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Bullying Definition

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What Is the Definition of Bullying?

Bullying may be defined as the use of intimidation to achieve a state of dominance over another person. Bullying can involve conduct such as:

  • Threats
  • Force
  • Coercion
  • Aggressive or offensive behavior
  • Actual physical abuse

In most cases, bullying involves a pattern of repeated, cyclical interactions between the “victim” and the bully. Bullying can sometimes be based on discrimination, racism, ageism, work employment harassment, or other factors.

Is Bullying the Same as Harassment?

Bullying is similar to harassment, but it is not the same thing. While harassment may also involve unwanted behavior, it tends to involve milder conduct that is more offensive than coercive. With bullying there is a definite element of dominance and persuasion going on. In most cases, the bully is behaving in such a manner because they wish to accomplish a certain goal.

For instance, bullying might occur because the person wants the victim to do something for them (i.e., “if you don’t finish my project for me, I will tell other co-workers an embarrassing story about you”). Harassment often does not have such aims and is sometimes just an overall atmosphere of inappropriateness.

What Is Cyber Bullying?

Cyber bullying is where a person uses electronic media to perpetuate bullying actions. This can involve the use of e-mail threats, private photos being disclosed, and posting of information on social media websites. In the work environment, this can be very revealing for the victim, as there is the potential for the entire office to be exposed to the material without the victim’s knowledge.

Are There Any Consequences to Bullying?

Like hostile work environment claims, bullying can lead to a number of consequences. For instance, the culprit may face termination from their job. A civil claim can also result, with the defendant paying damages to the victim. Lastly, criminal charges can be involved, especially if there is an actual assault involved.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Bullying Laws?

Bullying is a growing phenomenon, and can happen in many different workplace environments. You may wish to hire a harassment lawyer if you need help filing a case for bullying. Your attorney can review and research your state’s laws to determine your rights. Also, you lawyer can be present to represent you during any court hearings and meetings.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-07-2015 09:44 PM PDT

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