What to do if I have a female co-worker who is spreading false accusations about me being a bully and turning a great job into one that I dread?

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What to do if I have a female co-worker who is spreading false accusations about me being a bully and turning a great job into one that I dread?

My co-worker has told others in our office that I hate women and cannot work with women. She has also started pointing out every single thing I do, that she disagrees with to my boss, I assume thinking this is all pointing the finger at me as being incompetent. I chose not to reply to my co-worker’s statements but it is wearing on me. My boss seems to ignore the behavior, and allows it to continue, even though I have mentioned twice before. I have a great working relationship with everyone in my office, women and men, except this one bully. Is there any recourse?

Asked on August 3, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, employment law does not protect against bullies, so long as  the bullying is not directed against a person due to a protected characteristic, such as the person's race, religion, sex, disability status, or age over 40. Therefore, if this co-worker simply does not like you, she may bully you under the employment law.

However, under tort law, she may not make negative untrue factual statements about you to third parties--that is defamation. She may state negative opinions about you--e.g. she could say that she thinks you're a "creep"--but if anything is a factual assertion--e.g. that you have committed sexual harassment, when you have not--then it may be defamation and you may be able to sue her.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, employment law does not protect against bullies, so long as  the bullying is not directed against a person due to a protected characteristic, such as the person's race, religion, sex, disability status, or age over 40. Therefore, if this co-worker simply does not like you, she may bully you under the employment law.

However, under tort law, she may not make negative untrue factual statements about you to third parties--that is defamation. She may state negative opinions about you--e.g. she could say that she thinks you're a "creep"--but if anything is a factual assertion--e.g. that you have committed sexual harassment, when you have not--then it may be defamation and you may be able to sue her.


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