In a prior post we noted that if you take out the racial, sexual, age or other protected class aspect of workplace harassment and hostile work environment, you get, simply, bullying. There are no state or federal laws in the US defining or regulating workplace bullying, and the civil rights laws do not cover it, since, as Justice Scalia stated in Oncale, Title VII is not “a general civility code for the American workplace.”
On March 9th, we posted a number of reader comments — for and against such laws. What is the view from around the world? Our first such reader comment comes from Canada:
Neena Gupta, and employment lawyer in the Kitchener, Canada area said that:
“We in Canada have worked with workplace bullying legislation for several years. On the plus side, it has enabled HR to deal with the so-called “equal opportunity” bullies. (Bullies who yell, threaten and scream at people, but not for any obvious discriminatory reason, such as race, age or sex.)
On the other hand, many employees treat any kind of unpleasant encounter, including performance conversations or discipline, as being “bullying”, despite the well-known exemptions to the contrary.
On balance, I believe the legislation is necessary and helpful. It forces employers to insist on a civil and inclusive workplace and helps weed out nasty and toxic bosses. I’m not saying that the legislation isn’t misused by employees, but that, on balance, it has had a salutary impact on workplaces.”