The Bullying Institute website and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries state that workplace bullying includes any repeated unwanted actions that cause intimidation, humiliation, discomfort, embarrassment or harassment in the workplace. This can come in many different forms, including threats, swearing, criticism, jokes or other behavior that results in a negative work environment. If you believe that you are a victim of bullying, you can take several actions to prevent it from affecting your work and livelihood.
Policy and Procedure
Find out what your organization’s procedure is related to bullying in the company -- if one exists. While there are no federal or state laws prohibiting bullying, there are laws that protect employees from discrimination and harassment. Find out what policies may be in place that protect you from harassment and discrimination. The company may have a grievance policy or resolution policy that will help you identify what steps to take in the event you become a victim of bullying.
Document Bullying Behavior
If a bully has a continuous pattern of behavior, it is important to document instances of bullying so you can file a formal complaint with HR. Your documentation should include the name of the perpetrator, instances in which bullying took place, the date and time of each infraction, and details about the event. Include any information about the actions that resulted in bullying. For example, you might state that on January 2, 2013, John Doe yelled at Mary Jane loudly calling her three separate names, stating that she was incompetent and worthless and stating that she was a dull employee incapable of achieving anything in front of four other senior employees. The complaint may state the bully then proceeded to make fun of her clothing, claiming that she would never amount to anything.
Confront the Bully
If you go to an HR manager with documentation he may ask if you if you tried talking to or communicating with the bully, or asked the bully to stop, before approaching HR. Tell the bully that the behavior he engages in must stop. Let the bully know that you are not comfortable with the language and negative talk that he engages in. Do so in a calm, collected manner. Do not yell at the bully, as this may engage him further and give him a reason to harass you again. Explain to the bully that you do not agree with his behavior and that you would like to encourage an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Meet With Management
If the bullying behavior continues despite your efforts, meet with appropriate managers to discuss the behavior. Ask that management address the behavior so that you can regain a proper foothold in the organization. If you have documentation regarding bullying behavior, bring this to the attention of management. When dealing with bullying behavior, focus on the facts about the situation and remain objective. Speak to your manager without getting upset. Show her that you are calm and focused on the matter at hand.
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