Understanding Psychological Harassment at the Workplace

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John had a performance appraisal and didn’t get promoted. That’s fine. It’s a business decision. But during the weeks that followed, he was subjected to rude, offensive and degrading comments that weren’t even remotely constructive. His boss would make snide remarks when explaining tasks to him. He also became the target of jokes made by his colleagues. John felt isolated and this impacted his performance and self-esteem.

What John experienced at his workplace is psychological harassment, which is a vexatious behavior that could be reflected in verbal comments, conduct, actions and gestures, explains a renowned Austin labor law lawyer Jack Quentin Nichols. Such behavior is often repetitive, unwanted and hostile. The victim often blames himself, not realizing that he has the right to respect and dignity in the workplace.

Psychological Abuse is as bad as Physical Abuse

Emotional abuse is often harder to identify than physical abuse. There are no visible signs, as the trauma is mental. However, that doesn’t make it any less harmful than physical abuse. Organizations are required by law to take effective and immediate action against such demeaning behavior and implement employee rights policy to boost employee morale and productivity and promote mental health, says an Austin-based attorney specializing in employment law. Not doing so can be considered as workplace harassment or as an act of encouraging a hostile environment in the organization.

When Working Becomes a Nightmare

People work not just for the money they earn, but also for their mental and physical well-being. Equally important as financial rewards are the emotions of gratification and self-worth. An employee who is subjected to ridicule can lose respect among colleagues and this can be damaging to their self-confidence and self-esteem. It is worth recognizing that a positive and motivating work environment can drive employee productivity more effectively than harsh comments.

A negative and hostile work environment can lead to mental and even physical health issues. According to the World Health Organization, depression costs $1 trillion to the US economy in lost productivity. And the main cause of depression and anxiety at the workplace has been identified as bullying.

Employers Need to Take a Stand

Anyone from employees, colleagues to employers, clients and suppliers can be involved in psychological harassment. The best means to combat such harassment is prevention, says a leading age, sex and gender discrimination attorney in Austin.

Employers need to recognize their responsibility to prevent psychological harassment and make every effort to put a stop to such behavior as soon as it is brought to their knowledge. Respectful interpersonal communication should be included in the company policy. Regular meetings should be conducted during which employees and managers should be encouraged to treat their colleagues and subordinates fairly.

A process should be in place to ensure people can report harassment cases confidentially. Strict actions should be taken in case of conflicts that have the potential to affect an employee’s morale.

If an employee finds that the organizations is not being helpful, they should contact an Austin attorney who has experience in employment law to know how they can get justice.

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