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Rhode Island lawmakers introduce workplace psychological safety bill


Rhode Island lawmakers are pushing a bill designed to protect employees from workplace psychological abuse.

Senate Bill 821, also known as The Workplace Psychological Safety Act, which was introduced last week and scheduled for a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Labor Committee, would address workplace psychological abuse such as bullying, “mobbing” and other forms of “mentally provocative harassment.”

The measure would make it illegal for companies to retaliate against workers who make complaints about psychological abuse at the workplace or to require complaining employees to enter into forced arbitration or sign non-disclosure agreements in the event they experience such abuse.

The bill would mandate that employers take steps to monitor, prevent, discourage and address incidents of psychological abuse including implementing policies and corrective action plans that address these forms of workplace abuse and harassment.

Under the legislation, employers would be liable for any damages, including attorneys fees, to employees subjected to toxic work environments.

Workers who violate the law could be charged with a criminal misdemeanor and face up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $15,000.

The bill contains a statute of limitations that gives workers who are subjected to forms of psychological abuse up to three years to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or a civil tort action.