Last year, jury decisions and out-of-court settlements for harassment cases, including discrimination and retaliation complaints, resulted in more than $356 million. According to Asher Adelman, the founder of an employment issue watchdog group called eBossWatch, "This report makes it clear that employers and managers should be doing everything in their power to cultivate and ensure a healthy work environment," and for more reasons that just office morale or human decency -- it costs companies when these incidents occur.
Harassment and discrimination laws have existed for decades, but bullying laws are not yet a reality. There are, however, states and advocacy groups that are pushing towards this new legislation. There are 20 states in which anti-bullying bills have been introduced, but none have passed. This may be due to influence by business groups that do not want to become open to additional complaints or lawsuit damages.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, these bills define bullying as "actions taken by one employee against another 'that a reasonable person would find hostile,' including verbal abuse, insults" and humiliating behavior. Victims of bullying in the workplace have been able to file suits for bullying by 'piggybacking' on assault or discrimination claims.
Claims of violent or aggressive behavior in the workplace, be it in the form of bullying or discrimination are serious issues for all employees. Victims of incidents like these may not know where to turn for legal advice in these situations, and may fear retaliation for coming forward. Speaking with an experienced employment law attorney who specializes in discrimination and wrongful termination can present options to these people in need.
Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Workzone: Erasing harassment makes fiscal sense," Bill Toland, Oct. 21, 2012