Getting Bullied at Work
Workplace bullying is surprisingly common and is a drain on company time, assets and productivity. More importantly, an employment lawyer in San Jose understands how victims of workplace bullying often suffer psychological problems and sometimes physical effects as well. Too often, the victims will silently endure the harassment or simply quit their job, but there may be other options.
Types of Bullying
A wide range of behavior can be characterized as bullying, among which includes:
- Belittling a person, especially in front of others
- Constant criticism over insignificant matters
- Name calling
- Intentionally assigning an excessive workload
- Excluding a person from normal group conversations or activities
Illegal Behavior vs. Legal Behavior
Not every situation in which an employer creates or fails to address a disruptive, harassing or hostile work environment is legally actionable. As abhorrent as these activities may be to a reasonable person with average sensitivities, they are not illegal unless they also involve some sort of discrimination or retaliation.
If a victim of bullying is a member of a legally protected class, that may be considered employment discrimination, for which there is a remedy under both federal and state law. In fact, bullies often target an individual because of their race, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.
Similarly, if the bullying is based on trying to stop a person from engaging in a protected activity such as reporting discrimination, that may constitute a cause of action.
Reporting the Bullying
As difficult as it may be for the victim of bullying to come forth, it is important to place the employer on notice that there is a problem. Even if the bully is a supervisor or manager, the company must be given the opportunity to correct the situation. Documenting each instance of bullying can be critical if legal action is ultimately pursued.
California has recently enacted new legislation, effective January 1, 2015, that offers some hope. Employers of 50 or more workers must provide training and education to facilitate an awareness of workplace bullying just as those companies must do for sexual harassment awareness. Although this legislation does not provide a cause of action for a victim of bullying, awareness and training are steps in the right direction.
Contact an Employment Lawyer in San Jose for Legal Advice
If you have been the victim of an adverse employment action like workplace bullying, it is important that you know that you have rights. Explore your options. Call Lori Costanzo at 408-993-8493.