Workplace bullying is not illegal, and that sad reality will cause hours or even years of heartache for some employees. While bullying in the workplace is not necessarily illegal, there is something you can do about it. You simply need a new perspective so that you know what to do and how to respond. You might also feel stuck in your job because you cannot find somewhere else to go, and that is why you need all the information listed below when someone bullies you at work every day.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Bullying, in short, is any rude remark, gesture, or action that makes someone uncomfortable. Bullying can take on many forms, and it might become a daily occurrence. Bullying might seem like it is part of the corporate culture such as when high-performing employees bully lower-performing employees. Managers might criticize employees publicly, and employees might even be forced to do boring, mundane, or ridiculous tasks as punishment for their poor performance.
When you have been bullied, your employer will get away with it. At best, these are horrible human beings that you should not associate with. This is why you need a plan to deal with the bullying instead of simply taking it on the chin.
What if the Bullying is Discrimination?
Some bullies are very careful to never cross the line that takes their bullying from legal to illegal. Rude remarks, gestures, and undesirable work assignments are not illegal. However, when the bully adds something like, “you will do this mundane task because you are [a protected class,]” you are suffering from discrimination. Speak to an employment lawyer if you feel that the bully has crossed the line because you likely have a claim on your hands that could result in compensation.
How to Handle Non-Discriminatory Bullying
Assume that bullying will become discrimination at some point. Instead of waiting around for the gotcha moment where you can stand up and scream to the heavens, “you’re discriminating against me,” you need to document every instance of bullying. Get a little notepad to keep on your desk or in your bag. Write down the person who did it, the date, the time, and any witnesses.
This tiny amount of information can demonstrate a pattern of bullying even if the bully has not been discriminating against you. When they cross the line, you can write down exactly what they said or did because you have gotten in the habit of documenting everything. You can report them to HR, but you should still speak to an employment lawyer.
Remain Poised and Professional
It can be difficult to remain poised and professional when you have been bullied at work. However, you should remain poised, document everything, and start looking for another job. If your boss or colleague does not cross the line before you leave, that is ok. You just never know when they will step over the line and turn your miserable work experience into a legal battle that your employer and/or the bully does not want to start.