A Wrong Way to Handle Bullying in the Workplace

bullying-in-the-workplaceOne common mistake that employees who deal with harassment and bullying in the workplace make is reacting with anger to the harasser/bully. They either lose temper, raise their voice and give the harasser a piece of their mind while yelling and screaming, or they threaten the bully openly or implicitly with violence, or they talk about how much they can’t stand the bully and how they wish they could hurt him with other co-workers, or all of the above. This can be done orally or through e-mail or even on Facebook. For instance, recently I saw one employee how received a bad performance review post on his boss’ Facebook wall: “I will get you; just watch and see you scum”. Needless to say that employee was terminated about 2 hours later.

Being rude, angry or confrontational with a coworker or a manager who you feel is bullying you is almost always a mistake. It gives your employer a perfectly legitimate and legal reason to fire you. In fact, in some cases, the employer has to remove you from the workplace immediately, at least upon completing an investigation into your actions or statement, if you are involved in any kind of serious verbal or physical confrontation. That’s because under the law, an employer has an obligation to maintain a workplace free of violence and take all steps necessary to both prevent and remedy violence or threats of violence at workplace.

Even if you would otherwise had a valid discrimination, harassment, retaliation or wrongful termination case, the existence of those rude pre-termination e-mails and statements makes proving your case much harder if at all possible. This is because those bad statement give the employer a convincing argument that it’s your attitude, language and insubordination that they fired you for, and not any kind of discrimination.

You must resist any urge to confront your bullying boss or co-worker in a way that would suggest that you have temper/anger issues. The right way to handle any kind of harassment and bullying in the workplace is  by maintaining respectful and appropriate demeanor at all times. At the same time, you may consider complaining in writing to your superiors and the human resources management about the harassment and the bullying you are experiencing in a factual and courteous way.