Bullying is no laughing matter. It can cause terrible psychological and emotional harm and has even driven people to suicide. The law has traditionally recognized a legal claim for intentional infliction of emotional cruelty, which covers much of the conduct which has been termed bullying. In recent years, many states – including New York – have passed laws aimed at cracking down on bullying. Whether it happens in the schoolyard or in the workplace, bullying often starts when one person picks on someone else and then gets others to join in.
While some may attempt to minimize the seriousness and long-term emotional impact of bullying in schools and at the workplace, the fact is that victims of this type of behavior often suffer devastating consequences that last a lifetime. Bullying is, in essence, aggressive behavior that harms and/or humiliates another person. Often, it involves some sort of a power imbalance. Bullying can take physical or verbal forms. Physical bullying may involve fighting, pushing, spitting, and property destruction. Verbal bullying may consist of name-calling, rumor spreading, and threats. Victims of bullying behavior may experience either or both forms of bullying. It is not uncommon for bullying to begin in verbal form before graduating into physical forms.
While bullying is most often prevalent in children, bullying can also occur in a wide variety of circumstances for adults. This includes bullying in the work place, the dating world, and online. From a legal perspective, bullying is often handled through a variety of frameworks. There is no such thing as a uniform “bullying” lawsuit. Depending on the specific facts and circumstances involved, holding bullies and enablers accountable may be take a variety of different paths.