Employers must work diligently to create a safe working environment free from bullying or harassment. Managers or supervisors must take steps to investigate and eradicate aggressive behaviors in the workplace. Additionally, it is imperative that an organization legally protect itself by having a policies and procedures in place to efficiently guide their actions.
What is bullying and harassment?
Bullying and harassment actions are designed to intimidate and humiliate and can be initiated by co-workers or supervisors alike. These actions can include, but are not limited to:
- Verbal aggression or insults
- The use of derogatory names
- Harmful or dangerous hazing practices
- Vandalizing personal belongings
- Spreading malicious rumors
If a supervisor is taking reasonable actions in teaching, training or providing corrective action, it is not considered bullying and harassment.
Performing an investigation
Employers must take employee allegations seriously and follow procedures that ensure a reasonable response to reports or incidents of bullying and harassment. Policies and procedures can include:
- How and when an investigation will be conducted
- What will be included in the investigation
- What and when the follow-up will conclude (corrective action, time frame, etc.)
It is not enough that an organization has a procedure in place. They must also act in accordance with their own plan.
Bullying and harassment in the workplace can have serious implications for both employees and employers. Employees might face emotional abuse, and employers might suffer irreparable harm to their professional reputation. These allegations must be investigated and acted on swiftly.
An experienced employment law lawyer can thoroughly examine your situation and provide sound legal guidance.