Protecting your rights in the workplace.

How Workplace Harassment Can Impact Mental Health

Workplace harassment is a pervasive issue that not only undermines employees’ professional well-being but also takes a profound toll on their mental health. From verbal abuse and intimidation to discriminatory behavior and hostile work environments, harassment in the workplace can have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the office walls.

Heightened Stress and Anxiety

Workplace harassment can create an environment of constant fear and uncertainty for victims. The persistent threat of harassment, whether overt or subtle, can lead to heightened levels of stress and anxiety, making it difficult for employees to focus on their work and maintain their emotional well-being.

Depression and Low Self-Esteem

Experiencing harassment in the workplace can erode an individual’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Victims may internalize the negative messages and behaviors directed at them, leading to feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and depression. Over time, this can significantly impact their mental health and overall quality of life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Severe or prolonged instances of workplace harassment can result in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Employees who are subjected to traumatic events, such as physical assault, sexual harassment, or discriminatory treatment, may experience symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and emotional numbing.

Impaired Concentration and Performance

The psychological toll of workplace harassment can impair employees’ cognitive function and performance. Constantly worrying about harassment or navigating a hostile work environment can detract from employees’ ability to concentrate, make decisions, and perform their job duties effectively, ultimately impacting their productivity and career advancement.

Social Withdrawal and Isolation

Victims of workplace harassment may withdraw socially and isolate themselves from coworkers, friends, and family members. The shame, embarrassment, and fear of judgment associated with harassment can make individuals reluctant to seek support or disclose their experiences, leading to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and alienation.

Physical Health Consequences

The impact of workplace harassment on mental health can also manifest in physical health consequences. Chronic stress and anxiety associated with harassment may contribute to a range of health problems, including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular problems, and weakened immune function.

Addressing Workplace Harassment

Here are steps employees can take to address workplace harassment:

Seek Support

Seek support from trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals to cope with the emotional toll of harassment.

Keep Detailed Records

Document any incidents of harassment, including dates, times, locations, individuals involved, and specific behaviors or comments. Keep copies of relevant emails, messages, or other communications that may serve as evidence of harassment.

Report the Harassment

If you feel comfortable and safe doing so, report the harassment to your employer’s human resources department or a designated supervisor.

File a Complaint with the CRD

If the harassment persists or your employer fails to address it effectively, consider filing a complaint with California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD). You can file a complaint online, by phone, or in person at a CRD office.

Consult an Attorney

Consider seeking legal advice from an experienced and trusted Los Angeles work harassment lawyer. They can assess your situation, advise you on your legal options, and represent your interests throughout the process.

Cooperate with Investigations

If your complaint triggers an investigation by your employer or the CRD, cooperate fully with the investigation process. Provide all requested information and participate in interviews or meetings as needed.

Explore Alternative Dispute Resolution

In some cases, alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration may be available to resolve the harassment complaint outside of formal litigation.

File a Lawsuit

If the investigation conducted by the CRD does not lead to a resolution, or if you choose to pursue legal action independently, you have the option to request a Right-to-Sue Notice. This official document grants you the authority to file a lawsuit against your employer in court. Your Los Angeles employment attorney will help you by preparing and submitting the required legal paperwork, initiating the litigation process, and will aggressively advocate for your interests to achieve a favorable outcome.