Fight Back Against Workplace Bullying: It May Soon Be a Legal Obligation

You may be unaware that California has recently enacted a law entitled Assembly Bill 2053, requiring employers with 50 or more employees to train their supervisors on workplace bullying. Although this law does not create an outright cause of action for employees who have been the victims of an office bully, it is a step in that direction. As is often the trend, other states have picked up on California’s aggressive stance toward bullying and have begun considering similar legislation to curb the all too common practice of abusive conduct by supervisors and co-workers.

For many years, employers have educated themselves (and their employees) about the various harassment and discrimination laws at both the state and federal levels. However, only recently have studies shown that office bullying and abusive conduct are occurring at extremely high levels. That said, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is silent with respect to abusive managerial tactics and office bullying, and ignores the fact that this sort of behavior can be as damaging (if not more damaging) than the types of conduct the law prohibits (such as race and sex discrimination and harassment).

Bullying Creates a High Cost

You may be wondering what impact office bullying has on your workplace, especially given that it is likely not against the law at this time. Therefore, you may also be wondering why it might be worth the time and expense to conduct training courses to prevent this type of conduct when such courses may not be required by your state. The simple answer is 30-35% of United States employees report that they have been victims or witnesses of abusive workplace conduct. This amounts to millions of employees who may lose productivity or even seek to change jobs to avoid a bully that creates a hostile environment. This type of turnover is costly to a business. Therefore, conducting proactive training to avoid this type of conduct can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

What Types of Conduct Can be Considered Abusive?

California’s new law spells out a specific definition of abusive workplace conduct, but generally speaking any sorts of swear words and raised voices; belittling of employees; physical actions such as thrown paper; offensive or humiliating conduct; or attempts at sabotage of work (among other things) should be considered particularly risky behavior if they occur frequently at your office.

Syntrio’s Preventing Workplace Bullying training courses are specifically tailored to meet the needs of your business or industry, and cost-effectively train your managers and employees on what abusive conduct and bullying is, and how to spot and eliminate it before there is a problem. Syntrio’s workplace harassment training courses also cover workplace bullying

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses of all sizes eliminate abusive conduct and workplace bullying across the board, and therefore provides harassment in the workplace courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern businesses.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about ourHR compliance courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your company!

 

Healthy Workplace Laws: Get Ahead of the Curve

State legislatures around the country are contemplating (or have already enacted) legislation to curb the alarming amount of workplace bullying taking place in both public and private sector places of employment. While your state may not yet have taken steps to eliminate this harmful activity, you can be assured that the time is coming, and your business needs to do something about it. With that in mind, below is some background and statistics on workplace bullying, and how it can be avoided.

What is Workplace Bullying, and how is it Defined?

California recently answered this question for employers when it enacted Assembly Bill 2053, which amended the California law requiring bi-annual sexual harassment training to include a requirement that employers provide training on “abusive conduct.” The California law defines “abusive conduct” as follows:

[A]busive conduct means conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.

The California law sets out several examples of abusive conduct including:

• Repeated infliction of verbal abuse
• The use of insults and epithets
• Threats
• Verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening
• Gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance

In summary, in California (and soon across the country) it will likely be illegal to fail to treat co-workers or subordinates with the respect they deserve. While this may sound simple, the statistics are alarming.

Recent Survey Shows Majority of Employees Concerned with Workplace Bullying

According to a 2014 National Survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 27 percent of U.S. employees reported that they had experienced abusive conduct at work and 21% of U.S. employees claim they have witnessed abusive conduct of others at work. These numbers are simply too high, and evidence the legislative trend toward outlawing abusive conduct in the workplace across the country.

The 2014 survey also revealed most employees do not think that their employers do enough to address workplace bullying. Indeed, 25% of employees’ surveyed responded that employers deny bullying and harassing conduct takes place and fail to investigate complaints. Further, 16% responded employers discount bullying or describe it as non-serious, and another 15% responded that employers rationalize it by describing the bullying as innocent.

