You know you’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace. When you bring it up, though, your boss tells you that what you’re reporting never happened.
They could claim to have no memory of the event. They could ask you if you’re making it up. They may just claim that you’re “reading too far into it” or interpreting what happened in an inaccurate way.
All of these are examples of gaslighting, which is when you make a person question their own perceptions. It’s a tactic often used to cover up inappropriate behavior — or even illegal behavior — by making the person experiencing it think that something is wrong with them, rather than acknowledging that something is wrong with that behavior.
Why would your boss do this?
The main reason to do this is to stop you from reporting it further or to keep you from taking action to protect yourself. They want to divert your attention from the true issue — the fact that you’re being harassed or discriminated against — by making you spend your time thinking about what really happened.
The truth is that you already know what happened, of course. Your memories are accurate. Your perceptions are accurate. But if they can make you start wondering about these things, they hope that they can keep you from doing what you need to do to put an end to that discrimination.
Looking into your options
Do not fall for this very common psychological trick. If you know that what’s happening to you at work is a violation of your rights, take the time to look into all of your legal options. An experienced advocate can help you understand more.