Preventing Vicarious Liability Research Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Careers Type: Research Paper Paper: #79741842 Related Topics: Workplace Violence, Liability, Bullying, School Bullying
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Workplace Bullying

Many people might want to or prefer to think that bullying is something specific and endemic only to the young. However, bullying takes on many forms and it absolutely happens with adults as opposed to just with children and teenagers. Indeed, forms of adult abuse and bullying can include domestic abuse, bullying of friends and acquaintances through threats and the like and then there is workplace bullying. The cliquish, threatening and otherwise puerile behavior that typically is the bastion of the teenager demographic often happens with adults in a workplace setting as well. This brief research/editorial report will give examples of this and opinions of the author of this report shall be offered as well. While people in a workplace setting should act like and conduct themselves as adults, there are many people that simply refuse to act their age and not in an insidious nature.


Workplace bullying can be subtle or it can be rather overt. It can simply be limited to a glance or passive aggressive behavior or it can be as overt as sexual harassment or physical threats. Sexual harassment and physical violence are much more egregious, are much easier to spot and deal with (compared to more nuanced misdeeds, anyway) and there is little debate that there is no place for such depravity and savagery in the workplace. However, much the same thing can and should be said about people that act in an immature, insidious or incendiary way. It is the penchant of many middle school and high school girls to split off into social groups and circles rather than trying to work with all coworkers as a collective. There are reasons, valid ones at that, that can lead to people not wanting to associate with certain other people but there is a sometimes fine line between that process and reaction structure being reasonable and it being unfair or even bigoted. An extreme example of this would be workers who are from varying parts of a metropolitan city and those areas are divided, from a perception standpoint or a verifiable standpoint, along social, racial and/or economic lines. If an office is in Midtown and the people in the office congregate based on what part of town they are from, that is concerning. For example, if the people from Harlem are a group and the people from Manhattan are a group, that is a red flag. While those groups may feel comfortable with others that are like them in terms of their personal and workplace life, that logic and behavior can be taken too far. To make the point clearer, let us supposed that the Manhattan people are mostly (if not entirely) white people while the Harlem people are mostly (if not entirely) black people. While bigotry and bullying are not technically the same thing, they can certainly intersect and that could certainly happen in the instance described above. On the other hand, if the 20- and 30-somethings congregate while the 40- and 50-somethings are their own group, this is more acceptable because people of differing ages tend to have different interests and mindsets and there is nothing wrong with that. After all, it would be common for 20- and 30-somethings to go to a bar to vent or talk about one's while a 40- or 50-something would probably rather go home and spend time reading a good book or with family (Chapman, 2014).

Regardless of how the above manifests, employees have a right to go to a workplace that is free of intimidation, rampant rumor mills (especially if the rumors are contrived and/or defamatory), any sort of unwanted touching (sexual or not), insults and so forth. For example, if two people vie for a job and only one gets it, the one who does not will surely be disappointed and this is to be expected. However, if the non-selected person reacts by insulting or demeaning the person, to the person's...


If it does not, that employee needs to be suspended or fired. Further, if the jilted employee reacts by suggesting things like the person is "sleeping their way to the top" or only got the job because they are buddies with the manager, then that behavior also needs to be shut down. Employees are going to be competitive and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. However, employees that react to a setback like that or anything else with bullying need to have their mind made right or they need to leave the company (Chapman, 2001).

This leads to the major way that workplace bullying can be limited or eliminated in a company. Many people that workplace culture and mindset is just a buzzword but that is absolutely not the case. The job and priorities of a firm need to be clearly defined in ways that are not malleable or mistakable. Once that is done, the employees with the firm or that are hired into the firm have to conform to that culture of they should probably not be hired. One major metric that should be used regardless of the prevailing culture and mindset is to avoid people that are negative, withdrawn and not engaged in contributing the most that they can to an organization. When it comes to people that are negative, these are often the people that engage in bullying and other negative behavior. Thus, they should not be hired when they are identified pre-hire and they should be corrected or dismissed when they happen to make it through the hiring process. They should indeed be given the chance to change and redeem themselves but they should not be allowed to poison the proverbial well and rub off their bad habits on others and/or victimize people that are doing nothing wrong or anything to deserve the maltreatment that they received (Alsever, 2008).

Employers have a huge vested interest in controlling this bad behavior through what is known as vicarious liability. While employers are usually liable for the actions or actions of their agents when it comes to things like car accidents, sloppy work and so forth, the same is not generally true when it comes to sexual harassment, bullying and so forth. Employers have to know an action or inaction is taking place before they can be expected to do something about it. In the case of bullying, an employee has to find their voice and speak up when they are being abused and mistreated by other employees. That being said, employers need to provide a framework that encourages and requests that employees come forward when it comes misdeeds by employees. Whether it be whistle-blowing, bullying, unethical business practices and so forth, employers need to make it clear that they want to know if something like that is going on, that they care not how they are notified (just that they are alerted, more than anything) and that they will absolutely investigate and find the truth wherever it lies. Employees have the burden to notify management when something that is probably done with their knowledge, consent and approval is going on and employers have a duty to react. When it comes to bullying, much of that is done on the sly and is probably not directly or fully known to the employer. When it comes to sexual harassment and violence, suspending people with pay is the proper protocol if there is no video or other unquestionable evidence (EEOC, 2015; Chron, 2015).


There are a few things that become clear based on the above. First, employers are often assigned a lot of the burden of compliance and correction when it comes to bad-acting employees. However, employees have their own burdens to meet including not being bullies themselves, not permitting people to behave in that way by calling them out or it or at least reporting it when it happens (to them or anyone else) and they need to contribute to the culture and collective of the company as the company, in this way and many others, rises and falls based on the actions of individual employees and executives alike. Second, employers have their own burden including setting the proper tone, weeding out potential hires that will hurt the culture and performance of the team, improving (or discarding) those that are not meeting the necessary standards and so forth. When bullying or anything like bullying comes to light, they should react fully and quickly but only after all witness and evidentiary accounts are reviewed fully and exhaustively.

Third, proven cases of workplace violence or any form of physical sexual harassment should result in immediate termination, if not a restraining order. Similarly, any threats of the sexual or physical violence/rape should also result in immediate dismissal. It is the legally wise thing to do but it also the ethical thing to do because the person that engages in such behavior should be nowhere near that firm. When it comes to more minor…

Sources Used in Documents:


Alsever, J. (2015, February 17). How to Handle a Workplace Bully. Retrieved February 7, 2015,


Chapman, M. (2014, January 17). Workplace Cliques Break Along Racial Lines: Is That Proof of Race Discrimination? Retrieved February 7, 2015, from

EEOC. (2015, February 7). Enforcement Guidance on Vicarious Employer Liability for Unlawful Harassment by Supervisors. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from
7, 2015, from
Robertson, J. (2001, January 1). Graziadio Business Review | Graziadio School of Business and Management | Pepperdine University. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from

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