What Is Workplace Bullying?

The news is full of stories about anti-bullying efforts geared towards children at school. Many adults also face problems with bullying at their jobs. Workplace bullying may include belittling comments, teasing, yelling, name-calling and threats, and it often continues unchecked. It is common for employees to be afraid to speak up, and you might be surprised to learn that it is not necessarily illegal. If you are being bullied at work, talk to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.

What is workplace bullying?

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as abusive conduct at work in the form of threats, verbal abuse, intimidation or humiliation. it also includes sabotage that keeps you from being able to get your work done. Workplace bullies may be coworkers, vendors, managers or customers.

When is workplace bullying illegal?

There are no federal or state laws that prohibit workplace bullying in and of itself. However, when the bullying violates state or federal laws that prohibit discrimination, it is illegal. You are protected from being harassed at work based on certain protected characteristics, including your color, race, national origin, sex, age, religion or disability. If you are being targeted by a bully because of your protected status, then you may have a claim for illegal harassment. If the treatment is pervasive or severe enough that it creates a hostile work environment, it is illegal.

If you are a victim of illegal harassment at your job, you will only have a limited time in which you can file a complaint. This makes it important for you to act quickly.

What to do if you are being bullied at your job

If you are the target of a workplace bully, you should file a complaint with the HR department at your company even if the bully is not violating the law. Most employers will take action when they learn about bullying to keep employee morale high.

You should document all incidents that have happened, writing down the times, dates, the parties who were present and what was said or done. Write down the effects that you have suffered because of the bullying. This can help your company to investigate your complaint and take appropriate action.

If your concerns are not taken seriously, speak to one of the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler. If the harassment is illegal, you may only have 180 days to file a complaint. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to access any legal remedies. Contact Swartz Swidler today to learn more about what you might be able to do.