What can I do when I reported bullying behavior and in turn was blamed for it?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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What can I do when I reported bullying behavior and in turn was blamed for it?

I reported 2 instances of bullying behavior from a co-worker with a history of the behavior at previous employers. The first incident had multiple witnesses and the bully received a verbal warning. I received nothing at all. The second incident lasted more than 5 minutes and the 1 co-worker who would have witnessed it said that he had headphones on couldn’t serve as a witness as he didn’t hear anything. I legally captured just over 3 of it on an audio recording. The bully never denied it, only that he didn’t know why his anger was out of control. The company did a sham investigation in which the attorney they hired to investigate produced a report full of references to a conversation we didn’t have and said the bully did nothing wrong. I don’t think he ever reviewed the audio. The EAP counselor they had us both attend told me that our EAP Employee Assistance Program called him and directed him to investigate me for things that were not relevant to the situation. His words were, I believe someone at your company is protecting him. HR was not happy that I had reported their star performer and constantly tried to persuade me into agreeing that I overreacted, that this person was under a lot of stress, etc. Now, 3 months later, I’m receiving a write up for both instances. On top of the write-up, my boss is fabricating issues on my performance review and I know it’s for nothing more than to show a false paper trail to justify firing me for something other than the bullying instances. What should I be doing in order to protect myself? Can I bring legal action against them? I am very distraught over this matter and losing my job isn’t really an option?

Asked on September 5, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you treatment constitutes some form of legally actionable discrimination (i.e. is due to your race, religion, gender, disability, age (40+), or nationality, you have no recourse here. The fact is that absent an employment contract or union agreement to the contrary, a business can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This means that a worker can be disciplined for any reason or no reason at all. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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