What to do if you’re being bullied at work
When experiencing bullying, it’s common to feel powerless and unable to do anything to stop it. If you try to stand up to the bully, you may be threatened or told no one will believe you. If it’s your manager bullying you, you may wonder who to tell.
First, take a moment to remind yourself that bullying is never your fault, regardless of what triggered it. Even if someone bullies you by making it seem like you can’t do your job, bullying is more about power and control, not your work ability.
Begin to take action against bullying with these steps:
Document the bullying
Keep track of all bullying actions in writing. Note the date, the time, where the bullying took place, and other people who were in the room.
Save physical evidence
Keep any threatening notes, comments, or emails you receive, even if they’re unsigned. If there are documents that can help prove bullying, such as denied PTO requests, overly harsh commentary on assigned work, and so on, keep these in a safe place.
Report the bullying
Your workplace may have a designated person you can talk to if you don’t feel safe talking to your direct supervisor. Human resources is a good place to start. It’s also possible to talk about the bullying with someone higher up if your supervisor is unhelpful or is the person doing the bullying.
Confront the bully
If you know who’s bullying you, bring along a trusted witness, such as a co-worker or supervisor, and ask them to stop — if you feel comfortable doing so. Be calm, direct, and polite.
Review work policies
Your employee handbook may outline steps of action or policies against bullying. Also consider reviewing state or even federal policies about the type of bullying you’re experiencing.
Seek legal guidance
Consider talking to a lawyer, depending on the circumstances of the bullying. Legal action may not always be possible, but a lawyer can offer specific advice.
Reach out to others
Co-workers may be able to offer support. Talking to your loved ones about the bullying can also help. You can also talk to a therapist. They can provide professional support and help you explore ways to cope with the effects of bullying while you take other action.
If you’re a member of a union, your union representative may be able to offer some guidance and support on how to deal with bullying.
You can also look into your employer’s employee assistance program, if they have one. EAPs help you access resources to address a variety of issues that can affect your mental health and overall well-being.