In Virginia, certain incidences of bullying in the workplace may be open to criminal prosecution. The nature of the bullying at work will determine whether the person’s actions are legal. However, even if criminal charges cannot be brought against the bully, you should still report the behavior to your employer.
In Virginia, workplace harassment on the basis of race, sex, origin, religion, age or disability is considered a form of discrimination and has legal ramifications. The actions made by the accused must have the effect of creating a hostile work environment, interfering with the person’s work performance or adversely affecting workplace advancement opportunities.
If the workplace bullying falls under sexual harassment laws in Virginia, you can have the bully removed from his position and pursue a legal case against him. Sexual harassment is an illegal act and occurs in the workplace when sexual advances are made, requests for sexual favors, making obscene gestures or unwanted physical contact. Sexual harassment laws in Virginia do not necessarily need to be sexual in nature. If the person calls you a name or hurls insults at you based on your sex, you can pursue legal action.
The Khan Law Group warns that certain nonviolent forms of workplace bullying may not be considered illegal. Examples include a co-worker spreading false rumors about you, unjust criticisms made against you, social event exclusion and constant glares from co-workers.
You should complete a three-step process to handle bullying at work. The first step is to admit that you are being bullied and understand that the problem is the bully and not anything you did. The next step is to take time off from work and get any mental, physical and legal help you may need to deal with the bullying. The final step is to let your employer know about the situation, and ask that she is removed. If the bully stays on, you should consider looking for a new position.