Learn something new every day More Info... by email
Workplace aggression is considered incredibly common, and it may be defined in numerous ways. It can include acts or threats of physical violence, screaming, and teaming up on a worker or bullying. It may include racial, gender, religious or sexual charged discrimination or have no such element. Sometimes aggression comes from bosses or supervisors and it can also come from workmates or customers. Some people are able to shrug off some of this behavior, but working in a persistently aggressive environment may constitute a hostile work environment, and if this truly exists, employers may get into to trouble if they don’t correct the issue once notified, and could easily end up getting sued.
Suing a company for allowing workplace aggression that creates a hostile work environment is surely the last ditch effort, and it would be far better for people who are victims of aggressive behavior to address this situation sooner. Early efforts could include confronting the hostile or aggressive person directly and telling them to stop their unwelcome behavior, but if this seems unsafe or too difficult, people can involve supervisors (or higher up management if a supervisor is the aggressor) to help them address any aggressive or bullying person. The weight of being so addressed by those who have the power to hire or fire may be enough to stop further aggressive acts.
If aggressive acts continue, they need to be logged, and each one should be reported to a supervisor or boss. These establish a paper trail if and when it is ever necessary prove in court that a pattern of aggression occurred. Each incident of workplace aggression that can be proved tend to make the aggressive employee’s chances of continuing in a job unlikely, to the point where the employer has no option but to fire the employee, since that employee risks the company endorsing the creation of a hostile workplace, and essentially risks the company being sued by the complaining employee
There are some instances where workplace aggression involves threats of or actual violence, and this is one time when it may be better to go outside of work to get help. Someone who physically touches another without permission is committing battery and should be reported to the police. Any credible threat of actual violence should likewise be reported as assault. After police are notified, an employee should also inform managers or supervisors at work. It’s important to note that people who feel that they are at extreme physical risk should not return to work until the matter is handled appropriately, though they can inform human resources or any trusted supervisory source in the company why they are not attending work.
In some instances, workplace aggression takes the form of bullying and might involve more than one employee ganging up on another employee. This may be harder to take and it may be subtle instead of overt. It could involve destruction or disappearance of an employee’s possessions or work materials, and attempts to thwart the employee’s progress in other ways.
Again, such instances need to be reported to a manager, and all suspected parties’ names should be mentioned. The company could, instead of trying to fire a whole department, bring in an organizational or employee trainer or psychologists who can work with a group of people to help resolve differences. This might be very useful in trying to work out such a situation. Those being harassed can also try direct confrontation of a group of employees that are bullying, and also call for support of human resources or managers to discuss the matter.
Not that many laws exist that cover workplace aggression, except if aggression crosses the line into assault or battery. However, repeated aggressive behaviors may indeed show a pattern of aggression that creates a hostile work environment. These don’t necessarily include things like yelling; yelling without violent threats, racist or sexual innuendo is not a hostile environment, even if it is aggressive.
Good human resources departments and good managerial staff need to do their part to be certain employees and employers understand and follow a conduct code that leaves little room for any forms of aggressive behavior, and they should be able to spot it quickly. In the best world, these matters are addressed before an employee has to make a complaint, and the company works hard to provide an environment, which fosters each employee and greatly discourages aggression. When this isn’t the case, employees can still take many steps to help thwart aggression and get help if they are the victims of it.
I am so damn afraid now that something worse will happen. I told HR and they got a statement from the person who witnessed the incident. I just want to be able to work and now I am scared.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!