Bullying has become recognized as a major problem in our society. Most people think of bullying in terms of schools and teenagers, but bullying is a serious problem that happens in many different settings, including during the course of employment.
According to a recent news article form The Press Enterprise, a new California law requires anti-bullying training for employee supervisors. Employers are already required to undergo mandatory sexual harassment avoidance training, but the new law will add anti-bullying training to the existing program.
This law, Assembly Bill AB 2053, defines what it means to be bullied as abusive conduct which a reasonable person would consider to be hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. The law also includes repeated verbal abuse under the definition of bullying. Verbal abuse, or even physical conduct that a reasonable person would consider threatening, humiliating or intimating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance is bullying.
As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, it is unfortunate that some supervisors and even fellow employees find some sort of enjoyment in making the lives of others with whom they work miserable. Some supervisors love to tell employees their work is not good, and even that the employee is worthless. Personal attacks on the employee are never allowed, and if you believe any criticism of your work is not warranted in light of the obvious quality of the work, this is a form of bullying that is actionable under the new statute.
However, if you are going to have a successful case, there are certain steps you must take. The first is you should contact an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible. Some people think they should wait to see if it was an isolated incident or if there is an ongoing problem. Generally speaking, if an employer is willing to bully an employee, it is not a one-time problem. It is also important to understand there may be time limits on when you may file a claim of civil legal action, and you do not want to miss these deadlines.
While it is good to know that the state legislature has become concerned about bullying, there are some issues worker advocates have with the new law. First, it is not connected with any existing form of employment discrimination. While it may not fit with any specific category such as a race, gender, national origin, or age, any or all of these reasons could be the underlying reason for the bullying. The problem is that without a link to these other types of discrimination, the penalties and remedies for these other types of employment discrimination are not applicable to bullying. The other problem is that the statute does not have it own set of remedies for a violation of the bullying law.
Similar to the much used analogy of a bridge to nowhere, people are describing the new law a road that ends at a ravine with no bridge to the other side. This bridge to the other side would be the mechanism for bringing an anti-bullying claim as a standalone legal matter.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
WORKPLACE: California law now requires anti-bullying training, June 17, 2015, Press Enterprise
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