If a manager “criticizes” an employee in private, does that count as “abusive” behavior? Under House Bill 591, vetoed by Gov. Maggie Hassan on Monday, it does. And that is reason enough to justify her veto.
Legislators worked for months on the bill, which would apply to state employees. It was designed to give them some real protections from what the State Employees Association has called bullying by managers. Hassan, typically loyal to the SEA agenda, said it “attempts to legislate politeness, manners and the interpersonal relationships of co-workers.” She was right.
Most people probably would agree that “constant and unreasonable criticism which is not part of a typical evaluation process,” which the bill forbade, amounts to bullying or abuse. But the bill also classified as abusive “behavior or language that... criticizes the employee alone or in public.” Bosses are supposed to always praise an employee’s work?That and other language was subjective enough to be an invitation for a flood of lawsuits. Hassan’s veto was the right move. Legislators should try again next year.