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Redelm

Bullying in the workplace

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I work for a state institution. With the approval of our boss, a group of us formed an anti-bullying committee a year ago because many of the employees spoke up about bullying. We sent out a survey to all employees in our department, including our boss. We let people know that we would put together a list of topic areas based on their responses. Also, we told them that all data would remain anonymous and de-identified and we would destroy the surveys after they were read. After we gave the boss the list of areas derived from the survey responses, he told us that we could never speak about these again. If we did, he would report us for destroying state property (i.e. the surveys). So, in other words, he has blacked mailed us into keeping quiet.  The topic areas included employees making faces when certain people speak, talking over people, not acknowledging people, etc. Also included was sexism. The fact is that we destroyed the surveys but he will only report us if we speak up about the content of the surveys.My question is, can our boss report us for destroying the surveys (which he  knew we were going to destroy)? Can we get in legal trouble?  

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Your boss is probably blowing smoke because he doesn't want to be bothered with any of it.

 

This is not a group thing. It's in individual thing.

 

Any employee who believes he or she is being mistreated should study the state ageny's procedures for filing a complaint and then file one in writing to the appropriate people. That is, if he or she wants to.

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can our boss report us for destroying the surveys (which he  knew we were going to destroy)?

 

Of course he can.  What would possibly make you think the answer might be otherwise?

 

 

 

Can we get in legal trouble?  

 

Depends on the laws of your unidentified state and whatever other facts are relevant under those laws.

 

 

 

But, there are statutes for some of the "isms" that were detailed in the surveys . . .

 

Uh huh...and?  As mentioned in the first response in this thread, "[a]ny employee who believes he or she is being mistreated should study the state agen[c]y's procedures for filing a complaint and then file one in writing to the appropriate people . . ., if he or she wants to."

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Redelm,

 

Thank you for the post. You pose an interesting question. First, there is a bunch of issues with the reporting destroyed state property.The way you phrase it, he tacitly authorized the documents destruction by knowing about it and not telling you to not do it.

 

There are also built in protections such as whistler blower laws that prevent adverse actions to whistle-blowers who report illegal activities. Of course, that's the main issue with all of this, was their any illegal activity?  For instance, you say sexism, was that actually manifested in a discriminatory fashion?

 

Can you explain the "isms" a bit more?

 

-The FindLaw.com Team

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I am not sure the purpose behind destroying anonymous surveys, but acting on your word Alone about what the surveys said is very problematic. Yes, destroying state property, especially records, can be very problematic. Not writing you up so long as it is no harm, no foul is not how I would proceed but it is not illegal. Surely you do not need a survey, nor a committee to address one employee mocking another.

 

I would ask your boss what authority this group has and how he would like you to proceed. If you happen to witness any acts of sexism or other harassment based on protected characteristics, you do not need a committee to report it and act.

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