22222222Gaslighting in the workplace: A case for the Equal Rights Amendment

Picture this: Andrea works as a manager in a mid-sized company. She is highly skilled and has received recognition by her peers for her contributions in the past. However, since John joined the team, things took a troubling turn.

As time went on, John intensified the gaslighting tactics. Andrea noticed that she was not being copied on important emails and memos, causing her to miss crucial information and deadlines. When she confronted John about it, he pretended he knew nothing and suggested that it may have been Andrea’s fault and that she was not paying attention to her responsibilities.

At first, John seemed friendly and supportive. But over time, subtle gaslighting tactics began to emerge. During team meetings, whenever Andrea presented her ideas, John would dismiss them or take credit for them, affecting Andrea’s confidence and making her doubt the value of her contributions.

John also started spreading rumors about Andrea, portraying her as unreliable and incapable of handling her job. Team members started believing these rumors and began to distance themselves from Andrea; her self-esteem plummeted.

Over time, the gaslighting took a toll on Sara’s mental and emotional well-being. She became anxious, constantly second-guessing herself, and her performance at work began to suffer. The toxic environment created by John’s gaslighting tactics had a significant impact on Sara’s professional and personal life.

In this fictional story, the gaslighter, John, employed various tactics to undermine Andrea’s confidence with the intention to manipulate her perceptions, and isolate her from her colleagues.

Although this is a fictional story. Countless gaslighting stories in the workplace can be found online with tips on how to identify if you are being a victim of gaslighting at work.

What is gaslighting

Gaslighting is a pervasive form of psychological manipulation that can occur in various contexts, including the workplace. This insidious tactic undermines a person’s perception of reality, leaving them questioning their sanity, capabilities, and self-worth.

What to do if you are being gaslight

Recognizing and addressing gaslighting is crucial. If you suspect you are being gaslit or witness someone experiencing it, consider the following steps:

  1. Trust your instincts: Pay attention to your feelings and intuition. If something feels off or you notice a pattern of manipulative behavior, trust yourself.
  2. Document incidents: Maintain a record of specific incidents, including dates, times, and details. This documentation will serve as evidence and support your case.
  3. Seek support: Reach out to trusted colleagues, friends, or family members who can provide emotional support and objective perspectives on the situation.
  4. Confront the gaslighter: Calmly and assertively address the issue with the gaslighter, expressing your concerns and setting boundaries. However, be cautious as some gaslighters may escalate their tactics when confronted.
  5. If you feel comfortable, Involve HR or superiors: If the gaslighting persists or worsens, involve Human Resources or higher management to address the situation. Provide them with your documented evidence to support your claims.

Using the Equal Rights Amendment as a tool to prevent gaslighting in the workplace 

While the Equal Rights Amendment itself may not directly address gaslighting in the workplace, it could contribute to creating a more equitable and inclusive work environment that discourages such behaviors. Once published as the 28th Amendment, the ERA could support the development of policies, encourage advocacy, and promote a more equitable and inclusive workplace where gaslighting and other forms of discrimination are less likely to occur or are promptly addressed.

The Equal Rights Amendment aims to provide equal protection under the law regardless of sex. This can be instrumental in addressing gaslighting, as it supports the notion that all individuals should be treated fairly and with respect in the workplace. It reinforces the idea that gaslighting, which disproportionately affects one gender, is unacceptable and should be prevented.

The ERA could be a catalyst for cultural shift beyond the legal realm. Its publication can help promote gender equality and inclusivity in our society at large. By challenging systemic biases and stereotypes, the ERA can help create a society that values diversity, empowers individuals, and discourages gaslighting tactics.