We decided to reprise our first blog, of May 10, 2010, which happened to deal with harassment and bullying – a topic that is particularly timely. We wrote then:
“Did you know that the New York legislature is contemplating a law that would create a private right of action by an employee for workplace bullying? (New York Senate bill S1823B). As far as we know, this may be the first time in New York, outside of the anti-discrimination civil rights laws, that an employee will be able to sue an employer for psychological, physical or economic harm arising from abusive conduct in the workplace.
The pending bill is similar to the civil rights sexual harassment laws in that it would prohibit even a single act of severe or egregious abuse, and make an employer liable if it is notified of the abuse and fails to eliminate it.
A prevailing employee might similarly be entitled to, among other things, lost wages, emotional distress and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.”
Well, the bill did not pass, not in NY and not in the 25 other states in which it was introduced. But nonetheless, we concluded then with a caveat that is still particularly timely:
“Employers — beware! You may soon have to add verbal abuse and bullying to the checklist of behaviors that you must police.”