There are a number of federal and state laws that work to protect employees from discriminatory actions based on race, gender or religion. While it appears that many employers know this (despite their actions or inaction in preventing such behavior) workplace bullying appears to be just as pervasive as it has ever been.
Bullying, by itself, is not against the law, but employers still have an obligation to provide a safe working environment for employees. This means that the workplace must not only be free of physical hazards, workers should not have to worry about emotional hazards either.
If an employer fails to take reasonable steps to remedy such hazards, especially after being notified, the employer could be held liable. After all, an employee who is subjected to bulling can lead to harmful psychological injuries, which could manifest itself in horrible ways.
As such, employers must be diligent in monitoring and correcting situations where an employee complains about being harassed or bullied by another employee, regardless of whether the aggressor is a subordinate or a supervisor. After all, some employees may find it difficult to complain out of fear of losing their job or being further ostracized as a “whiner.” Suffice it to say, a pattern of inaction by an employer may not bode well in litigation.
With the employment market expected to improve, it is incumbent that employers will have to deal with a number of personalities, and sometimes friction between employees will occur.
If you have additional questions about how to handle workplace bullying, an experienced employment law attorney can help in understanding your rights and options.