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Bullying and harassment affects one third of U.S. workers

Kids are bullied on the playground, teens are bullied at school and yes, even adults are bullied in the workplace in San Diego. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, at least one third of employees in the U.S. have experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Employees do not need to put up with bullying in the workplace. If bullying is not addressed immediately after the inappropriate behavior begins, the behavior could lead to serious physical and mental injuries later on. Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment, and this includes an environment that is free of harassment.

As we mentioned last week on our San Diego employment law blog, harassment on the basis of race is illegal. Employees who are harassed or bullied because of their race are already protected under state and federal labor and employment laws, meaning they can report the harassment and expect their employers to resolve the issues. If employers fail to resolve the issues, employees may take legal action.

But if an employee is being harassed simply because his or her boss or co-worker is on a power trip, the employee may need to handle the issue in a different manner. The most important thing to remember is that employees have a right to report unsafe work conditions to their employers. Employers cannot retaliate against workers who report harassment by firing them.

Before employees file complaints with their employers, they may want to try confronting their bullies. In some cases, supervisors or co-workers may not realize how they are treating others in the workplace. If this doesn't work, it is important that employees reach out to someone else in order to determine what other course of action they may be able to take to put an end to bullying and harassment in the workplace.

If an employer has a policy that specifically bans workplace bullying, the employee who is being bullied will want to carefully document each incident and report the bullying to a supervisor or human resources contact. The employee may need to take legal action if the harassment is not addressed.

Source: The Associated Press, "Tips for dealing with workplace bullying," March 1, 2013

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