If you have ever been bullied or discriminated against in your work, you may wonder what you can do about the matter. A great leader of a company or agency must have zero tolerance for harassment or discrimination in the workplace. A healthy work environment is one with empathetic leaders who care about their employees. Successful leaders ensure workers accomplish the mission of the company. They treat their people with empathy when needed. However, bullies may mistreat you because they enjoy holding power over you or they may have narcissistic personality traits. They can be your coworker or your supervisor. Here are five tips to support you if you are being bullied or discriminated against in your workplace.

First, you may want to consider if the matter is severe enough that you want to address the topic.
Sometimes you can ignore the bully and the bully’s spiteful behavior. Bullies like to cause chaos in the work environment, and some enjoy having power over you. Claim your power and ignore the bully’s comments or behavior if you can. If your work environment is becoming hostile, you may need to elevate your concerns. I will address how to raise your concerns later in this article. Also, there is nothing wrong with finding a better job that supports safe and respectful work environments or becoming an entrepreneur. You deserve it!

Second, bullying in the workplace is not illegal. However, discrimination is unlawful in the workplace if it meets the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) guidelines. Types of discrimination include age (40 and over), disability, equal pay/compensation, genetic information, harassment, national origin, pregnancy, race/color, religion, sex, sexual harassment, and retaliation for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity charges to the EEOC. You can learn more about discrimination here: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/index.cfm

Third, document your bullying or discrimination by emailing the bully and asking them to stop harassing you. Briefly describe what they are doing that may be creating a hostile work environment or may be harming you, physically or mentally. You can always tell them in person if you are comfortable doing so, but an email trail will provide a documentation trail. Whether or not the perpetrator responds, you have an email trail proving you reached out to them asking them to stop. I always recommend printing a copy of the email you sent and keeping all your documentation trail in a safe location. Never keep documentation in your workplace for safe keeping.

Fourth, if the bullying or discrimination continues, you may want to consider reporting the incidence to your supervisor or your human resources personnel. Your company may have instructions on how to report harassment or discrimination on a wall or in your employee handbook. If you talk to your management or Human Resources personnel about the matter, be sure to send a follow-up email clarifying the conversation and thanking them for listening to your concerns. You want written proof you reached out to them if you have to escalate your issues.

Fifth, you may need to elevate your situation if your management or Human Resources personnel are not supporting you. Consider filing an EEO complaint if the perpetrator is discriminating against you in your workplace and the matter is being swept under the rug. I highly encourage you to try and work with your management and Human Resources personnel first, before filing charges of discrimination with the EEOC. Be sure you review the guidelines of discrimination I provided in this article. The EEOC is overwhelmed with complaints. If you receive retaliation for filing your EEO charges, you can address this with the case manager assigned to handle your allegations of discrimination. It’s vital that you meet all mandatory timelines or your claims may not be accepted. You can learn more about discrimination at www.EEOC.gov. You may also contact the EEOC at 800-669-4000 to inquire about your situation. You may have a long wait on the phone, but receive the answers you need to determine if you should file discrimination allegations with the EEOC or at an agency in your state. The EEOC can provide you with contact information if you wish to file charges in your state.

Consider these five tips if you are being bullied or discriminated against in your workplace. If you get fired, reach out to your local Unemployment Office and seek instructions for filing for unemployment if you qualify for receiving unemployment payments. Your documentation trail may be used to justify unemployment compensation or be used to request a fair outcome for being discriminated. Attorneys are more likely to work with you on a contingency, where they receive a percentage of your settlement if you have reliable documentation supporting your allegations. You may not be able to rely on a witness, but substantial documentation may offer you the results you are seeking. Trust your intuition or gut on what actions to take on your matter.


  • Dawn Marie Westmoreland

    HR Consultant--Workplace Bullying and Discrimination

    Dawn Marie Westmoreland is a highly skilled Human Resource Consultant with 27 years of experience. She provides a “How To” system to eradicate workplace bullying and discrimination to executive teams, global leaders, political teams, government leaders, attorneys, mental health professionals, and employees. She creates a harmonious values-based culture for a safe and respected work environment. Listen to Dawn's podcast; The Empowered Whistleblower (Created for Attorneys, Employers, Mental Health experts, Religious/Spiritual leaders, and employees, and parents): https://www.iheart.com/podcast/966-the-empowered-whist-29715907 Listen to Dawn's Public Broadcast System (PBS) special at https://videoplayer.telvue.com/player/e_NbyQXDx8XrZtlH62Ci_x0aciiwoP2Y/media/394427?autostart=true&showtabssearch=true&fullscreen=false