Let’s face it, depending on whose statistics you use, government workplace bullying is on the rise. According to http://www.forbes.com/sites/naomishavin/2014/06/25/what-work-place-bullying-looks-like-in-2014-and-how-to-intervene/ “96% of American employees experience bullying in the workplace, and the nature of that bullying is changing”. Workplace bullying creates a hostile workplace that is devoid of a safe and respectful work environment. Bullied employees can hardly put out their best work when they are under so much stress. Then they may face disciplinary action because they are not working up to mandated work standards. Talk about stress and feeling like a ‘victim’! Holding government workplace bullies accountable can be hard, but I can make it a little easier for you. Let me share five tips for dealing with workplace bullying so you employ these tips and have a better outcome.
The first tip is to document your workplace bullying. I created a video that explains it further at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ZrLOMccHg This video explains the importance of why and how you should document workplace bullying. I was able to ‘settle’ with the Veteran Affairs (VA) in March 2014 because I had ‘solid” documentation that supported my case of retaliation for being a VA “Whistleblower”. Two days before my Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hearing, the VA attorneys were willing to ‘settle’ with me. I won an emotional victory as I can now write and talk about my own bullying story to help others because I refused to sign a “gag-order” that would keep me from sharing my story.
Second, be mindful that most government Human Resource departments are part of management. If you are being bullied by management, you are also addressing your bullying situation with your management. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of your organization’s structure. Every government agency is required to have information on their bulletin boards such as job safety/health, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) information, etc., that comply with government requirements. Here is more information on Equal Employment Opportunity rights: http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/posters/pdf/eeopost.pdf Be aware of your rights and who to contact if they are being violated. For example, if you file a discrimination report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sex or genetics, you must file within 45 days of the occurrence or the claim may not be accepted.
Third, federal laws prohibit covered entities from retaliating against a person who files a charge of discrimination, participates in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposes an unlawful employment practice. If you have filed an EEO case or have submitted prohibited personnel information to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and receive retaliation from your workplace, you are entitled to report the alleged allegations within 45 days for retaliation of you filing a grievance. Often times, the retaliation case may be combined with your initial reported case, for ease of processing and time guidelines. Be sure to report each occurrence of retaliation within 45 days or it may not be accepted. Note: Winning a discrimination case can be tough, however, if you are retaliated against and have good evidence or documentation, you may end up winning or settling on your ‘retaliation’ case because you are in a ‘protected status’ for filing your claim.
Fourth, often times there is very little disciplinary action done against government perpetrators. For example, the Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has taken action to employ accountability in the Veteran Affairs and a new law was passed according to http://cv4a.org/cva-applauds-house-passage-va-accountability-act/ however, there does not seem to be a lot of accountability in regards to removing employees who meet disciplinary action mandates. If you decide to ‘settle’ with the government agency you work in, you may consider not signing a “gag order” that keeps you legally from discussing your case with others. Who knows—you may want to write a book or share your story to help others who deal with government workplace bullying. If you have kept great documentation records, you may want to hold your ‘ground’ and refuse to sign a ‘gag order’ settlement agreement that most government attorneys will want you to sign. Remember—it’s negotiable, but you must have the courage, documentation, and the willpower to demand it.
Fifth, workplace bullying takes a toll on your mental and physical health. You must find balance, peace, and positive distractions so that you can stand up to your bullies, demand your entitled rights, and own your personal power. It’s imperative to find a modality that helps you manage your stress. You may find great relaxation with yoga, deep breathing exercises, meditation or another modality that resonates with you. Also, learning how to empower yourself is one of the best ways to step up and own your ‘personal power’. Find a coach, mentor, clergy member or someone that can help you to find your own confidence and empowerment that is within you. Claiming your ‘personal power’ and becoming empowered is the greatest revenge of all when it comes to workplace bullying in the government.
P.S. Did you know you can request a complimentary 20 minute “find your voice/strength here: Get Advice or Coaching As an anti-bullying speaker, author, coach, and HR consultant, I am able to help others stand up to workplace bullying.