The art of avoiding being bullied by your employees


“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc

When talking to small business owners I usually hear they are being bullied by some of their employees! These employees intent is to intimidate, humiliate and isolate you; so, you give in to their demands, pay them vacation time, to get a raise, among other things. This behavior can be obvious or subtle. The typical behavior of a bully could include non-verbal displays of intimidation (staring, glaring); spreading malicious rumors, yells, use profanity, mocking; threat you with going to DOL, Labor Commissioner, EEOC, or to sue you. What can you do? Be proactive! Start with basics, set up your workplace policies, educate, train and lead by example!

Start with basics, keep it clean! Comply with the law. When you hire your 1st employee remember to have your Employee Rights posters up. Are you keeping records?  Keep for 3 years:  Name, Social Security Number, title, address, payroll records; make sure you have the Industrial Welfare Commission Order for your industry! By law, when you hire employees they must have certain basic benefits (SDI/CASDI; DI; PFL; UI; Workers’ Compensation). Create Job Descriptions, have clear expectations! When you pay the employees: Provide them Itemized statements.

Set up workplace policies, create an employee handbook, this can be useful as a way of communicating policies, procedures, and work rules to your employees; you and anyone who reads your employee manual needs to understand your company current policies (written or oral) past practices and anticipate future needs.  Some of the must haves in the employee manuals: At will employment status, right to revise and confirmation of receipt; Equal Employment Opportunity statement; Harassment prohibition; Paid breaks and unpaid meal breaks. At-will doctrine.

If the person you hired is not cutting it: Your at-will doctrine will become very handy. Remember that documentation is very important! You need to be consistent and fair. Every time you dismiss someone from employment you have risks. That’s why training for supervisor and managers is very important! Do not forget: document, document, document! As long as you document and treat all your employees fairly and consistently you do not have much to worry.

Employees may try to bully you, do not allow this to happen to you and your company, it could be very costly! Make sure you are in compliance; so, you do not have anything to fear. No matter if an employee threat you with Labor Commission, DOL or any other government agency; you know you have your duck in a row! Make sure you document the behavior with specifics and talk to the employee. If he does not comply we may need to discipline him/her. Train your supervisors and managers; so, you treat your employees consistently and fairly and most importantly: lead by example!


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