Bullying in the Workplace
Bullying in the workplace sometimes occurs in New York. The state legislature has considered the Healthy Workplace Bill to address workplace bullying and to provide a private cause of action for workplace bullying. Up to 21% of employees reportedly directly experience workplace bullying that has detrimental health effects. If you are bullied or otherwise harassed in connection with your membership in a protected class, you may be able to recover damages under federal, state, or local law. The New York City workplace harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates can help you explore whether you may have a claim.Bullying in the Workplace
Bullying can result in hypertension, anxiety, depression, PTSD, shame, humiliation, and stress-related stomach conditions, among other problems. Under the Healthy Workplace Bill, abusive conduct would be actionable if it were perpetrated with malice against an employee by another employee or an employer. It would include conduct that a reasonable person would find offensive, hostile, and also not related to the employer’s legitimate business interests. The judge or jury would need to weigh how severe the bullying was, how often it happened, and the nature of it. Bullying in the workplace based on an employee’s membership in a protected class under federal, state, or local law may be actionable to the extent that it constitutes hostile work environment harassment.Hostile Work Environment Harassment
A hostile work environment can be created in many different work settings, including both blue collar and white collar jobs, and it can arise among professional, technical, or administrative workers. When bullying in the workplace is motivated by the victim’s membership in a protected class under federal, state, or city laws, it may be possible to bring a hostile work environment harassment claim.
There are multiple federal laws under which a hostile work environment claim might be brought. For example, if you were bullied because of your race, color, national origin, religion, or sex, our attorneys might be able to help you bring a hostile work environment lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For another example, if you were bullied because of a disability, you might have a hostile work environment claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Sometimes a court may not find that the bullying itself constitutes a hostile work environment, but you might be terminated or otherwise punished by your employer in response to your complaints. This could constitute retaliation, which is also actionable.
Similarly, the New York State Human Rights Law prohibits hostile work environment harassment, as does the New York City Human Rights Law. Each of these laws enumerates different protected classes with some overlap. Bullying can be unlawful when the conduct is pervasive or severe enough to generate a work environment that a reasonable person would consider abusive, hostile, or intimidating. In some cases, an isolated instance of bullying would not rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment, unless the incident is considered quite serious. More often, a claim is based on the cumulative impact of a series of acts working together to adversely affect someone’s terms and conditions of employment. Offensive behavior can include but is not restricted to slurs, offensive jokes, epithets, physical threats or assaults, mockery, intimidation, and interference with work performance. You would need to show that the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation that is sufficiently serious or pervasive, such that it changes the conditions of your work environment, and that there is a specific reason to impute the conduct that generated the hostile work environment to the employer.
If you are bullied and believe that it is based on your membership in a protected class, you should tell the person bullying you to stop and let him or her know that the conduct is unwelcome. Your employment manual may include a grievance procedure specifying how you should report the matter to your employer.Consult an Experienced Workplace Harassment Attorney in New York City
If you believe that the bullying that you have faced in New York City or elsewhere may constitute hostile work environment harassment, you should consult Phillips & Associates. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our online form. Our employment lawyers handle cases in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx, as well as Westchester County, Long Island, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
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