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While proposed statutes may fuel an increase in lawsuits against employers who allow bullies to work for them, right now it’s not illegal to be a jerk at work, according to employment practices liability experts.

“As far as I know, there as yet is no legal cause of action for workplace bullying in the United States,” says Irving Geslewitz, a principal with the firm of Much Shelist in Chicago. There are such protections in other countries (in Western Europe, for example), and bills have been proposed in state legislatures in the United States. But none of those state bills has become law, the attorney reports.

“In other words, there is no law against being a jerk,” he says, echoing eight other insurance and legal experts who say the legal landscape could change with 10 states considering statutes that outlaw bullying in the workplace.

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