Workplace Harassment

We all know what it’s like to be bullied. It’s happened to us all at one point in our lives or another. Most of us experienced it in school and it has molded us into the people we are now. But at what point do you expect to not face bullying? Do bullies really just stay on the playground or do they follow us well into adulthood?

Personally, I’d like to think bullies are just a thing of the past. That they cease to exist as soon as you graduate high school and enter this thing called “Adulthood.” The hard reality is that I’m naive and a dreamer. Bullies exist even where we work whether we want to admit it or not. Even if we don’t know someone’s a bully at our workplace, there is undoubtedly one person who talks about you behind your back in a less than favorable way.

I’ve seen it recently over the Halloween weekend at the office in which I work. While the few who spoke to me about my dragon wings, tail and bandanna spoke to me about it with joy and amusement, I caught whispers of those who turned it into an opportunity to speak mockingly of how I acquired the items. In most cases, I would probably have confronted them very vehemently with acid on my tongue, but being at work I had to just let it go and chose to ignore it.

But this was a mild case and one that’s easy to dismiss. My husband has become the laughing stock at his current job assignment. Like myself, he’s working the odd contract job with a temp agency so that we can make ends meet. He has informed me today that he is not only being farted at – a mild form of assault but harassment nonetheless – and now ridiculed for going to the rest room.

Excuse me….what? Laughed at for going to the bathroom? Farted at and even the supervisor finding it hilarious? No. This is not OK. This is a group of people we assume to be adults since they are working in an adult environment and making things like adults do. They are not in a high school or at an elementary school playground. They are not wearing diapers and asking Mommy to feed them. They are adults. Tax paying adults.

Or maybe they’re not and I’m just making assumptions. Because this kind of behavior is ill suited for an adult and his workplace. Harassment, in my opinion, starts the very second someone starts taking pot shots at someone else. It doesn’t even matter if it offends the person. If it’s a pot shot at their expense, it’s harassment.

And it is of my opinion that harassment becomes a serious problem the second it is no longer funny to the person being harassed. So what do you do in this kind of situation? Obviously, retaliation is out of the question as it will undoubtedly lead to you getting fired. But if you’re a temp worker and the boss already doesn’t like you, what then? Clearly my husband’s supervisor is OK with this behavior as he has joined in on it. The only other option he has is to seek advice from his agency contact to find out what can be done.

But what I fail to understand is how this is ever OK in a civilized and modern society where bullying is typically outlawed under company laws. Did these people not sign and agree to the exact same “no bullshit” rules that my husband undoubtedly had to agree to? I’m powerless to help despite me wanting to go over and knock the crap out of the morons doing this. There is simply zero excuse for this kind of behavior. I hope they all lose their jobs over this bullshit. Because that’s what it is: playground bullshit.

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