Intimidating workplace

Bullies are most likely to be bosses — 81 percent by the WBI's measure.But some 14 percent of the tormentors are co-workers of a victim, and 5 percent of reported bullies actually badger their higher ups.Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following: Prevention is the best tool to eliminate harassment in the workplace.Common wisdom used to be that a workplace bully was an overly strict boss who barked out an order or lost his or her temper.

In a survey of 400 government and private sector employees taken in August 2008, the WBI found that 95 percent of the respondents were self-described targets of bullying, either currently or in the past.

They can do this by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process, providing anti-harassment training to their managers and employees, and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.

Employers should strive to create an environment in which employees feel free to raise concerns and are confident that those concerns will be addressed.

Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

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A determination of whether harassment is severe or pervasive enough to be illegal is made on a case-by-case basis.

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