MTSU Professor Helped Draft Landmark Anti-Bullying Law

Dr. Jackie Gilbert, Associate Professor of Management and Marketing. Photo provided by MTSU

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. As it stands you can use a
Personal Injury Attorney if you experience workplace bullying, but they’re hoping that this should stop the problem at the source.

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 workgroup 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, cyberbullying, stalking, mobbing, and corporate bullying, which she causes recognition within the university. She also taught them what options there currently are if they ever find themselves a victim of such things, like contacting an attorney. Plus, she let them know about the fact there is a Workers Comp Claim Time Limit so time is of the essence when it comes to taking legal action against perpetrators.

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-bullying 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. It may also be useful for the students to check out some statistics on sites like broadbandsearch, as this could give them an even better idea of how much of a negative impact this is having on society.

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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