Workplace bullying is, unfortunately, common. One survey conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health revealed that about 25 percent of employees at U.S. companies and government agencies felt victimized by bullying co-workers or managers at some point. Other research has shown that bullying occurs at organizations where 75 percent of Americans work.
As for what constitutes bullying among employees, the Workplace Bullying Institute offers this definition, with the emphasis in the original:
Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is:
So, bullying at work takes many forms and has terrible consequences. But how can a victim or witness prove it? Answering this question is the first step toward stopping the harmful behavior and, when appropriate, securing compensation for the target — who, to use the real term, is the victim.
As lawyers for victims of workplace bullying in Columbus, Ohio, the attorneys with the Calig Law Firm are happy to offer the following basic suggestions for collecting proof and taking action. We welcome opportunities to offer no-cost, confidential consultations to anyone who wants to end bullying at work. Appointments can be requested by calling (614) 252-2300 or filling out this online contact form.
Federal laws and state statutes prohibit mistreating employees on the basis of sex, race, national origin, or age. Pregnancy and veteran discrimination is also illegal, as is discriminating against someone who has an obvious or perceived disability. Bullying based on these characteristics can lead to a hostile environment in which a person does not feel safe.
To gather evidence of bullying, save emails and texts. Take pictures of harassing or threatening graffiti. Record conversations that include insults and promises of harm or sabotage. Ohio law allows people to videotape others in public and to produce audio recordings without the other person’s knowledge. Last, be aware that anyone can document and report workplace bullying; co-workers cannot be legally punished for standing up for colleagues.
Enlist the Help of Supportive Co-Workers
Chances are good that a workplace bully abuses, humiliates, or intimidates several people. Even if bullying focuses on a single person, most people who witness it will not approve. Reaching out to allies can provide essential emotional support and open doors to having co-workers testify on your behalf when an investigation into or hearing on bullying occurs.
Report Incidents to the Human Resources Department or a Trusted Supervisor
Exercising legal options to hold a bully accountable typically requires the victim to show that he or she attempted to have the behavior corrected by managers and supervisors. By law, companies and agencies must have standard procedures for looking into and stopping workplace bullying. A victim of a co-worker’s or manager’s abuse, sabotage, or intimidation should take evidence to HR or the manager’s supervisor before filing a complaint with an employee protection agency.
Work With a Columbus Discrimination Lawyer
A victim of workplace bullying has the right to hire an attorney at any time. Contacting a Columbus discrimination lawyer before deciding to collect evidence can be particularly helpful for getting advice on what to preserve and how to organize records so that HR and supervisors truly understand what has happened.
Working with a Columbus workplace lawyer is essential when the abuse, sabotage, or intimidation continues after the employer does an investigation and intervention.