Temple law school conference examines bullying across the lifespan

(l to r) Prof. Kerri Stone, Prof. Susan Harthill, yours truly

Workplace bullying panelists: (l to r) Prof. Kerri Stone, Prof. Susan Harthill, and DY

I was fortunate to participate over the weekend in “Bullying: Redefining Boundaries, Responsibility, and Harm,” an excellent conference sponsored by the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first American conference devoted to examining the legal implications of bullying behaviors across the lifespan.

From children to seniors

The conference brought together academics, practitioners, and advocates from across the country who have been addressing the legal and policy aspects of bullying in different social and institutional settings.

The program took a chronological approach, starting with bullying among school kids, moving on to higher education settings, then to the workplace, and finally to seniors. The final panel examined best practices across that span. It was a great decision to organize the day that way.

The proceedings also featured a keynote address by Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones (2013), which examines the culture of bullying among teens in the Internet and social media age. Bazelon’s book has generated considerable media interest, and her address filled the room.

For a full list of speakers and their bios, go here.

Workplace bullying panel

Pictured above are panelists for the workplace bullying panel, Prof. Kerri Stone (Florida International University College of Law), Prof. Susan Harthill (Florida Coastal School of Law), and yours truly. Our panel was ably moderated by Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

  • I opened the panel by discussing the concept of workplace bullying generally, then quickly summarized existing legal protections for targets before examining the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill and responses to it.
  • Prof. Harthill discussed her work on applying the Occupational Safety and Health Act to bullying situations and summarized the growing list of legal responses to workplace bullying in other nations.
  • Prof. Stone discussed her work on the gender implications of workplace bullying and then examined how the National Labor Relations Board’s decisions on social media might affect employers’ ability to address bullying.

Susan and Kerri have made important contributions to the body of legal scholarship on workplace bullying, and I have great respect for their work. It was very nice that the three of us finally could be on a panel together.

More to come

Podcasts, PowerPoint slides, and other materials from the conference will be made freely available to the public via the conference website. (I will post an update on this blog.) In addition, the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review will publish proceedings and essays emerging from the conference in a volume scheduled to appear over the summer. I will be contributing a piece on the emergence of the legal movement against workplace bullying.

Many thanks

Our Temple hosts put together a superb program and topped it off with a ton of hospitality. The conference attracted over 140 registrants, including a lot of Temple law students.

I’d especially like to thank Prof. Nancy Knauer, conference organizer, and law student Naveed Hassan, symposium editor for the journal, for their work on this conference. Their devotion to making this a worthwhile experience for everyone resulted in a memorable exchange of information and ideas.


4/2/13 update: I’ve posted a draft of my law review essay, “Emerging American Legal Responses to Workplace Bullying,” to my Social Science Research Network page. It can be downloaded without charge, here.

3 responses

  1. [Whoops — sent previous transmission accidentally.] … directed to this end. I only hope that as time passes, research will produce “credible” (!) evidence of the damage done to those working for a puppetmaster. I’m thinking of the many employees who keep their jobs by upholding the tacit requiremeent that they stand silently by, or otherwise participate in, a superior’s bullying of a third person. The official target may be a co-worker, a customer, or others in the organization’s care, but there is always collateral damage from not-so-friendly fire. Recently I saw a junk r police officer in that predicament, looking abashed as a higher-up and their boss harassed someone they all knew had been wrongfully accused. “What a sad commentary it is,” I thought, “that the officer with the most to offer this community is the one most apt to burn out, or to be canned for ‘not supporting departmental policies and procedures.’ “

  2. We clearly need to get the lawe-makers and society on board with the mental devistation and harm bullying does to ones heart and soul, we need to get the frustrating point across when it’s affecting young people/minors in school systems, the public of all ages and even work places that don’t deal and help public people every day. We need this law to go through. Bullying is one of the most devistating things any human should have to ever go through. The sad thing is, is that the bullies sit back and enjoy watching the damage that they have created while being un-touched or any kind of punisment for there dysfunctional ways of being. And the victum’s are not only fired from their jobs because of being wrongfully accused of numerous things, but the hurt, heart break and everything that they stood for stolen from them. Now we people that lived this sick devistation are the ones who have to heal and deal with all we have been through and try to go on with our lives and our families lives.

  3. Pingback: Temple Law School Bullying Conference | WBI

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