What can be done about a hostile workplace and bullying behavior?

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What can be done about a hostile workplace and bullying behavior?

I work somewhere where the boss is not supervised. Over the course of 3 plus years, she has shown what I would term bullying behavior writing people out for disagreeing verbally intimidating, threatening cut back of hour, etc. to retaliate, etc. In the most recent case, she has written up an over 40 year old for disagreeing that her hours are to be cut and she is to take on additional work because of the termination of another employee. She has also on quite a few occasions with this employee verbally reprimanded her for not completing a project that was not requested by her in a timely manner with the time given to complete it along with her normal duties. This involves more than one employee and some previous ones with various levels of bullying behavior. She answers to a board but the board members are not exactly savvy on policy on on her behavior. Additionally she has show possible mental

instability. Who can I refer these employees to. Is there anything we an do? I personally have a rather large file of emails, notes, and notes on her conduct.

Asked on October 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A hostile workplace is one which prevents someone from doing their job in a reasonable manner. In such a setting, by behavior or actions a co-worker creates an environment that is counterproductive to a worker performing their job duties. However, this treatment must not be due to merely rude or boorish behavior; they must be "discriminatory" in nature. This means that they must constitute some form of legally actionable discrimination (i.e. be based on race, religion, age (over 40), disability, national origin, etc.). Accordingly, if the verbal abuse was merely obnoxious, while unprofessional it was legal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The law does not require employers to be fair or reasonable or professional--or even sane. They are allowed to be cruel, mean, unfair, and bullying, and what the law says is that if you don't like your job, you can seek other employment. The only exception is an employee cannot be harassed specifically because of certain protected characteristics, the main ones of which are race, national origin, age over 40, sex, religion, or disability. But someone belonging to one of those classes can still be bulied as long as it is not because of that category (e.g. it can be for performance, personality conflict, etc.). If someone believes they are subject to the above illegal harassment, they should contact the EEOC.


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