Bullies are bad guys, so the claim goes. And, unfortunately bullies have always been around and probably always will be. Bullies aren’t just the big kids who hang around the schoolyard. Bullies might be just about anywhere, including the workplace. Many employees are afraid to report big bad bullies at work, for fear of getting fired. Someone has to stand up to bullies though, or they'll keep doing what bullies do best, and that is bullying.
Workplace Bullying Everywhere
Workplace bullying often refers to the repeated actions intended to intimidate, degrade, undermine or humiliate an individual employee or worker by one or more employees. According to surveys and statistics, up to 50 percent of US employees or workers become the victims of bullying. At this rate, it would seem that bullying is everywhere. Unfortunate as this is, even worse is the fact that bullying itself is not illegal.
The good news is that several laws protect you from bullying. While bullying may not be illegal, harassment is. State and federal laws protect you from harassment when based on improper grounds that equate to unlawful discrimination. If you believe you're a victim of improper discrimination or think you've been discriminated against due to your sex, you may file a harassment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office.
Equal Employment Opportunity
Other laws protect workers based on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed workplace discrimination based on color, race, religion, gender or national origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits an employer from discriminating against older workers. Some employees may be bullied simply because of their age. Other reasons exist for bullying. You may be bullied because of your education or lack thereof. Most people bully because they have very low self-esteem. Keep in mind that a bully will find some reason to target you if he or she is intent on bullying. It has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with the bully or mob that targets you. If you believe you've been targeted for any reason and are fired, don't think you have no recourse. The odds are good that someone can help you.
Filing a Claim
Your first step is to file a claim with the nearest office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC can investigate your claim. If it finds just cause, the EEOC will take action against the employer you worked for. You may be entitled to damages. Never become a victim of bullying just because you happened to work for an employer that didn’t perform due diligence to protect your rights.
Aanya Rose has been writing since 1998. Her work has appeared in "ADDitude," "Curl," "Diabetes Alternatives," "Fitness," the "Healing Path" and more. She has served as a channel manager for various websites and worked in consultation and training. Rose holds a B.S. and Ph.D.