With age comes wisdom. That’s the theory, anyway. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of adults who seem to have avoided the maturation process. Bullying is often considered a problem among school-aged children. It is also a problem in countless workplaces, as adults who should have progressed beyond the juvenile behavior continue to harass, humiliate and accost the people around them. The law is evolving quickly to protect students from bullying behavior, but the progress has not been the same for adult victims. There may be options, however, to ensure that you are not bullied in the workplace.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and other state and federal laws protect people from workplace discrimination based on race, ethnicity or national origin, age, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, disability, gender and other categories. There is no general law against workplace bullying, sadly. To violate the law, the conduct must either rise to the level of a criminal violation, such as a physical attack, or be based on a protected category.
Your employer has a responsibility to prevent workplace discrimination in the form of bullying or cyberbullying. The rise of social media has given bullies new platforms on which to spread their hate. If you receive texts, tweets, Facebook messages or other abusive content from a supervisor or manager, even if it happens outside of working hours, you may still have a claim for workplace discrimination or harassment.
Workplace bullying is a common problem. Such bullying has been found in anywhere from 16 percent to 50 percent of workplaces. The law does not go as far as it should to protect the victims of all forms of bullying, but it does apply in some cases. If you are the victim of cyberbullying or other forms of workplace harassment, you should speak to an attorney to find out if you have a claim.
Source: Society for Human Resource Management, “Employers May Be Held Liable for Employees’ Cyberbullying,” by Allen Smith, 10 February 2016