When we think of the act of bullying, it is often something that we associate with children and schooling. While many grow out of bullying behavior as young children, there are some who continue to abuse the people around them in life and in the workplace. Bullying can be a problem at any age.

While bullying does not always involve a crime, it can often involve conduct prohibited under civil or employment law.

How does bullying differ from harassment or discrimination?

Bullying, harassment and discrimination all have different definitions, and while it is possible for them to occur independent of each other, they often occur simultaneously.

For example, a bully in the workplace might try to make someone feel alienated, excluded and as though they don’t belong. They may tease them or threaten them using any number of tactics. While this behavior could be classified as bullying, if the behavior specifically involves discriminatory attacks — for example, attacking a person because of their gender, sexual preference, national origin or race — this behavior would also constitute discrimination.

In addition, if the perpetrator of the bullying also made certain unwelcome communication and created a hostile environment in the workplace, it could be classed as workplace harassment.

If you feel that you are being bullied in the workplace, you should document the types of behavior involved, as well as any details of the conduct. This can help you and your legal counsel determine if you have been the victim of unlawful harassment or discrimination.

What type of action can I take if I am being bullied at work?

In the state of Missouri, it is likely that you will have a stronger claim if you can show that the type of behavior you experienced met the definitions of harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Any type of behavior that made you feel uncomfortable in the workplace and created a hostile environment will likely constitute workplace harassment.

If you have been bullied in the Missouri workplace, it is important that you understand your legal rights so that you can take action to resolve the situation.