It’s not illegal in the workplace yet, but Lawmakers in Olympia have been writing and reviewing words that will most likely tuck ‘bullying” neatly under the Hostile Work Environment definition makes it illegal very soon.
Hostile Work Environment – exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser.
Bullying – is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker or subordinate.
There is not much difference in definition and that is why this will easily written into law. This means that being a jerk boss may become illegal. This is why employee to employee insults may become illegal. This is why ethnic group making smart-ass comments about another ethnic group may become illegal. And this is why every employer needs to get out ahead of this issue and start working now towards the training and development of every employee and especially the front line leaders that “see it all”.
Remember, the law also stipulates that leaders should know what is going on in the workplace –“known or should have known” is the phrase that pay’s. The term that you must be aware of is “retaliation”. Worse than the act of bullying itself, taking retribution against an employee for raising the issue is risky business. If you are thinking that employees just need to become more “thick skinned” or if you are of the belief that this is just one more example of how wussified this county has become – you need the training.
This chart is a good first step in understanding the leader’s role in dealing with Bullying behavior (click chart to view larger).