I am Being Singled Out: What to Do?

(Rules, Provisions and Best Practices)

Harassment is sometimes obvious and sometimes not so obvious. The feeling of being singled out may be the first indicator that something is wrong. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Keep a journal and document. You must be able to establish a pattern of harassment before making your case. It’s your word against theirs. Be sure to include dates, times, names, snippets of conversations, the environment in which each situation took place and who else was present. In essence, you should be keeping your own documentation, because nobody will be able to do that for you. Your documentation will help make your claims more valid.

Keep and print all e-mails and written correspondence that is relevant to your situation. File these documents in your journal in chronological order. If you are given verbal directives or have a verbal conversation with an administrator, follow up with that person with an e-mail restating what you talked about. Example: Dear (Administrator), From our recent conversation on (date), I understand you want/expect me to (summarize directive). I understand that you stated (summarize additional information or reasoning). If I have not understood correctly, please let me know. Sincerely, (Your Name).”

Be sure to print a copy of the e-mail for yourself immediately after sending it and put it in your file. If the person approaches you verbally to address your e-mail, send an e-mail again. The reason you should do this is because a verbal conversation can always be denied, forgotten, or made up. Once documentation is generated in this fashion it also puts accountability for that conversation back on the other person and memorializes it.

Never send inappropriate messages to anyone you work with, no matter how upset you may be. They can always come back to haunt you. Always compose your messages in a professional manner.

If you are having difficulties with a co-worker, first you must establish the pattern with your documentation. Then you must meet with your supervisor to express your concern. You cannot file a grievance against a co-worker, but you can file one against an administrator for not addressing/remedying the situation after you brought it to his or her attention.

If you feel that you are being asked to do more than what others are being asked to do or being denied something that everyone normally gets, you might want to investigate those things in depth before making your case. The statement “everybody except for me…” carries no weight if you cannot back it up with facts.

Above all, contact your union to discuss your concerns. This section of advice is meant to assist you in assessing whether you have a case of harassment, but not meant to diagnose the problem and fix the issue. That is what your union will help you do.