Documenting Workplace Bullying

Got a bullying boss?  Take note and protect yourself.
i Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images

You've already put in more than 50 hours this week, skipping lunch breaks and coworker happy hours, to work on last minute requests from your bullying boss. All week she's ignored your suggestions, rolled her eyes every time you spoke and excluded you from a company meeting. She shows no mercy with her primal growls and pencil throwing, yet no one up the ladder challenges her because she hides behind her success. So how's a girl to deal with this career pitfall? Before you give up and quit, grab a pen!

Be in the Know

    First, before you blow the whistle on your boss from hell, find out if your company has a no-bullying policy and a prescribed course of action. Your company may also offer a third-party Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, that you can use for counseling. You can also turn to outside counseling on your own if you are more comfortable with that arrangement.

Do it the Write Way

    Use your mad writing skills to document each time you feel bullied so you'll have evidence should you decide to make a complaint. Take detailed notes while the incident is still fresh, and include dates, times and where it took place. Note exactly what the bully said or did to you and the situation. Also, if you attempted to confront your bully about the harassment, write what you said to try to handle the situation, and your bully's response.

Take Names

    When you take notes, include names of anyone else that was present when the bullying occurred -- co-workers and other bystanders, including the janitor or lunchroom help -- anyone who can back up your claims can help you squash the bully if you take it public. Be prepared for some of those witnesses to play the "I-don't-remember" card. Some people just don't like to get involved. So, it's important to build alliances with coworkers. You need all the support you can get.

Follow the Paper Trail

    In addition to keeping a journal, keep copies of e-mails, notes, time sheets or any other documents that your boss sent to you that can demonstrate her bullying behavior and that can contradict any false claims she might make against you.

Play it Safe

    Whatever you do, don't keep your journal and notes out in the open or in your desk. Take everything home with you every night to thwart would-be paper poachers. Don't leave anything on your company computer, either; your boss may have access to company e-mail and messaging accounts. Print out e-mails and any other correspondence she's sent you and keep them with your documentation. If you use a network printer at work that several people have access to, and you don't feel comfortable printing anything (ugh, imagine a paper jam and someone finding it stuck in the printer), e-mail it to your personal e-mail address.

the nest