Should I accuse my supervisors of power harassment?

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female public servant in my 20s. I’ve been working in a highly professional and relationship-intensive office for several years. I’m being subjected to power harassment by the manager and assistant manager of the section that I work in.

Their conduct falls under quintessential power harassment behavior that would be given as examples at a seminar meant to prevent such harassment.

They not only yell at me in front of many people and but call me things like “idiot” or “useless,” while banging on a desk.

What makes me most infuriated is the blatant difference of their attitude between subordinates who they like and don’t like. My immediate supervisor, who isn’t their favorite, is yelled at so much it’s painful. People around me don’t want to rock the boat, or have given up, saying that the two behaved worse in the past and have mellowed out over the years.

I’m scheduled to be transferred within a year. I’m in agony over an inner conflict — if I should endure until leaving the office or if I shouldn’t allow such power harassment. Even if I bring up the issue, I won’t have anyone to support me and nothing may change. Please advise me as to what I should do.

— I

Dear Ms. I:

The supervisors in your office are aware that their words and deeds are power harassment to some extent, since they blatantly separate their favorite subordinates from those they don’t like. Your bosses probably think that power harassment isn’t a big problem. However, I believe that the weight of responsibility differs between the manager and the assistant manager. The assistant manager probably considers this type of behavior acceptable because they see the manager acting that way.

Since you feel that you can’t allow this kind of quintessential power harassment, I would suggest that you bring up this issue to the human resources department, mainly concerning the manager. This may result in an improvement in the situation rather than giving up and shrugging it off, even if things don’t change immediately.

Currently, preventing power harassment is considered an extremely important issue. Various reforms are being made regarding work styles, such as prohibiting long working hours and allowing teleworking. However, what is most fundamental is to create an appropriate working environment that is free from power harassment.

People like your bosses, who disregard this behavior, don’t understand such social trends and demands. You’re a public officer. It’s very unfortunate that power harassment is rampant on a daily basis in a workplace where you are supposed to set an example for the public.

— Yoko Sanuki, lawyer