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.
Being a Jerk Is Not Illegal, But Workplace Harassment Is
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.
At A Glance
- Expert legal strategist.
- Experienced in both prosecution and defense.
- Relentless fighter for her clients with results to prove it.
- Received the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers Award
- Featured in Time Magazine’s “Leaders of Criminal Defense” in the 100 Most Influential People edition.
Executive Managing Attorney Gina Tennen is a renowned leading advocate of personal liberties. Her meticulous trial preparation and exceptional ability to pursue every possible defense has earned her the admiration of clients and respect from prosecutors, judges, and other criminal attorneys all over the nation.
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.
A consummate strategist and top criminal attorney, lawyer Tennen works tirelessly on many high profile criminal cases. She is known as a relentless fighter who never gives up on any case. Whether the case is hers or handled by another criminal defense attorney from LibertyBell Law Group, no matter how small the case may seem she asserts that every client deserves the right to the best legal representation.
It is her deep belief and what she has built her entire career and lifelong dedication to that there is always hope for every client and every avenue should be pursued regardless of the time and energy it takes. For criminal attorney, Gina Tennen, devoting the finest criminal defense for clients is a habit and talent that you must apply and do all the time.
You demand the best defense. Take hold of your life and speak to our defense attorneys by calling 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761) now.
Founder Gina Tennen and all the sex offender attorneys at LibertyBell Law Group uphold that when the bell rings, it rings for life and liberty for all.
REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION
Gina was like a lioness protecting her cub.
I hired Gina and her team for my son who was facing 10 years for something they said he did when he was 17 years old. Gina was like a lioness protecting her cub. She did not stop. She fought hard and was able to defend the charges. We are so grateful to her and her team. They gave us our son. He recovered his life!– L. W.
Best defense lawyers in the country.
I hired this law firm in 2014 for my son who was facing 16 years in prison for a felony robbery. Lina Helou answered all our questions. I was extremely distraught regarding what my son was facing but Lina comforted me and told me that it would be okay. And thank goodness LibertyBell saved my son from going to jail and they were able to obtain only 3 years of probation. I could not have hired a better law firm for my son and if you want the best defense call LibertyBell Law Group. Thank God for this great group of lawyers.– V. J.
A great team of lawyers.
I do not have enough words to describe how incredible the experience with this firm was. They work very hard to make sure you have winning results. I could not have asked for better service from the moment I called, until my case was over. I was glad I made the right choice. Thank you again LibertyBell Law Group!– S. O.
She took her time to review all of my evidence and proved my innocence.
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.
Gina always kept me fully aware of how the case was proceeding.
When I first heard I was under a criminal investigation, I initially thought I would try and resolve this in the best way possible, without legal representation, as we were all interested in a "just" outcome. I quickly discovered that was not the case and contacted Gina at Liberty Bell. She clearly described the expectations and the choices available to me. She was always available to me, and when I called, if she couldn't talk with me at that time, she would quickly get back to me. Gina always kept me fully aware of how the case was proceeding. Her fee's were stipulated up front, as well as what those fees covered and what they did not.– S. B.
Attorney Gina Tennen was on point from day one.
Attorney Gina Tennen was on point from day one putting pressure on the sherrif's office to get things handled. With Child molestation accusatinos being thrown around Gina and Attorney Castro were great at keeping the pressure on and had no charges filled. The DCFS indications were appealed and we won with flying colors. Great service, great work, and will use again for all legal matters.– A. B.
Will Recommend, Total Experience, Awesome Team
Being involved in legal matters can be scary. When researching who to put my trust in, I came across Liberty and I am glad that I did. From the first time that I met with Gina and her team she made me feel comfortable and listened to all that I had to say. She assured me that her team would be on it and that they would do everything that they could! A little while in, Alan took over my case. When meeting with him you can tell that this is his passion and I immediately knew he was going to do everything in his power to make the outcome right! He was relentless and worked day and night working on the case. He kept in constant communication with me and truly cared not only about me but about my family as well. I am forever grateful for the support that this whole team has given me and would definitely recommend them to anyone who is looking for truly the best lawyers!– L. B.