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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Sued for Reporting Bullying


My daughter and other students were recently bullied by an adult school employee and we, along with 6-7 other parents, reported the bullying/inappropriate behavior to school officials. Additionally, five students met with the principal to discuss the advisor’s behavior. The school principal initially denied the bullying, suggested that the bully clamp down on the students and provided the alleged bully with a contact to advise about legal counsel. We were sued based on a defamation claim. The claim was fabricated and was ultimately withdrawn. However, while the suit was active, the town's newspaper accessed the claim and reported as a front page article, including the identification of minors.

The adult employee continued to bully other students and was eventually terminated by the Region's superintendent. The superintendent identified that students were intimidated and feared retaliatory behavior. The principal, who had previously suggested that the adult employee clamp down on the students, now identified that students were being belittled, screamed at and feared retaliatory behavior. Other parents, in emails obtained through FOI, described the adult employee as needing anger management, going into outrageous temper tantrums, concerned with physical outbursts, etc.

Going through this process, I discovered how legally exposed bullying victims or those reporting bullying are. Therefore, I plan to contact legislators with the following suggestions for changes to bullying statutes in Connecticut, and would appreciate any advice.

1.) Immunity for individuals reporting bullying, or other similar concerns, provided that the reporting is not vexatious. This lack of protection provides a disincentive to report.

2.) Bullying should not be limited to students only as exists with the current statute. Why would it be acceptable that an adult can bully a student?

3.) A requirement that school officials obtain parental permission and/or have the parent present while school officials meet with a minor student should exist. In our case, the school principal removed my daughter from class to meet with her direct reports without our permission or knowledge despite my written request that she not meet with my daughter.

4.) There should be a state statute to ensure confidentiality regarding certain student information reported in a bullying allegation.

5.) School officials should be incentivised (or penalized for failing to) abide by state bullying statutes. The current statute acts as more of a guideline than a law because there is no penalty for failing to comply.

6.) Lawsuits involving minors and sensitive issues should be sealed by law and only available if a judge determines the case should be unsealed.

If anyone has had experience with lobbying legislators for changes to bullying (or other) legislation or could offer advice, I would appreciate it.

Comments for Sued for Reporting Bullying

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Reply 'Sued for Reporting Bullying'
by: Anonymous

I am surprised that the names of the minors was pusblished in the newpaper. Identification of minors in Australia is not permitted.

Legislation is wonderful, but it cannot control human behaviour. May I suggest that in future, you report the Teacher/Adult to the Teachers Registration Board. I have advised Clients to do this here. The Schools will always cover up for the Teacher, but the Teachers Registration Board determines who has the Licence to teach in a school. This method resolves matters quicker than going through the school system.

I would also say that you should have engaged a Lawyer to sue the Teacher and the School for harrassment, intimidation and verbal assault.

The legal system is not at fault. All people have the right to seek remedy from a Court. But the truth always comes out as it did here.

You might want to sue the Principal for knowingly placing your children at risk and for the psychiatric/psychological damage they may have suffered. I believe they would have experienced psychological trauma, depression, anxiety, insomnia, changes to apetite etc and possibly their grades dropped. You may have had to seek medical treatment for this. If so, the school is and should be liable for those expenditures.

Perhaps all of the other families involved will join you in taking legal action. It will be a difficult process, but gather the evidence including the information about the person now admitting he knew the children were being bullied. He was complicit in the bullying. And shame on him.

I wish you all the best.

Australian Lawyer

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