On the other hand, some acts of bullying in the workplace are not prohibited by law. There is no law that prevents a colleague from repeatedly criticizing your work product or using excessive profanity in the workplace. And if a co-worker spreads false rumors about you, you can sue the co-worker for defamation, but not necessarily against your employer. Talking to an experienced employment lawyer is the best way to determine if you have a claim worth filing against your employer due to workplace bullying. About one-third of U.S. workers have been bullied, according to a 2021 survey on bullying by Zogby International. At Sessions & Kimball LLP, we focus exclusively on protecting workers` rights. Our Orange County employment lawyers are consistently recognized by Thomson/Reuters as “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars,” and our firm has been named one of the “Best Law Firms” in the region by U.S. News and World Report. If you are a victim of workplace bullying and would like to learn more about pursuing a potential claim, contact us today for advice with a workplace bullying advocate.
Currently, there is no state law directly aimed at preventing workplace bullying. However, some states have made the prevention of abusive behaviour a requirement for most employers. If you live in one of these states, your employer is required to train all employees on how to define and prevent abusive behavior. There are no specific federal laws that specifically prohibit bullying. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled more than two decades ago that federal workplace discrimination laws are not designed to create “a general code of comity for the American workplace.” Oncale v Sundowner Offshore Servs., Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 80 (1998). In addition, only a handful of states have passed laws banning certain forms of bullying in the workplace. Workplace bullying laws have been introduced in 30 states, but so far they haven`t found much support. The Tennessee Healthy Workplaces Act, the California Employment and Housing Equity Act, and the State of Utah`s Personnel Management Act are the limited exceptions. Most versions of the state`s anti-bullying legislation mirror existing federal civil rights laws and give employees who are bullied the right to sue their employers for damages and attorneys` fees. Interestingly, some versions of the law also provide for the removal of the identified bully or bullies from the workplace.
Most versions of the law also offer a defence to employers who are actively working to eliminate and respond to bullying in the workplace. Learn what cyberbullying is, how to prevent it and how to respond if you or someone you know is being cyberbullied. However, workers who are members of a protected class (such as women, racial minorities, and LGBTQIA workers) can be prosecuted under state and local anti-discrimination laws or sexual harassment laws. This is not to say that bullying is inherently harassment or discrimination. However, they can overlap, and federal and state laws prohibit harassment of employees on the basis of a protected class. In the case of a harassment complaint, an employee usually wants to file a complaint with their human resources department. If the human resources department does not respond or correct the behavior, employees can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which will investigate their claim. For example, an employer who fires a woman, Hannah, because she is not feminine enough, and who also fires a man, Bob, because he is not male enough, may treat men and women more or less equally as groups. But in both cases, the employer fires a person partly because of their gender. Instead of avoiding exposure to Title VII, this employer doubles it.
590 United States ___ 2020) (Slip opinion at 8-9); www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf parents, school staff and other adults in the community can help children prevent bullying by talking about it, creating a safe school environment and developing a community-wide bullying prevention strategy. This subtle but important example seems to send a message to employers, not only about liability for discrimination, but also about retaining abusive employees in the workplace. The Supreme Court`s comment undermines what has come to be known as the “equal opportunity harasser” defence – a defence used to avoid liability for the actions of bullies in the workplace. The “equal opportunity harasser” analysis essentially indicates that an employer is not liable for the actions of its employees who behave abusively towards many types of people, but not because of a specific and protected category or status. Some employers have won their case in court, arguing that the victim of such abuse was not a victim of “illegal” abuse based on a protected category or status, but rather was abused by someone who was a bully to everyone. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that federal labor laws prohibit discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Is it possible that this historic case will breathe new life into efforts to end all forms of bullying in the workplace? Bullying that creates a hostile work environment is not illegal per se, but it still carries risks for your business in the form of: Are you being bullied? Do you see bullying in your school? There are things you can do to protect yourself and children you know from bullying. According to the Supreme Court, the alleged conduct of management and employees falls directly into the category of discriminatory treatment and, if true, a violation of civil rights laws. Bostock`s experience also bears a striking resemblance to the kinds of allegations associated with other forms of workplace bullying. The Healthy Workplace Campaign, an organization that promotes anti-bullying laws, defines workplace bullying as “the repeated and unhealthy mistreatment of one or more people (targets) by one or more perpetrators. that take one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse or threatening, intimidating or humiliating behaviour (including non-verbal) or interference at work. which prevents the work from being done, or a combination of one or more. There are no federal or state laws specifically targeting “workplace bullying.” But much workplace bullying can fall within the scope of laws that prohibit discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The survey found that 21% of women have experienced same-sex bullying (i.e., women who bully women). For men who bully men, the statistic is 40%. A similar survey in 2007 found that bullying is four times more common than illegal forms of harassment in the workplace.
In other words, bullying is distinct from sexual harassment or discrimination (although members of a protected class can still be bullied). Could the Supreme Court`s decision in Bostock reinvigorate efforts to eliminate all forms of bullying in the workplace? Part of the Supreme Court`s opinion suggests that the tide could turn in that direction. In discussing the employer`s liability for discrimination in the workplace, Justice Gorsuch used the following example: Severe bullying has been linked to stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances. For more information on related workplace issues, see FindLaw`s Discrimination and Harassment section in the Small Business Centre. Currently, there are no federal or state laws prohibiting bullying in the workplace. No employer would actively tolerate an abusive work environment. However, the Bostock case reminds us of the importance that politics, practices, education and culture play in maintaining a diverse and productive work environment, free from any form of hostile treatment, whether illegal or simply bad human relations. Bullying can affect anyone – those who are bullied, those who bully and those who observe bullying.