We are often contacted by potential clients who tell us that my boss is bullying me and wanting to know whether they can file a lawsuit. There is a fine line between poor management skills and workplace harassment that could lead to financial compensation. The key is in knowing when bad behavior crosses a line and gives you a right to sue.
Can you go to jail for workplace Harassment
Workplace bullying would not necessarily give you a legal cause of action. Bullying is rude, wrong, and debilitating, but being a jerk is not necessarily illegal. 61% of U.S. employees know of abusive conduct in the workplace. When it happens to you, it can keep you from living a normal life, even outside of work. However, when we hear from people, “my boss is bullying me,” we cannot always give them the answer that they want.
Bullying is rude, wrong, and debilitating, but being a jerk is not necessarily illegal.
This does not mean that we will tell potential clients that there is nothing that they can do about it. We will ask more specifically about your boss or any other employee’s behavior because federal and state law does create circumstances where bullying can be illegal. It all depends on the focus of the bullying.
If your boss does not like your job performance, or if they are taking out their frustrations on you, the chances are that you cannot do anything about it. They are completely in the wrong, but it is only a moral transgression. The issue is when your boss’ treatment is based on you being a part of a protected class.
Federal and California Law Makes Workplace Harassment Illegal
Federal laws are aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace. You cannot be harassed at work on the basis of the following:
- National origin
California law adds even more protected categories, including sexual orientation.
In some cases, bullying will cross the line when it is on any of these grounds. For example, if you were subjected to constantly being degraded based on your status in a protected class or were the target of frequent jokes, this would be workplace harassment. It would not matter if it were your boss that was bullying you or other co-workers. Any type of workplace harassment based on the above classes is illegal no matter where it originates.
If Nobody Else Is Being Bullied, Something May Be Wrong
In addition, if you are a member of a protected class, and your boss treated you far differently than they did anyone else, it could be evidence of workplace harassment. Again, there is nothing that requires bosses to be decent, and the law does not prohibit berating employees. However, if you find yourself constantly singled out for things that other people get away with, it could be evidence of workplace harassment.
Discriminatory intent is a category of discrimination cases where the employee is treated worse by their employer because they are a member of a protected class. Your boss does not have to explicitly say that they are singling you out because of your membership in that class. However, the fact that people who are not part of protected classes do not experience that treatment can serve as evidence of intent.
Keep a Log of Everything That You Have Experienced
Since the line between poor supervisory practices and harassment is a very fine one, you should have as much evidence as possible to back up possible workplace harassment claims. It is important to document as much as you can about your boss’s conduct. The best way to do this is to keep a daily journal where you list what your supervisor said. You should keep a special list of things that they do and say that can relate to your protected class. Your entries should go beyond just that my boss is bullying me.
It is important to document as much as you can about your boss’s conduct.
Before you do anything, you should talk to an employment discrimination lawyer. Your attorney would give you advice on how to proceed. While you always have the right to file a discrimination lawsuit if you think that your boss acted illegally, that is not always the outcome that you want. If you get a check from your company to settle your case, it means that you have suffered damages. Sometimes, the best alternative is to nip the behavior in the bud before things get too bad.
Try to Address the Issue With the Company First
The best thing could be to resolve the problem informally with the company. Your lawyer may advise you to speak with human resources about your concerns. If you file an internal discrimination complaint, your company cannot retaliate against you. The company may have its own anti-bullying policy that would prevent this behavior. However, getting legal advice is the best way to determine how to effectively address the issue with the company.
If you file an internal discrimination complaint, your company cannot retaliate against you.
You may need to take the matter further when you are experiencing workplace harassment. When it crosses the line from bullying to illegal conduct, the law gives you rights. Your attorney should review both federal and state law to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit. They will review your case to help you decide whether there is something more than supervisor bullying at work.
If you experienced workplace harassment, you could file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. They will investigate the claim, and they may file a lawsuit against the employer. If they do not, you have the legal right to file your own lawsuit. Alternatively, you can file a state lawsuit against your employer.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
You can do something about workplace harassment to hold your employer accountable and get justice. Call the Liberty Bell Law Group at (855) 529-7761 or contact us online to learn more about your legal rights and figure out how best to handle the situation. Not all bullying can be chalked up to someone being rude and hurtful. There may be something more at work.
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Lawyer Tennen began her career as a Senior Law Clerk for one of the toughest District Attorney’s offices in the country where she gained remarkable experience in juvenile crimes, elder abuse, parole hearings, child abuse, sex and other serious crimes. Her experience at the District Attorney’s Office armed her knowledge and case strategy in exploiting the other side’s weaknesses for the client’s advantage and building a rock solid defense. Criminal attorney Tennen’s experience on both sides and brilliant maneuvering throughout is evidenced in her winning track record. In fact, even before earning her law degree, she was instrumental in getting excellent results on several criminal cases outshining her peers.
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My father had found this group through his company and coworkers. I was assigned Gina Tennen and I cannot explain in just a review on how gratefull I am to be working with her. My case was an accusation of unlawful sex. This had looked extremely bad on my part since I was in a fraternity and she was in a sorority. During these times with Greek life, there are too many bad stigmas surrounding these organizations. Gina had believed in me and knew that I was innocent and that these accusations just were not true. She took her time to review all of my evidence and proved my innocence. I totally recommend this law group because they are willing to put in the work to help your situation.– C. D.
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