Generally, no. It is not illegal for your boss to harass you unless it is done for an illegal reason. The law does not require that your boss be nice, kind or fair, only that your boss does not treat you differently because of your age, sex, race, religion, national origin, or disability.
So, for example, say there is a workplace comprised of mostly men, with one lone female employee, she alleges that her manager abuses, belittles, and harasses her, but then admits that the manager also treats all of the other male employees the same way, can she legally sue for harassment?
Generally no, because her manager is an equal-opportunity abuser, she cannot sue for harassment. A court examining this very issue comments that there was generally no evidence to suggest the conduct, although rude and obnoxious, was motivated by gender Personality conflicts, even if severe, do not currently equate to hostile work environment claims simply because the conflict is between a male and a female employee.
However, If bullying starts as retaliation against an employee who has reported ethical concerns about the company, the employee may be protected under whistleblower statutes. To learn more, check out our pages under whistleblowing and retaliation.
Workplace bullying typically involved malicious behavior such as deliberate insults, threats, demeaning comments, constant criticism, overbearing supervision, profane outburst, blatant ostracism, being overworked, or simply not communicating with colleagues. More subtle forms of bullying can include withholding or supplying incorrect work-related information, sabotaging projects, passive-aggressive behavior, blocking promotions, providing unclear or contradictory instructions, or requesting unnecessary or menial work.
Possibly, there is currently a movement hoping to make bullying in the workplace illegal. This may be in part due to some startling statistics, according to one survey:
Workplace bullying can have severe effects upon a victim, and has even been purported to manifest in stress symptoms more generally associated with domestic violence. Bullying decreases morale and interferes with good job performance. It can weaken quality control, discourage team building, increase turnover and absenteeism, and in the most extreme case, bullying can even result in workplace violence. You might be wondering if a law could be written so has to direct people to alter their personalities, but given management's unwillingness or inability to curtail abusive behavior in their workplace, the legislature might very well choose to respond.
To discourage and eliminate bullying, it is necessary that direction comes from the top. The most effective strategy employers can pursue is to treat bullying as though it is already illegal. Create a workplace culture wherein bullying is not tolerated. The following is a list of actions you might consider taking to create a harmonious work environment:
If you believe that you are being harassed for one of the above reasons, you should contact your nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or log onto www.eeoc.gov to find your nearest office.
© 2018 Workplace Fairness