This is serious. If you feel your boss is harassing you don’t wait for months until you take action. It will have a cost on your career, on your health, on your entire life.
Let’s take a closer look. Although legal definitions of harassment can differ from one country to another, there commonly are three elements of harassment in the workplace:
1. It involves unreasonable demands made from a position of power by the harasser. These demands have to go beyond reasonable work expectations, in other words, as long as your boss is only asking you to do your job in normal conditions for the company, even if your workload is high, it is not considered harassment, especially if this is the same for your coworkers. But if your boss is asking you to do an impossible task in front of everyone, while perfectly knowing it cannot be done, that’s crossing the line.
2. It must be intentional. He must understand (and frankly, we all know the specimens, they even enjoy it!) that his actions harass you (humiliate you, inflict you emotional pain, affect your dignity, etc.).
3. It’s subjective, as in it is obvious he has something against you. He is only harassing you and perhaps some other person/s, but at the same time showing a nice face (even too nice) to the rest of the team and his own boss. Harassers have a “preference” towards their victims and keep coming back for more. This is different from conflict where the two parts tend to avoid each other after the conflict if they can.
Do your harassment feelings confirm?
If yes – go away! As fast and as far as you can. I know, a lawyer would probably not tell you that. People could encourage you to stand your ground and yes, I agree, it would feel so good yo have the bastard unmasked and shamed in front of the world. But this will cost you so much time time and energy and money that I don’t think it’s a worthy option. Only a handful of harassment cases actually see the light of truth, as in having the harasser punished. How many of us know cases where the harassers stayed in place or even got promoted while their victims went down as unfits in the luckier scenarios? Right? So fighting back will only get you tired and consume every bit of sanity and energy you have left. Take better care of your health and show the bully your back from a distance!
Still, for many different reasons you might not afford to go away. The boss could take revenge and hold a believable enough power to ruin your professional life. You might work in a niche where he could spread bad rumors over you and make you unemployable forever or he might have already done that and you need to fix your reputation; you could be a single parent heavily depending on the salary he pays, or who knows what other strong reasons holds you back. Then you have to take care of yourself and carefully prepare your actions. You have two options:
1. Make him stop and turn it into a livable working relationship – as unlikely as it sounds.
2. Bring him to justice – HR, administrative procedure or court, whichever it is it will require proof of his behaviour and the effect it had on you. Make sure you gather proof in time and on every aspect needed.
More on each of these in a future post!