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Questions about Workplace Bullying Laws

Bullying at the workplace can be an uncomfortable experience that not only deeply impacts an employee’s performance at work but also inter-personal relations with colleagues. Every employee has the right to a happy work environment and can take steps to fight bullies at the workplace. If you have questions related to bullying at the workplace, write in to Employment Lawyers on JustAnswer, who can provide you with solutions quickly. Listed below are the top questions on bullying at the workplace answered by the Experts.

What can be considered as “bullying” in the workplace?

Many stateshave tried to pass anti-bullying laws but have not been able to do so despite having several supporters behind them. However, if such legislation were to come into place, a few things it would seek to curtail would be: intentionally causing humiliation to an employee; giving an employee the “silent” treatment; isolating an employee physically or socially; offering an employee work of an undesirable nature to punish them; falsely accusing an employee of poor work performance or mistakes that were never committed; creating false rumors about an employee; fabricating lies about an employee during performance evaluation, and getting an employee removed from a certain project or position by creating a baseless campaign about them.

I work in a small office and am being constantly bullied at work. I went to my boss thrice last week to resolve the problem but nothing has happened. Both my health and performance at work have been affected. What are my legal rights in such a situation?

Start addressing your concerns by putting them in writing to your manager. Save a copy of this letter for yourself. If nothing happens, then get in touch with an employment lawyer. The “hostile work environment” that has been created by your organization has had an impact on your health that could be grounds for which you can take legal action against your employer. However, an experienced lawyer can look at your case properly and advise you on what steps to take. You can always ask an Employment Lawyer on JustAnswer for a second opinion or an Expert evaluation of your case.

My wife is the victim of bullying at work. She has had to face criticism of an unwarranted or invalid nature, has been blamed without actual facts, has been given differential treatment as compared to the rest of the workgroup, has been micro-managed and even been physically run into in the office hallways. Is there an Anti-bullying law in place?

While there is no anti-bullying labor law in existence, the case sounds like your wife is working in an organization with a hostile work environment and she may have an action based on that. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, a workplace can become hostile and action can be taken against it only if there is clear discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, national origin, and disability. Now, in order for your wife to take legal action against her employer, she would have to prove that the behavior of the employer falls into an actionable discrimination category as described above. Bullying and rude behavior are not sufficient grounds to do this. If the treatment meted out to her falls into any of the above categories, then it is possible that she may have a case.

I want to make a complaint of bullying but I’m finding it impossible to get a witness to come forward. What should I do?

There is every chance that your co-workers do not want to stand witness because they do want to get caught in the middle of a personal problem and probably just want to play it safe. What you could do is speak to HR and get them to guarantee that any statements made will be treated as “anonymous” and “private”. Then you could ask your co-workers to help by making statements in private with HR. Also, if you feel you are being bullied, you could try and send the bully an e-mail stating that you are concerned by the treatment being given to you. If the bully has a bad temper, he or she will retaliate and reply to your e-mail in a way that could be used against them.

Working with bullies is tough. But there’s no reason why you should put up with it either. Understanding your rights and knowing what legal steps to take can help you lead a happier and worry-free life at work. All you have to do is write in to Employment Lawyers on JustAnswer with your questions. You’ll find that it’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to get answers.

Ask an Employment Lawyer

Tina
Tina, Lawyer
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 8097
Experience:  JD, BBA, recognized by ABA for excellence.
4460311
Type Your Employment Law Question Here...
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Employment Lawyers are Online Now

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Employment Lawyers are online & ready to help you now

Tina
Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7759
JD, BBA, recognized by ABA for excellence.
Marsha411JD
Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 10539
Licensed Attorney with 27 yrs. exp in Employment Law
Infolawyer
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Satisfied Customers: 9785
Licensed attorney helping employers and employees.

