Many potential clients call our offices claiming that they are being “harassed” at work. When potential clients ask us if they have a potential case because they are being treated poorly at work, the biggest question to ask is whether the behavior is a violation of law. Unfortunately, not all bad behavior in the work place are violations of law.
Bad actions are only unlawful when the perpetrator is harassing the employee because of the employee’s protected characteristic. A protected characteristic includes things like religion, age, gender, race, national origin, ethnicity, or disability. Thus, for example, it would be unlawful for a supervisor to pick on a worker because of his or her race.
Unfortunately, this means that it may not a violation of law for the supervisor to simply be a jerk or mean to the employee. There is a significant difference between bullying and unlawful harassment.