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Workplace Bullying Requires Attention From Employers

Volume 2, Issue 8
April 30th, 2014
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Traditionally, horsing around and rough language are taken for granted in many male-dominated workplaces. But if that’s the case in your company, you need to look at controlling that behavior.

At least 25 states are considering legislation to address workplace bullying, and in some cases employers already can anticipate facing lawsuits brought by employees alleging bullying.

As an employer you should be aware that you cannot allow harassment involving racial, ethnic, religious or sexual discrimination. However, this new legislation would let employees sue for workplace harassment without having to demonstrate that the harassment is based on a protected class, such as sex, race or national origin.

Attorney Uma Chandrasekaran of the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP suggests you take these steps:

Institute anti-bullying policies. Although employers should already have harassment and non- retaliation policies because of anti-discrimination statutes, your anti-bully policies could encompass a broader range of conduct.

Your policy should define bullying and provide examples of such unacceptable behavior. The policy also would communicate a reporting procedure and establish disciplinary action for violations of the policy.

Organize regular workplace anti-bullying training. Consider incorporating regular anti-bullying training for employees and managers to ensure early detection and prevention. Employee training can include examples of inappropriate conduct, lay out avenues available to report bullying and use illustrative scenarios for discussion.

Provide support services. You also may consider instituting programs to create a support network for employees who may be bullied, and to prevent and address this conduct. This can include coaching, counseling, Employee Assistance Programs and other wellness programs.

That’s not all. “In order to stay ahead of the curve, employers should always be striving to foster a culture of respect,” Chandrasekaran emphasized.

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