Here is quite an informative article from Bully Online that elaborates on this interesting topic. Although bullying is not to be confused with hostile work environment, which is still based upon the usual protected categories, the debate over what might constitute this behavior (think of movies such as Boiler Room) is quite pertinent. Bully Online says:
Bullying differs from harassment and discrimination in that the focus is rarely based on gender, race, or disability. The focus is often on competence, or rather the alleged lack of competence of the bullied person. In reality, the target of bullying is often competent and popular, and the bully is aggressively projecting their own social, interpersonal and professional inadequacy onto their target. The purpose of projection is to avoid facing up to that inadequacy and doing something about it, and – mainly – to distract and divert attention away from the bully’s inadequacies, shortcomings and failings. In most cases, the bullying you see is the tip of an iceberg of wrongdoing by the bully.
And are the differential perceptions based on cultural differences? Or are we making certain in-roads in the U.S., as exemplified by the Hawaii Government?