Blowing the Whistle on Bullying

By Drew Smith

Workplace BullyingImagine yourself a parent. You come home one day to hear your children complaining that there is a person being extremely rude to them. You talk to your school’s officials and then hopefully the situation resolves itself. You would think that bullying would stop in High School. That would 100 percent wrong.

If there is one truth about bullying, is that it is as prevalent as it is in school. The worst part about it is that most companies do very little about bullying. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WPI), 72% of employers condone or explicitly sustain it and less than 20% try to stop it.

What has happened as a result is that harassment suits have gone up. The main reason is there are few definitive laws on the books that prohibit bullying; these bullying cases evolve into harassment suits, thereby increasing the frequency that they occur. Harassment as a result of gender, sexual orientation, religion or race are included in many of these bullying suits. Unfortunately, this is not just limited to the workplace as with the advent of social media, the bullying goes online and thus the tormented are never given a break.

The problem with these suits is there are limited laws that deal with specifically the issue of bullying. Rather they would fall under common law theories such as intentional infliction of emotional distress (ITED). There is currently legislation in several states however, including New York and New Jersey, to add protection against retaliation for those who come forward with bullying claims; the main reason why most suits did not appear until fairly recently.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance covers this type of risk which creates increased exposure and thus increased premiums. Employers should develop policies and procedures to protect employees and clarify unacceptable behavior. One solution is for companies hold workshops on many of these subjects including cyber and work-place bullying. Another solution would be to investigate any claims immediately to assure the employees they are safe in their work environment. Additionally employers should protect themselves with Employment Practices Liability Insurance.1

The advice in this article is not to be taken as legal advice. Consult with your attorney before implementing any procedures.

1http://plusweb.org/Journal/DetailsPage/tabid/109/ArticleID/168/Workplace-Bullying-Stop-It-Now-Or-Get-Beat-Up.aspx

About Axis Insurance Services, LLC

Axis Insurance Services, LLC (AIS) is a licensed professional liability insurance broker located in Franklin Lakes, NJ with agents licensed nationwide. They offer access to high-quality insurance products in the areas of Errors and Omissions insurance (E&O), Directors and Officers liability insurance (D&O), Crime, Fiduciary, and Privacy/Network security coverage for today’s professional service firms. AIS works with all company types including commercial real estate firms, real estate agents and brokers, property managers, insurance agents, medical groups, practice managers, third party administrators, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers and many others.

Axis Insurance Services Inc., is not affiliated with Axis Insurance Company or its subsidiaries or affiliates in any way

For more information visit www.axisins.com or contact:
Mike Smith President
Axis Insurance Services
201-847-9175 ext. 105

Please note that the above information does not constitute any legal advice. You should consult your attorney prior to implementing any employment related policies and procedures for your company.

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