Workplace Bullying Defined

Also found at

“Abusive conduct means conduct, including acts or omissions, by an employer or employee, with malice, i.e., intent to cause pain, injury, or distress to another person without legitimate cause or justification, that a reasonable person would find to be hostile based on the severity, nature, and frequency of the conduct.  Abusive conduct includes repeated infliction of verbal abuse such as derogatory remarks, insults and epithets; verbal or physical conduct that is threatening, intimidating, humiliating; sabotage or undermining of an employee’s work performance; or exploitation of an employee’s known psychological or physical vulnerability.  Abusive conduct, however, does not include a single act unless that act is especially severe or egregious.”

Taken from 2009 Assembly Bill 894 from the Wisconsin State Legislature in a bill that would create a new civil remedy to redress work place bullying.

According the Wisconsin Law Journal article 17 other states have attempted  without success to pass similar legislation.  You can read the bill in its entirety here.

There is ongoing debate about whether Wisconsin needs such a law.  I find it distressing that we need to spell it out to adults.  We should already know better.  But the fact is that wherever there is an imbalance of power there is an opening for abuse.  Work places can be little kingdoms unto themselves, ripe with issues of hegemony.

As employers, we need to be proactive and guard against bullying in our place of business.  As employees we need to stand up for our rights, and the rights of our co-workers.

As human beings, we need to evolve.  This bill shouldn’t be necessary, but it is.


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