Anti-Bullying Lawsuits in New York
Given the greater attention and awareness surrounding the topic of bullying in recent years, it should come as no surprise that anti-bullying laws are emerging in states across the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has defined bullying as behavior of an aggressive or unwanted nature in which a real or perceived power imbalance exists, and there is potential for the behavior to be repeated over a period of time. The imbalance of power in these situations may be one of status, strength, peer support or popularity, and the repetitive and intentional nature of the conduct sets it apart from a simple outburst made in a fit of anger. Bullying can take numerous forms, including verbal harassment, societal interference or even physical aggression in schools, workplaces and any number of other venues.
If you or a loved one has suffered as the result of bullying, it pays to align yourself with a New York personal injury lawyer with the skills and dedication necessary to fight for your rights. With over four decades of experience advocating on behalf of victims of injuries of all types, the attorneys of the Sanders Firm are ready and willing to offer a comprehensive assessment of the facts in your case and determine appropriate next steps. Though anti-bullying litigation represents an emerging area of legal practice, our team of lawyers is prepared to seek justice for clients adversely impacted by the aggressive, unfair actions of others.
Important facts about anti-bullying laws
In recent years, heightened media attention and increased parental concern prompted 45 states to adopt legislation aimed at curbing bullying in public schools.
In September of 2010, New York state’s Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) was signed into law. With its provisions having taken effect on July 1, 2012, the law protects elementary and secondary students in public schools across the state, prohibits discrimination and harassment of students by school staff, requires changes to school codes of conduct, mandates the appointment of dedicated staff members to manage allegations of bullying and requires school officials to report bullying incidents to the New York State Department of Education. In addition, federal statutes relating to discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, disability and the like can also be implicated in bullying cases, potentially providing additional recourse for victims.
Anti-bullying advocates in New York and across the country have been laboring in support of workplace bullying legislation, and while several states have introduced such provisions, none have yet signed bills into law. Though New York state law does not specifically prohibit workplace bullying, federal anti-discrimination laws can often be utilized as a means to secure justice. Title IV and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act are particularly useful in this regard. The Sanders Firm is equally willing and able to allege civil rights violations in addition to New York state anti-bullying laws.
The devastating impact of bullying
While some may attempt to minimize the seriousness of bullying in schools and workplaces, the fact is that victims of this type of behavior often suffer devastating consequences that last a lifetime. Suicides stemming from bullying incidents have garnered substantial media attention in recent months and years, drawing much-needed attention to this very real problem.
Victims of bullying suffer a wide array of psychological as well as physical injuries including:
- broken bones
- sleep disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- poor self-esteem
- eating disorders
- decreased academic performance
Given the seriousness of the potential damage bullying can cause to the lives of victims, their families, classmates and workplace populations, it is essential that the perpetrators and facilitators of such actions be held accountable. The anti-bullying lawyers of the Sanders Firm will fight hard to make certain that they are.
Securing Compensation for Victims of Bullying
When repeated instances of bullying are neglected or not appropriately addressed by responsible parties, various potential legal remedies exist. It may be possible to make claims against the bullies themselves, their parents, school personnel or others in supervisory capacities for things such as harassment, defamation, assault, and negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Damages recoverable in such cases may include compensation for things such as:
- medical bills for physical injuries sustained
- cost of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or other emotional problems
- emotional pain and distress
- pain and suffering
It is important to note, however, that the complexities and unique nature of bullying cases, particularly those involving school settings, make them particularly challenging to win. While some of the relevant evidence in such matters is readily available through the Freedom of Information Act, student records can be more difficult to obtain due to protections afforded by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Expert testimony concerning school security measures, bullying, causation and physical injuries may also be necessary in order to prevail in an injury case of this type. For these reasons, is is essential for bullying victims to secure the assistance of New York personal injury lawyers with extensive background in handling complicated evidentiary scenarios and marshaling the most effective arguments possible.
The Sanders Firm is ready to help
As one of the largest personal injury law firms in the Long Island and New York City areas, we are prepared to provide the high level of personalized client service and compassionate care victims of bullying and their families deserve. Because we know how emotionally wrenching such situations can be, we make it our mission every single day to represent our clients with the diligence and professionalism for which we have become renowned. If you have been victimized by bullying at school or in the workplace, call us at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY for a free, initial consultation so that we can begin exploring your options.
- U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Education Department Releases Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies, http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-education-department-releases-analysis-state-bullying-laws-and-policies
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, New York Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies, http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/new-york.html
- American Association for Justice, Protect the Innocent: Bullying Basics, https://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/20254.htm
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Laws, http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/federal/index.html