Bill would outlaw bullying; protect short, overweight people

A bill in the Nevada legislature would outlaw workplace bullying in all forms and add height and weight to the list of characteristics protected by anti-discrimination laws.

The sponsor, Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, says the bill would make it easier for workplace bullying victims to seek redress and reduce incidents of discrimination against short and overweight people.

When it comes to bullying Segerblom says existing laws that protect people from harassment because of gender, sexual orientation or race aren’t enough.

"The reality is that bullying is a problem, a lot of people are harassed unmercifully and have no recourse," he said. "They can’t prove it is because of their age, sex, race or gender."

Under AB90 victims wouldn’t have to prove the bullying was for a specific reason.

As for discrimination against short and overweight people, Segerblom says it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

"There are a lot of overweight people, they are just routinely denied jobs," he said. "Those people have a right to work like anybody."

Gregory Kamer, an attorney who specializes in employment law, says if Segerblom’s bill became law it would burden employers with higher costs and make it harder to recruit new companies and create jobs.

"You are creating an opportunity for both plaintiff’s lawyers and individuals to have one more basis to sue their employers for damages," Kamer said. "It will keep businesses out of Nevada." Segerblom introduced a similar measure during the 2009 legislative session, it didn’t get a committee hearing. The new bill was referreed to the Committee on Commerce and Labor.

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