Corporate Counsel: Take workplace bullying legislation seriously

Shannon Green, in a piece for Corporate Counsel (link here), explains how the possible enactment of the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill is having an impact on lawyers representing employers. In essence, these lawyers are seeing more bullying-related claims from employees, and they’re training their clients to develop workplace bullying policies and other measures in anticipation of the Healthy Workplace Bill becoming law.

Here’s a sampling from the article:

No state has yet to pass legislation defining a cause of action, but according to experts, claims of workplace abuse are nonetheless on the rise. Their advice to employers: the time to train your workforce is now.

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 . . ., 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.


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.”

What this signifies

In assessing whether conditions are ripe for the law to change, we look for indicators of greater receptivity to that change among key stakeholders.

The fact that management-side employment lawyers are working with their clients in anticipation of the eventual enactment of the Healthy Workplace Bill is an important sign. It’s also encouraging that these attorneys are acknowledging the wrongfulness of bullying behaviors and the harm caused by such mistreatment, even if they don’t necessarily agree with the proposed legislation.

Folks, we’re getting there. Workplace bullying legislation alone won’t end these destructive behaviors, but it will give employees a chance to recover damages and oblige employers to act preventively and responsively toward bullying at work.

7 responses

  1. Settlement reached in Blue Springs alleged [school] bullying case

    “Officials on Wednesday announced a settlement between the Blue Springs School District and the parents of a student who committed suicide in 2007 after allegedly being a target of chronic bullying. . .

    ‘The significance of this case is that most of the bullying-suicide lawsuits don’t make it through all the procedural loopholes to take it to trial,’ Thomas said Wednesday. ‘We were able to take this case all the way to the doorstep of the courthouse and really effect some changes.’”

    Read more here:

    Hopefully, this will help pave the way for employment bullying cases.


  2. Bullying in the workplace,as you have pointed out,has become more common,simply because,there is no law enforcing it,holding the aggressor liable.
    I was recently fired from my Job after being bullied,discriminated and retaliated against,because i spoke up and filed a complaint with the MCAD,the Company’s Attorney admitted, the upper managment had indee dmade racially sesitive comments and stereotypical Reference toward my Race(African American),The Lawyer for the Respondant said, because the State Of MA law requires charges of workplace violation be filed within 300 Days of the incident and i filed outside the required timline,,the case has No Merit,.even though i remained employeed there 4 months after filing the charge.

  3. Bullying in the workplace,as you have pointed out,has become more common,simply because,there is no law enforcing it,holding the aggressor liable.
    I was recently fired from my Job after being bullied, for about 1 year and half, had my work ( I did work for about 3 and1/2 yras ) reported sabotage as ongoing, being stalked by fellow Non-Union co-workers and administration workers placed on strategist positions to watch me while working at my station and /or been follow inside the office, been ask on the last minute for assistance with more work, repeated home visits, translation, paper work follow-up with phone calls and some interventions during my transition into a new Unit, that should not been in regular situations, I was expose into sexual indoenduoes by supervisor (MALE) during one-to -one supervision, stollen file key, personal cap,discriminated and retaliated against,because I did follow -up with a written report ( unprofessional behavior-supervisor.) and had spoken up about findings of iregulaties found in my new unit with the cases that was asigned at the time, in which I did found about two years and half information about the consumers that has not been up-to-date as part of the requirements by the EOEA and called a “Big Mouth” by the new supervisor, last minute call to attend a surprize meeting in which the HR represenative-Adm./ new supervisor was demanding to sign a documentation that I was agreeing to be place for 90 days probation in a blatan violation of our Union contract, sprayed with saliva as the HR-Adm. represenative screamed just few inches on my face to leave/quit my job/position. They had their own cronies except one (Caucasian) the others were non-union workers, some “minorities repre group.) They had try to battle against my unemployement benefits, continue to be harras while I had been interviewed for new jobs, their continue sabotage, violation for my survival as they give neg report while I had worked above and beyound at their Org for 3 yrs and half; with out any neg evaluations all those years, pro-active representative of the Org outside, which i was proud to represent at the time, volunteered and active in committees, Org. annual activities in the community, LSW, Notary Public, The sad part is I love my profession in helping those in needs, particularly our Elders who the most fragile population.

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