Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Bullying" Is Becoming Part of the Zeitgeist


Early in the second year of writing this blog, I had what I think was my first recognition of bullying as an "issue" in the employment law world, Can't Wait for Bullying Cause of Action. That was now nine years ago.

I was struck by just how far the concept of bullying has come, not necessarily in the law of employment, but in society as a whole, by the first two featured blog posts in today's Huffington Post's Daily Brief:
Marlo Thomas: Bully: The Year's Most Important Film
Even if you have to drive across state lines to see Bully, your kids need to be in the audience. Whether you know it or not, they may be among the 13 million American children affected by bullying every year. For them, this is more than just a movie. It is real life.
Bob Cesca: Right-Wing Bullies Continue to Attack Children
It's difficult to assign psychological motive when it comes to political tactics, but based upon the collective behavior of far-right conservative Republicans, we can only deduce that a considerable number of them are bullies and ought to be treated as such.
While it is true that the so called anti-bullying law has yet to pass in a single legislature, it is foolish on the part of those in the world of employment law who think that it is a bad thing, to believe given the progress of this concept in our society as a whole, that it is not coming.

For those, like me, who think that the passage of this legislation would be an unmitigated disaster for employers and ultimately employees (albeit a real boon for those of us who make our living on employment litigation), the prescription is not to ignore the trend, but to make sure that conduct which can be perceived as bullying is addresssed promptly and quickly, not because it is illegal, but because it is both wrong and bad business.

My hope is that  this post will, as so many (all?) of the posts that have preceded it over the years have done, just fade into oblivion, noticed by few and remembered by none.

My fear is that 10, 20 years from  now, through the magic of google or some future research tool that we don't even know about yet, it will be dredged up and someone will say, you know he had a good point, we should have listened.

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Comments:
I believe bullying is the wrong term, that happens on playgrounds. The real term should be screaming and yelling, with the intent to reduce the the object of this rampage to make them feel inferior.
we have one who is proud to have made 5 women cry, I wonder how he would sound if one of those women squeezed his dingling objects!!!
 
Circa 1985, when I was senior house labor and employment counsel at Woolworth, word reached me of an up and coming executive's proclivity for literally smacking around his subordinates. I was tasked with investigating the allegations, and after finding a high probability of truth in them, "handling" the situation (without discharge, a decision reached above my pay grade.)
I "counseled" the miscreant, one on one, in my office, and strongly impressed upon him that if word reached me of any similar conduct, he would plead for discharge as a way out of his predicament.
There were no repetitions, although his career path suffered irreparable damage.
 
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