Los Angeles Employment Lawyers Explain Hostile Work Environments
Starting January 1, 2015, a new anti-workplace bullying law will take effect in California. Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 2053 on September 9, 2014, which passed in the state senate by a vote of 25-8 in August of this year.
Workplace bullying can cause a range of harmful effects, such as stress, low productivity, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, digestive problems and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stephen Cruz, a staff worker at the University of California, San Diego, is a one example of a victim of workplace bullying. His new boss was prone to yelling at workers, scolding them and sending angry emails, all of which can be considered abusive behavior. He is hopeful that the new law may allow him to continue at his job without fear.
What Should I know about the Anti-Bully Law?
The new law will have three major points of consideration for both employers and employees starting in 2015:
- Employers who have 50 or more employees are required to take anti-workplace bullying lessons every two years, along with the sexual harassment training that is conducted every two years for supervisors. Those presenting the lessons must have knowledge and expertise on the subject. Neither the amount of time for the lesson nor the contents used for the lesson are mentioned in the bill.
- The bill describes abusive conduct as repetitive verbal abuse; derogatory, threatening or insulting language; physically threatening behavior; subjecting a worker to humiliation or sabotaging a worker’s work performance. Bullying must be repetitive and not an isolated incident to count as bullying under the new law.
- The bill does not make workplace bullying illegal. It is only illegal if the bullying is based on some form of discrimination, such as race, gender or sexual orientation. The difficulty in making it illegal is that there is a large gray area between being abusive and being a demanding supervisor.
While this bill does not legally prevent bullying, it does help build awareness for workplace bullying behavior. The hope is that the required training will have an impact on bosses prone to abusive behavior. Additionally, the bill could influence employers to modify employee handbooks or manuals to include bullying as a workplace violation in company policies.
While bullying alone may not be enough to file a lawsuit, an attorney can find out if you are employed in a hostile work environment and advise on the best way to put a stop to it. Speak to a Los Angeles employment attorney to find out if your employer is breaking the law, and what you can do about it. The Law Firm of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob offers free consultations.