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Can You Sue a Boss for Bullying in New York?

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

New York provides significant rights to employees compared to most other states. Even so, New York is an at-will employment state, meaning that employees can be fired at any time for any or no reason. With the constant fear of termination, many employees believe that they must withstand bullying or other inappropriate behavior from their superiors. 

The truth is, however, that employees should not have to withstand bullying or other activity that creates hostile work environments or crosses the line of decency. In certain situations, employees who face bullying, harrassment, or discrimination in the workplace may have legal rights found under anti discrimination laws or otherwise.

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    If you are wondering whether you can sue a boss for bullying, you are not alone. Whether it is a power trip or some other issue in their personal life, many bosses bully their employees. If you are facing a bully boss, a lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit may be an option for you. At Moshes Law, we have seen all types of workplace harassment and bullying. Contact one of our qualified employment attorneys today for a free discussion and consultation of your situation.

    How Workplace Bullying Affects Employees

    Workplace bullying is particularly harmful to employees for a number of reasons, which makes it unique in the eyes of the law. First, the bullying often comes from a boss or direct employer. This means that the employee obtains his or her financial support from the bully. This may make the employee less likely to stand up for themselves and more likely to withstand the bullying for fear of losing their employment. Enduring such behavior for long periods of time may often lead to mental health or other issues.

    sue employer for bullying

    Second, workplace bullying often occurs on a frequent and sustained basis. This is because most employees go into work five days a week and may even have contact with the bully more than that. This makes the bullying relentless in the eyes of the employee, rather than an occasional nuisance.  

    When Can You Sue Your Work for Bullying

    You may be wondering what to do if your manager is bullying you. In New York, you have a few options. However, you cannot always sue your employer for bullying. While New York has taken steps to pass the Healthy Workplace Bill, a nationwide push to allow employees a cause of action to file a lawsuit against their employers who engage in bullying, it has yet to enact it into law. For The time being, New Yorkers must file remedies in other laws such as anti-discimination or personal injury laws.

    Under federal law and some New York state and city laws, bullying an individual based on certain protected characteristics may amount to disccrimination. These characteristics are:

    • National origin
    • Sex
    • Race
    • Age
    • sexual orientation
    • Race
    • Religion
    • genetic information
    • or other protected classes

    Bullying based on these activities actually amounts to harassment in the eyes of the law and is typically illegal. This bullying or harassment is typically illegal as it creates a hostile work environment for the employee. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes these claims very seriously and provides resources to employees who believe they are being discriminated against. Unfortunately, handling these types of claims is often a regular occurance for employment attorneys.

    In some situations, bullying behavior may amount to a more serious claim, such as negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Such a case, however, would be extremely difficult to prove and would require strong evidence that the bully purposefully wished to cause harm to the employee. In addition, the amount of emotional distress required is typically quite high. Typically, this type of claim is possible against a boss who purposely torments or terrorizes an employee for a prolonged period of time, with the intent of injuring that employee. 

    Examples of Bullying

    While it seems obvious, it may actually be difficult to recognize some types of bullying and harassment in the workplace. This is because bullying and harassment may oftentimes take place behind the scenes. The employee may not be aware that he or she is talked about, made fun of, or passed up for promotions or bonuses because the employee is not part of these conversations. Some common examples of bullying in the workplace include:

    1. Rumors or gossip being spread
    2. Constantly dismissing an individual’s opinions
    3. Name calling or other harassment
    4. Inappropriate or offensive jokes
    5. Profanity or yelling
    6. Demeaning comments such as comments relating to one’s intellectual ability or work product.
    7. Tampering with an individual’s personal items, such as hiding or soiling them. 

    Your Legal Options for Responding to Bullying in the Workplace

    If you are wondering what to do when your boss humiliates you or otherwise bullies you in the workplace, know that you may have legal recourse. The law affords significant protections to employees who are harassed or bullied in certain situations that violate their civil rights. If you think you have been harassed or otherwise discriminated against in your workplace, contact a New York City employment attorney at Moshes Law today for a free consultation.

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      FAQ 

      What qualifies as harassment in NY?

      Harassment in New York will generally include any unwelcome or offensive behavior based on an individual’s protected characteristics, such as race, religion, or gender. This type of harassment is illegal at both the state and federal levels.

      Is yelling in the workplace harassment?

      Yelling in the work environment may constitute harassment depending on the extent and content of the yelling. Oftentimes, however, yelling alone will not give the employee any legal recourse.

      What to do if your manager is bullying you?

      If you are a victim of bullying, you should make sure to document everything you experience. In addition to that, the first step in dealing with bullying is often talking to the bully. Many times the bully may not know that his or her behavior is offensive. If that fails, and if you work at a large enough company, talking to human resources may be a logical next step.

      Can I sue my job for emotional distress?

      Yes, you can typically sue an employer for emotional distress. Such a claim, however, is typically quite hard to prove, as you must evidence that the employer was purposefully causing you the emotional distress suffered. Additionally, the standard for what constitutes “emotional distress” is quite high.

      Can I take my employer to court for bullying?

      You can sue your employer for bullying. As of now, this is possible only under certain situations, such when the bullying amounts to discrimination or harrassment. However, New York state may pass the Healthy Workplace Bill in the future, which would afford more protections to bullied employees who are not discriminated against.

      Can You Sue a Manager for Bullying?

      Typically, a lawsuit for the manager’s behavior would be against the employer because the manager is generally a representative of the employer. However, this may not be the case in all situations.

      Have questions? Get an Employment Lawyer Free Consultation

      At Moshes Law Firm, we are strong advocates of employee’s rights in the workplace. While we frequently fight for those rights, we recognize that a job is more than a means to make money. It is where our clients spend the majority of their waking hours. 

      Because of that, we urge individuals who face bullying, harrassment, or discrimination in the workplace to stand up for what is right. If you are facing bullying or inappropriate behavior in your workplace, contact the attorneys at the Moshes Law Firm today for a free consultation.

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