How Do I Handle Employment Stalking?
Employment stalking chills the most confident worker and threatens to create a hostile work environment for employees. While only one worker might be targeted by a stalker, the other workers will feel the effects as well. Mental health professionals warn against the overall safety of a work environment when stalking is taking place.
Quick Examples of Who Might Workplace Stalk
- Customers stalking workers
- Clients stalking other customers
- Workers stalking other workers
How Do I Handle Employment Stalking?
If you’ve ever worked, and that’s most everyone, you’ve dealt with some uncomfortable situations with coworkers, whether it’s someone who is loudly appreciative of your beauty to almost an awkward degree or someone who hates your guts. Coworkers are a mixed bag. Therefore, you need to know what’s crossing a line.
This harassment can be physical or verbal. And it must be so often that it’s over the top. Phone calls and emails can also be dubbed harassment.
Difficulty of Recognition
Coworkers are meant to interact for work reasons. This makes it even more difficult for workers to determine if stalking is actually occurring. After all, workers are supposed to work together.
Track the Behavior
If you become suspicious about a coworker’s actions toward you, start tracking the interactions. Keep copies of the emails, voice mail recordings, and write down odd work interactions. Memory can be faulty.
As you begin to recognize that someone might have an unhealthy obsession with you, you should take steps to lessen your communication and interaction with that individual. Quietly adjust your privacy settings on all your social media, unfriend and block as needed.
Ask for a confidential conversation. Speak with a trustworthy manager or supervisor to help evaluate the situation, providing your documented information. Explain how the situation is influencing your work ability. Either your manager will be able to relieve you of your concern or provide possible solutions to decrease working with that coworker.
Seek a Solution
Sometimes you and your supervisor can come to a solution such as a transfer to a different department. No one needs to know that the transfer was prompted by anything like stalking. There may be other options available to you based on the business that you work for.
Workplace Damage from Stalking
The presence of employment stalking negatively impacts the workplace. And that’s not surprising. After all, if someone is a victim of stalking, others may begin to fear stalking as well. With that fear, job performance decreases.
Here are a few examples of how workplace stalking can influence the work environment.
- Uptick in sick leave
- Decrease in work performance due to anxiety
- Work time lost due to handling stalking (e.g. phone calls, emails, approaches, etc.)
- Accusations and fall out between workers for stalking
How to Manage Employment Stalking
When an employer learns that stalking is occurring in the workplace, the employer should respond by supporting the victim. This means listening to the situation. An employer should find out if the victim has a restraining order on the stalker as this could influence the work environment as well.
Possible Offerings to a Victim of a Stalker
- Provide safe parking to the individual
- Allow flexible work hours
- Screen phone calls and people in the office
- Report seeing the stalker
- File a police report if the stalker violates a restraining order
- Protect the victim’s information
How to Manage Internal Employment Stalking
Due to the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment to employees, it is the employer’s obligation to respond and de-escalate a stalker situation. This means they must evaluate the situation and determine the best way to handle it. This can look different for different companies, depending on size and industry.
Steps Employers Should Take
- Listen to both individuals with respect and intentionality
- Do not excuse stalking
- Focus on the workplace policy and consequences there
- Be sensitive to the victim and do not force mediation if the victim feels intimidated
- Listen to the stalker if they have a complaint but never justify stalking behavior
- Call the police if necessary
What Can be Done if No Workplace Policies Are in Place?
Although a workplace policy might not specifically deal with stalking in the workplace, it very likely has policies set in place that deal with harassment, workplace violence, and employee behavior. Start with how your stalker has violated those policies.
How Do I Handle A Stalker at Home?
When the harassment expands past your workplace and into your home life, it’s time to call the police. Request your own copies of the paperwork that is filed against your stalker. You may need it in the future.
Dealing with a stalker can be a terrifying experience. If your employer does nothing to rectify the situation and you’ve done everything you can think, it may be time to consult a lawyer about your legal options. A lawyer recognizes how the law might offer your protections.