In light of New York Workplace Bullying legislation:
Understanding Workplace-Bullying Legislation By Randi Melnick — August 13, Labor-and-employment attorneys hear countless tales of abuse suffered by employees in the workplace. Employees subjected to mean-spirited or degrading treatment can often feel helpless, or even if they are proactive and make a complaint to human resources, they may simply be told to toughen up, or find a new job.
Workplaces can have tricky cultural norms, and some people will be more skilled than others at communicating. However, there is a difference between a manager or coworker who lacks tact and one who goes out of his or her way to purposefully target an individual.
When one is verbally abused or intimidated, when work is sabotaged, or when humiliation is used as a tactic, that is bullying. And it is not always illegal in the United States.
For years, the law has protected categories of people who have been mistreated on the basis of their status in a protected group—whether it be their race, national origin, religion, age, disability, or gender. In recent years, there has been an expansion of the groups protected, for example, to prohibit mistreatment on the basis of sexual preference.
However, despite all of that legislation to protect minorities, the law in the United States—at both the federal and state levels —still fails to protect workers from being mistreated in the workplace where the mistreatment is not based on a protected status.
To date, 26 states have introduced anti-bullying bills that seek to prohibit mistreatment in the workplace. None of these bills has yet been passed.
Critics of the concept posit that it is unreasonable to legislate manners. Proponents say that this concern is erroneous, as the bills address conduct so severe that it creates attendant health issues.
While each state has its own unique bill, the themes among them are consistent. The bill recognizes that abusive behavior in the workplace is a problem for employees and employers alike. While employees enduring bullying may suffer from a host of physical and emotional ailments, employers are burdened by reduced productivity and morale, increased absenteeism, and high turnover rates.
Thus, the aim of the bill is to protect both parties. Lawmakers were careful to specify three points within the definition of abusive conduct: Conduct that exploited a known psychological or physical illness or disability would be an aggravating factor. Practitioners would look to these components in determining the viability of a potential claim as well as assessing its value.
This broad protection is in parity with existing workplace laws as well as in keeping with the overall spirit of what the bill seeks to accomplish. Further, the bill would impose liability on the offending individual sas well as vicarious liability on the employer.
As with all new developments in the law, it would take some time to see how courts would interpret and apply such a law. However, one thing we know for certain: There will always be conflict between employers and employees, and advocates on either side should continue to discuss the benefits of enacting a law, such as the Healthy Workplace Bill, to set a baseline level of respect and civility in the workplace.
This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author s and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer s of the author s.The Dignity Act: New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
Sep 27, · Watch video · Bronx teen student with switchblade fatally stabs classmate; bullying blamed. A New York City high school and its neighborhood are reeling after a stabbing Wednesday left one student dead and. There are a tremendous number of statistics that are available relating to bullying.
These statistics come mostly from North America but there are now, and have been, a number of studies that have taken place throughout the world that seek to understand the concept and prevalence of bullying.
Sep 20, · Commentary and archival information about Cyberbullying from The New York Times. Sections Home Search Skip to content Skip to navigation. The New York Times In the Fight Against Bullying. Banding Against Bullying in Schools, Communities and Workplaces The Annual BAND Against Bullying Program was born in September through collaboration among M&T Bank, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) - New York Branch, and the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, including its .
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