Recent Bullying Questions

  • Good afternoon and thank you for offering this valuable service. I

    Good afternoon and thank you for offering this valuable service.
    I am a 34 year Marketing and Communications veteran and eight months ago accepted a position to lead a newly formed marketing team for a national, mid-size insurance company. The senior exec who hired me recently got terminated for in-part, work place bullying. Her boss, one of six executive leaders, and who hired her is not happy with that's transpired and is now under gun to "fix this since you made it". I've been told that he is gunning for me and one other of my colleagues in particular. To make matters worse, he is also over HR.
    I won't sugar coat the next things I am going to tell you. Our collective staffs are a mess from this. Trust is non-existent. My team who gave ne a glowing new leader assimilation review just in August now is running to HR everyday about how bad things are. We are a culture of extreme opened door to HR which can be good, and bad. The problem is everyone keeps telling my peers and I that we are under the microscope to perform and perform NOW. then in trying to work with the teams, they are cynical, hurt, angry and distrusting and their venom has turned to us. Enter me doing something I've never done before in my entire professional career...I lost it.
    There are two areas where the work actually takes place...in Market Communicaton and Integrated Marketing Services which I lead. While Debbie, my peer and I get along great, our teams are at odds. Constant fighting abounds and on several occasions several of them have said we all just need to get in a room to air this out. Debbie and I did that on Tuesday and it was a disaster. Debbie and I started the meeting noting their request to get issues out on the table and asked for honest and respectful dialogue. After 45 minutes of getting totally beat up, fingers being pointed and serious negativity, I simply snapped and said "if you don't want to work here, maybe you should find another f#*%ing job. I could have died when that fell our of my mouth...it was like an out of body experience.
    The next day I wrote a heartfelt apology to all who were there, said it was unprofessional and uncalled for and asked for their forgiveness. Of course there was a beeline to HR which I expected and I was called in. I took total responsibility for my action, shared my email to the team and said I am prepared to accept what needs to be done. What I wasn't prepared for is that they are writing up a final warning notice and the next step will be termination if I misstep again. That won't happen because I've never done that before and I can't envision my EVER doing such a thing again. I fully take ownership of my actions, but I (we) are in the difficult position of being in a sneeze play between a boss who doesn't want me (us) there because he blames us in part for my original bosses demise and staffs who are insubordinant, yet are encouraged to run to HR at every turn. There simply is no coverage for us as managers.
    In my situation, they have not followed to measures of progressive discipline, going straight the last chance warning. While I was prepared to receive punishment, I feel this is overly harsh. Again, I have had high marks (as much as one could have in eight months of employ), my peers internal clients respect and like me and now this severity for my first screw up.
    I hate to be litigious, but do I need to cover myself in any way? Can I voice that I believe the punishment doesn't fit the crime (in a respectful manner of course), and how should I sign the action because I know I will be asked to.
    BTW, the leader in HR that I' m working with admitted to me yesterday that Debbie and I are indeed being targeted.
    I eagerly look forward to your feedback and suggestions. I live in Ohio.
  • i was recently fired in retaliation, for launching a harassment

    i was recently fired in retaliation, for launching a harassment lawsuit against my direct supervisor at Bronx Lebanon Hospital. The investigation against my supervisor was found to be truthful and they concluded that my supervisor was indeed bullying and harassing me I was told I would recieve a full report via email. That email never came and 4 days after the conclusion of the investigation, I was told to go home because my supervisor had launched a risk management investigation against myself. 2 weeks later on halloween, i was called in and told I was being let go because of a risk I posed to my clients. no one could tell me who or what was done to come to this conclusion, none of my High risk clients were contacted, nor were the psychiatrist and doctors that I work closely with. I dont know if I have a case. I need some direction. I have a very sick wife at home who requires treatment and with no severance, no health coverage and no savings I need to know if I have a case against the hospital and my direct supervisor. Pls advise.
  • I was promoted in July 2014. New boss started next week. She

    I was promoted in July 2014. New boss started next week. She made my life miserable and was putting me in a position of not being able to do the duties of my new job. She was hostile and made threats to me about job continuation. She was making me a nervous wreck. I have been under the care of a psychiatrist for 15 years. I went to see doctor and was a nervous wreck. She increased my dosages and added an anti-anxiety medication to my regimen. She advised me to go to work and go to the COO (my boss's supervisor) and explain to her that my situation was a hostile work environment and that I am under the care of a psychiatrist. I meet with the COO and explained the situation. Two days later I was called in to her office and told there would be an investigation. At this time I was also given a written job description and a document stating I was an exempt employee that was back dated to July. I heard nothing more about the Hostile work environment complaint I made in October 2014. On Wednesday November 12 I was given a final written warning (never received any prior write ups) for doing something that I have documentation proving my boss gave me permission to do. I wrote a rebuttal to the write up stating that I had only received positive written documentation in the past, that I was unable to do meet my job duties, and that this appeared to be retaliation since I had asserted a hostile work environment and was never contacted about it again. The write up was the first written document I had received since Hostile Work Environment complaint. Two days later on November 14 I was terminated with reason stated as "The company had lost confidence in my ability to perform job duties". Do I have any legal recourse for hostile work environment complaint, retaliation and wrongful termination?
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