Can an employer terminate an employee due to bullying?

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Can an employer terminate an employee due to bullying?

Myself and others were bullied in the workplace. There was verbal, video, and written documentation against said bully. There was also physical and verbal altercations amongst the bully and other employees. Only until there was retaliation against the bully, was she and the other employee terminated. Did the employer fail its employees by knowing another associate was a threat and not terminating them before hand?

Asked on May 21, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unless your treatment by this co-worker was due to some form of legally actionable discrimination, then your employer was under no duty to take action. In other words, your company did not need to do anything about these incidents unless they had to due with your race, religion, nationality, gender, disability, or age (over 40). Also, if these actions violated the terms of an employment contract or union agrement, then you would have a claim. Otherwise, rude and unprofessional behavior while unfortunate, it not illegal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The employer can terminate an employee due to bullying but is not required to do so. You are assuming the employer has an obligation to protect its employees from bullying: it does not. So whether the employer failed its employees is a moral sense is largely irrelevant, since it did not fail them legally, not having a legal obligation to protect them from bullying.
Again, it could fire bullies, but is not required to.


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