One of the unfortunate realities of severe workplace bullying is that targets often must leave their jobs in order to avoid further torment. For those who are debating that course of action, here are some considerations:
1. What are your other options for employment? (Remember, it’s easier to get a new job while you still have your old one.) Are there people besides the bully who can serve as a useful reference? Is this particular episode a sign that you should change vocations or professions? If so, what can you do to make a transition? A good career counselor for adults can help sort through the possibilities.
2. What are your employee benefit options? They may include using up vacation and personal days, accessing Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, filing a workers’ compensation claim, applying for unemployment benefits, and — in severe cases — applying for disability benefits.
This area is tricky business. For example, “voluntary” resignations usually preclude one from claiming unemployment benefits, and it is questionable whether leaving due to bullying qualifies as an exception. Talking to a lawyer who works with employee benefits may be useful before making any decision to leave a job.
3. Do you have any viable legal claims? As I’ve written many times on this blog, current legal protections are less than ideal, but possibly your situation might give rise to a lawsuit. A good employment lawyer can help you sort through those options.
4. How is your state of mind and your health in general? Counseling and medical care may be useful, even necessary, in severe situations. Be honest with yourself and do not feel self-conscious about seeking help.
5. Do you have a cushion of savings to sustain you during a period of unemployment? In some cases, a discussion with an investment advisor may be useful.
I’ve raised a lot of questions and provided no answers, in large part because the answers will be unique to the individual. But hopefully I have set out some important food for thought for those who are facing difficult decisions due to bullying or similar forms of mistreatment at work.