Workplace bullying is generally known as the repeated mistreatment of a person by one or more employees that takes the form of verbal abuse or conduct or behaviors that are threatening, intimidating, or humiliating. Bullying may also include sabotage that prevents work from getting done or some combination of all of the above. These workplace behaviors have the potential of inflicting serious emotional distress and harm upon the battered individual. However, as predominant as bullying in the workplace may be, there are very little rights to recourse under law. Particularly, because bullying claims quite often do not meet the requirements under workplace harassment or discrimination laws.
What is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is closely related to bullying in a sense that they share similar characteristics. However, harassment constitutes more severity to the point where the unwanted and undesirable conduct becomes so severe and pervasive that it alters the terms and conditions of employment and creates a discriminatory abusive working environment. Bullying can quickly turn into workplace harassment if the conduct continues for enough time. The distinction is important because the law, at this moment, only protects against discrimination in the workplace and different forms of harassment. Many individuals who experience workplace bullying fall short of any legal redress because the behavior does not amount to what is required to satisfy the elements of a harassment claim.
The Healthy Workplace Bill
Although there is currently no legal recourse for individuals who are victims of workplace bullying, legislators are working for the passage of a law that will protect individuals against bullying in the workplace. The Healthy Workplace Bill will make it an unlawful employment practice to subject an employee to an abusive work environment. “Abusive work environment” shall occur when an employer or one or more of its employees, acting with intent to cause pain or distress to an employee, subjects that employee to abusive conduct that causes physical harm, psychological harm, or both. The Bill further states that repeated verbal abuse, derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a threatening, intimidating, or humiliating nature will all be concluded as “abusive conduct”.
The purpose of this proposed Bill and many other like it, is to deter abusive behavior on all levels, in both the workplace and other surroundings where bullying may cause harmful consequences to any individual who experiences it. If you have experienced or are currently experiencing harassment, discrimination or bullying in your workplace, you have many options. Do not hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced attorneys at EPGD Business Law, with offices in Miami, FL, Washington, D.C., and West Palm Beach, FL. Call us at (786) 837-6787 or email us to schedule a consultation.