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Harassment or Just a Bad Day?



Sometimes it can be hard to tell when someone is going out of his or her way to harass you or if they are simply having a bad day, using poor judgment, or think they are being funny when they are being offensive. Here is how to tell if it's harassment.

Signs of Bullying

Bullying in the workplace can take many forms. Here are a few:

  • Preventing someone from being promoted
  • Undermining a colleague
  • Denying someone training opportunities
  • Spreading rumors
  • Inappropriate language
  • Setting a colleague up for failure
  • Witholding information

What You Can Do

If you are the victim of these behaviors, or you witness these things being done to someone else, the most effective thing you can do is to speak up. Talk to the offender in person or send them an email if you have a good relationship with them and are not intimidated by them. Most people don't want to intentionally offend or hurt others, and this can make them aware of the situation and give them a chance to apologize.

If you don't have a good relationship with the offender, or if they have been harassing or intimidating before, you may want to go another route and speak to your manager, their manager, or someone in HR. You should talk to someone as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Check back in later to find out how the issue was resolved.

If the harassment continues or the situation has not resolved, you may want to file a formal complaint. Whether or not you want to make a formal complaint will depend on your relationship with the offender and the seriousness of the offense.

When none of the above actions help to resolve the situation, your last recourse is legal action. You can start a harassment case by hiring a lawyer or contacting a state or government agency to intervene on your behalf.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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