If you feel you’re being singled out or bullied, or if you’re experiencing any kind of harassment, there are things you can do to protect yourself and resolve the situation.
Harassment is sometimes obvious and sometimes less so. The feeling of being singled out may be the first indicator that something is wrong.
Your district will have specific policies on sexual harassment of an employee, and often workplace bullying or conduct. You should review those policies if you feel the conditions you are working under are applicable; there may be specific procedures for reporting misconduct. (Look under DIA(LOCAL) in your district policy.)
In all cases, there are a few things you should do regardless of the stated procedures.
Keep a journal and document everything that is said and happens. You must be able to establish a pattern of harassment before making your case, as it’s often your word against someone else’s.
Be sure to include dates, times, names, snippets of conversations, and the environment in which each situation took place. Your documentation will help make your claims more viable.
Keep and print all emails and written correspondence relevant to your situation. File these documents in your journal in chronological order. If you are given oral directives or have a conversation with an administrator, follow up with that person with an email restating what you talked about.
Here’s an example.
From our recent conversation on (date or today), I understand that you want/expect me to .
I understand that you stated the following .
If I have not understood correctly, please let me know.
Sincerely, (your name).
Be sure to print a copy of the email for yourself immediately after sending it and put it in your file. If the person approaches you to talk about your email, send an email again outlining that conversation. Oral conversations can be denied later; written documentation provides accountability for that conversation and preserves it.
Being Singled Out
If you feel you are being asked to do more than others are being asked to do or are being denied something that everyone else normally gets, you should investigate the situation in depth before lodging a formal complaint. The statement “everybody except for me …” carries little weight if you cannot back it up with facts. Document each case in which you experience separate treatment.
Communicate Professionally (Even When It’s Difficult)
While you understandably may be upset, don’t let your emotions leak into your messages to anyone you work with. Always compose your messages in a professional manner and remain calm in conversations. You don’t want anything you’ve said to be used against you or become a distraction when filing a grievance or reporting someone else’s harassment. Your union representative can assist you in writing your correspondence. A second pair of eyes is always helpful.
Meet with Your Supervisor or Someone Above Them
If you are having difficulties with a co-worker, first you must establish the pattern with your documentation. Then schedule a meeting with your supervisor to express your concerns.
You cannot file a grievance against a co-worker, but you can file one against an administrator for not addressing or remedying the situation after you brought it to their attention.
If the perpetrator is your supervisor, schedule a meeting with the person they report to.
Contact Your Union
Above all, contact your local union to discuss your concerns if initial steps don’t work at resolving the situation. If you’re a member of the Associate Membership Program, please contact the AMP service department.
The advice here can help you assess whether you have a case of harassment and how to proceed with it, but it’s not intended to diagnose the problem or fix the issue. That is what your union will help you do.
If you are experiencing abuse or harassment from a student, please keep in mind your rights as an educator but also your responsibilities to your students under the Safe Schools Act.