Is workplace gaslighting a form of discriminiation?

| Jun 23, 2021 | workplace discrimination |

Individuals who experience workplace discrimination may find themselves in a position where their employers or other employees of a company try to force them to quit. However, some forms of abuse, such as gaslighting, are not always immediately apparent.

The Society for Human Resource Management notes that gaslighting is a form of verbal assault that involves warping a person’s sense of perception through lies, manipulation and denial of past offenses until the targeted individual can no longer trust his or her memories. Individuals who believe their employers are using this tactic because of their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation may want to understand how this process relates to workplace discrimination.

Gaslighting and forced resignation

Some employers who feel resentful or who have racially motivated reasons to push an employee out the door of their own volition may use gaslighting to hurry the process along. The verbal abuse, which may not seem like harassment at all at first, tends to increase as time passes. An employee may start to notice a few signs of gaslighting, such as:

  • Negative or false judgments about work quality
  • Exaggerated reactions to minor errors
  • Accusations that the speaker later denies saying

Employers or employees who use gaslighting techniques usually strive to lower the victim’s self-esteem, but there are ways for targeted individuals to fight back.

Speak up and speak out

Those who feel gaslighted may feel hesitant about how others perceive their behavior, but speaking to a human resource director can provide them with a sense of relief and protect them from further assault. If HR does not assist them, these individuals may want to consider filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit.

Gaslighting techniques are not always easy to identify at first. Those who feel they are under attack may want to log any incidents so they can provide evidence to a human resources director.