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January 06, 2015

From the meek child on the playground tormented by a bully, to the workplace where a co-worker or supervisor targets and harasses an employee, there is no place for bullying. The laws are changing to address this, and so too must the policies in the workplace. Any workplace policies should be geared towards defining, identifying and deterring such “abusive conduct” in order to bring an end to bullying in the workplace.

Recently, California has passed a law requiring training in supervisors to prevent “abusive conduct” in the workplace. While actual anti-bullying laws have yet to be enacted, one who is in a protected category (such as age, gender, race, etc.) does have the law on their side. Bullying or targeted misconduct at a person based upon their protected status IS grounds for action under the law. However, this still leaves unprotected those who are bullied but who do not stand in a special category.

Regardless, workplace policies must reflect the new legislation effective January 1, 2015 requiring employers with 50 or more employees to train supervisors regarding prevention of abusive conduct:

For purposes of this section, “abusive 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. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.

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There are now entire organizations, websites and programs dedicated to ending bullying in the workplace such as: http://www.workplacebullying.org/tag/california-healthy-workplace-advocates/, the Workplace Bullying Institute. There are now even many government resources dedicated to ending bullying: http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/california.html.

As of January 1, 2015, the new law in California for employers with 50 or more employees require anti-bullying as part of the mandated sexual harassment training. California Government Code 12950.1. 

Additional resources:

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center:  http://www.pacer.org/bullying/
National Crime Prevention Council:  http://www.ncpc.org/topics/bullying
Education. com  http://www.education.com/topic/school-bullying-teasing/

Bullying is not limited to the supervisor-employee relationship. Due to poor interpersonal problems, competition, and expected team collaboration, co-workers are just as likely if not more to be a bully. This can take the form of gossiping, making up rumors, taking credit for others’ work, excluding/ignoring, and teasing through sarcasm. These often covert behaviors make it difficult to have quality work experiences and can often keep one excelling in job performance. Work supports are critical for motivation. Tattling to the boss just makes one look like a complainer and not a problem solver. What is needed is more solution focused communication training at all levels of the hierarchy. 

For more information related to Employment Law, click the following link: http://www.spitalaw.com/san-diego-employment-law-attorney/


Visit Spital & Associates: http://www.spitalaw.com/

About the author:
Sam Spital is the Managing Attorney for and Founder of SPITAL AND ASSOCIATES . Beginning in 1970, he served over seven and one-half years as Deputy Attorney General with the Department of Justice for the State of California. As a prosecutor, he handled over 50 Criminal Appeals in each of the California state and every levels of the Federal Courts, all the way through to the California and U.S. Supreme Court. During that period of time, Sam received unique training, eager to look at each and every single fact as having potential legal significance. Sam was supervised by Senior Deputy Attorneys General, many of whom went on to become Judges, including Ron George, a recent and former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. As a former Deputy Attorney General, Sam prosecuted countless professional and occupational license cases on behalf of nearly every California Board, Bureau and Department, including the Board of Registered Nursing, Dental Board, Medical Board, Board of Behavioral Sciences, Respiratory Care Board, Board of Pharmacy, Board of Psychology, Board of Chiropractic Examiners, Physical Therapy Board, Board of Accountancy, Board of Optometry, Board of Veterinary Medicine, Board of Professional Engineers, Contractors’ State License Board, Bureau of Automotive Repair, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Health. Then, Sam went into private practice starting his own Law Firm in 1978. He opened 7 offices throughout Southern California, with a team of 10 lawyers and nearly 50 employees, they handled over 10,000 cases. For a short period of time in 2001 and 2002, Sam served as a San Diego Deputy Probation Officer, preparing criminal sentence reports for Superior Court Judges. Over the past four decades, Sam has practiced administrative and licensing law, criminal law, civil litigation, employment and real estate law. Additionally, he has written numerous articles that have been published in local, statewide and national journals and magazines. Also, he has been invited to lecture throughout California as well as in Las Vegas. On August 13, 2008, Fox Channel 5 News invited Sam to be a Legal Commentator on their morning news program. Sam goes Above and Beyond to obtain a satisfactory and winning solution for his clients.

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