A survey conducted of the Society for Human Resources revealed that over half of workplaces in the United States have bullies or have had incidents of bullying on the job. One employment law professional predicts that employment discrimination and harassment claims based on bullying will outpace sexual harassment claims in the coming years.
But, what exactly is bullying? Isn’t that something that we protect our children from? Not something we deal with at work?
Not necessarily. Bullying in the workplace includes:
- Verbal or physical abuse from a coworker or supervisor
- Verbal or physical intimidation or threats from a coworker or supervisor
- Unwelcome and unrelenting teasing
Bullying does not have to be face-to-face to be considered inappropriate work behavior among adults. One in five instances of workplace bullying were through social media sites, such as Facebook, according to the survey. In addition, rumors and gossip may be considered workplace bullying.
A labor union in Massachusetts included an anti-bullying provision in its collective bargaining agreement to include “remedies” for yelling, screaming or threatening others in the workplace.
There is still a lot of room for improvement, legally speaking, to protect employees from on-the-job bullying. Unfortunately as a result of the unstable economy, many employees have been forced to grin and bear it, so to speak, as alternative employment prospects have dried up. If you have experienced bullying in the workplace, you should not assume that there is nothing you can do. Many companies already have anti-bullying policies in place that may include suspension, reassignment, termination or anger management-style classes for the bully.
Anytime you feel that you are being harassed or discriminated at work, you can always consult an attorney about your legal options as well.
Source: The Big Story, “Growing push to halt workplace bullying,” March 1, 2013