Preventing and/or Dealing with Bullying in the Workplace

Document created by 1002070 on Nov 24, 2014Last modified by 1002070 on Mar 10, 2017
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California recently enacted a law requiring employers of 50 or more employees to train supervisors on prevention of abusive conduct within six months of entering a supervisory position and at least every two years thereafter, along with sexual harassment training.  The law is effective January, 1 2015. 


Although North Carolina does not have such a law, companies may want to consider including this in their training for supervisors and to consider including the language in the California law for policies prohibiting bullying in the workplace.  This is good for employee relations and preventive measures for compliance issues.


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 (Gov't Code, Sec. 12950.1(g)(2), as amended by Ch. 306 (A. 2053), L. 2013, enacted September 9, 2014, and effective January 1, 2015).


According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, one in four employees reported being bullied in their jobs.  Employees at all levels, including management employees, reported being bullied.


Examples cited in the survey were:


  • Falsely accused of mistakes he/she didn't make – 43 percent
  • Comments were ignored, dismissed or not acknowledged – 41 percent
  • A different set of standards or policies was used for the worker – 37 percent
  • Gossip was spread about the worker – 34 percent
  • Constantly criticized by the boss or co-workers – 32 percent
  • Belittling comments were made about the person's work during meetings – 29 percent
  • Yelled at by the boss in front of co-workers – 27 percent
  • Purposely excluded from projects or meetings – 20 percent
  • Credit for his/her work was stolen – 20 percent
  • Picked on for personal attributes (race, gender, appearance, etc.) – 20 percent


CareerBuilder recommended the following steps in dealing with bullying:


1) Keep records of all incidents of bullying, documenting places, times, what happened and who was present.

2) Consider talking to the bully, providing specific examples of how you were treated unfairly. Chances are the bully may not be aware that he/she is making you feel this way.

3) Always focus on the resolution. When sharing examples with the bully or a company authority, center the discussions on how to make the working situation better or how things could be handled differently.


CAI recommends that you implement training, include language prohibiting bullying and abusive behavior in your anti-harassment policy, and create a culture where employees at all levels know that such behavior is unacceptable in your workplace.


If you have questions about this issue, please call CAI's Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.