The Cost of Bully Legislation

There is a general agreement among commentators that Workplace Bullying is an undesirable workplace behavior that affects the bottom line. Bob Sutton’s book, The “No A**hole Rule”, was tremendously popular among the B-School types and HR professionals alike.

There has been a recent flood of proposed legislation that would make bully behavior unlawful. And, of course, laws that restrict are laws that have remedies. The legislation, thus far unsuccessful, would provide another basis for employment litigation.

At some point, there must be a cost-benefit analysis by legislators and advocates. Workplace bullying is bad for business. It leads to increased absenteeism and turnover rates, and is tied to reduced productivity and teamwork. The costs of recruiting and training, managing “problem employees,”
and trying to rally the affected employees’ support. These are all costs that the business must bear when it permits bullying to go on in the workplace.

But what is the cost of increased employment litigation to businesses? Any employer that has earned its stripes in the courtroom knows that the cost is no small burden. Litigation is expensive. More expensive than the direct and indirect impact of bullying?

Great question! At some point, those who are advocating for this new legislation should stop to have a look.

Not that I am an advocate of bullying, of course. But I do think that the recent movement against bullying will serve only to help prevent it. Part of prevention is knowledge. Now that employers are becomming more aware of the costs of bullying, the market will likely work to eradicate it far better additional legislation.

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