If you have suffered bullying in the workplace, you might be able to receive relief under federal law if the bullying has certain characteristics.
As a federal employee, you can maintain legal action for bullying if that bullying also qualifies as harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
If you are unsure if bullying at work is actionable, don’t resign yourself to the stress and fear, contact an experienced workplace bullying lawyer immediately for help.
Is Workplace Bullying Illegal?
It depends. Federal law on workplace bullying are really laws against harassment.
Employment bullying qualifies as illegal harassment if it’s a condition to continue your employment or it’s severe and pervasive enough for a reasonable person to consider it hostile.
Bullying cannot be illegal harassment unless it’s unwelcome conduct motivated by one of the following factors:
- Sexual orientation,
- Gender identity,
- Age (if you are 40 or older),
- Genetic information,
- Family history, or
- Medical history.
Your employer can be guilty of harassing you for being a member of a protected group mentioned above or for perceiving you to be a member of a protected group.
Your employer can be liable for harassment committed by a supervisor, one of their agents, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
You also don’t have to be the person harassed to maintain a legal action. If harassment of another person affects you, you could have a claim.
Can I Sue for Workplace Bullying?
You may be wondering, can I sue for workplace bullying? Yes. Legal action against workplace bullying is available to you if the bullying fits the definition of harassment under federal law.
However, federal employees can bring workplace bullying lawsuits only after they have followed the steps to make an administrative complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office.
What Is the Procedure for Filing Workplace Bullying Complaints and Workplace Bullying Lawsuits?
There are many steps on the way to filing a lawsuit against your employer for harassment.
Suing for workplace bullying can be a complicated process, and a lawyer for workplace bullying can help you fulfill every step.
Filing a Workplace Bullying Complaint
If you are a federal employee, bullying in the workplace law requires that you first reach out to an EEO counselor at your employer’s agency within 45 days of suffering harassment.
You can either take part in counseling or alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
If ADR or counseling doesn’t solve the problem, you can file a formal complaint with your agency’s EEO office. You have 15 days after receiving an EEO counselor’s filing notice to file a complaint.
The agency can either dismiss your complaint for procedural reasons, or conduct an investigation.
The agency has 180 days to investigate. After investigating, the agency gives you a notice about asking for a hearing or issuing a decision about whether there was discrimination.
If you want a hearing, it is held before an administrative law judge. You have 30 days from the agency’s hearing notice to file for a hearing.
You can request a hearing in writing or online. After the judge makes a decision, the agency gets 40 days to decide if they are going to grant you relief that the judge orders. This decision is called a final order.
If you don’t agree with the final order, you can request an appeal within 30 days. You can also ask for reconsideration of the appeal decision within 30 days.
If you follow the procedure correctly, you have many chances to get justice against harassment. An experienced attorney for workplace bullying can preserve your rights at every level of the process.
Filing a Workplace Bullying Lawsuit
Once you have been through the administrative complaint and appeals process, you can file a bullying-at-work lawsuit. There are a number of different times when you can file a lawsuit, depending on the situation.
To file a lawsuit against your employer for violating laws against workplace bullying, you have to follow these timelines:
- You can file after 180 days have passed since filing your complaint if there hasn’t been an agency decision or appeal;
- You must file within 90 days of receiving an agency decision on your complaint if there hasn’t been an appeal;
- You can file after 180 days have passed since filing your appeal if there hasn’t been an appeal decision; or
- You must file within 90 days of receiving an appeal decision.
A workplace bullying attorney can determine if the time is right for you to file a lawsuit and champion your rights to a safe workplace in court.
If you are curious about workplace anti-bullying laws by state, many of them are similar to the federal laws (though deadlines and procedures vary).
But you must follow the federal procedures above if you are a federal employee.
Contact Our Federal Employment Attorneys for the Protection You Need
Please remember that you don’t have to endure every hostile behavior at work to receive a paycheck.
The workplace bullying lawyers at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D Wersing PLLC are experienced in federal employment law and dedicated to protecting federal employees’ rights.