People in Alameda County who face bullying on the job may be dealing with a problem that goes beyond interpersonal difficulties and represents a real legal issue. Workplace bullying may leave many victims confused about how to confront the problem. It may seem appealing to stay silent and hope that the harasser moves on or finds a new target; in addition, the threat of retaliation could loom large, especially if the bully is a supervisor or another person higher in the workplace hierarchy.
Bullying in the workplace is not, in and of itself, illegal. Simple mean behavior may be disruptive, immature and deeply divisive to a workplace, preventing the emergence of a healthy job environment. When it does not have an unlawful motivation, there is not usually a legal remedy available. However, in many cases, bullying is another form of workplace discrimination and harassment. Many instances of workplace bullying are not examples of random negative behavior but instead target individuals due to the characteristics that are protected from discrimination on the job.
For example, bullying and mistreatment on the basis of a person’s race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age above 40, genetic information and other key factors can all violate federal and state laws against discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reviews complaints about workplace discrimination, and states like California also have their own strong protection against this type of harassment. In far too many cases, teasing and other types of bullying behavior are actually unlawful and discriminatory actions.
Companies have a responsibility to protect their employees from discrimination on the job. Workers who have faced discrimination and harassment due to their identities may work with an employment lawyer to seek justice, protect their jobs and defend their rights. An attorney may be able to file complaints with relevant agencies and take further legal action for a victim of discrimination.