Utah’s HB 216 went into effect July 1, 2015, and it defines “abusive conduct” as:

“…verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of an employee to another employee that, based on its severity, nature, and frequency of occurrence, a reasonable person would determine (A) is intended to cause intimidation, humiliation, or unwarranted distress; (B) results in substantial physical or psychological harm as a result of intimidation, humiliation, or unwarranted distress; or (C) exploits an employee’s known physical or psychological disability.”

It also specifies that a single act will not constitute abusive conduct unless it is especially severe or egregious.

Does HB 216 require all Utah employers to stop abusive conduct?

No, it does not. HB 216 only addresses the state executive branch, or employers and employees within the State of Utah’s government.

It also doesn’t actually prohibit abusive conduct. HB 216 instead requires that in alternating years employers and supervisors receive training on (A) what constitutes abusive conduct, its ramifications, resources available, and the grievance process; and (B) ethical conduct and organizational leadership practices based in principles of integrity.

This is great news for us because that’s EXACTLY what our trainings are all about! We’ve been doing trainings on the topic of workplace bullying/abusive conduct and building a positive workplace for years.

Oh good! Then I don’t have to end abusive conduct in my workplace! Phew.

You’re not really saying that to yourself, are you? If you are then you might want to read the thousands of books and millions of blog posts out there about how to motivate and engage your employees. I promise not one of them says a culture of fear is working in your favor.

HB 216 might not actually prohibit workplace bullying, and you might not even be a government agency in Utah, but trust me when I say you have to end abusive conduct in your workplace. It costs your organization lots of money in turnover, absenteeism, presenteeism, poor quality work, ugly customer service, bad reputation, increased health insurance and workers’ comp costs due to stress, detachment from work, and more.

What does HB 216 mean for Utah’s state executive branch?

Picture this. Your supervisors and managers attend their mandatory training and a few people start thinking to themselves, “Abusive conduct is happening among my employees,” or, “Finally! We’re talking about equal-opportunity harassment! I am soooo heading to HR after this training is over to tell them that abusive conduct is definitely happening to me.”

Are you really going to tell people the law doesn’t require you to address their complaints about abusive conduct?

A smart employer knows better than that. You are going to need a policy in place to help you address those complaints. You are going to need measures in place to ensure performance evaluations aren’t being used as a form of sabotage. And if abusive conduct is rampant in your organization, you might even need a culture shift.

Visit our services page for more information on how we can help.

What does HB 216 mean for the rest of Utah’s employers?

It means that the State of Utah cares about the way its employees are treated, and so should you. I talked with Rep. Keven Stratton personally, and he told me that he hopes his new law will inspire good things among Utah employers and that they will follow suit.

Visit our services page for more information on how we can help.

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