There are a number of questions we get repeatedly at the Workers’ Center; most we can answer pretty much off the top of our heads. But inevitably there are the questions that are new to us, or have an unusual presentation and we have to look around for information. Where do we go for answers?
First is our own little booklet, Workers Rights Manual. The 2003 original edition has recently been updated and includes legislation or issues that weren’t in the older version.
We try the Department Of Labor website but, although we’ve been teased by the promise of a new website, it is notoriously difficult to search productively there.
The website Can My Boss Do That?, a project of Interfaith Worker Justice, is an excellent resource for the average worker. This site even includes state-specific Department of Labor paperwork to print out and file.
One book we like to consult is Your Rights in the Workplace by attorney Barbara Kate Repa.
Another book title that has been recommended by the Workplace Bullying Institute, the National Workrights Institute and other similar advocacy groups is Can They Do That?: Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace by Lewis Maltby.
Publisher’s Weekly review says: Maltby, president and founder of the National Workrights Institute, provides chilling insight into personal rights in the workplace and existing laws, which, with rare exception, side with employers. Such liberties as freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, protect us only from governmental intrusions and do nothing to safeguard us from private enterprise. Maltby relays shocking stories of employer abuses, including tracking employees through cell phone GPS locators, placing hidden cameras in restrooms, and asking potential employees for details on everything from religious beliefs to sex lives. A staggering 20% of employers now require employees to agree before being hired not to go to court if the corporation violates their legal rights. Maltby shows employees how to protect themselves as much as possible under the existing laws and urges them to fight for bringing the Bill of Rights to apply to the private sector. Appendixes provide sample letters to elected representatives and human rights organizations as well as an Employee Bill of Rights. A disturbing and essential exposé that may be a catalyst for change. (Jan.)
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We also call some dedicated volunteers and experts versed in workers’ issues who so generously donate their time and knowledge to help those who need our assistance. Thanks to all of you for helping all of us.
Here’s a link to a blog whose author, attorney Scott Greenfield, calls bullied employees ‘delicate teacups’ who shatter if their boss is mean to them. Targets of bullying are accused of being ‘mythical and chronically oversensitive’ and equates psychological manipulation with ‘hurting someone’s feelings.’ The Healthy Workplace Bill, recently tabled by the NYS Assembly’s Labor Committee would ‘prop up delicate flowers,’ thinks Mr. Greenfield. I’ve heard that laws protecting workers based on their race, religion, gender, disability and such were similarly ridiculed before they were enacted. Read it and grit your teeth.