Bullying on the Job: Not Illegal, But Stop It Anyway

Bullying on the Job: Not Illegal, But Stop It Anyway iStock

Bullying in the workplace isn’t illegal unless the person is being targeted because of some protected characteristic like race or sex, explains Jon Hyman, a partner in the labor and employment group at Kohrman Jackson & Krantz.

But on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, Hyman argues that the fact generalized workplace bullying is not illegal shouldn’t prevent employers from taking steps to stop it.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying survey, 72 percent of employees report their employers haven’t done anything to curb workplace bullying.

He says if employers continue to ignore the problem and employees say that’s what is happening, lawmakers will step in, passing antibullying legislation that may force companies to comply in ways they might not like.

Thus, he urges employers to start treating bullying like it is illegal by creating a culture and policies that communicate the behavior isn’t tolerated. For example, he says:

  • Include bullying in your antiharassment or other workplace conduct policies.
  • Train employees to report it.
  • Don’t ignore complaints.
  • After investigating, implement corrective actions, commensurate with the severity of the conduct.
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