Federal Jury Awards $4.7 Million in Workplace Bullying Case

An employee of a Brooklyn, New York clothing store was awarded $4.7 million by a federal jury after being repeatedly bullied by a co-worker and ultimately physically attacked. The award was for assault, emotional distress, negligence in the employer's hiring of the bully and punitive damages.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff, a Yemen-born stock clerk, was bullied by a security guard at the store, who repeatedly called the plaintiff “bin Laden” and used other religious, racial and ethnic slurs throughout the plaintiff's employment at the store. The security guard also made threatening physical gestures.

The plaintiff complained numerous times to the store manager about the name-calling and the threats of physical harm, saying that he feared for his life. The plaintiff also repeatedly asked that the security guard be transferred or that other action be taken – but the store manager did not act. After approximately a year and a half of verbal taunts and threatening gestures, one day the security guard punched the plaintiff, knocking him unconscious. The store manager refused to call the police or an ambulance. Eventually, the security guard was arrested and pled guilty to a criminal charge of assault.

Workplace bullying is not only unacceptable and potentially expensive, it may soon violate new state laws. At least 15 states are considering legislation that would protect workers against bullying. The following five steps can help employers recognize and prevent bullying in the workplace:

  • Create a policy that clearly defines verbal, physical and online bullying, lists the company's anti-bullying rules and identifies the penalties for breaking the rules;
  • Make sure all employees are aware of and understand the anti-bullying policy;
  • Apply the policy consistently for all employees and in all situations;
  • Encourage employees to report all incidents of bullying to their supervisors or to human resources; and
  • Screen potential new employees for past workplace bullying or harassing behaviors.

[View source.]

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© WeComply, a Thomson Reuters business | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.