Employers Might Address Workplace Behavior in Employee Handbooks
Although it may not be a behavior prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, bullying in the workplace occurs at surprisingly high rates. According to one estimate, as many as 60 percent of American workers are victims of this behavior at least once in their careers. That’s at least four times more often than incidences of sexual harassment or even racial discrimination.
Since bullying victims are not a protected class under most federal or state employment laws, retaliation for reporting it may also go unchecked. Yet victims of personal aggression or intimidation tactics in the workplace may experience consequences to both their health and careers.
For example, victims without recourse to an internal complaint system or other employer-structured communication channels might simply internalize the effects of workplace bullying. That could result in higher stress levels and potential mental health issues. Ultimately, job performance may even be compromised. In fact, one study suggests that bullied workers are much more at risk of losing their jobs, either through resignation or an adverse employment action, such as termination.
One institute, which is devoted to workplace bullying issues, recommends that employers codify their expectations for employee interactions in official publications, such as employee handbooks. Although an employment agreement might not expressly mention bullying, it could nevertheless articulate an employer’s expectation that employees act in a professional manner that complies with published best practices or employee handbook standards.
As an employment law attorney might agree, having codified best practices, as well as workplace dispute resolution mechanisms in place can be a good preventive strategy for minimizing employment litigation.
Source: mainstreet.com, “This Workplace Offense is More Common than Sexual Harassment,” Susan Kreimer