Just as last week we re-opened our discussion about the possibility/desirability of enacting legislation to prohibit workplace bullying, it has been reported that the governor of New Hampshire just vetoed such a bill – calling it “well-intentioned” but ultimately “unworkable.”
Chalk up another defeat for anti-bullying legislation, which is batting zero.
The Healthy Workplace Bill
We have not seen the NH bill, but if “workability” is the issue, perhaps New Hampshire should have turned to Prof. David Yamada, of nearby Suffolk University Law School, who is the author of the template legislation that serves as the basis of most of the workplace anti-bullying bills introduced across the country.
We noted last week that he wrote to us on February 25th about our discussion on anti-bullying legislation and said that “I can attest that the need for such legislation is underscored by the terrible inadequacy of existing law, including tort claims (IIED) and other causes of action. … the template bill, a/k/a The Healthy Workplace Bill, sets a relatively high threshold for recovery, higher in fact than hostile work environment standards for sexual harassment. In other words, it’s about creating a cause of action for abuse, not incivility.”
Goodness Gracious — Bullying Can Be Anything!
However, as Law360 reports, “unworkability “resonates with many employers’ concerns that ill-defined workplace bullying laws would invite a wave of meritless employment lawsuits, attorneys say.” Law 360 quotes some incisive comments from various employment attorneys:
— “Any legislation is just going to further clog the court system;”
— “The biggest problem is what the governor identified. That is, ‘How do you define bullying?’”
— “Bullying is so subjective. If it’s just unwelcome conduct — well, goodness gracious, that could be anything.”
One lawyer proposed a more workable solution that no one has seemingly ever thought of: “Everybody should be treated with professionalism and respect, and none of these issues will ever come up.”
Wow — a breathtaking concept! Goodness gracious, what a boffo idea! Wish we thought of that!