Workplace bullying occurs when one person is repeatedly treated in a less favorable manner by others at work. This type of conduct is inappropriate when it happens in the workplace. Workplace bullying includes conduct that is designed to offend, intimidate, degrade, undermine, humiliate, or threaten.
Bullying behavior can be psychological or physical and may include actions in which a person misuses his or her strength or position of power to mistreat others at work. While occasional conflicts at work are a normal part of life, behavior that offends or harms you and that is unreasonable is not okay. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler may help workers who are being bullied at their jobs when the behavior is pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment.
How bullying can occur
Workplace bullying can occur between the following parties:
- A supervisor and a worker
- A worker and someone else at work such as an intern
- People of either sex
- Overt and covert bullying
Bullying can be overt and obvious or covert. Overt bullying can include the following types of behavior:
- Physical or psychological abuse directed towards another worker
- Demeaning comments
- Offensive or abusive language
- Constant nonconstructive and unreasonable criticism
Covert bullying is less obvious, but it can still have a detrimental impact on the victims. Covert bullying might include the following types of behaviors:
- Deliberately excluding or isolating worker
- Having unreasonably high demands of one employee but not of others
- Assigning only meaningless tasks to a specific worker
- Ignoring an employee in an unreasonable manner
- Withholding information that an employee needs for his or her job
- Cutting down another employee
- Repeatedly refusing leave requests without a good explanation
Efffects of bullying
Workplace bullying can have multiple negative effects on the victims. They may experience high levels of stress, problems sleeping, and anxiety. Bullying victims may also suffer health issues and have an impaired ability to make decisions at work. They may be unable to complete the duties of their jobs and lose their self-esteem.
What to do
If you are the victim of workplace bullying, you should keep a log of the conduct, including information about who was present, the date, the time, and the specific actions that occurred. You can also speak directly to the person who is bullying you and ask them to stop. If that doesn’t work, you can file a report of harassment to the designated person in your organization. You should avoid retaliation because it may undercut your claims.
Employers should take several steps to prevent workplace bullying and to handle it when it occurs. Employers should start by drafting strong policies about bullying and train their employees on them. The policy should be comprehensive and cover a variety of incidents that range from harassment and bullying to physical violence. A program to prevent workplace violence should be developed together by employee representatives and management, and it should apply equally to everyone who works within the company, including management. It should also apply to clients and others who have relationships with the company. The policy should define bullying and should state in clear language the company’s view of it and how it will be handled.
Employers should promptly investigate complaints of workplace bullying when they are received. They should not retaliate against the workers for filing complaints. If they find that bullying has occurred, they should take steps to remedy it immediately.
Contact Swartz Swidler
If you are the victim of workplace bullying or have been retaliated against for filing a complaint, talking to an experienced employment law attorney at Swartz Swidler might help you. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free evaluation of your potential claim.