Workplace Bullying in Florida for Employers

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Workplace Bullying

If you operate or own a business in Florida, you know that workplace bullying is not allowed. That being said, you might not know what needs to be done if a claim is made against your business for bullying in the workplace. Many companies try to attend to this kind of issue without the support of a skilled legal team, which can result in negative outcomes for these cases.

Working with an experienced legal team is key when it comes to workplace bullying claims. The employment lawyers at Lopez Law can help you to present the right information in these cases to prove that there was no such action taken against an employee. You can also count on us to represent your business in court if the employee involved will not accept a settlement offer. Protecting your business from harm is a matter of pride to us, and we have years of experience with these kinds of cases.

What Constitutes Workplace Harassment in Florida?

Knowing the definition of what constitutes workplace harassment and bullying is key. There are many specific kinds of actions that do not meet these requirements. This is why having legal counsel can make such a big impact in these cases. Without an experienced lawyer working hard on your behalf, you might agree to settlement deals or admit fault when you do not need to.

Federal Law, via Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as Florida Law, defines specifically what is classified as workplace harassment. Harassment and bullying cannot take place in the work environment, and any kind of bullying or harassing behavior based on national origin, age, sex, genetic information, sexual orientation, religion, race, or color is not allowed.

Small slights, petty disputes, and offensive looks cannot lead to a case against an employer in the state of Florida or under federal law. Hazing, bullying, and intimidation, as well as ridicule and mockery, are not tolerated, however. Offensive pictures and emails, interference with work performance and verbal harassment are also not allowed under these laws. Additionally:

  •         The harasser can be an employee’s supervisor but could also be a coworker or a customer.
  •         The victim of the bullying does not have to be the one who has been harassed and can instead be someone who was witness to and affected by the harassment.
  •         Economic injury is not required for the case to be considered bullying or harassment.

Some other examples of workplace bullying are:

  •         Yelling or shouting
  •         Making negative comments about the kind of life that someone leads, the kind of people that they might be like, and their appearance
  •         Circulating embarrassing photos or videos of the person
  •         Unwarranted physical contact
  •         Threatening gestures
  •         Not allowing someone to speak during meetings
  •         Taking credit for someone else’s work or achievements
  •         Starting rumors about the person
  •         Excluding or isolation someone from group activities
  •         Establishing unrealistic time frames that cannot be met
  •         Denying access to information or resources
  •         Excessive monitoring of the employee’s work
  •         Ignoring or cutting off an employee from their team
  •         Denying access to earned time off
  •         Excessive and unfair feedback about work performance

These kinds of behaviors can be quite obvious or more subtle, which is sometimes why they are not reported at first by employees. Many employees are also afraid of retaliation by those who are bullying them and try to avoid coming forward about these kinds of issues.

Workplace Bullying

Employer Responsibility in Bullying Cases

Employers in the state of Florida are required to prevent these behaviors from happening in the workplace. There need to be specific actions that are taken to address the harassment of an employee, or it can be difficult to present a case that indicates that the business was not at fault. An HR representative needs to make an effort to attend to situations that involve bullying or harassment, and employees need to be offered a means to reach out to HR for assistance with these kinds of situations.

While reporting of these kinds of actions against an employee is encouraged, it is not required. This can make it hard for businesses to be aware that there are issues with bullying or harassment going on in the workplace. Educating employees about the right course of action to take when they are being harassed or bullied is key. This is part of the due diligence that a business should offer to every employee that they have hired.

If you are not sure about how to communicate these policies effectively or you are not certain how to formulate policies to attend to bullying in the workplace, the team at Lopez Law can help you to create policies and other documents that can be used to present this information and to offer the right internal processes to HR and management when these things crop up. Getting employees to report the actions taken against them is critical, and it can be hard to accomplish this goal without a proper set of policies in place to support this kind of reporting.

While federal and state laws do provide some guidelines for how to handle these kinds of cases, they cannot tell you exactly what language to use in your documentation or what kinds of processes should be taken to deal with bullying accusations in your place of business. Sadly, these kinds of situations can happen in any kind of industry, and they are more common than most business owners realize. Being prepared to handle them correctly can help to limit the chances that your business will be sued for bullying or harassment.

Workplace Bullying

What Can a Lawyer do For Bullying Cases Leveled Against Employers?

Prevention is often the first action that makes a difference in these cases, and it falls upon the business to take action against these kinds of behaviors and activities. However, if the person who was a victim did not report the activities and no supervisor or manager was aware, there might not be enough information for the business to be held accountable for the events that took place.

These are the kinds of determinations that your lawyer or legal team will consider when they are working on your case. There needs to be a specific burden of proof that is met for the employee who has sued your business for harassment and bullying to have a case. Your legal team will work hard to find out all the details of the case and make sure that the burden of proof has even been met. Cases can sometimes be dismissed as soon as it is discovered that there is no burden of proof behind the accusation of bullying.

The entire record of the case will need to be reviewed, and the legal team at Lopez Law will take the time to get witness testimony, look at written records of the event, and consider statements about the treatment of employees at your place of business. If there was a bullying action that was taken against an employee, your lawyers will help you to negotiate a fair settlement with the injured employee. These kinds of cases require careful consideration of all of the facts to be able to present a fair and equitable settlement offer for both parties.

If the employee does not agree to the terms of your settlement offer, the team at Lopez Law will be happy to represent you and your business in court. In these cases, the judge has the final say in the matter, which is why it is important to present complete information related to the incident and case. Your lawyer will make sure that all of the facts are presented and that your side of the story has been accurately told. This will allow the judge to make a fair determination and not be swayed by an assumption that the employee was bullied. Many cases of this type can be adjudicated unfairly in favor of the accuser solely because businesses do not take the time to present a carefully-prepared case.

Workplace Bullying

Working With an Experienced Lawyer Matters

If you own a business in Florida, you need to be sure that you have the right legal team working on your behalf when your business is sued for issues like bullying in the workplace. Trying to go it alone when it comes to lawsuits brought against your company for harassment and bullying can be a bad idea. Companies can sometimes struggle to present the information that is necessary to prove that an employee’s bullying case does not actually meet the requirements for harassment. This is where having a skilled legal team working on your side can make such a big difference in the outcome of your case.

If your business has been sued for bullying or harassment, reach out to the Lopez Law Group today. We have years of experience helping Florida businesses to present their side of the story in these cases, and we will work hard to make sure that your case has a favorable outcome. Contact us today, and we will set up a consultation so that we can get right to work representing you and your business.

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