27 Nov What to Do If You Believe You Have Been Harassed at Work
Do you find yourself counting the days until the weekend? Is the only thing you are looking forward to your next vacation because it’ll serve as an escape from your workplace? Maybe the workplace harassment you’re going through has escalated to worse physical and psychological problems such as anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, or stress.
Being harassed at work is one of the worst things that could happen to anyone, and there are many repercussions that come with it. Your job performance is affected, and so is your self-esteem because you put more focus on how you can avoid the bully and how to deal with the whole situation.
The best solution is to confront the situation and get your life back. This is easier said than done, we understand that, but you have options. We’ll help you go through them so you can make informed decisions.
Being Harassed at Work: What is Workplace Harassment?
Harassment refers to a form of discrimination that occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome or offensive behavior. Harassment is usually pervasive or severe enough to affect the terms and conditions of employees. There are many types of workplace harassment, and it could come in any form, going from x-rated jokes, vile racial comments, and sexual remarks, to ridicule, intimidation, or even physical harassment.
How to Handle Harassment in the Workplace
If you have good reason to believe that you are being harassed at work, you should not ignore the problem and hope that it’ll go away. It will not. If anything, once the bully realizes that the only thing you do when you see them is paralyze with fear, they will take advantage, and the problem is likely to escalate.
Talking about harassment may seem uncomfortable, especially if you are dealing with sexual harassment, but saying or doing nothing will not help the situation either. Here is what to do about workplace harassment.
Make It Clear That You Do Not Welcome the Misconduct
If you are being harassed at work, you must make it clear to the bully that you do not appreciate what they are doing, and it is completely unwelcome. You’d be surprised at the number of harassers who argue that their victims welcomed or even encouraged the behavior. You may feel intimidated or frightened, and it may be hard to object, but you need to tell the bully to stop the behavior in unequivocal terms.
It’s advisable to do it in writing, because it may get to a point where you need to prove your claims. Sending an email is an excellent way to do it because you won’t need to come face to face with your harasser and you’ll get proof that you asked them to stop in case it goes on.
Document What Happens During the Incidents
If possible, keep notes, memos, gifts or any other tangible evidence you receive from the harasser. It would be wise to save these in a safe place that’s not controlled by your employer. Your employer has access to communications you have through the workplace equipment, and the information may not be confidential. They may use it against you in the end.
Employers have the ability to monitor employees and have access to emails and texts sent through company computers. They may also have access to public websites that you log in through the company servers, including your Facebook account.
Check the Company Policies
The company policies may have information about harassment, so check your employee manual if you have one. Most companies have specific harassment policies and include who to complain to. Workplace harassment cases have taken a great deal of attention, and there is a chance that your case will be taken seriously.
If the company doesn’t have workplace harassment policies, you should address this with the authority figure in the workplace who may be able to help you.
Report the Misconduct
Restoring the problem to the human resources department may be the best thing you can do. It will give your employer a chance to rectify the problem, and there is a chance that the harassment will come to an end. Even if it does not stop, you’ll have proof that the employer knows about it, preventing any future claims from the company they were unaware of the issue.
The employer is likely to investigate the problem, and it will be best if you cooperate. You probably fear retaliation from your bully for taking these measures or maybe even losing your job, but these should not be reasons enough for you to avoid reporting them.
Still, you should know that not all HR departments do much for the employee. You see, you may bear most of the burden if the harassment involves a highly-placed manager because the department or the company is likely to side with them and not you. The HR department works for the company, and they’ll likely deal with the situation as they see fit for the business.
Also, keep in mind that the situation may be revealed to others once you reach out to HR. The department personnel may need to report it to the managers and supervisors, and possibly your bully.
Avoid Quitting Your Job
If you are lost on how to deal with harassment at work, you may feel that the best escape to this situation is to quit your job. And understandably so. However, if you are harassed at work, you need to understand that it is illegal and you don’t have to endure it. Legally, your employer is required to make it stop.
If you quit, they’ll argue that you left before they could fix the problem and you may not have a way to recover your lost income. You may also have a hard time collecting unemployment benefits because your employer is likely to argue you abandoned the business.
If you’re at the point where harassment is intolerable, you should talk to a workplace harassment attorney and understand your legal options. A competent and professional lawyer will help you win a lawsuit, even against your employer.
Understand That Retaliation Is Illegal
Retaliation is not only illegal, but you’d be surprised at the fact that it’s easier to prove than the harassment you have been going through. Once you make a complaint against your harasser and the employer doesn’t like it, they may take action against you.
For instance, they may demote you, transfer you to a less desirable location, cut your pay or give you less desirable duties to dissuade you from filing a claim. You may also face mistreatment from your co-workers and possibly even further harassment. All these can make a very strong retaliation claim, and you may defeat them this way if harassment is hard to prove.
Take Action Today!
Being harassed at work is not easy and finding an ally can be helpful for you, especially if it’s a friend you can trust to get you through it and look out for you. You should also talk to the ombudsman in your company and have them investigate the situation if the HR department is not taking action fast enough.
If you are enduring harassment of any kind at work, talk to a professional employment lawyer at Fernald & Zaffos for legal advice.