by Sue Woods
Generally, workplace bullying can be defined as repeated unreasonable actions directed toward an employee or a group of employees that are intended to intimidate, degrade, or humiliate. In some cases, workplace bullying may involve misuse or abuse of power by supervisors or managers. In other cases, it may involve a group of coworkers targeting another worker, which is frequently referred to as “mobbing.”
Legislative bills that propose to address workplace bullying often contain a more detailed definition of unacceptable conduct. For example, in California’s antibullying training law, “abusive conduct” is defined as the conduct of an employer or an employee, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to the employer’s legitimate business interests. It could include verbal abuse, verbal or physical conduct that is intimidating, threatening, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. Proposed bills in other states have differing definitions of abusive workplace conduct.