Lawyer: Bullying will become new workplace issue

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A new issue for employers to deal within the workplace will replace the problem of sexual harassment, according to a New York attorney.

Sharon Parella, a management-side employment lawyer, believes that the new claim of bullying will supersede sexual harassment as an office concern, CBS Local Washington reported. "People who oppose it say these laws will force people to be polite at work. But you can no longer go to work and act like a beast and get away with it."

Among the forms of bullying on the job include verbal abuse from a supervisor to teasing by a co-worker. Over a dozen states -- including Massachusetts and New York --have mulled over anti-bullying legislation that would allow litigants to seek compensation and force employers to stop abuse in the workplace. However, attempts at anti-bullying laws have been met with opposition from business groups who say the legislation would lead to unnecessary lawsuits.

Parella thinks it's just a matter of time before states approve this form of legislation and cites other countries such as England and Sweden that have laws in place regarding the issue." Once it passes in a few states there will be a chain reaction," she says.

According to a management association survey, 56 percent of companies have some form of ant-bullying policy that is commonly mentioned in an employee handbook or code of conduct. Responses to workplace bullying include firing, suspension or anger management training.

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