Bullying in the Workplace

bullyfree_fcc_Eddie~sThe issue of bullying is currently a hot topic in the United States, and it’s not just schoolchildren who are the targets, or offenders. More and more advocacy and law enforcement agencies around the country are receiving inquiries from folks wondering if bullying and/or harassment is a legal cause of action.

According to a recent article in The Employment Discrimination Report, in a recent New York federal court case, the pro se plaintiff, a college lecturer, attempted to bring an action “regarding the bullying and harassment by (his department’s) current Chair.” He told the Court “that he was not alleging that his Chair’s hostility was motivated by his race, sex, age, or national origin.” The federal court held that:

 

“Bullying and harassment have no place in the workplace, but unless they are motivated by the victim’s membership in a protected class, they do not provide the basis for an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2 (“Title VII”), and any complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) based on them does not constitute “protected activity” under Title VII.”

The Court went on to say:

“Victims of non-discriminatory bullying at the workplace, like those treated unfairly for reasons other than their membership in a protected class, must look outside Title VII to secure what may be their fair due. The Court does not condone bullying, but it cannot read Title VII to protect its victims unless the bullying reflects discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Read the entire article by Richard Cohen.

On July 28th, 2014, NH’s Governor vetoed an anti-bullying bill, HB 591   Read Governor Hassan’s Press Release regarding the veto.

So what is an employee to do when he/she believes she is being subjected to bullying behavior?  How can an employer protect itself against legal action while maintaining a safe, professional working environment?

The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can help with referrals to competent and insured labor law attorneys who represent employees and/or employers.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Report Bullying and Harassment of LGBT Students

Have you or someone you know experienced LGBT based bullying, harassment, or discrimination in school?

According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), you are not alone:

Approximately 85% of high school students report being harassed in school because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and 64% of students report being harassed for being too masculine or too feminine. Even more troubling, only 18% of LGBT students report that their schools have policies which offer comprehensive protections.

Without  adequate statewide protections, what can members of school communities do to address these issues?

We can take action to ensure LGBT students claim their rights, create a record measuring anti-LGBT harassment, and use this record to advocate laws and policies that will address this epidemic plaguing our nation’s schools.

Empowering school communities with this information , and delivering reports to the U.S. Education Department is a critical first step in claiming our rights and getting the tools to create change and build safer schools. We need your help in this important educational and advocacy effort.

GLSEN recommends  that if you – or someone that you know – have experienced school-based bullying, harassment, or discrimination, please file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Education Department today.  For more information on how to file a complaint, visit GLSEN’s website.

For information regarding New Hampshire’s anti-bullying law and other resources check out Bully Free New Hampshire.

For discrimination matters in areas of employment, public accommodations and the sale or rental of housing or commercial property, because of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability or national origin contact the NH Commission for Human Rights.

The Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association has a panel of competent attorneys experienced with handling discrimination matters.  Most discrimination claims are time-sensitive so call LRS today at 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.