Perhaps most glaring, only 12% of employees’ surveyed found their employers took steps to eliminate bullying by creating policies and procedures and training employees on how to identify and prevent abusive conduct. Given the legislative trend toward requiring training to combat abusive conduct in the workplace it makes sense to get a jump on things by training managers and employees to treat each other with dignity and respect.

Syntrio’s Online Courses on the Prevention of Abusive Conduct are a Simple Solution for Businesses of all Sizes

Syntrio understands that managers and employees are busy. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to conduct online training to prevent workplace bullying not only to comply with the law, but also to protect your company reputation. More and more employees are claiming different types of harassment when they depart a company, and now with new “Healthy Workplace” anti-bullying legislation going into effect they have a new weapon in the fight against employer misconduct.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses prevent bullying from occurring within their offices, yet also with assisting businesses in complying with their legal obligation to train employees on the prevention of abusive conduct.  Contact  www.syntrio.com for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!

 

Biting Back at the Bullies: Effective Training Can Reduce Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Bullies are everywhere. Certain people take joy and pleasure in making miserable the lives of those they perceive as “weak” or easy targets for taking out their personal frustrations. Workplace bullying is a growing yet preventable phenomenon that can take a variety of forms. It is important to note that workplace bullying can be considered a form of actionable workplace harassment when the activity comes from a supervisor (or co-worker behavior is reported and management does not effectively quash the behavior) and creates a hostile working environment.   

Allowing a bullying culture to continue at your business is not only counterproductive, it can lead to significant legal fees when an employee decides to file a harassment or retaliation lawsuit. Therefore, effective bully prevention training is a cost-effective method to reduce the potential for exposure to the types of legal and financial consequences your business may be exposed to if such practices are allowed to continue.   

Supervisors Often Bully Their Subordinate Employees Without Knowing It 

Perhaps the most common form of workplace bullying is the “hothead” supervisor who takes out his professional and personal frustrations on the employees he is assigned to manage.  In the classic cases the supervisor feels as though he has to “break down” his staff in order to “build them up,” or simply feels that the “tough love” seen in professional sports leagues is the only effective way to manage. As seen in the recent NFL Miami Dolphins scandal involving a group of senior players accused of bullying a more junior offensive lineman, this strategy is ineffective in the modern workplace, and leads to legal trouble. 

2014 Study Shows Workplace Bullying is Pervasive 

A recent study showed that 27% of American employees have been subjected to bullying, with a majority of the alleged bullying by a supervisor. Additionally, 21% of American employees have witnessed an incident of workplace bullying. Finally, the study revealed that 82% of workplace bullying victims wound up losing their job, either by voluntary or involuntary termination. That number is simply too high, and presents too significant a business risk for owners to allow a bullying culture to take place.   

Employers have a responsibility to eliminate workplace bullying and workplace harassment. Additionally, when an employee reports an incident of bullying or harassment and the employer either does nothing about the incident, or worse, takes an adverse action against the employee, he or she may have a claim for retaliation or other common law business torts. By allowing these unlawful practices to flourish in the workplace, employers pay the high price of litigation costs in addition to low morale, decreased productivity, and an overall negative reputation in the community. Further, modern employers understand that not only are they able to avoid employee lawsuits, they also gain a more productive overall workforce when their businesses are free from hostile environments. In short, effective anti-harassment and anti-bullying training is a prudent business decision. 

Cost-Effective Electronic Methods of Workplace Harassment and Anti-Bullying Training Can Save Costs and Increase Employee Productivity 

With the advent of e-learning and online compliance training, developing anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies that has become easier and more cost-effective than ever. Certified training companies like Syntrio, Inc. provide training courses and materials with respect to workplace harassment, workplace bullying, and retaliation prevention methods.  

Syntrio, Inc. specializes in providing anti-harassment business ethics and HR compliance training in an extremely comprehensive yet cost-effective and time sensitive manner.  Contact us today at 888-289-6670 to discuss the ways Syntrio, Inc. can help your supervisors and HR professionals ensure that they are up to date with state and federal laws regarding equality and workplace diversity training.