“Why Workplace Bullying Should Be Legal”

by Walter Olson on March 28, 2011

Evil HR Lady is being eeeevil again.

{ 10 comments }

1 Evil HR Lady 03.28.11 at 10:45 am

I’m always evil, aren’t I? Thanks for the link.

2 culdesachero 03.28.11 at 7:47 pm

A well argued article by Suzanne. I can’t believe the rational behind the commenters who disagree. It all boils down to this: bullying is bad so we need to do something – anything we can and damn the consequences!!! It is precisely because of that attitude that we’re in this overlawyered state that we find ourselves. The cotton wool culture is going beyond child rearing to adulthood. Nobody wants to hear the harmful affects, because that sounds like excuses from politicians too afraid to act.
The problem is that bullies are masters of manipulation. Making a law is only giving bullies another weapon to use – goding co-workers into a reaction and then filing a bullying report. A similar point to Suzanne’s point #5.

3 Dan Hull 03.28.11 at 11:24 pm

1. I did like this article when it came out a few days ago . Still do. Defining bullying is slippery, subjective & dripping with “vagueness” issues. Mainly–and sorry, folks–but some part of “bullying” likely is very natural. It’s what Humans often are. Can’t legislate that level of evolution.

2. On other hand (re: “bullies are masters of manipulation…”), it’s always fun to have another law to manipulate. Like the bait & switch thing.

4 Le Mur 03.29.11 at 8:27 am

Gary Namie just wants to bully people into being as good as he is.

And check this. Clearly peoples’ behavior is far worse now than it was in 1800.

5 Ron Miller 03.29.11 at 9:05 am

She lost me at “It worked so well for sexual harassment.” Right, that’s a terrible law. We shouldn’t make sexual harassment illegal. We should just, you know, frown upon it with judgmental shakes of the head.

6 William Nuesslein 03.29.11 at 10:34 am

In general laws are valid only if the proscribed conduct is definite enough so that a person knows what not to do. Sexual harassment is what the plaintiff claims it to be after the fact. Many companies try to remedy this problem with policies. When they throw in zero tolerance than stupid situations come about. Is reference to a medical term harassment? (Recall the Seinfeld “Dolorous” episode case.)

7 Ron Miller 03.29.11 at 11:23 am

“In general laws are valid only if the proscribed conduct is definite enough so that a person knows what not to do. ”

“Sexual harassment is what the plaintiff claims it to be after the fact.”

As for the former, what is your point? There are cases where it is hard to draw the line. So let’s erase all lines? Is that the rule you prescribe? If not, what is your rule?

As for the “after the fact” line, you can’t be serious? There are cases I’m sure where that line is appropriate. But using it as a catch all for sexual harassment is irresponsible (in my humble opinion).

Is reference to a medical term harassment? Clearly, that depends on context.

But let’s find common ground: that Delores episode was funny.

8 William Nuesslein 03.30.11 at 10:58 am

For Ron Miller:

We had a case nearby where a young lady said the guys forced her to ride on a fork lift, and she was afraid of heights. That is clearly bullying and sexual harassment! Except that the use of the fork lift was required for inventory work, and was part of her job.

You seem to assert that the need for protection from sexual harassment, what ever it is, overwhelms the occasional misapplications. But my sense of it is that the protection is for hurt feelings while the consequences are large legal bills, loss of jobs, and harm to reputation. To me harassment laws do far more harm than good and should be repealed.

9 Melvin H. 03.31.11 at 6:30 am

Sexual harassment is in the eye of the beholder in far too many cases: put twelve people in an observation room, show them examples of supposed sexual harassment, and you will likely get fifteen different answers. (Sounds like accountants and 1040′s, or serial filers and the ADA.)

10 Ron Miller 03.31.11 at 9:40 am

Okay, Mr. Nuesslein believes that sexual harassment should not be against the law and they do “far more harm than good.” I don’t think he supports sexual harassment. In fact, I’m sure he condemns it. He just thinks it should not be against the law.

Fair enough. Who wants to join him in this? Walter? Ted? Who is in?

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