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What to Do If You Are Bullied at Work

A recent survey says 1 in 3 people has been tormented on the job. Here's what you can do to protect yourself

You should call your filing a "Formal Complaint of Age-Based Harassment." It should lay out how you (and other older employees, if any) are being targeted for treatment different than younger employees, Ballman says. Ask the employer to take prompt action to correct the situation. If there is no corrective action, or if you are retaliated against, it may be time to talk to an employment lawyer or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Complaints about age discrimination are protected by law against retaliation. You can read more on age discrimination at this website.

Complaints about discrimination based on race, sex, national origin or other statuses are also protected against retaliation. If your situation doesn't cross any of these legal lines — in other words, if you're not being targeted for bullying due to them — Ballman suggests that you find other employees who are also affected and complain on behalf of them and yourself. "While complaining alone and just for yourself may not be protected against retaliation, once you act on behalf of others you may have legal protection," she says.

If your employer retaliates against you for complaining, you can report it to the National Labor Relations Board if you're a non-supervisory worker in a private company.

5. Come up with Plan B sooner rather than later

The unpleasant truth is that many employees who get caught in a bullying scenario wind up moving to another department within the organization or leaving altogether. "You don't have to change jobs or employers soon, but waiting to create Plan B until you're out of time is a very weak approach," Schofield says.

Don't spread the word at your workplace that you're looking, but go ahead and update your résumé. Strengthen your job marketability by updating or expanding your skills. The Plus 50 Initiative by the American Association of Community Colleges aims at students over 50. Most colleges and universities offer distance and adult education programs as well, and there's been an explosion of online education programs such as Coursera.

And there's no time like the present to subtly tap your professional network. Reconnect with old friends and colleagues through lunch, coffee or social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Attend industry or alumni networking functions. At this stage, you're not asking the people you meet for help landing a job. But you never know where you might hear of that lead that just might spring you from your current situation.

Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.

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