Work Harassment? Find Out How to Take Action!
Workplace harassment is far more common than most people think and if you’ve never experienced it before, you’re certainly an exception and not a rule. At times, you might encounter a conversation with a coworker or employer that makes you think about whether you even want to continue being employed by the company. Or, you might be targeted by workplace harassment without even realizing it. Regardless of your situation, it’s important to know that there are avenues that you can take in order to legally stop workplace harassment.
Dealing with the Stigma of Reporting
There’s one specific avenue that you can go through that will give you the anonymity you desire when it comes to reporting workplace harassment, and we’ll go through that later. However, it might be quite obvious that you and a specific person are having a problem based on the way you present yourself at the office. This will lead to the people around you clearly seeing that you’re on the verge of reporting the problematic person, but this is certainly not something that you should be worried about.
No matter which avenue you take, people are going to form their own opinions but this is when you’re going to need to put yourself first. There is no reason as to why you should feel uncomfortable walking into the office on a regular basis because of harassment because it creates a toxic environment for the whole company. Above all else, you never know if the same problematic person has been harassing other people around the office and they haven’t spoken up. You will quite literally be doing the entire company a favor by doing your duty and reporting negative influences.
How to Report Workplace Harassment
Below are a few of the best avenues to take when it comes to dealing with workplace harassment.
1. Research Resources
This is particularly true if you work for a large company, as they will undoubtedly have resources in place for employees to report harassment of varying types. Did you know that approximately 90% of workplace harassment goes unreported? The first thing you should do is open your employee handbook and read the channels that you should take to report someone.
In most cases, a company will have an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer who has the specific job of dealing with internal complaints as well as counselors for employees who feel like they are being targeted by harassing personalities.
2. Visit HR
There are plenty of things that your human resources department is required to take care of, but the most important is keeping positive relations between a company and their employee. If you work for a company that has a human resources department, it’s about time that you paid them a visit to get your complaint down in writing and it’s important that you make the report as soon as necessary.
If it’s a serious case of harassment, you’re going to want to collect evidence that you might have to prove your case about the antagonizing person, however, once a complaint is made, the human resources department is required to investigate the situation. This is also information that you would be able to find in your employee handbook and it is essential that you read it to see if there is any additional documentation that you need to bring with you.
3. Keep Records
It’s sad to say, but in reality, dealing with workplace harassment is quite similar to dealing with stalking in a sense that you’re going to need to start keeping and maintaining records of specific conversations. This doesn’t mean that you have to secretly record every conversation that you have, but instead, keep a log of the date, time, and content of the conversation with the problematic person. Also, write down any potential witnesses that might have overheard the harassment.
It’s important to remember that there’s a high probability that someone else will read your records at some point so you’ll need to stay objective and keep accurate logs for future use. You’ll also want to keep your logs at home or in a safe place rather than in the office.
4. Create a Group
If you’ve noticed that you’re not the only one who has been targeted by workplace harassment, it might be time to reach out to other people who may be in the same position as you. The more people that you have standing behind a certain cause, the more likely it is that you will be taken seriously and the stigma of reporting will dissipate. It’s quite likely that if you have witnesses to your own harassment, you’ve been witness to someone else’s as well.
5. Prepare Yourself Mentally
Above all else, the most important thing that you need to do is prepare yourself for what is approaching on the horizon. As mentioned, people are prone to creating their own assumptions and judgments on every situation that happens in the office, especially when it comes to harassment. Even though you might be scared or intimidated to report the issue at hand, you have every right to speak your mind, especially if you feel uncomfortable.
In ideal situations, once you report them, HR will open an investigation and find proof that validates your claims, forcing the person out of the office so you can get back to a normal workday. However, this isn’t how it always works. You’re going to need to stay strong, stick behind your feelings, and remember that although you might have a great position at your dream job, you have rights not only as an employee but as a human being as well.
Workplace Harassment and Your Personal Life
Even though it’s nice to think that workplace harassment is something that stays at work and once you go home, you don’t think about it, that’s certainly not the case. You might head home at the end of the day and feel relief that you don’t have to be in the office anymore, but the next morning you’ll be dreading having to go to work. There is no reason as to why you should have to feel absolute dread before heading into work as a result of someone else’s actions. By getting the gumption and strength to stand up for yourself and others around you, you’ll be contributing to a much healthier and happier environment.