Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When You're Being Harassed at Work

Workplace harassment is no laughing matter. It can make work so uncomfortable that quitting seems like the best option.  It is never acceptable for a coworker or a supervisor to be harassing you.  If you think that you may be a victim of workplace harassment, then you need to take action immediately.  Here are some tips to help you address the harassment: 

Make it clear that the behaviour is unwelcome.  Some harassers will claim that they didn't know that their behaviour was bothering you.  Don't let them use this excuse.  Clearly tell them that their actions are not welcome and ask them to stop. 

Keep detailed records about the harassment.  Everyone will take your complaints a lot more seriously if you are able to provide details about exactly what happened, when it happened, and who witnessed it.  You can use these notes when you are reporting the situation to your employer and they will be even more useful if the situation escalates.

Find out if your company has a harassment policy.  These days, many companies have an established harassment policy.  If your company has one, read it and make sure that you follow the proper procedures. 

Don't quit.  Although quitting may feel like the easiest option, try not to do it.  Once you resign your position, the employer has very little responsibility to you and you may not be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.  Also, when potential employers ask you why you quit the job, you will either have to lie or tell them the whole story.  When you quit your job, you allow your harasser to continue hurting you while they escape without consequence.    

Work is meant to be challenging, but nobody should be making you feel disrespected.  If you need more information on what constitutes workplace harassment or if you require further support, contact the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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