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What Constitutes Workplace Bullying?


As adults, we are familiar with bullying that happened at school while growing up, and now online bullying that today's children and teens often face. But it may surprise you that bullying can occur in the workplace, as well.

Not only is workplace bullying disruptive to workflow, but it can cause unfair abuse to workers, plus create a hostile work environment that may lead to harassment claims against an employer.

Examples of Workplace Bullying and Harassment

While bullying in a workplace setting can often constitute threats, intimidation, job sabotage or verbal abuse, it may also consist of humiliating statements by a manager or co-worker, demeaning jokes, and even co-workers taking credit for your work. Additionally, there are other negative behaviors that can constitute workplace bullying beyond these activities.

Bullying is often made up of repeated instances of harassing behavior rather than single incidents by a manager or co-worker. These harassing behaviors can come in many forms from the most straight-forward to the very subtle to the point where a victimized employee may not realize that they are being subjected to bullying until more aggressive behaviors surface weeks or months later. But, no matter how the bullying begins or how long it has been going on, victims of workplace bullying have a right to be free of these improper behaviors.

California Employers Must Provide Training on Bullying

Under a relatively new law in California, employers with fifty or more employees must provide training on workplace bullying for supervisory employees every two years just like these employers must provide regular sexual harassment training.

The law does not create an independent cause of action against employers for condoning, or engaging, in workplace bullying, but it does provide additional guidance on preventing bullying at work. However, bullying behaviors may fall under unlawful workplace harassment, such as sexual harassment or a hostile work environment. Additionally, if you file a complaint about workplace bullying and/or a related discrimination claim you may be engaging in protected activity meaning that you cannot be retaliated against for filing a discrimination claim in good faith.

What to Do if You Are Bullied at Work

Employees who face a bully on the job should not have to put up with such inappropriate, embarrassing and demeaning behaviors by supervisors or co-workers - and should act quickly by consulting an employment attorney.

If you are a victim of workplace bullying in California, your attorney can help you file a complaint with your employer through human resources, first. Then your employer can investigate and try to remediate the matter to allow you to go back and focus on your work rather than living in fear of a bully. Your attorney can also help you seek additional legal remedies like filing a workplace harassment complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Workplace Bullying: Additional Resources

  • 23 Common Signs You're Being Bullied at Work
  • California Offers Guidance on Educating Employees About Workplace Bullying via SHRM.org
  • Workplace Bullying Laws in California: Know Your Rights
  • Workplace Bullying: Online Anti-Bullying Resources for Employees
  • State to workplace bullies: knock it off via The San Diego Tribune

No one should have to work in an over-stressed environment, suffer from performance decline, or have job anxiety because of bullies. You can find solace in knowing that the California employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz are here to help fight for your rights. Contact our passionate workplace bullying attorneys for a free consultation today.

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