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Is workplace discrimination or harassment the same as bullying?

If you have ever felt like new terms for old behaviors arise all the time, you are not alone. The nation as a whole has gained more awareness about workplace discrimination in general. As a result, authority figures try to come up with more clearly defined terminology as they work to address these concerns within the boundaries of the law. Bullying within the scope of employment is one of these areas of concern.

To answer your question, no, they are not the same. Workplace bullying is set apart from workplace discrimination and harassment even though it feels like the same thing to victims here in California and elsewhere. A general description of workplace bullying involves acts of repeated mistreatment such as:

-- Intimidation and humiliation

-- Verbal abuse and aggression

-- Threatening behaviors

-- Sabotage of one's work

Anyone can engage in bullying behaviors, but in most cases, it is a superior who bullies a subordinate in a workplace setting. Unfortunately, no laws yet exist to protect workers against bullying specifically. However, this does not mean an employee has no legal options, especially if bullying overlaps into workplace discrimination or harassment behaviors.

If you believe you are a victim of any of these negative activities at your place of work, it is wise to consult an employment attorney. He or she can sit down with you in a safe setting and talk with you frankly about your work situation. If together you and your lawyer identify any behavior in your workplace that violates California labor laws, you can then choose a course of action that best meets your needs.

Source: FindLaw, "Workplace Bullying," accessed April 04, 2017

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