How canI complain about workplace bullying?

UPDATED: Dec 29, 2011

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How canI complain about workplace bullying?

My dad has recently been complaining about a supervisor always giving him a hard time at work. He tells him that why does he even come to work if the ones already there can already handle it. On several occasions it has come to having my dad not be given overtime because of him. There are also several other people giving a hard time. My dad does not speak English and it has been a kind of joke to the supervisor as well as some of the other co-workers when he does not know how to write, say something. He has been really stressed about it and has kept it quiet. What can he do?

Asked on December 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, workplace "bullying" is allowed--coworkers, supervisors, employers, etc. may be unpleasant and bullying, so long as they don't do anything specifically illegal (for example, no vandalism, theft, assault).

Federal law specifically prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment on the basis of race (and also religion, sex, age over 40, or disability), but does not prohibit discrimination or harassment due to national origin or language. Depending on your father's race, the actions of the coworkers and supervisor therefore may or may not be illegal discrimination.

Some states will also protect national origin or language, and not allow workplace discrimination on those bases; you and your father should check the laws of your state on workplace or employment discrimination and see if these categories, or any other categories relevant to him, are covered.

If there is illegal discrimination going on, your father may not suffer retaliation for reporting it or making out a claim based on it--and he may be entitled to monetary compensation as well. If your father is protected on the basis of federal law (race) or state law (e.g. language), he should speak with an employment law attorney to discuss his rights and options.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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