Wal-Mart employee Meredith Boucher endured a campaign of bullying from her manager who publicly ridiculed and humiliated her, regularly using profane language.
After her repeated complaints were deemed “unsubstantiated,” Broucher refused to return to work until they were properly investigated – they never were.
Broucher was eventually awarded 20 weeks' pay in accordance with her employment contract plus $110,000 in damages against the manager for intentional infliction of mental suffering and $300,000 in damages against the employer.
While the case is definitely an extreme example, Oakes Thompson says it should serve as a reminder to employers that they may be held accountable for bullying behaviour, for failing to enforce policies, and for failing to take employee complaints seriously.
Dos and Don’ts
Oakes Thompson also offered the following guidelines to help employers navigate the realm of workplace bulling:
- DO implement a workplace bullying/harassment policy
- DO review and update the company policy periodically
- DO educate employees on the policy and enforce it
- DO listen to employees who claim they’re being bullied
- DO pay attention to conduct that seems off-side or inappropriate
- DO investigate complaints to determine if allegations of bullying are legitimate
- DO take appropriate action and discipline the bully when necessary
- DON’T ignore conduct that amounts to bullying in the hopes that it will “just go away”
- DON’T impose negative consequences on a complainant even if the investigation shows the complaint is unsubstantiated.
to read Ellen Oakes Thompson’s full article.
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