What Constitutes Workplace Bullying?


Workplace bullying involves repeated acts of humiliating, intimidating, degrading, or offending an employee in front of other people. It typically occurs when someone at work misuses or abuses their power to intimidate another person, causing health and safety risks.

What Is Workplace Bullying?

Bullying in the workplace typically involves intentional continuous and/or repeated behavior towards the victim, causing them to feel defenseless and unable to perform their job with dignity. The malicious behavior can include demeaning comments, threats, criticism, and a range of other actions against an employee.

Unfortunately, it’s often challenging to prove bullying happened. There isn’t a state law prohibiting this form of treatment on the job. Additionally, there can be a fine line between harsh reprimanding and actual bullying.

If your boss yells at you or displays reasonable management practices, it doesn’t mean they bullied you. However, if you suffer repeated verbal attacks that put your safety or health at risk or the incidents involve discrimination, you might have a case to pursue.

Most people think bullying typically involves an authority figure mistreating a subordinate. However, multiple types of bullying in the workplace can occur, including:

  • An employee bullying a manager, supervisor, or another person in a position of power
  • An employer or someone with a higher title bullying an employee
  • An employee bullying a person with the same title or at the same professional level

Examples of Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can involve many scenarios, such as:

  • Receiving intentionally incorrect information regarding work duties on purpose, such as instructions on a task or specific deadline to complete the work
  • Being the target of practical jokes
  • Verbal or physical actions causing humiliation
  • Exclusion or social isolation
  • Unnecessary or excessive supervision
  • Repeated verbal abuse
  • Intentionally leaving someone out of a meeting they should have attended
  • Denied time-off requests without a valid or appropriate reason
  • Receiving unwarranted criticism of work performance
  • Setting unreasonable or unachievable performance goals
  • Purposely ignoring an employee
  • Causing a person to feel guilt or shame for no reason

Workplace bullying can also involve discrimination based on a person’s:

  • Race or national origin
  • Physical or mental impairment
  • Citizenship status
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy or plans to get pregnant
  • Skin color
  • Religion or religious preferences

What Are My Rights if I Believe I’ve Been the Victim of Workplace Bullying?

The act of bullying isn’t illegal in Georgia. However, if the bullying involves discrimination or unlawful harassment and leads to a hostile work environment, you might be able to pursue legal action.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), unlawful harassment involves the mistreatment of a person based on protected characteristics, such as religion, race, or gender.

If you believe the bullying you endured involved discriminatory behavior, you could file a Charge of Discrimination against your employer. The signed statement alleges that your employer, labor organization, or union engaged in discrimination in the workplace.

After the EEOC investigates your claim, they will provide you with a Notice of Right to Sue if you have their permission to sue for the harassment you suffered. That means you can file a lawsuit against your employer in state or federal court within 90 days of receiving the notice.

How Could a Lawyer Help Me?

If you were the victim of bullying at work and want to pursue legal action against the at-fault party, contact the Vaughn Law Firm today, serving both Georgia and Washington, D.C.

We have over 16 years of combined experience representing individuals and groups facing injustices and unfair treatment at work. We believe everyone deserves the chance to hold their employer liable for workplace bullying. You can depend on our legal team to advocate for your rights and fight by your side until the end.

Contact the Vaughn Law Firm today for your free consultation.