How To Overcome A Workplace Bully
Workplace bullying is an all-too-common phenomenon that often leaves you with two choices – find a new job or fight back. If you choose to fight back, do so within the law so you are more likely to come out on top.
Keep a Log
Evidence is always king when it comes to finding relief from bullying. Set aside a notebook just for documenting each case of bullying. Record the date, time, location and the offense. It's also helpful to briefly describe how the incident made you feel and react.
If possible, always keep two copies of your log – one on hand to record each incident and a backup copy at home.
Give It a Name
Giving the bullying a name not helps you build a case against the perpetrator, it also makes the problem real. A problem that feels real is a problem that you will feel empowered to solve. Be realistic when naming the offense. Is it simply that the person is a jerk or are that specifically targeting you because of your gender, beliefs, race or religion? If it's one of the latter, the bullying falls under discrimination, which is illegal and actionable.
If they are specifically seeking only you out to bully, it may fall under harassment, which is also an actionable offense.
Look for an Ally
The most likely ally depends in part on whom is doing the bullying. If it's your boss, you may need to look for an ally within upper management or in the human resources department. Don't provide all the details at once. Instead, sound out the person you are reporting to make sure they will take the complaint seriously. Ask about workplace bullying policies, including those that include discrimination and harassment. Ask what the process is if a complaint is received from an employee.
If they seem receptive and open to taking immediate steps to stop the harassment, you can open up more about your situation. If you show your log book, make sure you only offer a copy. You don't want to lose your main form of evidence to someone that turns out to be less than sympathetic.
Get Legal Help
When the bullying continues and management and human resources are no help, it's time to seek legal assistance. Find an employment lawyer with experience in harassment and discrimination cases. Keep in mind, not all workplace bullying cases are actionable.
Generally, there has to be distinct harassment or discrimination, or a threat of violence, for a successful court case. Your lawyer can look over your log and the details of your complaint and let you know whether it's an actionable case. In some cases, a lawyer may recommend mediation between you and your employer to come up with a solution instead of continuing legal actions against the employer.
Don't hesitate to get legal help in the for of an employment attorney if you feel as though your options have been exhausted. Even if your case isn't actionable, a lawyer may advise on other solutions, such as mediation, that can help solve your problem.