Municipal law expert foresees enactment of workplace bullying legislation

In a new, multi-author volume published by Aspatore, Navigating Municipal Employment Issues: Leading Lawyers on Analyzing the Latest Employment Trends, Creating Effective Strategies, and Resolving Conflicts (2011), municipal law expert John J. Cloherty III identifies workplace bullying as an emerging legal issue for state and local governments:

In the aftermath of some highly publicized suicides of Massachusetts high school students who were alleged victims of school bullying, the Commonwealth passed anti-bullying legislation and is now one of forty-three states in the country with similar legislation. . . . Given the periodic publicity concerning incidents of workplace violence and statistics documenting the frequency of workplace violence, we can foresee the legislature stepping in with laws prohibiting workplace bullying.

Protected class status

For now, however, Cloherty acknowledges that courts are likely to dismiss claims for bullying-type behaviors that are not motivated by protected class status such as race or sex and thus not covered by employment discrimination laws. In fact, he cites recent federal court decisions confirming that “mere ‘workplace bullying'” unrelated to discriminatory animus may not be legally actionable.

6 responses

  1. Mr. Cloherty is probably correct bullying right now is not legally actionable until a bill passes into law and it will, however there are other things that one can do. Let me explain: Anyone that has been bullied knows full well what the psychological and physical damage is like as a result of bullying in the workplace, especially longterm as in my case.Bullying results in injury and since it takes place in the workplace it is a workplace injury. Until the bills are passed as law there are limited things one can do but there are things one can do. IN New York State employers have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employers. For example in my case because of severe workplace bullying i developed ptsd. When proven by a psychologist and 2 psychiatrists i won my workers comp case and it is awarded by a workers comp judge. To me that has some legal claim to it. Where they may not be a federal judge or supreme court judge, they are judges and they work for the State. I won my case without an attorney but the medical evidence was compelling and the psychologist and one psychiatrist had prior knowledge of the abuse and it was documented. I would advise targets to document everything related to their case and seek medical care if neccesary. Workers compensation boards have not been the quickest to award damages for work related stress, but they generaly are fair people and if you prove your case hands down you are likely to win, because they work on behalf of he employee. There will come a time in the near future where these bills will be passed into law and it will make the workplace a safer and easier place to be, until then employees need to be dilligent and smart and write everything down and join forces with other targets, get involved and let employers know it is not going to be tolerated. When employers get stung financially, and hit in the pocket book but good, and publicisized they wake up and take notice, believe me.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I have a petition on “Taken from the playground to the workplace..Bullying to DEATH” I’ve worked very hard to get noticed and don’t even have 200 signatures. I’ve sent local news papers info on Bullying. I have yet to be published. Do you have any recommendations on how I/we can get the attention of the public and get them involved? We need this Bill, how do we get it passed ? I am willing to help however I can. Thank you, Beth Poore

  2. Call me a dreamer… but in the future I envision a time when employers will find it a disgrace to allow employees to be bullied by other employees or by the politics of the company. Ethical behavior will be of greatest importance for success… and unethical behavior will not only be punishable but will result in rejection of services by customers because of the company’s lack of integrity.

    • I think your right Moi.I would like to ask every target of workplace bullying to sit down for 20 minutes and draft a letter to their legilslator and governor, tell their story and ask for support for these bills in whatever state you are in. Bullying is destructful, dangerous in the workplace and it ruins peoples lives. It does not matter why certain people are effected by it and some may not be, what matters is everyone as a right to a a safe and healthy work environment. For example in my situation my anxiety and post traumatic stress got so bad towards the end of my previous job that i could no longer concentrate on my work, i was totally preoccupied by wondering when the next attack would come. I was a facilities manager and did electrical work and repaired boilers etc among many other things. I had become a danger to myself, i could have injured myself or killed myself because of the level of my anxiety as a result of bullying. What if nurses in hospitals reached that level and they were caring for our loved ones, making tragic mistakes because they cannot think straight? It can happen. This is why employees need to work for organizatons that promote growth and encouragement, it helps everyone all the way around. We need this law and we need it now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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