The Top Sets the Tone: Terri Gerstein Outlines Measures for Recalibrating the Workplace Power Imbalance and Holding Bosses Accountable

Terri Gerstein (‘95), Director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program, contributed an opinion to NBC News discussing what the toxic environment of Hollywood’s ellen show has in common with the everyday workplace and how employers and lawmakers should implement structural changes, including removing barriers to unionization, implementing personal liability, requiring employee representation on corporate boards, limiting nondisclosure agreements, and banning forced arbitration to hold those at the top accountable (“Ellen Degeneres Wasn't Fired for Her Show's Toxic Workplace. Bosses Often Get off Easy.” Aug. 19). “These circumstances are far from unique to Ellen’s show. Way too many people in a range of workplaces face discrimination, retaliation for taking leave, being penalized for ‘off task’ time spent in the bathroom, and policies official and unofficial that silence workers. … Though there is no legal definition for workplace toxicity, we all know it when we see it — and experience for ourselves the infighting, bullying, unrealistic goals, fear-based management and sheer disrespect it entails. … It’s important, as Ellen always says, to be kind. It’s also important to be just.”