Negotiate your departure following a harassment
It is useful to recall what harassment is, both from a legal and psychological standpoint as popular words sometimes may become ragbag-words.
The legal way to negotiate your departure following a harassment
Harassment is a repetition of acts (words or behaviors) generating a degradation in the working conditions with effects of impacting the victim in his/her rights and dignity but also in his/her physical and mental health.
The impact on rights may be made of repeated, unjustified disciplinary or legally ungrounded sanctions, of the absence of promotion, of functional downgrading etc.
The impact on dignity may consist of repeated humiliations, inappropriate and provocative behaviors, professional isolation (ex: discriminatory harassment) etc.
The legal existence of harassment is subject to a precondition: repetition of the inappropriate conducts, which means that a one-time verbal or physical violence is not a harassment in the eyes of the law. Harassment implies reiteration and repetitive occurrence in time (even if the nature of the facts may change) targeting the same individual or individuals.
Acting legally on it implies:
- That the sufferings, somatic and psychological consequences on the person’s life be observed and files by occupational medicine;
- That the harassment facts be characterized from the standpoint of their repetition and impact on the person’s dignity.
The psychological way to negotiate your departure following a harassment
Harassment creates a damage to the victim’s human and professional dignity. The more repeated the acts are, the deeper the sufferings will be as repetition will worsen their footprint with a self-reinforcing mechanism of the person’s vulnerability and susceptibility.
It is highly recommended to the victim of such acts to seek help either prior or in parallel of a legal action, from a psychotherapist or a coach, in order to:
- Treat his/her sufferings to stop their negative impact;
- Recover his/her personal power;
- Clarify the processes in which he or she has been in these harassment situations (e.g.: vulnerability, being hooked by these “games”);
- Treat his/her vulnerability to these situations as one always goes with oneself, anywhere;
- Get out of repetition by changing his/her inner attitude and get out of the victim position in which the person is. The Transactional Analysis model of psychological games and S. KARPMAN’s Dramatic Triangle model are helpful and enlightening, among other models.
Note: In France, all companies or branch offices above 50 employees must have established a “Working Conditions, Hygiene & Safety” Committee in charge of monitoring psycho-social risks. In its absence, staff delegates fulfill that task. In their absence, the company management is accountable for employee’s health at work.
Let’s say you have been a victim of harassment. Facts are established and recorded. Step by step, you are recovering your personal power through therapy or coaching, and a legal action is on-going or has been ruled to your satisfaction.
Nevertheless, you have decided to leave your company where you have been through difficult moments as you don’t see yourself returning to where harassment occurred, and in particular, you don’t see yourself still be in contact with the one(s) who was (were) the author(s) of such harassment. Well, you can negotiate your departure!
It is then necessary to look at several aspects:
- Even if the author (s) have been convicted and even if you have been allocated a compensation for damage, only you can say what you feel and how you evaluate your situation;
- The court ruling is not a therapy act (although it helps), it is a legal act which states the right. It concludes the procedure on a legal front but not on a psychological front.
- Harassment has been operating as one or more individuals have been acting as persecutors and you as a victim. There have been limits that you have not been able (or willing) to enforce.
Like in every negotiation, and particularly in the context in which you have been suffering, you’ll have to determine:
- Your best positioning
- The best timing
- Your objectives (targets)
- The legitimacy of your requests
Let’s overlook 2 of these aspects in the context of this article.
Your best positioning
Whether the matter has been ruled in court in your favor and the author(s) convicted or not at the time you decide to leave, you have a powerful argument: by using them to court you have shown your company that you are now active on the matter and not submissive anymore. The process has changed. You’re not bending the knee anymore and therefore the power ratio has changed.
When you notify them that you want to leave (once your objectives, timing & strategy set), it is very important that you do not act out of anger, threat or revenge. Hence the importance to be helped by a coach or a psychotherapist. Then you can clearly state to your counterpart that, independently of the ruling done or to come, the company has not fulfilled its obligation to protect its employees’ well-being and that you don’t want to risk facing potential new facts.
Your objectives / targets
As you don’t want to face those risks again, it is out of the question for you to simply deliver your notice (no unemployment allowances) and so the minimum that you require is the establishment of a Mutually Agreed Contract Termination Procedure (MACT) which gives the automatic right to unemployment allowances.
Note: a MACT is not possible if you’re under a Fixed Term Work Contract. In his case, the best for both parties is to go through an agreed exit with a severance package for you and some peace of mind for the company.
Otherwise, you can also work on the duration of the notice period or even its complete exoneration while being paid for its duration, or being granted a reference for a future job.
Once again, It is important that you have worked enough of yourself in becoming aware of what’s at stake for you in relation with these harassment facts so that you can easily face your next potential employer while manifesting what you’ve learned from this painful situation and showing that you know how to protect yourself while being loyal and involved in your next job.
Being a victim of harassment is a very painful situation, also damaging to mental and physical health. As a matter of fact, the French legal arsenal is very protective in that regard as long as the facts are established. Coaching or psychotherapy help is mandatory to come out of that difficult experience upwards, not forgetting anything but having learned from it.
To know more on the topic of how to negotiate your departure following a harassment please use the enclosed contact form or speak directly with a coach specialized in departure negotiation.