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Do We Need a Law to Stand Up to Workplace Bullies? [POLL]

Flickr User artworksbytb
Flickr User artworksbytb

Seeing is how October is Bullying Awareness Month, we’ve given much attention to the bullying that goes on among our kids.

But how about the bullying we don’t really talk about? What about workplace bullying? And if you think you’re immune to it because you’re an adult, think again.

According to this from the New Jersey Law Journal:

Legislation is currently pending in New Jersey, and 21 states have proposed laws on workplace bullying since 2003. The Workplace Bullying Institute advocates state passage of the Healthy Workplace Bill [PDF], drafted by Suffolk University Law School professor David Yamada.

Practitioners are using the proposed legislation to create workplace training based on what their state laws would look like if passed. The bill defines workplace bullying as the “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse; offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; work interference—sabotage—which prevents work from getting done.”

In her management-side employment practice, Sharon Parella says she is seeing more and more claims of workplace bullying every month. The Morrison & Foerster partner says the allegations are significant, and they involve claims against all levels of employees.

“We’ve received claims where an employee is laughed at, teased, poked at incessantly by other employees in the group, excluded from social interactions,” she says. She often sees “an employee who is being really sabotaged at work, not being given help with assignments that he or she needs to be successful, or worse, being undermined so that his or her assignments are done poorly.”

According to a 2010 study by WBI, 35 percent of U.S. workers report having been bullied at work. There has been substantial press coverage of abuse in the workplace in recent years, and despite a dearth of legislation, Parella says employees are choosing to file claims anyway.

But that’s what I would ask. Doesn’t the employee who’s the victim of being bullied at work have enough relief with which to avail him or herself?

Such as being able to file civil suits alleging hostile work environment and the like.

And while the article doesn’t reference any specific legislation being proposed, the mere fact that the idea is being bounced around should again make you wonder just what additional legislative relief government should provide in compelling us to all “play nice with each other!”


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