Dr. Jackie Gilbert, a Middle Tennessee State University business professor, influenced the June 3 passage of the Healthy Workplace Bill into Tennessee state law.
House Bill 1981 and its Senate companion Senate Bill 2226, were sponsored by state Rep. Antonio “2 Shay” Parkinson and state Sen. Jim Kyle, both Memphis Democrats. The law requires state government entities to adopt a “model policy” to prevent workplace abuse by July 1, 2015. Local governments that adopt this policy will be immune to lawsuits from employees relating to abusive conduct in the workplace.
This anti-bullying policy was drafted by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, or TACIR.
Tennessee was the 26th state to introduce this legislation, and the first to pass it into law.
As a member of the group Tennessee Healthy Workplace Advocates, Gilbert was part of the “think tank” involved in crafting the language of the bill.
“Dr. Gilbert brings an academic perspective that is a welcome addition to our work group and complements the expertise of the public administration, legal, and human resource professionals on the team,” said TACIR Executive Director Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick in a press release. “Her knowledge of effective methods to prevent abusive conduct and her commitment to workplace civility are essential to their work.”
Gilbert began her efforts against workplace bullying at MTSU. In the spring of 2011, Gilbert assigned students in her Principles of Management class a group project to further their understanding of five different forms of bullying. The class produced brochures and a video on hazing, cyber bullying, stalking, mobbing, and corporate bullying, which her cause recognition within the university.
The video, Take a Stand Stop the Bully: The Face of a New Resistance, spread its influence beyond MTSU. After a presentation from Gilbert’s cyber-bulling team, Oakland high school partnered with the university to help students in high school and college alike acknowledge the various types of bullying and how they can help by practicing respectful behavior in their own lives.
Gilbert’s efforts did not go unrecognized. Between 2012 and 2014, Gilbert has become a member of the Tennessee Healthy Workplace Advocates, the TACIR Civility Workgroup, and the U.S Academy on Workplace Bullying Mobbing and Abuse.
Though heavily involved in governmental advising, Gilbert remains a professor at MTSU, teaching the same principles here that she has implemented in her legislation: defining abusive conduct and provided the tools and knowledge to employees and employers to avoid an unfair or unsafe workplace.
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