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Workplace Bullying Laws in California: Know Your Rights

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Have you been suffering from workplace bullying and harassment in California? If so, this behavior could be violating California Labor Law. While California was the first state in the nation to introduce anti-bullying legislation back in 2003 with the Healthy Workplace Bill, it is important to know that workplace bullying still occurs. And while bullying itself is not unlawful, workplace harassment due to your sex, national origin, disability, age, race, religion and a variety of other factors is illegal. So what are your employee rights under California Labor Law when it comes to workplace bullying?

This article will inform you on the basics you need to know about workplace bullying, common signs you're being subjected to workplace bullying and harassment, and when to file a workplace harassment complaint.

workplace-bullying-laws-in-california-know-you-rights.jpg

Have you been suffering from workplace bullying and harassment in California? If so, this behavior could be violating California Labor Law. While California was the first state in the nation to introduce anti-bullying legislation back in 2003 with the Healthy Workplace Bill, it is important to know that workplace bullying still occurs. And while bullying itself is not unlawful, workplace harassment due to your sex, national origin, disability, age, race, religion and a variety of other factors is illegal. So what are your employee rights under California Labor Law when it comes to workplace bullying?

This article will inform you on the basics you need to know about workplace bullying, common signs you're being subjected to workplace bullying and harassment, and when to file a workplace harassment complaint.

What is Workplace Bullying?

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as "repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conducts/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; or work interference - sabotage - which prevents work from getting done."

Bullying in the workplace can come in many forms from the blatant to the subtle, and typically occurs more than once rather than in isolated incidents. The workplace bully will usually engage in a pattern of behavior against their target(s) in which the bully asserts power over that person or group of people through aggressive behaviors.

Signs You're Being Bullied at Work

Even though workplace harassment is unlawful, bullying at work still occurs frequently. If you are being subjected to any of the following behaviors by your employer or coworker(s) because of a protected characteristic, contact an expert employment law attorney right away to see if you could have a valid workplace harassment case.

Common signs of workplace bullying:

  • Your employer or coworker exhibits verbal anger or aggression toward you;
  • Your employer or coworker exhibits non-verbal aggression toward you (for example: slamming things onto your desk in an aggressive manner);
  • Your employer undeservedly punishes you physically, psychologically, or emotionally;
  • Your employer or coworker belittles you based on your ideas, personal circumstances, work or opinions;
  • Your employer or coworker humiliates or embarrasses you in front of others;
  • Your employer or coworker acts vindictive towards you, has sought revenge, or retaliates against you;
  • Your employer or coworker tampers with your personal belongings;
  • Your employer or coworker stalks, spies on, or pesters you;
  • Your employer or coworker forces or aggressively persuades you to do or say things against your will;
  • Your employer or coworker threatens you with unwarranted punishment, termination, physical, emotional, or psychological abuse;
  • Your employer or coworker communicates with you offensively with demeaning jokes, rumors, gossip, harassment, or profanity;
  • Your employer uses unfair tactics to block your progression, growth, or advancement within the organization;
  • Your employer or coworker designs an underhanded campaign to oust you from your job;

Sometimes the signs of workplace bullying can go unnoticed because the behaviors start subtly, and then grow into a larger problem for the employee(s) who are being bullied later. If you begin to notice any of the following negative behaviors at work, document and report them to your HR department as soon as possible.

Subtle signs of workplace bullying:

  • Your employer or coworker intimidates you with overt or veiled threats;
  • Your employer or coworker purposefully ignores or avoids you; "forgets" to invite you to meetings, or selectively greets others;
  • Your employer or coworker intentionally excludes you, making you feel isolated;
  • Your employer or coworker consistently tries to rationalize their negative behaviors;
  • Your employer fails to address your concerns with the coworker who is bullying you;
  • Your employer or coworker makes you feel like you're the problem for their negative behaviors, making you feel unworthy;
  • Your employer or coworker deliberately delays or blocks your work, progress on an assignment, etc. undermining your job;
  • Your employer or coworker pits you and other employees against each other to create conflict and competition;
  • Your employer removes responsibilities from your role without cause;
  • Your employer sets nearly impossible expectations and guidelines and constantly changes them to set you up to fail;
  • Your employer or coworker takes credit for your ideas and hard work;

How to File a Workplace Bullying Complaint in California

If your bully is targeting you with any of the aforementioned harassing behaviors due to your gender, age, national origin, race, pregnancy or other protected factors, then California law is on your side. Once you decide to file a workplace harassment complaint, contact an experienced California employment attorney to ensure that the filing process is handled properly. Help your attorney meet the strict time limits on filing a complaint by documenting all harassing behaviors as they occur (include emails, memos, others involved, witnesses, etc.), and adhere to your employer's internal policies for filing a claim.

Workplace bullies are often more than just a nuisance and should be dealt with accordingly. If you are being bullied or harassed at work, don't wait another day to contact our passionate employment lawyers for a free consultation.

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