When you think of bullying, you may think of kids in middle school or high school. Unfortunately, bullying is a behavior that can continue well into adulthood. In fact, bullying is a huge problem in workplaces across the country—so much that legislators are creating laws to combat the issue.
Bullying is often based on discrimination and can impact an employee in numerous ways. It can cause so much mental harm that a person may have to quit his or her job in order to avoid the abuse.
What Does Bullying in the Workplace Entail?
Bullying can involve verbal abuse, offensive conduct and behaviors and work interference. Some examples include the following:
- Spreading gossip or rumors
- Socially isolating a person
- Making offensive jokes
- Not giving an employee necessary information or providing the wrong information
- Use of profanity
- Physical abuse
- Undeserved punishment
- Belittling a person
- Invading a person’s privacy
- Assignment of unreasonable work duties
- Tampering with a person’s belongings
It is believed that as many as 21% of employees suffer from the effects of workplace bullying. The effects may include stress, anxiety, depression, humiliation, sleep loss, hypertension, and increased risk of developing diseases and infections.
What Does the Law Say?
Several states are starting to take notice of the effects of workplace bullying. California, Utah, and Tennessee have laws in place related to bullying. New York, Florida, Illinois, and Connecticut have versions of the Healthy Workplace Bill in place. The Healthy Workplace Bill allows workers who have experienced workplace bullying to take action against their employers.
As an affected worker, you have the right to:
- Sue the individual bully for causing you harm.
- Hold the employer accountable.
- Seek compensation for damages such as lost wages and benefits.
The law helps employers, as well. It defines an abusive work environment, with high standards in place. It requires proof of harm by a licensed health or mental health professional, so not everyone who simply claims misconduct can receive compensation from their employer. Through the bill, employers have a valid reason to punish or terminate offenders. They will not face wrongful termination charges.
In some cases, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may also apply. This is because workplace bullying is often caused by discrimination. For example, it is not uncommon for employees to be harassed based on their age, gender, race, or disability. If the workplace bullying is based on a protected class under the law, such as age, disability, pregnancy, gender, or religion, then the affected employee may have rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well.
Contact a New York Employment Discrimination Lawyer
Bullying is not something that ends in high school. Adults in the workplace can bully co-workers, causing extreme emotional harm. This bullying is often based on discrimination, which is illegal.
Are you facing bullying in the workplace? If so, the skilled employment discrimination attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help. We can help you so you no longer have to work in a hostile environment. To schedule a consultation, Call our office today at (347) 464-8694 for a consultation.