Should Workplace Bullying Be Outlawed?

by tylercook on July 10, 2013

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Bullying in the workplace is technically not new. It’s been happening for as long as there has been a workforce. It just hasn’t always received the attention that it should. That has changed in recent years, with people everywhere becoming more aware of the intimidation tactics and hostile behaviors that plague workplaces across the country.

More people are taking a stand against workplace bullying than ever before, but should it be outlawed? Should there be laws in place that effectively prevent bullying on the job? Can the law even prevent that from happening? Some people say they can, while others think it’s impossible and that we shouldn’t waste any time even trying to stop it. Still, workplace bullying is seen as a major issue and one that needs to be addressed if people are to feel safe at work.

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is essentially any behavior that is used to intimidate or control others in the workplace. It can take many forms, but it usually occurs between an employer and a supervisor. Bullying supervisors put unwanted pressure on employees to achieve unrealistic goals, they berate and humiliate workers in front of others, they institute unfair policy that creates a hostile work environment and otherwise do anything to intimidate others in the workplace. Bullying can have a huge negative effect on a place of business by lowering morale, making employees physically and mentally ill with stress and creating a high turnover rate.

There’s also little that can be done to prevent workplace bullying. Many bullies are careful enough to push around their coworkers and employees in such a way that could be construed as simply doing their jobs. They can claim to be pushing employees to be better workers or that the subject of their worst bullying behavior actually deserves what he or she gets. They can also avoid directly attacking women and minorities to avoid being accused of harassment based on gender, race or culture. This is part of the reason why the proposed workplace bullying laws in 20 states may be difficult to enforce.

Should There Be Laws Against Workplace Bullying?

Many people believe that there should in fact be laws against workplace bullying. Such laws probably wouldn’t completely stop bullies from pushing people around in the workplace, but by better defining workplace bullying companies can identify bullying behavior and discipline those responsible. It would also give bullying victims the right to pursue discipline and protect them from repercussions for doing so. All of this would go towards creating a safer, happier American workforce full of those who can do their jobs without having to worry about being intimidated or humiliated by others.

On the other hand, there are people who believe that workplace bullying laws would ultimately solve nothing. If bullies were prevented from using certain bullying tactics, chances are that they would find other, subtler ways to intimidate and belittle others. In other words, the problem wouldn’t go away. There’s also the argument that anti-bullying legislation might actually hurt employment in this country. Workers would be protected from being unnecessarily terminated for petty reasons, but the enforcement of such laws could take up so much time and resources that companies would be reluctant to hire new employees, causing a hiring crunch. Perhaps this seems like a bit of a stretch, but it is a concern that many people have.

Workplace bullying is clearly a problem in this country, and one that needs to be dealt with. Whether or not that involves intervention at the legislative level is open to interpretation, but something should definitely be done.


Joseph Pierpont writes on Criminal Defense, Civil Procedure, Banking Law, Medical Malpractice, Contracts and other areas as well.




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