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.
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.