Many people spend more time at work than they do with their families, and it is also common for some to work more than they sleep.
Knowing this, it is important that your workplace is safe and comfortable, not only in terms of the physical environment, but also the emotional one. While it may not be possible to have a perfect workplace, the last thing anyone needs is to have one where people are being harassed.
If you believe you are being harassed, bullied, or singled out, then you need to take action, and here’s how.
Keep a Log of Events
Get a notebook or day planner and note the events as they occur. If someone is telling crude jokes that are offensive (such as racist or sexist remarks) or cursing at you, then you need to note the date and time of the occurrence.
For example, you may write: Walter called me a “pig” and referred to my desk as a “trough” on 4/30 at 12:09PM.
While Walter may just be “joking around,” you do not find it funny. The next step depends on if the situation is hostile or not.
Report the Incident
If “Walter” is someone who is crude but harmless, then the next best step is to approach him and say something to the effect of “Walter, your remark was inappropriate and I didn’t find it funny at all.”
This will be very effective with most people because the majority of your co-workers want to be liked. After all, they spend more time at work than with their family; the last thing they want is to be hated, especially when they are trying to be the funny guy.
If “Walter,” however, makes you feel uncomfortable – perhaps he makes highly inappropriate remarks, or gives the impression of being physically imposing – then you need to report the incident to your HR person, or the person in charge of HR if that’s who “Walter” is.
Once the incident is reported, it is officially documented, or should be, and if it is not, then you have maintained your log of the event in case it becomes a pattern.
What to do if the Harassment Does not Stop
If you are working in a constantly hostile workplace, then you need to report the incidents as they occur. For most bullies, they’ll end up steering clear of you because they’re all punks who can’t stand up against being called out. For those who can’t understand what your problem is, they’ll just learn to keep their mouths shut, or they’ll end up getting fired because nobody likes people who cause problems, and it seems that “Walter” is a problem just waiting to happen.
Last Note: Don’t Just Keep a Log and Say Nothing
The great thing about working in an American company (and others that respect workers rights) is that you don’t have to put up with this kind of nonsense. It’s not like in the days of Mad Men where women were told to wear shorter skirts to show off their figure and 50-year-old African American busboys were chastised for chatting to customers who asked them a question.
You need to exercise your rights and demand that they be adhered to. This is done when you document and report the incidents as they occur. If you keep a journal of all of these events and then say nothing, only airing them years later, the impact will have expired, because if this was all such a big deal, then why didn’t you mention it years ago when it first occurred?
Think of it in terms of the law. Almost every crime has a statute of limitations. If a co-worker calls you names you should be able to tell him or her that that is not appropriate and you won’t put up with it. If it persists, you need to tell someone who can help that:
“Skylar called me stupid and mentally special on Tuesday; I told her I didn’t want to be called names. She replied that I wouldn’t know if I was being called a name, so it didn’t matter. Then she went on Facebook and posted on her wall that there are ‘so many stupid [expletive deleted] at work’.”
Along with catching “Skylar” for using her personal Facebook on company time, you’ll also be protecting yourself from harassment.
On the other side of this, if “Skylar” is calling you names and you never say anything, she can be cruel and insensitive – all while knowing it bothers you – and then claim that she felt you guys have that kind of relationship, like she does with her best friend, who she then puts on speakerphone, addressing her by such a name to which the response is something even more offensive, making Skylar a careless goof and maybe a reckless idiot, but certainly not a bully.
- Get a notebook/planner
- Report to Higher