Can I sue my company for bullying in the workplace and also not receiving benefits after 60 days?

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Can I sue my company for bullying in the workplace and also not receiving benefits after 60 days?

There is bullying in the workplace against myself and another girl who started the same time. I was even followed home. I have also worked there for almost 4 months and have not received anything about insurance or raise like I was told. What should I do?

Asked on May 30, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

IF you are actually assaulted or have some other crime committed against you by this employee, and you have provided notice to the employer that he/she is threatening or bullying you, then you might have a cause of action: when an employer is specifically aware that an employee poses a threat of violence or other criminality and does not take action to address the situation, they can be liable, or financially responsible, under the theory of "negligent supervision."

However, if there has been no crime or other tortious act (e.g. assault), there  is no liability: the law does not prevent bullying behavior (except in school) or provide compensation for being bullied. So unless something which itself would be a crime or give you grounds to sue has been done, there would be no grounds for a lawssuit.

Alternatevely, though, if you can show that the bullying is directed against you because you are a woman (or because of your race, religion, disability, or because you are over 40) and the employer has not taken action after you reported it, you may be able to hold them liable for illegal workplace discrimination: the law prohibits discrimination against or harassment of employees due to their race, religion, sex, age over 40, or disability.

Note that in both cases above, you have to have provided notice to your employer of the situation: if you haven't reported  it, they would generally not be liable, since they have done nothing wrong by not taking action if no one made  them aware that there was a problem.

As to the raise or insurance: if you had an employment contract calling for you to receive these things and you have not, you could potentially sue to enforce the contract. In the absence of a contract, however, the employer is generally free to decline to provide benefits or a raise, unless you can show that the refusal is due to some form of illegal discrimination--though in regards to the insurance (not a raise) if employees with similar jobs as yours receive insurance, then the probably need to provide it to you, too.


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