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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default When Does Bullying and Belittling Become Harassment

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Alabama

    I attended a group meeting at my company where I am one of two females. The meeting consisted of myself, a supervisor, and 6 other male coworkers. While in the meeting, the supervisor had a violent outburst directed specifically at me. I immediately felt belittled and threatened. It appeared that he had called the group meeting specifically to bully me in this manner (as he is not known to be confrontational one on one, and I feel he felt more powerful with the other men there).

    Following the meeting, I addressed the issue with supervisor stating that I found his behavior inappropriate and felt I deserved an apology. We proceed to call our HR representative and explain the issue to him (on speaker phone). When I began to cry out of frustration (as I feel his behavior was undeserved), my HR rep said he couldn't understand the supervisor being emotional in the meeting since I obviously was the one acting emotional now. He advised us to wait until our manager returned on Monday so he could "address it locally".

    Being the only female in an industrial environment full of men, I'm aware of the "good ole boys" clubs. I have worked with this long time supervisor for several years. In speaking with other employees (re: his career), he has NEVER displayed this type of behavior before. Regardless of his personal issues, I feel I was targeted as a way for him to "blow of some steam". I am a good employee (often praised by upper management) and have never had a bad review.

    Sorry to drone on, but I guess my question is, do I have any kind of legal backing or laws on my side to have this supervisor reprimanded? I am planning to follow the proper HR channels through my employer, but I am worried that it may not be given the attention I feel it deserves due to my being a woman (they'll think I'm over-reacting). I have several witnesses to the event that are willing to speak about how it happened. Thanks for listening.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Bullying and Belittling - Harassment

    YOU have mentioned your sex several times.

    Did your BOSS every mention your sex? What precipitated the outburst? For instance, was he mad at the traffic and directed that anger at you or was his anger in response to something directly attributed to your actions?

    I am NOT excusing this behavior. It is unprofessional and inappropriate. However, it is NOT illegal. Being a jerk isn't against the law.

    however, if the reason for that jerkitude was your sex, you may have a shot.

    The law, by the way, doesn't reprimand. It punishes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Default Re: Bullying and Belittling - Harassment

    To answer your question, no. You do not have any legal backing to have him reprimanded.

    IF AND ONLY IF you were being singled out for inappropriate treatment BECAUSE you are female, and not because he was in a bad mood, or because you screwed up about something, or because of some other reason not related to your being female, then you have legal backing to have him stop. But it is not up to you what the company does about it; nor do you have any legal right to be told how they plan to make him stop; nor will the law force him to apologize to you.

    Like Jeff, I am not excusing his behavior. No one should behave like that in the workplace (or out of it, for that matter). But unless he was behaving that way BECAUSE you are female, it was not illegal. And even if it was, the company's ONLY legal obligation is to make it stop.

    If they CHOOSE to do more, that's all well and good. But the only thing the law will REQUIRE them to do, is make any illegal behavior stop.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Bullying and Belittling - Harassment

    Sorry that happened to you. Kind of a typical HR response to try and throw it back on you, but you don't go into what the violent outburst was so I'm inclined to think he may have just singled you out because he's a jerk. Now if you get fired, demoted, have your hours reduced, pay cut, or other actionable items, than you may have a shot. He called you out, you told him that was innappropriate and your HR dept may or may not do anything. If this is the first time there was an outburst you may want to go to him and say that you just want to have a good working relationship and put it behind you both. Have a co-worker present when you make that remark and you'll lay nice groundwork should the situation escalate to your detriment.

    This practice has tried many cases on behalf of wrongfully discharged employees. LINK REMOVED

    I have no idea who they are just googled them.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bullying and Belittling - Harassment

    Took the link off. And I am responding because it interested me.

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