We are all aware of the possibility of sexual harassment at work ~ for both women and men. Few of us know or realize the existence of bullying or other types of abuse in the workplace which may even be evidence of other possible future types of harassment.
I myself had to learn the hard way ~ seeing, suffering verbal and psychological abuses that led to bolder advances from the other side.
90% of workplace harassment is never officially reported.
Last year I decided to go after my dream of running my own business, resigning from my current job and starting an adventure. As I didn't know much about Business, I decided to partner with a former co-worker who already had several successful ventures and chose me as the representative of his franchise in my city. That way, I would learn what I could from his partner while I helped them thrive.
Everything seemed perfect: a one-year contract, decent enough payment to start my business in the future, and freedom to give my views as a boss. However, his partner didn't seem to believe in my capabilities.
I found myself feeling increasingly unhappy at work, without even realizing that I was living in an extreme situation of moral harassment. A state that frustrated and embarrassed me, making me to feel threatened in many aspects, whether emotional, psychological and worse, even physical. Everything pointed to a toxic environment.
But it wasn't just me who went through all this. There was one employee in particular - there's always one - who was my superior's favorite punching bag. Looking at this, I started to see a pattern of abuse in the workplace and put together some actions that might help you distinguish your situation:
- The boss doesn't give any tasks and leaves the employee isolated.
- The boss gives wrong instructions, with the aim of harming or not passing information necessary for the activity.
- They assign imaginary errors to the worker.
- They make bad jokes or criticism in public.
- The boss enforces unjustified schedules.
- They force the employee's dismissal.
- They take out your work instruments, such as phone, computer or desk, to cause embarrassment.
- The superior prohibit colleagues from talking or having lunch with the worker.
- They circulate evil rumors and slander about the worker.
- The boss submits the worker to public or private humiliations.
- Unfair and illegal punishments.
It is important to know the difference between bullying with company practices for error control. Companies have legal means of punishment, such as warning and even dismissal for cause.
When harassment scales to something more serious ~ as in my case ~ I ran out of action. I couldn't miss that opportunity because of some unprofessional jerk who didn't know his limits.
If the situation is really out of control, what should you do?
- Enforce limits: Make it clear that you do not accept that type of behavior. I was very assertive the first opportunity I had about my discomfort regarding sexual comments and inappropriate touches.
- Find proof: It's not easy, but an email exchange already can be enough. You can even record the harassment.
- Talk to HR: Large companies have the area of human resources that accept anonymous complaints. I didn't want to be recognized as the employee who reported the boss, but I didn't hide in anonymity, and I think it helped other people to come forward with their complaints.
- Report: It is possible to make a report to the union.
- Justice: If none of the other options help, you can always sue to solve the problem.
I know it's not easy to go through this situation, let alone take action, but first of all you have to know that you are not to blame and who is wrong is the other person. Also, a lot of people are afraid of losing their jobs, for denouncing them, but putting yourself in an unpleasant situation like this can lead to much more serious things in you life.
Thanks for reading!