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How to Deal with Bullying, Harassment, and Discrimination in the Workplace

Bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace are, unfortunately, more common than we might think. Worse still, most people assume or feel like they won’t experience such problems until they themselves become targets. Not many people are equipped with the knowledge of what to do when they get bullied, harassed, or discriminated against.

In the worst cases, you may want to lawyer up immediately. Still, there are a lot of things that you can do to help mitigate the situation and even help your case if or when you choose to file a legal complaint. Here are some helpful tips.

Don’t Let Emotions Colour Your Judgement

Especially in cases of harassment and bullying, it’s easy to fall prey to our emotions. Try your very best not to do this. Focus on the issues and not your feelings, especially about the person who’s harassing or bullying you. “Feeling” like you’re being discriminated against or bullied is not enough. You should be able to provide solid, concrete facts.

Check the Employee Rule Book

Speaking of concrete facts, one of the early steps you can take in dealing with bullying, harassment, and discrimination is to consult the employee handbook or the company’s rule book. Not only will this document provide you with a basis that the person is actually doing something against company policy, but it will also indicate the ways you can file a complaint. You should definitely handle matters internally first before escalating it to a legal issue when nothing is done by the company to resolve the problem. Hopefully, it doesn’t arrive at the latter.

Report Incidents Immediately

Make sure to report any incident of bullying, harassment, or discrimination immediately. It could be to your manager, a human resources staff, or even a dedicated personnel assigned to handle such cases. Make sure to read any and all policies for employees, and follow these policies in reporting and filing your complaint. Do this as soon as you can. In addition, it’s best to keep a written copy of the complaint. If there’s a meeting conducted about your complaint, politely ask for a copy of the meeting’s minutes or summary. Moreover, you should also keep all documentations that you receive after you file the complaint. 

Keep a Record of All Succeeding Offences

If you can, write down what happened during the first occurrence of any bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Be as detailed as you can, even if it can be a little challenging. Include information like the date and time, and the names of the witnesses. You should also include the name of the person you reported to, along with their response. Do this for all succeeding offences, especially if no action is taken the first time it happened. All of these records will be helpful in the future if/when the case is escalated to law enforcement or a legal forum. Again, don’t let emotions colour the reports you are making. Ensure accuracy and objectivity to help build a solid case. Finally, keep the records in a safe place and make multiple copies just in case something happens. You can never be too careful!

Don’t Comply with or Ignore the Person

When bullies and harassers target you, perhaps your first reaction will simply be to give in to get things “over with.” Sometimes, you may opt to ignore the offending person. However, responding in these ways will make the bully or harasser think that you’re an easy target. Bullying and similar behaviours are often about feeling more powerful than other people. Therefore, not offering any resistance will invite more similar situations. It might be challenging to do, especially if you have a fear of confrontation, but reacting to reassert your control of the situation may help deter the bully or harasser. At the very least, it will make that specific encounter stop.

Continue Doing Your Work

This can be another difficult thing to accomplish, but it will be in your best interest to keep doing good work for your company. If you don’t think you’ll be able to do so, it’s better to ask for some vacation time to help you approach things with a clearer mind.

Getting bullied, harassed, or discriminated against is a stressful ordeal, and you’ll need all the support you can get. Tell your family, trusted friends, and/or co-workers about the abuse you’re experiencing to prevent yourself from feeling abandoned. Likewise, if someone close to you is being bullied, harassed, or discriminated against, offer them support as well. Again, these are challenging circumstances, and everyone needs all the help they can get when dealing with such undesirable situations.

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