What Can Children’s TV Teach Us About Workplace Bullying?

Dec 27 2023

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda.

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh. What are we talking about today?

Goodbaum: Well, you tell me that we are talking about something called Bluey, and I have no idea what that is, but apparently you do, so, you know, take it away.

DeMatteis: Well, as I think a bunch of you know, I have a couple of young kids. So, I have a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old daughter. And if you find yourself with children too, then you know what Bluey is, and it is probably playing in your house more than maybe you would like it to. But hey, here’s where my worlds collide.

We were watching Bluey one day this past week, and it’s the episode where Dad invites Bluey to work at his pretend drain pipe factory and then Bluey quickly promotes herself to be Dad’s boss and turns out to be a pretty bad boss and is really unfair and ordering Dad around and even imposes a very strict no-dancing rule.

And while this is funny, it really did remind me of a number of folks that come to us, Josh, that simply say, “My boss is mean to me. My boss is asking me to do things that I don’t think are right. My boss is bullying me.” Right, Josh? I mean, you’ve had this potential client how many times? And it’s the type of thing where it’s really tough to answer, but I thought we would take a stab at it and see if we could give you a little bit of information on this.

Unfortunately, there is not a Connecticut or a federal law that prohibits bullying in the workplace. So, what we need to do as lawyers is we need to try to hear as many facts as we possibly can from you and get an understanding as to whether or not your boss is treating you this way because you belong to one of our protected classes. So, is your boss treating you a certain way because you’re female, male, married, not married, gay, straight, disabled, whatever it may be? If their treatment is based upon your membership in one of those protected classes, then there’s likely something that a lawyer like Josh or I can do for you.

If not, though, and you have a boss that is simply just kind of rotten to people and isn’t very nice and maybe isn’t a very good boss, unfortunately the law doesn’t allow us to enter that workplace and make that boss be fair or make that boss be nicer. So, like a lot of the things we talk about here, it’s really, really fact-intensive.

If you find yourself in a working environment like Bluey’s dad, the best thing to do is call an employment lawyer, talk to them about what you’re experiencing at work, and get a little bit of advice. Because that knowledge is power. And then you might be able to get some advice about, “Hey, maybe should I complain to HR about this? Should I keep a log about what I’m experiencing at work for a couple of months and then get back on the phone with an employment lawyer and see if there’s anything there? Are other people in the workplace experiencing the same thing, and is this something that we should go to management about as a group?” There might be a number of options for you, and the best way to know what those are is to talk to an employment lawyer.

Goodbaum: Right. So to bring it back to the beginning, is Bluey’s no-dancing rule just for dogs, or is it for all the animals in the workplace? Right? That’s the question.

DeMatteis: Touché, my friend. Touché.

Goodbaum: All right. Thanks everybody for watching. We’ll see you next time.

DeMatteis: Take care.

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