male bullying his coworker in front of their team

Workplace bullying that rises to the level of harassment is illegal in New York. Sometimes bullying is obvious, but in other cases, employees notice subtle signs of bullying at work. Bullying includes any type of abusive conduct at work that humiliates, threatens, or intimidates a person. Bullying also occurs when one employee or a group of employees prevents another person from getting his or her work done through interference or sabotage. While all bullying in the workplace is wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated, not all bullying is illegal.

8 Subtle Signs of Bullying at the Workplace

Whether you’ve experienced subtle signs of bullying at work, or you’ve experienced relentless, obvious bullying, an employment lawyer can help. When bullying becomes unlawful workplace harassment, victims have a right to compensation under federal, state, and local laws. The experienced employment lawyers at Lipsky Lowe LLP have helped many New York City clients obtain the compensation they deserve. If you experience any of these signs on an ongoing basis, we recommend speaking to one of our hostile work environment lawyers. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how we can fight for your rights. 

1. Subtle Signs of Aggression as Bullying at Work

Aggression is one of the more obvious indicators of workplace bullying. As with any type of bullying, aggression can take many different forms. Sometimes aggression is not subtle, such as a co-worker screaming at another co-worker at a loud volume. Or, a co-worker could bang his or her fist on the desk to display anger. In other cases, aggression is more subtle. A co-worker or manager might slam his or her desk drawer during a meeting or throw a pen on the desk. Aggression includes any type of verbal or non-verbal accident that exhibits anger. Bullies use aggression to intimidate their victims and make them feel scared of their anger.

2. Coercion

Workplace coercion occurs when employers or co-workers threaten individuals in an attempt to influence their behavior. Conversion will often happen when a manager tells an employee that he or she must choose to comply or the manager will force the employee to comply. Sometimes coercion is direct and obvious. In other cases, managers or coworkers use subtler tactics to coerce someone to change their behavior. For example, an employer may hint that he or she will give the employee an unfair work performance review if the employee doesn’t comply.

3. Belittling

Workplace bullies often use belittling as a tactic to demoralize their victims. A manager or employer may continuously question your ideas and opinions or intentionally present your ideas as bad ones to your co-workers. Belittling can occur in private or in front of others at workplace meetings. Belittling can also involve someone blaming you for all of the problems at your workplace while bragging that their actions have caused good outcomes. A more subtle form of belittling occurs when someone questions your loyalty and commitment to your job because you don’t sacrifice personal time and work long hours. In other cases, an employer falsely accuses an employee of failing to accomplish tasks on time or at all. 

4. Intrusion as a Form of Bullying at Work

Intrusion involves someone tampering with a co-worker’s personal belongings. Intrusion takes many forms and can include spying, stalking, or pestering someone. You may find one of your co-workers constantly lurking around your desk or snooping in your personal items when you go to the restroom or on your lunch break. Intrusion also includes a co-worker asking highly personal and intrusive questions even after you’ve asked him or her to stop.

5. Revenge

Revenge is another form of workplace bullying. A co-worker or manager may think that you’ve been unfairly promoted or that you haven’t been punished adequately. These types of scenarios can create motivation for one co-worker to take their revenge on another co-worker by sabotaging them, belittling them, or trying to get them terminated from their position.

6. Threats and Punishment

Throughout our many years of practice, we have witnessed many cases where a manager or employer makes constant threats to an employee. Is your employer or manager constantly threatening to terminate your position, discipline you, or give you unwarranted punishment? Has your employer engaged and emotional, physical, or psychological abuse? If so, your employer is probably creating a hostile work environment by making constant threats against you.

7. Offensive Speech as a Form of Bullying at Work

Using offensive speech can be a form of bullying. Offensive speech includes using profanity, making demeaning jokes, discussing sexually explicit content, or spreading untrue rumors or gossip. Offensive speech can occur in the physical workplace and online via texting, emailing, and instant messaging coworkers in virtual workspaces.

8. Stopping Career Growth

Bullying can also include stopping or blocking a co-worker’s career growth or advancement. When one co-worker tries to stop another co-worker from unfairly advancing within the company, he or she can create a hostile work environment.  The co-worker who is bullying another co-worker may spread false rumors to their employer in an attempt to prevent his co-worker’s advancement or raise.

Contact a New York City Workplace Bullying Lawyer

Nobody should have to experience bullying in the workplace. We will discuss some of the subtle signs of bullying at work below. Have you experienced one or more of the subtle signs of bullying we’ve discussed? If so, there is a good chance that you’re the victim of workplace harassment. Depending on the facts of your case, you could be entitled to compensation or other types of restitution by filing a legal claim against your employer. 

New York City and state have some of the most stringent anti-discrimination laws in the country. We understand that bringing a claim against your employer for workplace bullying can seem overwhelming, but you are not alone. Contact the employment lawyers at Lipsky Lowe LLP today to learn whether you have a valid legal claim against your employer.