It’s a bizarre headline, we know but go with us here…the reader mailbag on AOL Jobs includes a reader’s situation with a boss.
“Yesterday it went a little too far when he thought he was being funny and kicked me on my behind and told me to get back in my office.”
Donna Ballman, employee-side employment lawyer and author, asks the reader several critical questions. For starters when things get violent in an office, even if they’re meant to be in “good fun,” did you get hurt?
She writes, “What your boss did was battery. However, the big issue is what are your damages?”
If the person was hurt, then yes — he or she may have a lawsuit. “Otherwise, it’s doubtful a lawyer would take on a battery suit.”
Next up — did you report it? If HR and/or the police got involved, this may be a whistle-blower case. She adds, “Because battery is illegal, by objecting to an illegal activity your state may (or may not) have whistle-blower laws that protect you against retaliation.”
Then protected classes come into account as well. If the person was being harassed due to his or her race, age, sex, national origin, religion, disability, for taking Family and Medical Leave, as well as other reasons like blowing the whistle or engaging in activities to improve work conditions, yeah, that boss just may be breaking the law.
While colleagues may ultimately back the boss and say it was done in jest, Ballman says once the bully gets away with the behavior, it will probably be escalated and others may join in next time. It’s always wise to converse with an employment attorney in one’s state but her overall suggestion is reporting unwanted touching like a hit or a kick to human resources.
Report it in writing and ask them to take immediate action to address the situation.
Ballman adds, “If they are on notice of this jerk’s propensity to hit employees and don’t take action to correct the situation, and he actually hurts someone, then the employer will be liable.”