Bullying & Harassment Lawyers for the Workplace and School
Have you experienced bullying behavior at the workplace? Has your child experienced school bullying while attending school or on the school bus home? Workplace bullying and school bullying are surprisingly common, though many people are reluctant to take legal action to make it stop. Nevertheless, bullying victims experience great hardship, including psychological trauma and the potential for serious injury due to self-harm or suicide attempts. Our harassment lawyers in Kansas City can help you seek justice and stop bullying.
Learn what constitutes bullying and harassment and how you can work with a law firm to build a case to prevent bullying from occurring again in the future. Abusive conduct should not be tolerated, and taking action can prevent others from becoming victims.
School Bullying and Cyber Bullying
Today’s schoolchildren not only have to worry about bullying and harassment on the playground and on the school bus but also online. Cyberbullying has been a problem for several years, and it can be extremely damaging to children, especially when it is not addressed.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 43 percent of children have been bullied online, and 1 in 4 have been bullied more than once. Unfortunately, according to TRU Insights & McAfee, only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of the abuse.
Victims of bullying, whether in-person or online, are at a greater risk for several adverse impacts, including:
- Decreased academic performance
- Decreased self-esteem
- Eating disorders
- Unexplained physical injuries
- Difficulty sleeping
If your child has been the victim of bullying or harassment at school or as part of another organization, we urge you to speak with one of our harassment attorneys in Kansas City.
You can reach a compassionate and informative bullying & harassment lawyer at Holman Schiavone, LLC, by calling our office at (816) 399-5149. All initial consultations are free of charge. We will help you understand your full legal options and how our firm can support your pursuit of justice and compensation for your child.
Harassment at School, on Teams, and in Clubs
Children we have represented in the Kansas City area have been harassed and bullied because of their physical appearance, religious beliefs, physical or mental disabilities, skin color and sexual orientation. If your child tells you about bullying or has been noticeably harmed (physically or emotionally) from harassment or bullying, you may be able to seek legal and financial recovery.
Teachers, coaches, scout leaders and caregivers are legally obligated to report signs of bullying or harassment, and they are responsible for maintaining safe environments for all children. When responsible adults fail to intervene, schools and other organizations can be held accountable for negligent or inadequate supervision.
It is important to speak with an experienced school bullying and harassment attorney as soon as possible in these matters. Finding evidence can be challenging, and your child could continue to suffer, possibly leading to a lifetime of anguish, if effective intervention is not completed.
Can I Take Legal Action for Bullying at the Workplace or at School?
There are federal laws that can be used to halt bullying through legal means. You may file a lawsuit on the grounds that these laws were violated. A lawsuit could be directed at the individual perpetrating the abuse. However, most legal claims will focus on the organization that has tolerated this conduct. This is because laws provide specific protections at the workplace and at schools.
Bullying is a form of harassment, which is prohibited by federal law to a certain extent. Consider how the laws work to determine if your case might be worth pursuing. For a professional opinion, look for harassment lawyers near you to discuss your case further. Before we consider the relevant federal statutes, we need to clearly define our terms.
What Is Considered Bullying or Harassment in Federal Law?
Bullying is a more colloquial term for harassment, which is repeated offensive behavior that becomes intimidating, abusive, or overtly hostile. If tolerating the treatment becomes a condition of employment, that is also illegal. Although the law is mostly focused on workplace harassment, state laws have been put into place to mitigate bullying at school.
Harassment can take many forms. Verbal abuse, text messages, and even bullying on social media sites can also qualify. Physical threats or physical harm are absolutely illegal and can extend to criminal charges for assault or battery.
The Civil Rights Act Prohibits Harassment of Protected Class Members
When it comes to workplace bullying or workplace harassment, the Civil Rights Act is the main law that can be used to pursue justice. This landmark law prohibits discrimination in many forms. The law created the concept of a protected class, a group of people with a common characteristic. This characteristic cannot be the subject of discrimination. Tolerance of abusive behavior related to these characteristics is also a form of discrimination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission oversees this law and its enforcement. It’s possible to file a complaint directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, you may first want to speak to a harassment attorney in Kansas City to determine the best way to do so. The law applies to all companies with at least 15 employees.
Gender and Sexual Orientation
It is illegal for there to be discrimination in the workplace based on gender or sexual orientation. This part of federal law is commonly where many sexual harassment claims stem from. If you have been bullied while in a work environment and the comments or actions were targeted at your gender or sexual orientation, this harassing behavior could be illegal under federal law.
Sexual orientation is a common cause of bullying at schools. If your child has experienced emotional distress or physical harm from other high school students, or even in middle school, your school district could be held liable if they do not take action to intervene.
The United States was founded on the principle of freedom of religion, and that same principle applies in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Bullying on these grounds frequently involves offensive jokes about a person’s religion or pressure to violate their religious practices.
