Bullying may be defined as the use of threats, intimidation, or actual physical contact in order to place another person in a position of fear or subordination. It can occur in many different settings; however, if it occurs in the workplace, it can lead to various employment or legal problems. Bullying laws can be relatively new and may be different in each state.
What Are Some Examples of Bullying in the Workplace?
Bullying is related to harassment, in that offensive or threatening conduct may be involved. However, harassment can often occur for no apparent reason; on the other hand, bullying is often used in order to accomplish a specific purpose. For instance, some examples of bullying include:
- Using threats in order to gain a better advantage or higher position over co-workers
- Threatening to reveal private or confidential information about a co-worker unless they perform a task (i.e., blackmail)
- Presenting an overall demeanor of intimidation
- “Campaigning” with other co-workers in order to present the victim in a negative light
- Coercing a co-worker into doing more work
How Is Bullying Punished?
This depends on the nature of the conduct as well as the policies of the company. In some cases, meeting with a supervisor or with the HR department can be of help. The management may impose new policies or they may discipline the bullying party.
In serious cases, it might be necessary to file civil charges. This can help deal with legal issues such as:
- Lost wages or salary
- Loss of business opportunity (for instance, if the defendant uses bullying to take over sales leads or possible clients)
- Wrongful termination
- Assault or battery (if applicable)
These types of issues may be remedied through a monetary damages award. In cases where the bully acted in a particularly reckless or irresponsible manner, a punitive damages award may also apply.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With a Bullying Case?
Bullying cases can often present a mix of different legal issues. You may wish to hire an employment lawyer if you need help dealing with a bullying situation. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice, and can also inform you of your rights under employment laws. Bullying laws and policies are relatively recent developments, but they can help you obtain substantial reimbursement for any damages you have sustained.