Claims about bullying or intimidating supervisors are not new for employment lawyers. Typically, oppressive or bullying conduct by an employer is not actionable unless there is a intent to discriminate based on a protected category or an effort to retaliate for engaging in a protected activity.
A recent decision out of Tennessee confirms this long standing rule. (See. Frye v. St. Thomas Health Services, 227 S.W.3d 595 (stating that Frye’s claim against her manager who was equally belligerent, rude, and oppressive to all subordinates failed as a matter of law).
However, there is an effort by legislators to change this long standing rule. In fact, states are in the process of creating Anti Bullying Statutes to allow employees to sue employers for verbal abuse, insults, intimidating physical and verbal actions. Currenty, these bills are pending in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
If these bills become law, will employees get the benefit of a professional and harmonious work enviornment or will there just be a increase in the number of employment lawsuits?
See sample of Anti Bullying Legislation: The Healthy Work-Place Act is currently pending in the state of New Jersey. Healthy Work-Place Act