Nobody likes bullies. You’d think that once you are out of high school they would be out of your lives.  Sadly they exist in marriages, social interactions and very often the work place.

If your boss or co-worker picks on you, belittles you, teases you, etc., it can make going to work a living hell. In my first lawyer job, I had a boss who could be considered a bully, as he got off on being in charge.  While my advice is to generally push back against those people, I know that is easier said than done, especially if you are worried about your job.

When it comes to Illinois workers’ compensation law, you unfortunately can not bring a case for bullying that takes place over time and causes a mental break down. More correctly stated, I think that if you brought that case, you’d likely lose. That’s because under Illinois law, mental stress injuries have to be sudden and shocking, not events that happen over time.

The big exception to this is if something physical happens. Your boss could bully you verbally, but one day scream at you and grab you by the shirt collar.  If that physical act leads to a mental break down, you’d likely have a case for work comp in Illinois.

In addition, if you got punched or otherwise injured physically by a bully, that would most likely be a case. You’d have to prove that what happened was related to your job and that you were not the aggressor.  If your boss or co-worker punched you because you don’t like the Bears for example, that would likely not be a case. But if they punched you because they were mad about your work, it would be.

While every case is different, if you are touched or have a reasonable fear of harm (e.g. someone gets in your face screaming), I’d consider calling the police.  You should also report them to HR which will hopefully lead to them being terminated.

One form of bullying that is unfortunately becoming more common is through social media.  Again, because that’s not usually a one time, sudden and shocking event (as compared to something like being robbed at gun point), it likely would not be a case.

Please note that these are of course general statements and every case should be decided on its own merits. We are happy to talk with you for free about what has happened to you.

Bonus tip.  You may or may not have a work comp case, but might need to talk to a labor lawyer if you are bullied. While it’s not illegal for a boss to be a jerk, if they are doing so in retaliation against you it could be.