Resources on bullying & mobbing

Jerry's Workshop & Resources

Agencies and organizations that provide advocacy, support, advice, and intervention http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/agencies

Readings and resources to support workshops: http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/workshop-resources

It's the law!

HUD Rules

HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs issued an updated version of its brochure, “Residents' Rights and Responsibilities.” The seven-page brochure summarizes key rights and responsibilities for tenants living in HUD-assisted multifamily housing. It also offers resources and contact information for tenants needing assistance. Owners must provide applicants and tenants with a copy of “Resident Rights’ and Responsibilities” at move-in and annually at recertification.

Secretary of HUD, Resident Rights and Responsibilities (March 2018) www.hud.gov/sites/documents/DOC_12162.PDF] https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/DOC_12162.PDF

This is an article about HUD tenants' rights: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/rights-hud-tenants-public-housing-4983.ht…

HUD handles complaints about housing discrimination, bad landlords in federal housing and many other issues. For additional local resources, you can also contact a housing counseling agency.

Massachusetts law about harassment, stalking, or intentional infliction of emotional distress

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on harassment, stalking, or intentional infliction of emotional distress law.

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/massachusetts-law-about-harassment…

Harassment and abuse protection orders

http://www.masslegalhelp.org/domestic-violence/harassment-prevention-or…

How can harassment protection law, 258e help?

https://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleIV/Chapter2…

This law enables a target of harassment to petition the court for an order of protection from the perpetrator, and you can go to court on your own "pro se" without an attorney. The law defines harassment:

''Harassment'', (i) 3 or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property

Back in 2010, my state representative, Joyce Spiliotis, told me that the law was intended to protect persons from bullying. Indeed, the language of the statute would seem to cover bullying that does not involve a physical attack, or threat, against a person or their property. She said it was an outcome of the legislative effort to deal with bullying in school, but applied regardless of age.

However, I have learned that the courts have interpreted the statute to apply only where the complainant can show three threats of, or actual physical attacks on, the person or property of the complainant.

I have confirmations of this interpretation from a couple of persons who were frustrated in their efforts to seek protection from bullying. Their claims were rejected by the court because they could not show the physical attack or threat.

However, much of bullying does not involve such physical attack or threat, but does serve to create fear and intimidation.

I therefore sought clarification. As I now understand this law, it is not adequate to protect against the actual kinds of behavior that can and do deprive targets of their peaceful enjoyment.

This law can apply if three conditions are met:

A. three true (willful and malicious) threats of violence or "fighting words" against the target(s);

B. that are intended to cause fear of physical harm to the target(s) or damage to their property;

C. and do cause fear.

Legislative history of "258e"

[Provided courtesy of the Office of Senator Joan B. Lovely]

In A.R. v. L.C., 93 Mass. App. Ct. 758, the court stated “each of the three willful and malicious predicate acts aimed at a specific person must be either a ‘true threat’ … or ‘fighting words’… To qualify as a true threat, a threat must demonstrate ‘a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.’” “Further, to support an order under c. 258E, the true threats cannot be threats to do just any kind of harm; they must be intended to cause ‘fear of physical harm’ or … ‘physical damage to property.’” “Further, even when there are three predicate true threats intended to cause fear of physical harm, they must together in fact cause such fear.”

In Palumbo v. Tusino, 2011 Mass. Super. LEXIS 273, the judge interpreted the “‘acts’ prohibited by c. 258E to include harassing speech.”

The following law review article goes through the legislative history of this bill, starting on page 23:

https://www.massbar.org/docs/default-source/publications-document-libra…

The SJC interpreted the statute further in O'Brien v. Borowski, 461 Mass. 415 to say:

“The Massachusetts Legislature crafted the civil harassment act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258E, with the intent that the definition of harassment exclude constitutionally protected speech, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258E effectuates that legislative intent. Because the definition of "civil harassment" is substantially broader than the definition of "fighting words," the Massachusetts Supreme Court discerns no legislative intent to confine the meaning of harassment to fighting words, but it does discern an intent to confine the meaning of harassment to either fighting words or "true threats."

The original bill was “An Act to relative to sexual assault and stalking restraining orders”: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/186/S1611, and then redrafted to “An Act to prevent harassment”: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/186/S2185, further redrafted to “An Act relative to harrassment prevention orders”: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/186/S2212.

Fighting words: not protected speech

The fighting words doctrine, in United States constitutional law, is a limitation to freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In 1942, the U.S. Supreme Court established the doctrine by a 9–0 decision in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.[3] It held that "insulting or 'fighting words', those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" are among the "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech the prevention and punishment of [which] have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem."

Chaplinsky decision

Chaplinsky, a Jehovah's Witness, had purportedly told a New Hampshire town marshal who was attempting to prevent him from preaching that he was "a damned racketeer" and "a damned fascist" and was arrested. The court upheld the arrest and wrote in its decision that

There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting" words--those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.---Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 1942[3]

Post-Chaplinsky

The court has continued to uphold the doctrine but also steadily narrowed the grounds on which fighting words are held to apply. ---https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_words

Links and bibliography

Education is a basic component of our work, and we offer curated selections of links and publications.

Bullying in multifamily housing

Essentials for the general reader http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/links00

Comprehensive resources http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/links01

Creating A Healthy Organizational Culture http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/organization

Press Releases & Media Packages

Massachusetts Enacts Landmark Law to Stop Bullying http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/passage

Governor Baker creates landmark commission on bullying http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/signed

Notice

The Stop Bullying Coalition has no control over the nature, contents or availability of the web sites listed. The inclusion of a link on this page does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the Stop Bullying Coalition. This links list is updated as needed. If you find a bad link, or have a suggestion, please contact us at StopBullyingCoalition.org/contact so that we can take appropriate action.

Our primary mission is to advocate for the elimination of bullying that victimizes elderly persons and people living with disability in public and subsidized multifamily housing. We recognize that bullying is also common in every type of multifamily housing, including condominiums and open market, not confined to subsidized housing. It is a worldwide problem, not just a problem in Massachusetts or even in the United States