International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations

Volume 32 (2016)

Volume 32 (2016) / Issue 2

Dina Maria (Denine) Smit, Johannes Voet Du Plessis, 'Why Should We Care? Bullying in the American and South African Workplace' (2016) 32 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, Issue 2, pp. 161–196


Data suggests that workplace bullying is prevalent. However, as many regard workplace bullying as a social matter of human behaviour, lawmakers and the legal fraternity in some jurisdictions, including South Africa, have thus far failed to implement legislative and regulatory measures to protect employees, employers and society at large from this devastating phenomenon. This article argues that bullying indeed poses a legal dilemma: Not all bullying deeds are necessarily illegal, yet their effects are devastating to victims. This constitutes a lacuna in the legal system, often leaving stakeholders without sufficient legal protection. In this contribution, the legal position on workplace bullying in South Africa, where the problem is prevalent, though attracting little attention thus far, is discussed against the backdrop of the position in the United States and other jurisdictions. It concludes by not only showing sufficient reason why employers, unions and the legal fraternity in South Africa (and elsewhere) should care about workplace bullying, but also by tendering suggestions as to how it could be actively dealt with and prohibited.  

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ISSN: 0952-617X
ID: IJCL2016009