PART II: Pre-Termination counseling – Work Place Bullies
While none of the states in the union currently have laws preventing work place bullying, the trend is likely to spread from our European cousins. Currently, numerous employees are subject to harsh and abusive treatment in the work place, and because of the high employment rates, have no choice but to endure the stress and toxicity of this hostile work environment. While some larger companies might include anti-bullying policies in their employee handbook, there is no formal legislation which prohibits same or imposes any liability upon the employer for bullying or harassment which is not related to a protected characteristic. Said simply, the equal opportunity bully gets a free pass unless his own company choses to take action. In many instances, the company won’t act to remove that bully from the work place leaving the victims without any recourse other than to leave the job to get away from the abuse. So, how do you deal with the office bully?
- You can’t do it alone; get HR to help and make sure you document and describe clearly the instances of bullying and all of your conversations with HR;
- Seek out someone in upper management to try and help you and make sure you know the company policy on bullying so that you can follow its procedure;
- Identify and document witnesses to the bullying;
- If the situation becomes intolerable and you are forced to seek medical care or take leave because of the bullying, make sure you let HR know about the reasons for your leave and medical care; and
- Consider looking for another job; after all, no job is worth risking your health and sanity, and until we have laws that protect you in this situation and impose an affirmative obligation on the company to stop the bullying, you have to protect yourself.