeted employee.

(d)  Ignoring or showing hostility towards an employee seeking information or assistance.

(e)  Using confidential information to publicly humiliate an employee.

(f)  Creating unreasonable demands, for example workload, deadlines, or duties, that set a worker up for failure.

(g)  Constant and unreasonable criticism which is not part of a typical evaluation process.

(h)  Deliberately denying an employee access to information or resources necessary to properly complete a task.

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, and the community college system.

IV.  “Employer” means 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 in the workplace.  This policy shall include at minimum:

I.  A clear policy statement prohibiting abusive conduct.

II.  A statement prohibiting retaliation against a targeted employee, witness, or anyone who in good faith provides information about incidents of abusive conduct.

III.  A procedure which identifies all persons to whom an employee may report abusive conduct whether he or she is targeted or not.  Such a procedure shall permit an employee to bypass his or her supervisor to report concerns of abusive conduct in the workplace.

IV.  A statement that written complaints related to abusive conduct by employees shall be filed within 25 work days of the occurrence.

V.  A procedure for employees to request and receive trained conflict resolution assistance within the workplace whether a formal complaint of abusive conduct is filed or not.

VI.  A written procedure for investigating reports of abusive conduct, to be initiated within 5 work days of the reported incident, that includes:

(a)  Appointment of an impartial investigator from outside the agency, if possible.

(b)  A time limit for investigations which shall not exceed 30 work days for a preliminary report unless exceptional circumstances exist.

(c)  A provision for confidentiality of the investigation including discussions with witnesses and maintenance of documents.

(d)  A procedure for reporting investigation conclusions to the targeted employee or employees, the perpetrators, the head of the agency, and the director of personnel of the department of administrative services within 10 work days of completion of the investigation.

(e)  A provision that records related to the initial claim and investigation be retained in a secure manner for a period of 3 years.

VII.  A neutral and timely appeals process to the labor commissioner or the director of personnel of the department of administrative services if the complaint involves the department of labor.

VIII.  A requirement that all documentation regarding the initial claim and all follow up investigations be provided to the labor commissioner, or the director of personnel of the department of administrative services as appropriate for appealed cases.

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

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 VII the following new paragraph:

VIII.  The commissioner shall comply with the requirements of RSA 275-E:11.

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


HB738 at GenCourtMobile
HB738 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 7, 2019 House Hearing
Feb. 13, 2019 House Exec Session
Nov. 6, 2019 House Exec Session
Sept. 18, 2020 House Exec Session
House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

HB738 Revision: 7385 Date: Jan. 29, 2019, 8:48 a.m.


Date Status
Jan. 24, 2019 Late Drafting and Introduction Approved by Rules Committee 01/24/2019 HJ 3 P. 28
Jan. 3, 2019 Introduced 01/03/2019 and referred to Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services HJ 3 P. 28
Feb. 7, 2019 Public Hearing: 02/07/2019 11:00 am LOB 305-307
Feb. 12, 2019 Subcommittee Work Session: 02/12/2019 01:00 pm LOB 201
Feb. 13, 2019 Executive Session: 02/13/2019 01:30 pm LOB 307
Retained in Committee
Nov. 6, 2019 Executive Session: 11/06/2019 10:00 am LOB 307
Committee Report: Refer for Interim Study (Vote 17-0; CC) HC 50 P. 12
Jan. 8, 2020 Refer for Interim Study: MA VV 01/08/2020 HJ 1 P. 50
Sept. 18, 2020 Full Committee Work Session: 09/18/2020 10:00 am Members of the public may attend using this link: : https://www.zoom.us/j/97115570558 - Executive Session to Follow
Interim Study Report: Not Recommended for Future Legislation (Vote 17-0)