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For the past year, my boss has been treating me very poorly. I’m happy to have a job, and the last thing I want to do is make waves. However, my co-workers are strongly encouraging me to talk with human resources about my boss’s behavior. They tell me they can see how I’m being singled out and treated poorly. What do you think I should do?

Deb in Utah

The Expert Answer

Dear Deb: I think you should listen to your co-workers. They seem to have your best interest at heart. You should speak to someone in Human Resources (HR) sooner rather than later about your situation. Hopefully the same co-workers who are encouraging you to talk with HR might be willing to provide information to HR about the poor behaviors that they have observed. However, recognize that it’s a very difficult position for your co-worker to be too. They might fear retaliation as well and may not want to get involved.

It sounds like your co-workers may think you’ve already waited too long to say something about your boss’s behavior, but I empathize with the tough position you are in. I think most professional women can imagine reporting a boss who clearly crosses over the line of inappropriate behavior, but it is much harder when the boss dance around just below the line. Is that what you feel your boss has been doing?

I’d encourage you to talk with HR and let them decide what is and is not inappropriate behavior. I’d strongly suggest that you try putting together whatever notes or documentation you might have to support your claim prior to your meeting with HR (e-mails from your boss, etc). It will help facilitate a more productive meeting.

I can also appreciate your concerns about retaliation from your boss, and your concerns are possibly justified. However, fear is what keeps many women from bringing their workplace concerns to light. Ask yourself, do you think things will be better 6 months from now if you say nothing? Based on what you’ve told me, I doubt it. It sounds like things may even get worse and it’s time to get your concerns officially on the record. Make an appointment see your HR representative as soon as possible. They are there to help you.

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