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How to Report Abuse in the Workplace

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Workplace bullying or harassment is a fact of life in the United States and around the world. This behavior is a serious problem for U.S. employers, who are legally responsible for maintaining a workplace free of abuse--a non-hostile work environment. If you are the person being abused, knowing how to report it is critical to seeing that it's resolved quickly and effectively.

Use a diary to document in detail any instances of workplace harassment, the dates they occurred and what happened. List any and all witnesses. Workplace harassment is defined as intimidation, ridicule or physical abuse that offends or upsets you.

Talk to the person who is harassing or abusing you. Make sure he understands your feelings and understands that his words or actions are offending you. He might believe he was simply joking and didn't intend to offend anyone; nevertheless, he should apologize and alter his behavior around you and anyone else who took offense.

Talk to your colleagues who have witnessed these incidents of abuse if talking to the abuser does not help or makes the problem worse. Ask if they would be willing to assist you if you make a complaint by testifying that your accounts of harassment are true.

Check your company's internal policies and procedures for reporting abuse. Some companies have a special telephone number you can use to report abuse, so your details will be kept confidential and you will remain anonymous. The policy may otherwise be simply to contact a member of human resources.

Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if your employer is reluctant, unable or unwilling to help you. Depending on your state, you have up to 180 or 300 days of the incident in which to report it. They will investigate your claim while retaining your confidentiality.

Warning

Be certain that what you are experiencing is abuse or harassment before you complain.

About the Author

Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.

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