Workplace bullying is a form of abusive behavior that occurs when an employee is subjected to repeated, unreasonable, or malicious conduct that is not based on a protected characteristic, such as race, sex, age, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other category protected by law. Workplace bullying can create a hostile, stressful, or harmful work environment that affects your job performance, health, and well-being.
If you are a victim of workplace bullying in Philadelphia, you may wonder what legal protections you have and what actions you can take to stop the bullying and seek relief. In this article, we will explain what workplace bullying is, what laws apply to it, how to report it, and how to get legal help.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying is a pattern of negative behavior that is intended to intimidate, humiliate, degrade, or isolate an employee. Workplace bullying can take many forms, such as:
- Verbal bullying, such as yelling, swearing, name-calling, insults, threats, or false accusations.
- Psychological bullying, such as spreading rumors, gossiping, excluding, isolating, or ignoring an employee.
- Professional bullying, such as undermining, sabotaging, micromanaging, or interfering with an employee’s work.
- Physical bullying, such as hitting, pushing, shoving, or throwing objects at an employee.
Workplace bullying can have serious consequences for the victims, such as:
- Lower job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity.
- Higher stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout.
- Lower self-esteem, confidence, and morale.
- Higher absenteeism, turnover, and sick leave.
- Lower physical and mental health.
Workplace bullying can also have negative effects on the employers, such as:
- Higher legal costs, settlement costs, insurance premiums, and workers’ compensation claims.
- Lower morale, trust, teamwork, and innovation.
- Lower customer satisfaction, loyalty, and reputation.
- Higher conflict, turnover, and training costs.
What Laws Apply to Workplace Bullying?
Unlike workplace harassment, which is a form of discrimination that occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected characteristic, such as race, sex, age, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other category protected by law, workplace bullying is not explicitly prohibited by any federal, state, or local laws in the US.
However, this does not mean that workplace bullying is legal or that you have no recourse if you are being bullied at work. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to use existing laws to protect yourself from workplace bullying, such as:
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. You may be able to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if you believe that workplace bullying poses a risk to your physical or mental health or safety.
- The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which protects the rights of employees to organize, join, or assist labor unions, or to engage in other concerted activities for their mutual aid or protection. You may be able to file a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) if you believe that workplace bullying interferes with your right to engage in protected activity, such as complaining about working conditions, wages, or benefits, or joining or supporting a union.
- The Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law, which protects employees who report or testify about wrongdoing or waste by their employers or co-workers. You may be able to file a lawsuit in court if you believe that workplace bullying is a form of retaliation for your whistleblowing activity, such as reporting fraud, corruption, safety violations, or environmental harm.
- The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, which provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their work. You may be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation if you can prove that workplace bullying caused or contributed to your injury or illness, such as physical harm, psychological trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
In addition, some cities and counties in Pennsylvania, such as Philadelphia, have enacted local ordinances that prohibit workplace bullying or require employers to adopt anti-bullying policies. You may be able to file a complaint with the local agency that enforces these ordinances if you believe that workplace bullying violates your rights under these local laws.
How to Report Workplace Bullying?
If you are experiencing workplace bullying, you should take the following steps to report it and seek relief:
- Document the bullying. Keep a record of the dates, times, locations, witnesses, and details of the bullying incidents. Save any evidence, such as emails, texts, voicemails, or photos, that show the bullying or your employer’s response to it.
- Report the bullying to your employer. Follow your employer’s policy and procedure for reporting bullying, if they have one. If not, report the bullying to your supervisor, human resources department, or any other person in charge. Make your complaint in writing and keep a copy for yourself.
- File a complaint with an external agency. If your employer does not take appropriate action to stop the bullying, or if you are afraid of retaliation, you can file a complaint with an external agency that enforces the laws that apply to your case, such as:
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), if you believe that workplace bullying poses a risk to your physical or mental health or safety. You can contact OSHA at 1-800-321-6742 or visit their website at www.osha.gov.
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), if you believe that workplace bullying interferes with your right to engage in protected activity, such as complaining about working conditions, wages, or benefits, or joining or supporting a union. You can contact the NLRB at 1-866-667-6572 or visit their website at www.nlrb.gov.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, if you believe that workplace bullying is a form of retaliation for your whistleblowing activity, such as reporting fraud, corruption, safety violations, or environmental harm. You can contact the Department of Labor and Industry at 717-787-5279 or visit their website at www.dli.pa.gov.
- The local agency that enforces the local ordinance that prohibits workplace bullying or requires employers to adopt anti-bullying policies, if your city or county has one. For example, in Philadelphia, you can contact the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) at 215-686-4670 or visit their website at [www.phila.gov/humanrelations].
You can file a complaint with any or all of these agencies, depending on the nature and scope of your case.
How to Get Legal Help?
Workplace bullying can have a devastating impact on your career, health, and happiness. You do not have to suffer in silence or tolerate the abuse. You have the right to work in a respectful and dignified environment, free from bullying and harassment.
If you are a victim of workplace bullying in Philadelphia, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can advise you on your legal options and represent you in your claim. An attorney can help you:
- Evaluate the strength and value of your case.
- Gather and preserve evidence to support your claim.
- Negotiate with your employer or their insurance company for a fair settlement.
- File a complaint with the appropriate agency or a lawsuit in court if necessary.
- Advocate for your rights and interests throughout the process.
At Swartz Swidler LLC, we are committed to protecting the rights of employees and fighting for justice. We have extensive experience and knowledge in handling various employment law cases, such as workplace bullying, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour violations. We represent employees in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and across the nation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we win your case. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your situation and advise you on your legal options. We are ready to help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.
If you are looking for a trusted and experienced employment law attorney in Philadelphia, contact Swartz Swidler LLC today at (856) 685 7420 or fill out our online form. We are here to help you.