My co-workers are trying to make me angry. Is this harassment?

I work as a federal employee, and I am a veteran with documented PTSD.

Several of my fellow workers find it amusing to intentionally do things to cause me to become angry, such as saying things like: “I’m just waiting for him to snap”. This has gone on for years, and has been reported multiple times to supervisors. Recently I was placed on administrative leave while awaiting the results of an investigation where one of those employees is alleging assault or fear of violence.

Do I have a case for harassment? The other employees have admitted that making me angry is amusing to them and they find it “funny”. Any help or advice is appreciated.

Posted  08-26-2011

Ann Kiernan replies:

First of all, let me thank you for your service to our country. In my view, your co-workers’ behavior is reprehensible harassment, and should be stopped immediately. Not only are you a veteran, but you also have a disability, both of which are protected characteristics under the discrimination and harassment laws. You may want to read the EEOC’s materials on Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities In The Workplace And The Americans With Disabilities Act for information and links to legal and employment resources for veterans.

But violence or threats in response to harassment is never appropriate. If your complaints to supervisors have not been handled properly, you should go to your agency’s EEO Counselor and file formal charges. Or you may want to consult an employment attorney with experience handling federal sector cases. Good luck.


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About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.