Most people get annoyed by their bosses from time to time – but some annoying criticism is a far cry from a boss who continually mistreats an employee, verbally, sexually or otherwise. If you’re in a workplace where the boss is crossing the line, you’ll be swimming in murky waters by endeavoring to report the offending party. Still, no one deserves to work in a place where they’re being mistreated, so you’ll be doing the right thing.
1. Document the incidents you see
Start off by keeping a running log of the actions you see the boss taking, both with the employee in question as well as any other employees. Write down the names of the people involved, the dates and times, and the location of the incidents. If you have any other evidence of the boss’ mistreatment, set it aside in a safe location where it can’t be taken by an offending party. If you have copies of offending emails, for example, save them in your personal email account instead of your work email, and keep any notes, photos or other evidence at home instead of in your desk.
Another thing to keep in mind: whether the victim wants you to act on their behalf. If you’re able, talk to the person about the issue before you take any action and get their take on what to do.
2. Craft a letter or HR report
Check your employee handbook to find out whether your workplace has a standard grievance or complaint form and use that as your guide. If not, write your own letter. At the start of the letter, state the purpose of the letter. Then lay out the facts as you’ve seen them, avoiding delving into the blame game, name-calling or making judgments of the incidents or the people involved. You might also state your ideas for resolving the situation.
When you submit this information to a third party, it will be up to them to decide what to do with the information and how to interpret it; your personal opinion is not necessary and can taint the process. Also attach a copy of your notes of the various incidents as well as copies of any other evidence you have.
3. Bring it to a higher authority
If your boss has a boss within the company, bring the letter to that person’s attention or deliver it to the human resources officer and ask her to handle the issue from there. If your boss is the highest authority at the business or you suspect that her actions are violating discrimination laws or other employment laws, talk to an employment attorney about the issue. An attorney will be able to help you decide whether the complaints are founded, and whether the alleged victim has any cause to file suit.
Working a place where people are being mistreated is never fun – but by handling the problem with professionalism and getting help from the higher-ups, you might be able to see some real change.