Attack Bullying Without Being Attacked

Nobody likes a bully—but people often struggle to define exactly what bullying is. Like the former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously said of obscenity, most people know it when they see it even if they can’t define it. The closest any state has come to addressing bullying is California, which has mandated training on “abusive conduct.” Yet even that law requires only training. It does not change California’s nondiscrimination laws to ban bullying per se. In California, bullying is still lawful unless it is based on prohibited factors such as race, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability. The same is true under federal law and every state law.

In other words, it’s not unlawful to bully an individual merely because he or she is a competitor, for example, or to be an equal-opportunity bad manager who bullies everyone.

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