Bullying is something no one should have to go through, but you can feel even more helpless when this bullying occurs at your place of work. Most of us behave with the right conduct at work, but what happens when this isn’t being upheld by others and we see or experience workplace bullying in its many forms? Let’s discuss what your rights are and get very clear on what bullying looks like, and what those important next steps are.
Know who you can talk to
It doesn’t matter who your bully is in the workplace, it all feels alienating and unbearable. The good news is that you don’t have to bear this stress alone, as you have many allies you can turn to who can take swift action against your bully. If you are considering workplace bullying legal action, you will find that there are entire legal firms that are dedicated to employment law and all its facets. Before you get legal representation, you must see your Human Resources team first to let them know that this is happening and to put in a formal complaint. This will start the proceedings at your workplace and can protect you against more bullying and any other incidents that come as a result of your treatment. Note that these initial discussions are confidential, so you are protected when you discuss these matters.
Review your contract and keep a record of the bullying
If you want to get reacquainted with your rights, you should be able to find them in your contract with the company’s code of ethics. You can also visit the government websites for your country, and you can get quite granular by narrowing down those rights to the type of work you do. A key workplace right to remember is your right to feel safe at work, and if this is not being met then you should keep a detailed record of the treatment you have received. Try and be as detailed as possible as this ledger might be what you rely on with your Human Resources complaint or with your employment lawyer.
What qualifies as bullying?
Bullying is when an employee is treated inappropriately and can be anything from yelling, ignoring, speaking derogatory towards, and even physical violence. If you experience discrimination and are bullied based on your race, gender and any other determinants then that is a reason to seek help and to have that bullying reported. Bullying is typically directed at one single or a small group of individuals, making them more vulnerable as the minority in the workplace. Workplace bullying happens at work, but it can also happen and have consequences when it is carried out offsite in a work culture environment or event.
The grey areas of bullying
Bullying is not as straight down the line as we would like, there are many grey areas. For example, consider the Folau vs Rugby Australia case – Folau was fired for his discriminative social media posts, but in the eyes of the law, his termination was unlawful. There are also other cases of bullying taking place when the accused stands behind the fact that this is simply their management style. This is where having detailed records is essential, as they provide context to a story and will make your case against a bully.
If you are seeking information on workplace bullying, then perhaps you are in an uncomfortable position currently, but it won’t be forever. Take control and take measured steps towards a just outcome, as your action might save another employee down the line who also has to endure bullying at the same hands.