Sacramento, CA: Although California was the first state to introduce anti-bullying legislation (2003), it is still prevalent in the workplace. "The most common forms of illegal harassment are from workplace bullies," says employee attorney Donna M. Ballman, P.A., "and they will stay a bully from playground to workplace." So when is harassment from your employer a violation of the California Labor Law?
"When the people these bullies pick on are in a protected category (e.g., gender, race, religion or pregnancy) that is when they step over the line," says Ballman. "Those are the categories that bullies tend to latch onto. They will also sometimes pick on someone in an emotional situation, someone in a delicate mental state and can torment them to death. You see how bullying affects kids and it happens in the workplace—people can become suicidal or have a nervous breakdown." However, even if an employee believes he or she is being bullied or harassed by their employer, a supervisor, or a co-worker or they are in a "hostile work environment," they may not have a California labor law claim.
"If we don't accept bullying in schools, why is it acceptable at work?" says Ballman. When is bullying "unacceptable" and how do you determine whether you have a claim and what should you do about it? Ballman advises the following:
One statement I hear of too much is "I was harassed, so I quit and then I told them why." This is a frequent mistake. The United States Supreme Court says that, where an employer has a published sexual harassment/discriminatory harassment policy, the employee must report it under that policy and give the employer the opportunity to fix the situation. If you did not avail yourself of the employer's policy before quitting, you are giving up your right to sue for a violation.
Appropriate remedies may be to discipline or warn the harasser, to move the harasser, under some circumstances to move the victim, to do training, or in extreme cases, to terminate the harasser. But they don't have to take any action at all. They only have a duty to maintain a safe workplace. You might still have to work with the harasser.
What to put in the report:
General harassment, hostile environment, bullying and other disruptive behavior that is not addressed to an employee for a protected status or activity is not illegal. So before you write the long letter airing all your grievances against your boss, you may want to have an attorney look at it, or just make sure you are addressing your protected status. If you do complain, put it in writing and call it "FORMAL COMPLAINT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT" or "FORMAL COMPLAINT OF RELIGIOUS HARASSMENT," or whatever category you fit into. Set forth the harassment due to your protected status, and be businesslike. This is not the time to air all your complaints about the business or your boss, only to air the specific complaint about the illegal behavior.
If you are harassed or are in a hostile work environment, make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities. Report it to the employer and give them a chance to address the situation. If they allow the harassment to continue or if they retaliate, contact an employment attorney to discuss your legal options.
Here are some tips from Ms. Ballman:
a. Many employees simply refuse to go back to work, even where the employer has warned or disciplined the harasser. Sometimes, the fear is justified. But it is the employer's duty to create a safe workplace. If you return and are retaliated against or continue to be harassed, report it again. If the employer allows retaliation or continued harassment, that is the time to get an attorney involved.
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c. While a long letter stating that your supervisor is incompetent or a jerk can and should get you fired, the formal complaint addressing illegal behavior should get a serious response.
d. While bullying isn't illegal, harassment due to race, age, sex, national origin, disability, color and religion are illegal.
e. If the bully is targeting certain age, sex, ethnic or other groups, they've probably crossed over into illegal harassment.
f. Bullies are a huge drain on corporate time and assets. Employers should adopt zero tolerance policies regarding bullies.
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I am a victim of workplace bullying at a law enforcement agency. I succumb to a workers compensation claim due to the anxiety that it caused. I would like to add that I advise some of you to be careful what you tell your psychologist because the system is corrupt. You will be labeled delusional. Paranoid just to name a few. I am also bullied in my community. Yes, I said it in the community. You can look it up. There are many names to this phenomenon such as organized stalking, gang stalking or google targeted individual. My experience with the doctors and mental health system has been a journey. Now I have to try to clear my name as I have been set up to look like an insane person. Some of you sound like what I went through at work. Contact me if you like email@example.com
There is a woman here who is a friend of someone I had a run in with a few years ago. She has spent the day here in the office telling everyone about the run in. She will not confront me with it and I do not know if I should confront her or just leave well enough alone. I sit here in my cubicle and do my work. I expect to be left alone by her because my work has nothing to do with her. What should I do?
I have been bullied at the workplace by associates neighboring in offices next door.
This bullying has to stop.
They have come so far as to try and make it my problem that they are hateful and use their dogs to attack innocent bystanders.
I began to see the harassment when I went over to the neighbors office and introduced myself. She had a rabid dog who was ready for attack, showing her teeth. It was not a good environment to be dealing with others.
She then started making assaults about my dog and following me around and stalking me for many miles to find out where I stayed at night.
Because she had been stalking me for some time now, I realized that it was serious when she came into the store where I was shopping (which is many miles out of the way for her to go) and
made up an excuse that she was just grabbing lunch (when in fact she only bought one apple) and then started looking me up and down and also looking at my dog as well. She started to tell me that her dog had a cancerous tumor on her heart and that the dog was a rescue dog and the dog had always had to fight for anything she had. Her story was really about her. It was about her and her dog, not about just her dog. I saw that she is excessively overweight and unnaturally so. It was such that she obviously was the one who had cancer. The dog was merely reflecting her bad lifestyle of gluttony and abuse.
She has threatened to sue the Landlords if they don't seek to terminate my lease. And so they have sought to terminate the lease with me by offering to pay me $1000 extra to move.
It is clear that if I just leave then I am saying that its okay for her to bully and that's not okay.
And that is why I am NOT going to leave.
Now I hope more people stick up for themselves. That way our world will be better. Thanks for reading. Peace.
I have been threatened with bodily harm People wrote nasty comments on the board at work I've been laughed at been told I'm a liar need to do work that I wasn't supposed to do because of Workmen's Comp. claim And just overall overall Being bullied and discrimination of who I am Which is led me to severe severe anxiety and depression which I am seeing a psychologist and therapist for
If I have been diagnosed with major depression, and have been written up for being sad, is this a violation? If I have FMLA for my depression, and still get in trouble for being sad, is my employer in violation of the law?
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