Apr 02 2008

Discrimination – Beating the bullies

from Professional Broking Q: There is teasing in regards to race and sexual preference in my company. My employees have not taken any comments to heart yet and no one has made a formal complaint, however, what can I do to be prepared and avoid tribunal situations? A: As an employer you have a liability for all the actions and comments of staff made in the office. You need to make it clear to other members of staff that racial comments or taunts will not be tolerated. Comments made between employees may be intended to be comical, however some may feel as though they are being victimised. Comments between colleagues may be perceived to be a joke, either by yourself or other members of staff, however some comments may well be upsetting to other employees and therefore what is taking place is not just simple teasing but workplace bullying. This is a form of harassment prohibited by law and in no way should it be tolerated within the workplace. Should you receive a complaint, take the accusation seriously and act upon the details presented to you; in no way should you ignore this allegation. Employers are required to carry out a risk assessment that should address the dangers associated with bullying. Ensure that you have formal and informal procedures as well as an equal opportunities policy in place, enforce them among the staff and check your policy on a six-monthly basis, making any necessary changes to keep it up to date and compliant with the law. Also, when new employees commence employment make sure that they are aware of the policy. As an employer you need to have comprehensive policies and procedures in place detailing your policies on harassment, victimisation and bullying. There needs to be a formal route that staff can utilise to make a complaint if this is taking place and you need to act seriously regarding any such accusation; be aware that some victims of bullying may be reluctant to even come forward and speak to their manager. Try to ensure that employees feel comfortable about speaking to management if they are threatened or feeling victimised. To minimise liability you, as the employer, need to be able to show that you have taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent breaches of legislation. If a complaint is made and you have not carried out the necessary steps to avoid the situation then you could find yourself heading into a litigation battle. However, sometimes legislation is unlikely to influence the behaviour of employees and so perhaps the best way forward in preventing a bullying situation erupting in your company is to educate your staff not to discriminate. Your workforce also needs to know that is that it is not just you, the employer, that is liable for comments made in the office. The individual employee should be able to constrain themself from making tasteless comments likely to offend others. Self control can come only from the individual and not from the employer or colleagues. Bullying is a worrying problem for both the employer and the victim in question. It can affect productivity and employee relationships. Following grievance and disciplinary procedures and having adequate policies in place will help to combat the problem, while failure to do so may result in the employee taking legal action. Peter Done, managing director, Peninsula. Add This Bookmark

Permanent link to this article: http://workplaceviolencenews.com/discrimination-beating-the-bullies/

Apr 02 2008

Antidepressant Drugs Linked to School Shootings

from David Gutierrez, NaturalNews.com A parents' rights organization has called on Congress to investigate a potential link between psychiatric drugs and school shootings, and called for parents to be better informed about the risks of such medications. New York-based Ablechild accused the mental health industry of "[continuing] to downplay the risks of drugs widely prescribed to millions." According to statistics from Medwatch, the drug reporting system maintained by the FDA, there have been 63,000 cases of people on antidepressants committing suicide in the United States. "With 1.5 million children currently on antidepressants in the United States alone, Ablechild is deeply concerned about the number of children being prescribed these powerful and potentially lethal drugs," the organization said in a press release. Ablechild said that eight recent school shooters were taking antidepressant medication at the time of their crimes, and that most parents are unaware of this fact. Among the shooters taking antidepressants were Eric Harris in Columbine, Colorado, and Kip Kinkel in Springfield, Oregon. The drugs being taken by the shooters have been "documented to cause not only suicidal ideation but also mania, psychosis, hostility, hallucinations and even 'homicidal behavior,'" Ablechild said. The organization criticizes doctors and the pharmaceutical industry for failing to properly warn parents of the side effects of such drugs, even though the FDA recently added a "black box" warning about suicide to many antidepressant medications. In addition, Ablechild says that parents are rarely told that there is no physical component to diagnoses such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and depression, and that the categorization of some behavior clusters as "disorders" is still controversial. The organization said that doctors often fail to focus their attention on underlying educational or medical issues that may be the ultimate cause of behavioral or attention difficulties. Such issues include problems with vision, nutrition, sleep or exercise. Such underlying problems, Ablechild says, "are at best merely masked by powerful antidepressants and stimulants." Add This Bookmark

