Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can You Circumvent Your Supervisor, If They Are Harassing You?

When employees complain of harassment, it isn’t uncommon for a supervisor to be named as the person committing potentially illegal behavior. Harassment by a supervisor is an extremely tough situation for any employee to deal with.

A supervisor conducts performance evaluations and makes decisions regarding promotions and salary increases. Supervisors also have the power/control over an employee’s daily work assignments and are able to judge an employee’s success and failure at completing any assigned tasks. Supervisors can impact an employee’s work environment, making it pleasant or hostile and offensive.

When things go wrong with a supervisor, an employee has to think about all of the areas that can negatively change based on a deterioration of the relationship. So, if your supervisor begins harassing you or retaliating against you for making complaints about some problem in the office, you may be torn between reporting the problem and remaining silent and just letting the supervisor feel like they’ve won the battle.

For those employees choosing not to remain silent, the issue becomes…

Well, who do I report my supervisor to? Do I have to report the problem to my supervisor’s supervisor? What if they are extremely close and that person is likely to believe the supervisor’s version of events, instead of mine? How far up the chain of command can I go? Should I just go to Human Resources? Will my supervisor be pissed off at me for reporting a problem outside of the department?

These are very real/legitimate questions and concerns.

I’ve been harassed by a supervisor, who was doing so with the approval of our department’s director. I couldn’t possibly report the harassment to my supervisor because she was the culprit. I couldn’t go to my director because I knew she gave her blessings for my supervisor to target me. So, where did that leave me?

Well, I decided to report the issue to my HR Rep. To make a long story short, my supervisor didn’t like that I went over her head and my employer had a vested interest in supporting her because the order to target me came from higher-up within the company. So, I ended up being accused of jumping the chain-of-command and causing “great concern and upset” throughout the company simply because I filed a complaint.

I wasn’t surprised that my employer was trying to conceal the actions they were taking regarding my employment. My supervisor was a mid-level manager and she was being rewarded and protected for towing the company line. So, they accused me of jumping the chain-of-command. But, they should have planned their lies a bit better. Instead, my employer contradicted that claim by saying I should have gone directly to HR with my concerns, which is what I did. Maybe they meant to say I should have gone straight to my director, but they failed to make that assertion. So, their lie confirmed that I took the right action.

Anyway, I decided to look into it and went to the EEOC web site for more information about this issue. What are the guidelines for reporting harassment from a supervisor? Is it ever okay to jump the chain-of-command?

What I found, will be shared in tomorrow’s post, so check back!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Division of Hurman Rights of New York State for my problems with my supervisors. SDHR is a brutal place to have your grievances addressed. According to their own stats, they only found less than 7 percents of the complaints to have probable cause.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

Nice spot u have here, hope u don’t mind the drive by, do chk me out one day

rawdawgbuffalo and if u like what u read, maybe u will come back, even Blog Roll Me

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Lisa researching harassment in the workplace said...

Good for him for reporting it. Women aren't the only ones that get harassed.

7:40 PM  

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