If your boss is making your work environment hostile by directing belittling comments at you, shouting, teasing or causing physical harm to you or other employees, you may wonder what you can do about it. While some people think that they can sue their boss for being a bully, the fact of the matter is that bullying itself is not prohibited by federal or California law. However, there are certain instances where workplace bullying can result in legal protection for employees.
When is Workplace Bullying Considered Illegal in California?
You can sue your boss for being a bully if he or she violates federal or state laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Several laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) bar employers from abusing and harassing California workers based on protected characteristics such as race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, pregnancy or disability. If the bullying behavior is unwelcome, severe or pervasive enough that you or others find it to be abusive, you could have a legitimate reason to file a harassment claim.
When Should You Sue Your Boss for Bullying?
If your boss is targeting you or other employees with hostile behavior based on protected characteristics under California or federal law, you can likely sue your employer for workplace harassment. For instance, if your manager teases you with comments regarding your intelligence level and these comments are related to a protected characteristic such as your age or disability, not only can this be embarrassing, but it can also constitute illegal harassment. Even if your boss laughs while saying these things and plays the teasing off as a joke, behavior like this is no laughing matter, and one that should be dealt with by filing a harassment claim.
Sometimes, a boss who bullies may be violating additional state and federal laws. Is your manager threatening you or other employees using physical harm? If so, you may be able to sue your boss for more than just workplace harassment or hostile working conditions. In fact, you could sue your manager for assault.
Some Employers in California Must Train Managers to Prevent Abuse at Work
While workplace bullying is not yet outlawed in California, the Golden State was the first state to have considered anti-bullying legislation in 2003, and the first to pass a bill (AB 2053) that requires companies with 50 or more employers to train managers on workplace bullying prevention. While this is a step in the right direction in combatting bullying and abusive conduct in the workplace, the Workplace Bullying Institute claims that more needs to be done in order stop bullies, including passing the Healthy Workplace Bill.
Sue Your Boss for Workplace Bullying in California: For Further Reading
- 23 Common Signs You're Being Bullied at Work
- California AB 2053: Full Bill Text
- Workplace Bullying Laws in California: Know Your Rights
- Workplace Harassment Laws in California: Common Questions
- True Stories of Workplace Bullying: Real Case Examples
Get a Free Consultation with a California Workplace Bullying Attorney
Even though workplace harassment is illegal under both state and federal law, abusive conduct still occurs. If you are noticing signs of workplace bullying or are being subjected to verbal or nonverbal abuse, threats, or sabotage due to a protected characteristic, it is important that you contact an expertCalifornia employment attorney. No one should ever have to work under an abusive boss.