Help A Coworker Harasses Me

Question:

A coworker has been verbally harassing me for years. I have written this person up and reported it my boss, then to HR and nothing is happening. It’s escalating to pushing and threatening. Do I wait for them to see if this time they will do anything or do I seek legal advice? I don’t feel safe at work I have a difficult time working in this environment and don’t feel I should have to put up with this I feel it has gone on for too long, but I also feel like I have no one I can turn to for help. What can I do?

Signed,

Pushed To Act


Answer:

Dear Pushed To Act:

You say a coworker has harassed you for years and that it has escalated to pushing and shoving. Therefore, I assume when you say you have reported harassment to your boss and HR, that that action is recent since you ask: Do I wait for them to see if this time they will do anything or do I seek legal advice? You probably should wait one week and keep a log of any specific details of verbal harassment that occurs during that time, and if it again escalates to pushing and threatening, immediately withdraw from that setting and go to HR. Orally report what brought you to seek immediate help and ask for an investigation of what has gone on and escalated. Follow up with a written request for an investigation. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already made a written list of instances with dates and circumstances that includes witnesses, language used, gestures, threats, and pushing. Make several copies. That request might include asking to be separated from the particular coworker and work area.

Should you seek legal advice? Legal advice probably would be of little immediate help and of any help unless the harassment can be linked to one of several types of discrimination pertaining to race, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Of course, an HR investigation will inquire in what ways you might have provoked harassment, and I’m sure you have looked in the mirror more than once to ask yourself if you are to blame. Most likely if verbal harassment has gone on for years, the coworker has simply found that bullying you gets what he/she wants from you, and that is compliance or making you feel badly. And it has escalated to pushing and shoving because you have not complied quickly enough. Threats, pushing and shoving should not be tolerated and once they are reported, your employer can be held responsible if corrective action is not taken. There are dozens of Internet sites on workplace bullying. Those sites specify that bullying should be describes as to repetition do they occurs frequently, duration, escalation and if the bullier has greater status. Now that this has been reported, follow through. Persist on corrective action. Don’t gossip about it. If you need to discuss it speak to someone who will keep it in confidence. Continue to perform as well as you can and be of good cheer in spite of this harassment. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, doesn’t mean you should bite your tongue and suck it up when a coworker bullies.

William Gorden