Presenting about workplace bullying & the law at annual legal education conference

On Monday, I’ll be participating in a panel discussion titled “Emotions At Work: The Employment Relationship During an Age of Anxiety,” at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), being held this year in Washington, D.C. My presentation is titled “Is Workplace Bullying Entering the Mainstream of American Employment Law?”

The AALS annual meeting is the major U.S. conference for legal academicians, and thus it will be a good opportunity to talk about workplace bullying and the law with fellow employment law professors.

In essence, I’ll be briefly covering developments that long-time readers of this blog have been following for years, including:

  • Introduction of the Healthy Workplace Bill in some 25 states over the past decade;
  • California and Tennessee workplace bullying legislation enacted in 2014;
  • Municipal and county anti-bullying policies covering public workers & proclamations supporting Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week ;
  • County grand jury reports on workplace bullying in county agencies;
  • Insurance companies starting to cover bullying-related lawsuits in Employment Practices Liability Insurance policies;
  • Professional associations, such as the Joint Commission (a non-profit organization that accredits health care providers), addressing workplace bullying in their membership requirements; and,
  • A growing amount of legal scholarship and coverage in the legal media about workplace bullying.

While these are all constructive developments, my main editorial point will be that workplace bullying has yet to enter the mainstream of U.S. employment law, especially in comparison to its presence in academic and professional fields such as organizational psychology and human resources. And obviously, we’re behind those countries that have enacted workplace bullying laws on a national or state/provincial levels.


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6 responses

  1. Your presentation sounds great, David. I know you are totally aware of how pervasive workplace bullying is in the “helping professions” as well as the penetration of bullying in corporate America in general. Regarding the Healthy Workplace Bill, the language we use when doing our “citizen lobbying” at the state Capitol these past 10 years is that we need a law that will “Prevent and Correct” workplace bullying. This makes such basic sense to me that I can’t imagine anyone not agreeing but we’ve found those who profess not to know what workplace bullying is or tell us we already have laws to cover this. We liken the HWB to the sexual harassment laws, which may be why the California law simply added undefined “training” to existing sexual harassment laws. It’s a step in the right direction but it totally skips the “correction” aspect that is so necessary. Thanks for your tireless work on this, David. We appreciate you!! Michelle, CA California Healthy Workplace Advocates – Happy New Year!!

  2. The one thing that is the most profound for me as a nurse who was severely bullied and retaliated against for reporting dangerous safety concerns is that policies are written but not followed and of course most hospitals will swear they follow them but don’t. Endless behavorial contracts, Anti Retaliation policies and Zero Tolerance for Bullying policies are written but are meaningless if not taken seriously. At the hospital I worked at, all these policies were ignored by uppermanagement because it was upper management and a doctor who were breaking federal laws and policy. So I guess what I am trying to say is that it would be great if you could make a point of asking business owners what good is a policy if they are not going to hold EVERYONE accountable. Also no matter how much someone tries to understand what it is like to have PTSD after being traumatized most people do not have a clue! Until it happened to me, it didn’t have a clue even though I had worked with hundreds of patients with PTSD. It is much worse than I ever imagined and bullying in the workplace is as bad as being sexually attacked or punched in the gut. It is not a minor inconvenience that people recover quickly from.

    • Anna, yes, we need legal protections that breathe some life into the contracts and policies. It won’t guarantee an end to bullying, but it will give targets more to fight back with when they’re facing such situations.

  3. Hello from NZ. I just want to thank you for your blog & facebook posts & the work you are doing to prevent workplace bullying.

    I am drawing support from reading everything you put out. I am a target of mobbing, after 13 yrs solid service to the University: I have been targeted for removal. It’s been going on about 18months. I have a lawyer and we have been going through the process (meet, mediation x 2) over the last 6mths to no avail. We have now filed with the Employment Authority. Mine could be the first case of mobbing to get to that level in NZ (most people just resign, slink away or get paid out). I of course can’t say anything publicly about what is being done to me, but if it goes to the Authority I think I will then be able to go public. If I am able to go public, I will keep you informed and would appreciate any coverage you could lend to what is happening to me. My case is text book: a good example to use to raise awareness.

    Thank you David & Happy New Year

    Dr Marewa Glover

    Sent from my iPad


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