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November 2014
Dr. Steve's Monthly Newsletter

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Things to Do On My Website
  1. Download new weekly episodes of Steve’s “Crime Time” podcast.
  2. Get free training slides.
  3. Connect with Steve on
  4. Follow Steve on Twitter @DrSteveAlbrecht
  5. Read back issues of this newsletter and sign up a colleague. (They won’t mind.)
  6. Find a good gym, take a college class, polish up your resume, just in case. (Not actually at my web site, but all good ideas anyway.)

Sad But True Facts

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  • 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • 1 in 6 women will be a victim of sexual harassment in her lifetime.

  • 3 women are murdered each day by their domestic partners.

  • 15% of domestic violence victims are men, who are often afraid to report it.

  • Same-sex sexual assault and domestic violence is hugely under-reported.

New Anti-Bullying Language Added to Old California Workplace Harassment Law Could Be Big Trouble

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Under the legal theory known as “no good deed goes unpunished,” the California legislature just passed AB 2053, which adds new anti-bullying language to an existing older statute, AB 1825, which requires organizations with 50 or more employees to provide harassment awareness and prevention training every two years to all supervisors (and within six months for newly-promoted supervisors).


What seems like an attempt to make things simple – let’s create reasonable and understandable language to help organizations prevent workplace bullying – has now become complex and hard to define.  Here’s the new language that will have to become a part of all AB 1825-related training programs (including mine, of course):


“‘Abusive conduct’ means conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.  Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.  A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe or egregious.”


As an English major and a guy who has written more than a few company policies in my day, I have highlighted the more troublesome words in this statute.  First, who uses the words “with malice” anymore?  Did I oversleep and wake up in 1714 or is this still the modern era?  And aren’t “epithets” those things that pilots wear on the shoulders of their shirts so you know their rank?


The phrase “gratuitous sabotage” (which sounds like my daughter’s favorite punk rock band) is just plain hard to define.  And couldn’t I “undermine a person’s work performance” by gossiping about him or her, giving him or her the silent treatment, or engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors, like being late with my report so his or her report is late too?


If you’re a lawyer who represents employees or ex-employees in labor law cases, perhaps you’re rubbing your hands with glee because this new language is more than a bit ambiguous about what are or are not unacceptable workplace behaviors.


If you’re not a lawyer, you probably see that these 87 words could have been said a bit more easily with these six: “Don’t bully people in the workplace.”

Ask Dr. Steve:


Dear Dr. Steve,


"The union that represents our employees has been telling HR that their people aren’t safe from angry customers at work.  They want us to do a facility security assessment.  What does that mean?"


The usual process for a facility security survey is to have a qualified, certified security professional (at this point, I catch my own reflection in the mirror) look at your buildings, inside and out.  A typical site assessment report will cover: access control points; the need (or not) for cameras, burglar, or panic alarms; exterior lighting; employee parking lots; theft-sensitive electronic items, inventory, or financial assets; the IT server rooms; and all HR, security, or building policies related to emergency responses, evacuations, and workplace violence prevention. 


An important goal of the report is to look at customer or taxpayer-contact interfaces to better protect the employees.  All security improvements should be based on the cost, culture, and feasibility of the suggestions.  A lot of security problems can be fixed by employee awareness-building, additional training, and creating or enforcing policies.

Albrecht’s Law on Team-Building Exercises

“If it involves ropes, firewalking, or any outdoor activity more strenuous than miniature golf, just say no.” 

Tel: (619) 990-2685 

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Dr. Steve Albrecht
PO Box 1540
Alpine, CA 91903

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