Permanent link to this article: http://workplaceviolencenews.com/antidepressant-drugs-linked-to-school-shootings/

Apr 02 2008

Health & Safety Act Must Protect Women from Harassment and Violence

Press Release from Canadian Auto Workers Union The CAW is urging the Ontario government to make changes to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act which would require employers to act on workplace harassment and warrant an investigation by the Ministry of Labour. This demand follows an inquest into the death of Lori Dupont, a nurse at Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Hospital who was murdered on the job by her former partner who was a doctor at the hospital. Prior to her death, Dupont made numerous complaints about harassment and violence, which were ignored by hospital management with tragic results. At CAW Council, numerous delegates spoke about the need to make workplaces safe for all workers and force employers to properly deal with workplace harassment and violence. Maria Pinto, president of CAW Local 673, said that in a recent human rights course, participants were asked to list the things they did each day to ensure they would safe. The group of men struggled to come with four tasks, while women listed a total of 26. This example points to an immense gap that still remains between men and women’s safety both in and out of the workplace. All CAW members in Ontario are asked to get in touch with Ontario Labour Minister Brad Duguid and their MPP and urge them to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Add This Bookmark

Permanent link to this article: http://workplaceviolencenews.com/health-safety-act-must-protect-women-from-harassment-and-violence/

Apr 02 2008

Univ. vulnerable to shootings

from Allie Byrd, The Red and Black Publishing Company Shots ring out. You army crawl on the floor. A man in black fires toward you. Blood is everywhere, and you struggle to dodge bullets. Wounded bodies surround you as you fight to survive. Iraq? No. This could be your classroom. School shootings, campus lockdowns and more Virginia Tech-style massacres are joining alcohol poisoning as threats at colleges everywhere. And there is not a single thing stopping it from happening to us. The University is not immune. This terrifies me. Sitting in class in recent months, I have thought about how I would feel if a student fired shots. What would I do? How scared would I be? It happened at Northern Illinois. Everybody there knew about Virginia Tech. But it still happened to them. I don't want it to happen here - to us. None of us really can be sure what leads a student to act violently against classmates. What are the signs? How could we predict it? I don't know. But what I do know is that I do not like feeling unsafe in my own school. I am afraid, and I want that feeling to stop. The openness we once celebrated in our classrooms now makes them a target for senseless violence. Debate, learning and enlightenment are oppressed as we fear one day, a disgruntled classmate will walk in and take out his or her frustrations on us. We can blame many factors: glorification of violence, psychological disorders, lack of security on college campuses or absence of gun control. But it is hard to know why campus violence happens and why the idea of shooting up a school even exists. But, there are ways we can be better prepared and safer if a crisis were to occur. The Red & Black reported recently that only 7,300 students are registered for the UGAAlert system. With about 33,000 students on campus, little more than 20 percent of us will be warned if a shooter were to begin a rampage. The UGAAlert system cannot prevent a tragedy from happening, but it certainly can inform people of danger and presumably save lives. Every student - each one - should register for UGAAlert at www.ugaalert.uga.edu. It takes a matter of minutes and truly could make a difference amid horrifying violence. For its part, University police should assure all of us they have procedures in place to prevent, or at least quickly handle, such an event. I commend the University police for enforcing its no-weapons policy, and I encourage students to help by reporting any sightings of weapons on campus, in the dorms or in classrooms. All of us also must watch our friends, neighbors and classmates for signs they may explode in violence. If we stay aware of the people around us, we may be able to help and stop them from acting out. I hope, I pray an event such as Virginia Tech never happens on this campus. But I also know the worst could happen. There is no perfect solution to the troubling question of why shootings on college campuses occur, but students need to take advantage of every opportunity to protect themselves. If we all work together and make a conscious effort to prevent a tragedy from happening, we are taking a step in the right direction and can be part of a real solution to stop school shootings altogether. Add This Bookmark

