4/5 of an MDV, But It's the Subject Matter That Caught My Attention
by Michael Fox
Although my usual standard for jury verdict reports is a million dollars (MDV's), this headline caught my attention, Court awards bullied student $800,000.
It has long been my view that the most likely path for a bullying cause of action recognized in the workplace (other than the continuous efforts of Professor David Yamada) is the widespread acceptance of anti-bullying legislation applicable to the schools. Anti-bullying Legislation for Schools, An Inevitable Tie.
Based on local reporting in the Austin area, I know that a similar suit has been filed against a local area school district and when juries start returning these kinds of awards, no matter whether they ultimately stick, the fact is, more suits will follow.
It may be yet awhile before the first state enacts anti-bullying legislation in the workplace, but having been following it for more than seven years, (see Newest Workplace Problem? Bullying?, January, 2003), I am beginning to think of it in terms of likely, if not inevitable.
On the other hand, what seems to me to be the path to workplace legislation, anti-bullying laws in the schools, and the resulting litigation and cost to local school districts, might be the demonstration of the dangers that stops it in its tracks.
Time will tell, but for employers and the legal system the outcome is not a small issue.