When you think of bullying, you probably think of school kids on the playground. However, bullying in the workplace occurs every day. If you are an employer, you cannot ignore it or assume it isn’t occurring because nobody has reported it. You must take action to prevent and eliminate workplace bullying.
If an employer fails to stop bullying in the workplace, it opens the employer up to being held liable for violence and/or harassment litigation. As a practical matter, your employees will not want to be at work and their ability to be productive while at work will suffer. This can lead to quality issues and loss of business for you.
So, how do you distinguish between harmless banter and bullying? Below are a few indicators that bullying is occurring:
- You can identify a target. Bullies usually focus on one individual or group of individuals who are always the victims of the verbal abuse.
- There is no give and take in the conversation. The individual who is dishing it out isn’t getting it back in return. If the “teasing” is one-sided, it is probably bullying.
- If the banter gets personal, it is likely bullying. For example if the bully is focusing on a specific trait or something about the employee that is a weakness, it usually qualifies as bullying.
All employers should have a policy that prohibits bullying in the workplace. Your policy should clearly define what constitutes bullying and that it is prohibited in the workplace. Your policy must outline how an employee that is being bullied can seek help and what disciplinary actions may be taken if bullying is discovered. All managers and other supervisors should be properly trained on the policy, including how to handle “real life” scenarios.
To learn more about an employer’s duties and obligations, contact Faro & Crowder, PA