Are You Being Bullied at Work? Should you go to HR for Help?
Are you a bullied employee in the workplace—should you go to Human Resources (HR) for help? Yes. The HR department may be part of your management when it comes to your work hierarchy. If you have an HR department where you work, it may be an internal work obligation to seek an HR expert’s assistance in dealing with discrimination or bullying. BUT—are they there to support you in your time of need? I am going to share some information to enlighten you. Here are five insights on seeking HR’s assistance with your matter:
First, if your HR department is part of the management of where you work, you must understand that the HR representative may be required to share any information you share with them, to the director or top manager in your company. Your leadership will likely want to know if there is dissension in their work environment. If your agency is in the civilian sector, the cost, time, and energy spent on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) matters or other agencies could destroy or cost the company much embarrassment. Settlement fees or court costs will likely come out of the company owner’s pocket. If it’s a government agency, there are still issues of money, embarrassment, and time spent on litigation, but settlement comes out of the tax payer’s pocket.
Second, an HR expert in your workplace may purposely try to down-play your accusations of discrimination or bullying because they know how serious the matter can become if it becomes an EEO claim or more. HR may turn-it-around on you and state comments that make you fear that you may lose your job over your concerns. However, be sure you still work with your HR department to show that you addressed your matter with them. Turn around and send a clarification email to HR and share what you understood took place at the meeting.
Always print that email out and hand-carry it to a safe place for keeping. Never keep it at work. Third, instead of relying on HR to be your subject matter expert (SME), why not learn everything you can about your rights at your workplace. You can research policies and laws that would apply in your case. The internet is a great tool to access work policies, statutes, and more. If this is not for you—consider hiring a professional expert to help you with your matter. If lack of money is an issue, you may qualify for pro bono assistance from an attorney. Here is an excellent site to check out: Pro Bono Legal
Fourth, if you file charges against your company or agency, you may face retaliation that can come in many forms. If your HR expert is aware that you are being harassed or retaliated against because you reported someone in your workforce, they may be told to help support management by keeping you in the dark about your rights as an employee. They may later be involved in attempts to fire you, discredit you, or slander you. Bullying is not illegal; however, harassment and retaliation are unlawful according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can learn more here: EEOC
Fifth, I want to wrap this up that there are many good HR employees out there and many who care about your circumstances. You may never know if they genuinely want to help you if they don’t give you the support you need and deserve. Sometimes, HR personnel are told they must support their management. You can still move forward to another person for help or reach out to the EEOC for more help at EEOC. You can always take other actions, and you can use the email documentation that you reached out to your HR personnel for assistance. It can come in handy when seeking legal support, unemployment compensation, and in the case of pursuing litigation on your matter. You have the right to be treated with respect in your workplace and to know your rights as an employee. Bullied employees have the power to help themselves, along with bystanders who witness bad-acting behavior in the work culture.