When we think of bullying, we might think of the tough kid on the playground who shakes down others for their lunch money or the “mean girls” who make it their life calling to pick on others.

Some will grow out of their bullying ways, but others will grow up to become bullies in the workplace.

A recent piece on Intuit’s Small Business Blog notes that the stakes are high for companies that allow bullies in the workplace. Boardroom client Kelly Kolb, a labor and employment attorney with Fowler White Boggs in Fort Lauderdale, notes that bullying should be treated the same way that complaints about sexual harassment are.

A bullied employee typically feels helpless, gets distracted by those feelings, and becomes less productive. “You must bring them back to their ‘center’ by showing them that you take the complaint seriously and will act on it, thereby assuring them that they can control the relevant aspects of the workplace,” Kolb tells Intuit.

Twenty-one states, including Florida, have proposed workplace anti-bullying legislation, but no laws have passed, Kolb says. Companies can take control by developing and implementing anti-bullying policies themselves.