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Verbal abuse causes psychological and emotional pain to the person being abused. According to the Verbal Abuse Site, verbal abuse consists of blaming a person for perceived wrongs or errors, falsely accusing a person of wrongdoing, name calling, insults, threats and mocking. Verbal abuse can consist of snide remarks or threats to harm a person or someone he loves. Depending on the circumstances this kind of abuse may or may not be considered illegal. Verbal abuse in the workplace may be actionable as a violation of your civil rights.
Determine if you have been subjected to verbal abuse that is prohibited by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC investigates and prosecutes workplace conduct that is discriminatory. Verbal abuse by management that is based on a person’s race, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability or age is illegal. For example, a manager who calls an employee “stupid” has not broken any law unless he calls an employee “stupid” based on one of the protected categories. Singling out only female employees or employees over the age of 40 or African American employees for verbal abuse may be prohibited by law.
Complete the EEOC online assessment of your claim. The online evaluation tool will assist you in determining whether you have a charge of discrimination and whether the EEOC agency can help you solve the issue. The EEOC assessment tool is available online. Answer each question and then click the button at the bottom of the question to continue to the next part. Online complaints will not be accepted by the EEOC.
File an employment discrimination charge at the closest EEOC after you determine that you have a valid claim. Choose from 53 EEOC field offices located throughout the United States. You have a limited amount of time to file a charge of discrimination based on verbal abuse at your place of employment. The time limit to file is 180 calendar days from the first instance of abuse. If a local or state agency has a law or regulation that forbids employment discrimination similar to the EEOC guidelines, then you have 300 calendar days to submit a charge. Contact the EEOC immediately to avoid losing your right to file a charge. Call the EEOC toll-free number at 800-669-4000 for information and arrange an appointment to meet with an EEOC representative.
Organize all papers and other information that will substantiate your claim of verbal abuse that constitutes unlawful discrimination. Bring all performance evaluations from your work, especially if you have been fired from your job. Bring any witnesses to the verbal abuse to the meeting with you.
File an EEOC charge of discrimination by verbal abuse by sending a letter if you cannot make an in-person complaint. A complaint by letter must include your full name, phone number, and address; the employer’s phone number, name and address; the total number of company employees; and details of the verbal abuse that you believe constitutes discrimination. Be sure to include the dates and times when the verbal abuse took place. Finally, you must state why you think the verbal abuse you were subjected to constitutes unlawful discrimination. State whether you were called a racial slur; whether an age or gender insult was levied against you; or whether you were subjected to insults or any other verbal abuse based on race, national origin or disability. Sign the letter and mail it to the EEOC field office closest to your home.
Keep a diary or log of each event of verbal abuse. Write down the date, the time, what was said, the names of witnesses and the circumstances surrounding the abuse.
Report instances of verbal abuse to your human resources manager or union representative.
It may be unlawful to file a false claim of discrimination based on verbal abuse.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.