If you are an employee who works in an environment where your higher-ups are supportive, creative, fair-minded and open to feedback, count yourself among the lucky ones. Unfortunately, not everyone is so blessed.

Many employees are struggling to cope in a negative work environment where they deal with the stress of  surviving emotionally and psychologically from day-to-day.

Are you suffering in an environment of workplace cruelty, abuse or neglect? If you can answer yes to the following questions, you may have the worst boss in the world:

1         DISRESPECTFUL? Does your boss call you demeaning names or imply through words or actions that you are unintelligent, untrustworthy or incompetent? Does this happen in the presence of other employees?

2         UNFAIR? Does your boss seem to have standards or rules that apply to you, but do not apply to others in positions similar or identical to yours?

3         CLOSED-MINDED? Are your attempts to communicate your ideas and concerns to your boss repeatedly ignored or discouraged?

4         NEGATIVE? Does your boss find every opportunity to criticize your performance, but makes no effort to praise your accomplishments?

5         INCONSISTENT? Does your boss change his or her mind about a decision, policy or procedure without clearly communicating the change, then punish or malign you when you’re unclear about how to proceed?

In this economy you can believe there is an unemployed person who is ready and willing to put up with your boss’s bad behavior, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any recourse in a situation where you are being subjected to abusive, demeaning, harassing or unfair treatment in the workplace.

Although there are federal laws protecting you against workplace discrimination and certain types of harassment, labor laws vary from state to state regarding verbal or psychological abuse in the workplace. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and prepare for possible legal action is to keep a journal in which you document all instances of maltreatment and record your attempts to communicate your concerns to your boss and through other appropriate feedback channels in the company. Be sure to note details specific to the incidents of abuse, including the names of witnesses who could corroborate your version of events.

It is important to keep in mind that your work environment should not be causing you to feel despondent, enraged, or suicidal. If you are experiencing extreme emotions that could lead to violent or self-destructive actions, seek mental health counseling immediately. If your employer does not provide insurance for mental health services, call your county health department to find out about free or reduced-cost services near you.