Did you know that one in four employees is affected by workplace bullying? In fact, you could be a victim and not even realize it until it's too late. This is because bullying in the workplace often occurs in very subtle ways.
While many people think that workplace bullying is rather blatant, the truth is that quite often, it actually occurs slowly and over an extended period of time. Many employees suffer from this mistreatment in silence. So what are the most common signs you're being bullied at work?
This article will help you understand the subtle and overt signs of workplace bullying, plus shed some light on workplace bullying and harassment laws in California.
Understanding Workplace Bullying Laws in California
Workplace bullying has been defined by The Workplace Bullying Institute as "repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the target) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; or work interference - sabotage - which prevents work from getting done."
For now, workplace bullying itself is not unlawful, but there are anti-bullying legislative measures that are being brought to the forefront all across the country, one being the Healthy Workplace Bill.
Workplace bullying in California can be unlawful, however, if the negative behaviors fall under workplace harassment based on an employee's national origin, age, gender, disability or other protected characteristics as outlined in Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
Common Signs You're Being Bullied at Work
A workplace bully will typically engage in a pattern of behavior against their target(s) where the bully will assert power over that employee or group of employees through both subtle and aggressive behaviors.
Here are just some of the most common signs of workplace bullying:
- A supervisor or coworker repeatedly lies to you, conceals the truth and deceives you in order to get his/her way.
- A supervisor or coworker intimidates you with either veiled or overt threats.
- A supervisor or coworker purposefully ignores, avoids or doesn't pay attention to you.
- A supervisor or coworker intentionally excludes you from decisions, conversations or workplace events; or makes you feel socially/physically isolated from a group.
- A supervisor or coworker constantly defends or justifies their negative behavior toward you or makes excuses for it.
- A supervisor or coworker consistently discounts or fails to address your concerns or workplace issues.
- A supervisor or coworker makes you feel like you are a problem, creating a feeling of shame, guilt, or unworthiness.
- A supervisor or coworker constantly and deliberately undermines your work, progress on assignments, or successes in the workplace.
- A supervisor or coworker unnecessarily pits you or other employees against each other in order to drive competition, create conflict or establish winners and losers.
- A supervisor or coworker removes your responsibilities, or changes your role without cause.
- A supervisor or coworker consistently and deliberately changes expectations, setting nearly impossible guidelines, which sets you up to fail.
- A supervisor or coworker frequently changes their mood with sudden shifts in emotions.
- A supervisor or coworker withholds information or gives you the wrong information which sets you up for failure.
- A supervisor or coworker constantly shifts blame to you, and doesn't take responsibility for his/her own actions.
- A supervisor or coworker consistently takes credit for your work.
- A supervisor or coworker uses excessive flattery to get you to trust them, so you lower your defenses in order to be more responsive to their manipulative behaviors.
- A supervisor or coworker constantly yells or shouts at you or exhibits anger/aggression nonverbally (i.e. pounding fits on a desk).
- A supervisor or coworker tampers with your belongings, intrudes or lurks around your desk, stalks, or spies on you.
- A supervisor or coworker aggressively pressures you to say or do things that you wouldn't otherwise do under your best judgement.
- A supervisor or coworker punishes you with physical discipline or psychological passive aggression.
- A supervisor or coworker embarrasses or shames you in public or in front of coworkers.
- A supervisor or coworker launches a campaign to oust you from your job.
- A supervisor or coworker blocks advancement for growth in unfair ways.
When to File a Workplace Bullying Complaint in California
If you are a victim of any of the aforementioned harassing behaviors due to your gender, age, national origin, race, pregnancy or other protected categories, then California employment law is on your side. Even when the subtle signs of workplace bullying happen to you or others, you should always note the negative behaviors, then contact an experienced California employment attorney to help you handle the filing process of your workplace bullying complaint. You should also always adhere to your employer's internal policies for filing a claim.
Everyone deserves to work in a safe, supportive environment and workplace bullies should be dealt with accordingly. Contact our passionate employment lawyers for a free consultation and start building your case today.