Can I Sue For Workplace Bullying?

Being bullied is not limited to children on school playground. Bullying also happens on a daily basis to professional adults. However, adults oftentimes do not recognize certain behaviors to be bullying; even if the adult does recognize the bullying, the adult might not know the laws and resources with how to deal with the hostile behavior.

Contact a Houston employment law firm here.

What is Workplace Bullying?

In order to be able to remedy bullying, one must first know what behaviors fit within the bullying spectrum.

Workplace bullying usually occurs when a hostile environment is created by one or more persons towards another. The behavior may be an ongoing effort to undermine an adult’s ability to perform professional responsibilities, attack the adult’s self-confidence, or status within the workplace.

Workplace bullying may occur as verbal or physical conduct. It is important to note extreme instances of workplace bullying may be characterized as criminal behavior and will be dealt with accordingly with the criminal laws and procedures.

Texas Laws Against Workplace Bullying

Chapter 48 of the Texas Human Resources Code makes it unlawful for any harassment of people with disabilities and  elderly individuals. The Code requires that this form of harassment be reported for prompt investigation.

See also…Hostile Work Environment

What Behavior is Considered Bullying?

Bullies are not always individuals in higher positions. Bullies may be a supervisor, a co-worker, or even a frequent customer.

The following behavior is recognized as workplace bullying (this list is not exclusive of other behaviors):

  • Deliberately leaving an individual out of important work meetings of functions
  • Deliberately giving an individual an unrealistic amount of work to be done
  • Deliberately or frequently uses abusive language or conduct
  • Deliberately leaving out information from an individual so that individual may not properly complete a task
  • Repeatedly threatening to terminate one’s employment
  • Deliberately humiliates an individual in front of others
  • Requiring an individual to do humiliating or inappropriate acts

Federal Workplace Bullying Laws

If an individual has experienced workplace bullying, that individual may be protected by both state and federal laws. These laws were created to deter and punish behavior that is considered bullying. Federal law lends protection to individuals with disabilities via the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991; The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and The Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Although there is no specific federal law that punishes workplace bullying, various states are working towards implementing laws to deter and punish behavior characterized as workplace bullying. States like Texas and New York are pushing to implement an anti-bullying legislation called the Healthy Workplace Bill.

How to Report Workplace Bullying

Whether one may have a cause of action against an abuser or bully will be left to the specific facts of each case. Therefore, it is important to document and keep a record of every instance constituting abuse.

See also…Whistleblower Protections in Texas