Make Peace Not Workplace Bullies

Employment Exhibition

Employment Exhibition (Photo credit: Modern_Language_Center)

Friday, September 21, 2012:  Today is International Peace Day.  The UN’s peace theme for this year is “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future”.

I believe that each one of us matters and it matters what each of us does.

As a mostly employee-side employment lawyer in California, I got thinking about promoting sustainable peace in the workplace, where so many people spend so much time and energy interacting with others.

So today I’m doing my bit to promote sustainable peace by making a pitch to employers–please stop enabling your Equal Opportunity Bullies (EOBs)!

For every client I end up taking on, there are many others who contact me, clearly in distress about work place EOBs.  Taking them at their word, the workplace is frequently a jungle, riddled with the most amazing acts of bullying, bully enabling and cover up, where EOBs are rewarded at the expense of those they bully.

If true, these acts run counter to sustainable peace, sap employee morale and productivity, breed distrust and secrecy and lead to expensive turnover, even in this uncertain economy.

It may be stupid and self-sabotaging for employers to tolerate and even encourage this type of unfair behavior, but often it is not illegal.  An equal opportunity bully (EOB) — who bullies everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, etc., is probably not subject to liability under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act or Federal anti-discrimination laws.

In my perfect world, employers would recognize how self-sabotaging it is to tolerate EOBs at work.  They would get it — tolerating such behavior may not be illegal, but costs them lots of needless expense and aggravation. Here’s a short list: 1) legal fees,  2) reduced productivity and work disruption, 3) higher health insurance premiums from employee illness linked to EOB-caused stress, 4) unemployment insurance premiums, 5) employee replacement costs, and 6) costs when a replacement employee doesn’t work out, thereby triggering another round of preventable costs.

California is an at-will state, so unless non-union employees can make the case that they are protected under an employment agreement or are being singled out due to a protected trait such as race, gender, marital status, age, religion, nationality, or disability, their employers can terminate them for just about anything on a moment’s notice. There is no exception for long-time loyal employees with excellent performance reviews making lots of money for their employers.

Based on my experience, employers could save themselves a lot of headache and expense by being proactive with EOBs.  EOBs are usually at-will employees, too.

So in the spirit of promoting sustainable peace, I ask employers to observe International Peace Day by taking your first steps toward discovering and rooting out EOBs and their enablers.  You can save money by doing good.

This blog is for education purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship between the blogger and anyone reading or hearing it.  

The Law Office of Marjorie A. Wallace



2 thoughts on “Make Peace Not Workplace Bullies

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