Permanent link to this article: http://workplaceviolencenews.com/univ-vulnerable-to-shootings/

Apr 02 2008

Chicago Students Rally For Gun-Control

from CBS News Enough desks to fill a classroom sat empty in a downtown plaza Tuesday, each bearing a pair of sneakers and representing one of 20 Chicago Public Schools students killed by gunfire this school year. Several hundred more sat empty in city schools, as busloads of teens skipped classes to attend a gun-control rally - their absences sanctioned by the district, whose CEO says he's angry that too many students talk about "if" they grow up, instead of "when." "This doesn't happen in other countries," Arne Duncan said. "We just value our right to bear arms more than we value our children, and our priorities are fundamentally backwards." Since September, 20 students in the nation's third-largest school district have been killed by gunfire. Last school year, 24 students were shot to death, compared with between 10 and 15 fatal shootings in the years before. As a result, the Chicago Police Department is increasing school patrols and soon will have live access to thousands of security cameras mounted outside and inside schools. The most recent fatality involved an 18-year-old killed in a high school parking lot last weekend. That high school, Simeon Career Academy, sent 10 busloads of students to the rally in front of the James R. Thompson Center, which houses state government offices. Students from three other high schools also participated. While some in the crowd of several hundred teenagers horsed around, laughed and chatted with friends, others somberly carried placards with victims' names on them, or signs reading "Save Our Children - Follow the Guns." Other students used their cell phones to take pictures of the empty desks that sat in front of a podium. Chaqueta Clifton, 16, wore a button on her pink jacket reading "Stop Killing People." She said her father was killed in a robbery when she was 7, and her uncle and cousin died in gun violence, as well. She said the recent deaths of CPS students have made her "kind of paranoid." She tries to be hyper-aware of her surroundings, and stays clear of any fights that break out nearby, saying some of the shootings have been the result of petty arguments that started out as "nothing." "It makes me angry, and sad, and I just want to do something about it," she said. Among the gun-control measures called for by rally participants were a limit of only one gun purchase a month, a renewal of the federal assault weapon ban, and background checks for all gun sales. The rally also was attended by several families whose children have died in gun violence during the past few years, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Chicago bans handgun ownership and sales, and Daley regularly pushes gun-control measures at the state Capitol in Springfield, where lawmakers are divided more by geography than political allegiances. Legislators in and around Chicago tend to favor gun restrictions, while downstaters usually argue for hunter and gun owners' rights. Blagojevich urged the rally's participants to make their voices heard in Springfield and Washington, D.C. "How many more children have to die before the men and women who make the rules wake up and start responding to the needs of communities and kids that go to our schools?" he said. Responding to the rally's makeup, National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde said he questioned whether students should be taken out of classes "to serve as cheerleaders for a political stunt." As for the measures that rally participants called for, Chicago "has some of the strictest gun control in the nation ... They said this was going to solve the crime problem, and their panacea hasn't done anything but disarmed law-abiding citizens," Vandermyde said. The most recent shooting, according to prosecutors, occurred when two teenagers now charged with murder argued with a group of students getting out of Saturday classes at Simeon. One of the teens pointed the gun at the crowd, the other grabbed it and fired, killing Chavez Clarke, authorities said. As a result, along with gun control, several students at the rally called for more highly trained security guards at Chicago schools. Others expressed worries that when it comes to gang violence, no amount of gun control will keep gang members from acquiring guns. "They'll always find a way," said Tiara Irby, 17. Add This Bookmark

Permanent link to this article: http://workplaceviolencenews.com/chicago-students-rally-for-gun-control/

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