For example, a Jehovah’s Witness in school could be bullied for refusing to salute the flag. Even teachers may pressure them to do so. At work, a fasting Muslim may be pressured to eat lunch with the team or partake in a birthday cake. This pressure creates a hostile work environment, which is a form of discrimination.
Genetic Information and Medical History
Genetic information and medical history also fall under the protections of the law. This means that school or workplace bullying due to your medical history is illegal. Some individuals have experienced discrimination because of a chronic condition such as diabetes or a mental disorder.
You may want to consult an attorney if you feel that you have been mistreated due to your medical conditions.
Race or National Origin
Many immigrants experienced workplace bullying due to their status as foreigners. Your race or national origin are protected classes, and inappropriate conduct related to these factors is illegal. Many cases have found hostile work environments with unfair rules for foreigners, threats of deportation, and abuse from other employees. An employer that ignores these problems can be held accountable for workplace bullying.
Similarly, students in schools may also find themselves bullied for their language skills, skin color, or other physical traits. Schools must take action to prevent harmful conduct on school grounds.
Age is also protected, in particular with regard to older workers. This has become a serious problem in certain industries. An employer may not give older employees promotions or raises, instead showing a pattern of preference for younger employees who can be paid less because they have less experience and skill. Sometimes an older employee is bullied by younger peers or a hostile environment is created to try to force an older employee to resign. This is particularly common in the tech industry.
If you have experienced a hostile workplace due to your age, you should speak to lawyers about a workplace bullying lawsuit.
The Americans With Disabilities Act Extended Protections
The 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act added disabled persons to the list of protected groups. It also required companies and school districts to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
If an employer or school district does not make those accommodations, they would be in violation of your legal rights. Allowing misconduct on these grounds is also a violation of federal civil rights laws.
When Does Workplace Bullying or School Bullying Become Illegal?
An isolated incident such as a heated argument at work or a brief scuffle at school would not usually meet the legal requirements for a bullying lawsuit. A pattern of behavior needs to be demonstrated in order to create a hostile environment. Furthermore, there usually has to be negligence on the part of the employer or school district. The law also includes a “reasonable person” standard.
If you have reported multiple incidents and have not seen a change in the pattern of abusive conduct, then you may have just cause for a lawsuit. Consider how this works in schools and the workplace.
Negligence From Schools and School Districts
Missouri state law requires all schools to have an anti-bullying policy. A 2016 anti-bullying law requires school districts to have a policy that applies to all their schools. This policy contains specific procedures that school staff must follow, including creating a mechanism for students to report issues. The law also requires schools to investigate school bullying within 2 days of receiving a report.
Most schools try to follow these rules, but some do not do so diligently. Investigations may be very superficial, and some schools ignore complaints from other students due to their race, religion, or national origin. Ignoring bullying is illegal, but when discrimination is involved then the case can become very serious. Speak to a lawyer for harassment if you believe this has happened in your child’s case.
Ignoring a Hostile Work Environment
Workplace bullying becomes illegal when a hostile work environment is created. A hostile work environment is defined as one wherein an employee feels unsafe or believes they may endure harm to themselves or their property. Companies have an obligation to prevent conduct that creates a hostile work environment and take action against employees that engage in workplace bullying.
If you have reported workplace bullying to human resources or your employer directly, and the conduct continues to occur, do not stop filing reports. These documents can help you build a case that your employer was negligent and did nothing to stop a hostile work environment from developing. Keep copies of these reports so you can show them to an attorney for harassment.
How to File a Lawsuit for Bullying Behavior
If you believe you have experienced workplace bullying or that your child has been bullied at school, the first step is establishing a pattern of inappropriate conduct. Gather any evidence of discrimination at work or school. This includes text messages and emails, as well as recordings of any inappropriate interactions. Bring reports of workplace bullying or school bullying. Kansas City harassment lawyers can review your evidence and evaluate your case.
Work With an Experienced Kansas City Harassment Attorney That Knows Federal Laws
Companies and school districts have their own lawyers. You’ll want lawyers of your own to help you build a case. Look for a harassment lawyer with experience in harassment law or discrimination law. These are the two main areas that govern these cases. Experience with personal injury law is also valuable as school or workplace bullying can lead to physical harm or economic damage, although this is not required for a lawsuit.
Finally, look for a law firm that offers a free consultation. Call Holman Schiavone LLC to speak to our lawyers free of charge.
Our Kansas City Bullying and Harassment Lawyers Serve Clients in Missouri and Kansas
At Holman Schiavone, we understand that this situation is sensitive. We will not force you to take any legal action, but we will help you recognize warning signs, understand what can be used as evidence and inform you of your full legal options in the best interests of your child.
Please call our law firm in Kansas City at 816-320-6108 or email our team to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our skilled and compassionate attorneys.