According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, workplace bullying occurs when a person or people in the workplace subject an employee to repeated actions that are meant to intimidate, undermine, degrade or humiliate her or that put her health or safety at risk. Workplace bullying can often be so severe that an employee resigns. If she does, she can seek redress in several ways.
Trying to Solve the Problem
While some workplace bullying is so severe that it makes you want to resign immediately, you may be able to keep your job if you try to solve the problem before handing in your resignation. The Workplace Bullying Institute suggests a three-step method for determining if a solution is feasible. First, empower yourself by recognizing that what is being done to you has a name -- workplace bullying. Second, develop a strategy to discuss the issue with your employer. Get a mental health checkup to make sure you are dealing with the issue in a healthy manner and write notes on how much the bully is costing the company in terms of turnover. Third, meet with the employer and argue that the company can't afford to keep the bully.
What to Take With You
If you have been documenting the bullying, such as who is doing the bullying and what it consists of, take the proof with you when you leave. If you choose to bring a lawsuit against your employer, you will need this evidence. This information will also be critical if your former employer decides to bring a retaliatory lawsuit against you. Remember to take all of your personal items and clean out your company computer when you go. You don't want to have to return to the office or give employees reason to contact you at home, once you resign.
Because no laws exist that make bullying illegal, suing your employer can be difficult. However, the Workplace Bullying Institute reports that some states have implemented workplace health laws that address the issue. For example, in New York, the Healthy Workplace Law allows employees to sue if they have suffered workplace bullying. Furthermore, some actions taken against you may be illegal if they are violent or threatening. If you have been targeted in this manner, contact the police. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also allows you to file complaints if you believe the harassment was connected to your race, disability or gender.
Protecting Your Mental Health
The Workplace Bullying Institute emphasizes the importance of caring for your mental health both before and after you resign. The organization suggests you see a mental health professional not affiliated with your workplace in order to gauge your current health. In some cases, you may be advised just to quit immediately. You should continue with mental health appointments as you search for a new job. If you are interviewed for another job, continue to protect your mental health by asking questions that will help you determine whether bullying occurs there. For example, the Workplace Bullying Institute suggests asking questions about turnover and mandatory overtime.