Employers who breach their legal obligations toward their employees may create messy disputes, for which they may face serious consequences. Because of this, some employers may attempt to cover up what they are doing to avoid getting in trouble. Understanding the tactics that employers may use to draw attention away from their misdeeds can help employees determine the right course of action in addressing a workplace issue.
Gaslighting is a tactic people use to manipulate others by making them question their perception of reality. In the workplace setting, some signs of gaslighting could include:
- Intentionally excluding the employee from meetings
- Gossiping about the employee
- Falsely claiming an employee didn’t complete a task or project
- Not believing an employee when they file a complaint
- Lying about conversations they had or did not have with an employee
Employers or managers who gaslight employees might do so to make employees doubt themselves so much that they choose not to speak up or report perceived misconduct like discrimination or harassment.
Some employers may respond to complaints about unlawful activity, or try to deter employees from raising legitimate concerns, by fabricating issues with the employee.
For instance, an employer might give someone an unfairly poor performance review to justify firing them for engaging in protected activities. An employer might give an employee projects they are not qualified to complete, or assign so much work that the employee can’t possibly do everything correctly. In an extreme situation, an employer may attempt to falsify records or reports to make it look like an employee violated workplace policies.
Creating a toxic workplace
Another tactic used by some employers is to try and make the workplace so unpleasant that individuals choose to leave on their own. Some ways employers might do this include changing schedules, interfering with break times or looking the other way when other individuals in the workplace people engage in derogatory or offensive conduct.
Employees experiencing any of these behaviours from their employers may have legal recourse. Proof of this kind of conduct by an employer or manager can be key evidence in a legal claim — whether a human rights complaint, a claim for constructive dismissal, or otherwise. Employees concerned about employer conduct are encouraged to seek legal advice in order to determine the best way to address the problem.