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Legal Checklist: Workplace Bullying with Gary Namie

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Recently, the folks at Legal Checklist asked for a general, but wide-ranging, introduction to the problems workplace bullying causes for individuals and organizations. I included tips for bullied targets.

Bullied targets are constantly advised to “document.” Here’s what I said in the interview regarding the topic:

To bolster your case, you’ll definitely want a paper trail of abuse. One of the great problems with bullying is the fear that co-workers have of testifying or helping. So, long before there is any kind of a formal procedure or formal complaint, it would be great if you can get statements from co-workers about what they observed — not their opinions, but simply a statement that validates that your incident report is accurate: “You were there. Tell me what you saw.” These statements should be maintained with the date and time. At the earliest time possible, you want to have them validate an event. You will create an incident report. And get that time-stamped. Ask them to send a written copy, perhaps through their personal email.

In some states, you can audio or videotape a conversation unilaterally. It’s called the one-party consent law. In a one-party consent state, it is possible with so many different recording devices to capture audio or video that would be irrefutably time-stamped and stored safely. That’s what you need to do to make an extremely strong case.

Documentation makes your subjective experience more objective. Evidence builds cases better than emotional appeals for cessation or justice. It is not that you do not deserve both, it is simply fact that emotions scare even well-intentioned others. Make it easier to help you based on facts — costs incurred by the employer who insists on keeping “Bully Bob,” friend and confidante, on the payroll while banishing multiple targets who tried to warn of risks posed by Bob/Bobette.

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