How to Stop Workplace Bullies
By Piper Hoffman on August 26, 2011
Employees often encounter unfair treatment in the workplace that can be upsetting and even unbearable, but isn't illegal. Unless the treatment is based on the employee's sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, age, or on another protected category, a lawyer probably can't help. The unfair treatment may not be discrimination -- it may be bullying.
Workplace bullying is not uncommon. The supervisor who is consistently mean to a subordinate, the co-worker who turns others against a particular employee, the "practical joker" whose jokes cross the line into cruelty -- they are all bullies. Bullies were hard to handle on the playground and can be even harder to deal with at work, where one's very livelihood is at stake.
But there are ways to fight back. A recent article on the Harvard Business Review's Blog Network, "Diagnose and Eliminate Workplace Bullying" by Baron Christopher Hanson, outlines one approach to ending bullying. The Workplace Bullying Institute offers another. Visit their websites for more information.
As an employment lawyer I have talked to so many people who were traumatized by workplace bullying, but I couldn't help them because the abuse didn't break any laws. But just because it's legal doesn't mean it's acceptable.